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School of Education and Professional Studies

Professional Learning Hub



My research focuses on early adolescent teaching and learning, school reform and teacher professional learning

Professor Donna Pendergast is Dean and Head, School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University.  Donna has an international profile in the field of teacher education, particularly in the Junior Secondary years of schooling, which focuses on the unique challenges of teaching and learning in the early adolescent years. She has successfully completed competitive research tenders commissioned by state and federal authorities totalling more than $2.5 million over the last decade. In 2014 Donna led the Development and Delivery of Junior Secondary Professional Development Modules which was delivered to 600 primary teachers and 400 secondary teachers. In addition, she led a team that undertook the development and delivery of The Leading Change Development Project – Year 7 to Secondary, which involved developing capabilities in all school leadership teams in all public schools in Queensland responsible for delivering year 7 in 2015.



Professor Donna Pendergast

School of Education and Professional Studies

Head and Dean

Fields of Expertise

  • Middle Years Education
  • Teacher Education
  • Teacher Efficacy
  • Teacher Professional Development

Speeches, Seminars and Presentations

Donna has delivered more than 80 in-school professional learning sessions over the last decade, ranging in length from 1 hour to 2 days per session. She has delivered over 60 invited keynote addresses and more than 40 conference workshops.

A recent highlight includes:

  • Public Lecture Brisbane, August 2015 Making great teachers: From global education megatrends to Generation Z. 

Industry Experience

Donna has worked in P-10, secondary and secondary colleges as a classroom teacher and administrator.  Her academic career more recently included her appointment to lead and develop the first dedicated middle years teacher education program in Australia at the University of Queensland more than a decade ago.  Since this time she has been a prominent player in the state and national agendas related to junior secondary reform in Australia.  She developed a reform model for the middle years which was adapted and is currently employed by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority to transform practice in the early years.

  • Professional Memberships: Adolescent Success, Association for Middle Level Education, Australian Teacher Education Association, Australian Association for Research in Education, American Educational Research Association
  • Recent Awards: 2016 Vice Chancellor's Research Supervision Award, 2015 AEL Research Supervision Award
  • Advisory roles: Chair of the Queensland Deans of Education Forum, Ministerial Transformational Workforce Taskforce

Research Expertise

Donna has conducted a number of national research projects of significance including “Beyond the Middle”, which investigated literacy and numeracy in middle schooling; and “Lifelong Learning and Middle Schooling”. She has completed an evaluation of the Education Queensland Virtual Schooling Service and is often employed as a consultant to review school reform initiatives. Donna has several books published of relevance to contemporary teacher work which include:

  • · (2018). Engaging Marginalized, At-Risk Middle-Level Students: A Focus on the Importance of a Sense of Belonging at School. Education Sciences, 8(3), 138–1–138–19.
  • · (2018). Student experiences of NAPLAN: sharing insights from two school sites. The Australian Educational Researcher, 45(3), 315–342.
  • · (2017). University Strategic Directions, International Education and׉L: FromЯlicy toвactice. In Professional Learning in the Work Place for International Students: Exploring Theory and Practice (pp. 277–297).
  • · (2017). Communique: Queensland Health and Physical Education Initial Teacher Education Summit 2017. Australia: Griffith University.
  • · (2017). Theorising Personalised Education: Electronically Mediated Higher Education.

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