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School of Education and Professional Studies

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Professor Donna Pendergast has been acknowledged in the 2016 Vice Chancellor's Research Excellence Awards having being awarded the Research Supervision award.

Professor Donna Pendergast, Dean of Education and Professional Studies has supervised 27 HDR students to completion, 20 since joining Griffith University in 2009. Every single one of them knows about “Golden Threads”.

“I like to use the term Golden Threads,’’ Professor Pendergast says. “Golden threads run through students’ research with the selvedge formed by the bookend chapters.  The golden threads should glisten at different points in the thesis and are what students hang their work on.

“Some of my students think I’m a bit nutty at first but they soon get the picture.”

This innovative approach has been acknowledged in the 2016 Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards with Professor Pendergast awarded the Research Supervision award.

“Being recognised through this award means a lot to me,’’ she says. “HDR supervision is probably the most exciting part of my work, with people who are highly motivated and contributing to new thinking in their field of research.”

“It’s a privilege. Candidates are developing new ways of working, and are right on the coalface of learning. For an educator, it’s exciting.” 

Many of Professor Pendergast’s graduates have gone on to rewarding careers in academia including two who are now professors in Sweden and Hong Kong. “Her professional collaboration and support has allowed me to become a successful early childhood education professor who has been able to make a significant contribution in both Australia, Sweden and internationally,’’ said Professor Susie Garvis from the University of Gothenburg.

Over the years Professor Pendergast has seen a cultural shift in the way the supervisor/student relationship is negotiated. “HDR students need a sense of genuine partnership and trust between them and their supervisor otherwise it can be a very lonely journey. It’s a true professional partnership.”

She said the focus today includes formal outputs with students required to publish during their candidature. “It’s much more demanding in this regard, but we work together to set really clear expectations. We talk about how the work they are doing is really important to share with others and to build their profile.

“We typically look to publish along the lines of their Golden Threads.”