Faculty of Education and Social Work


Marie Clay Research Centre Staff


Meg Jacobs - Post-doctoral research fellow


meg jacobs

Dr Meg Jacobs is currently Assistant Professor of Education at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, USA, and teaches courses in reading, language arts, and math teaching methods for elementary education majors. She has 15 years of combined experience as a classroom teacher, Title I and Reading Recovery teacher, and a literacy coach in elementary schools. Meg earned her PhD in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Iowa in 2013. Her dissertation research was centred on the literacies of five families of colour residing at a homeless shelter. The study illuminates narratives of assimilation and resistance as parents reflected on their life, literacy, and schooling histories and their determination to improve their lives transitioning to and from homelessness. In a forthcoming article, Meg unpacks the internalised oppression in parent narratives as they attempted to make sense of the challenges of their former neighbourhoods and their transition to and from a shelter in a new community.

Meg’s research interests include identity and agency in the lives of culturally and linguistically diverse learners, the complexity of early literacy, and the relationship between literacy, power, and inequality. Meg is currently engaged in a qualitative research study at the University of Iowa that examines the perspectives of teachers, administrators, and parents on the use of high-stakes reading assessments in elementary school to predict reading difficulties beginning in a child’s first year of school. The research team identified the Discourses of Deficiency, Efficiency, and Gatekeeping as normalised language and activities of the new testing regime evident in participant survey and interview responses. The Discourses of the new testing regime reproduce the ways in which reading and readers are defined, assessed, and taught in schools.

As Meg prepares to relocate to New Zealand with her family, she is interested in the lives of families who do not have choices in mobility but instead are forced to move due to increasing inequalities, injustices, and vulnerabilities around the world. Meg is interested in the potential of narrative inquiry to learn about the lives and literacies of families seeking refuge in a globalised and changing world, how dislocation shapes identity and agency, and how institutions such as schools and community organisations have the potential to support transitions in which children and families sustain pride in their cultures, languages, and the places from which they come. 

Dr. Jacobs will be taking up the position of post-doctoral research fellow in August 2017.

Kirsten Sharman - Doctoral Candidate


KirstenSharman_Phd_info

Tihei mauri ora! E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e rau rangatira mā, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Kirsten’s previous studies have been in musical performance, music therapy, linguistics and Russian language, education, and policy. She comes to this
research from a career in child-focussed policy in Wellington. Her current position is Principal Advisor in the Ministry of Health. Previously she was Principal Advisor, Education, in the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, and Senior Policy Analyst, Early Childhood
Education Policy in the Ministry of Education. She also has a background in early childhood music education (0-7 years) and over 20 years’ experience as a trumpet and French horn teacher. She lives with her husband, two teenage children and a cocker spaniel.

Amanda White - Doctoral Candidate


AmandaWhite_Phd_info

Amanda White is a doctoral student in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. She is honoured to have the opportunity to study with the Marie Clay Research Centre in partnership with Talking Matters and affiliated agencies involved in early oral language research.

Amanda holds a BA (Hons) in Education and BSLT (Hons) from the University of Canterbury. She has extensive experience as a speech-language therapist, having worked for over 20 years with children of all ages in the early childhood, school and health sectors in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  Amanda’s research interests focus on the communication and language development of infants and toddlers; the links between oral language and literacy acquisition; and the influence of parents, whanau and educators within cultural, social and educational contexts on shaping adult-child interaction, reciprocity and responsiveness.

Amanda recently presented an oral paper at the New Zealand Speech Therapy Association (NZSTA) conference (2016): Let’s get the Village Talking-Improving Access to Communication Support, which highlighted initial findings from her involvement in a Ministry of Education project, reinforcing the need to work in close partnership with parents, educators and local communities in supporting the language and communication needs of young children in areas identified with high social and economic need.