Professor Elizabeth Mary Rata
PhD, MEd, BA
Elizabeth Rata is a professor in the School of Critical Studies in Education at the Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland and Director of the Knowledge in Education Research Unit (KERU). She was a Senior Fulbright Scholar to Georgetown University, Washington, DC in 2003. Her major works are: A Political Economy of Neotribal Capitalism, 2000, and The Politics of Knowledge in Education, 2012. She is a sociologist of education with research interests into the effects of global economic change on democracy, ethnicity, socio-economic class, higher education, and curriculum knowledge.
Research | Current
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
Project One: Knowledge and Democracy
This major theoretical inquiry is about the connection between the type of knowledge taught in education systems like New Zealand’s and the viability of democracy in the 21st century. It has long been assumed that educated people will be committed to democratic principles such as equality and justice and to the institutions which safeguard these principles. However, the emergence of populism and authoritarian governments around the world suggest that we can no longer assume the strength of democracy nor its inevitability as the political system for the future. What then does this new world hold for New Zealand? What can our education do to ensure that democracy remains strong in this country? My research examines the type of knowledge taught at school and how it is taught. I ask how this knowledge and the type of thinking it develops produces young people who have the ability and the desire to be democratic citizens. The publications for this Project are:
Rata, E. (2017) Connecting Knowledge to Democracy In Knowledge, curriculum and equity:
Social realist perspectives. In Barrett, B., Hoadley, U. & J. Morgan, (Eds.), Routledge. (pp. 19-32); London: Routledge.
Rata, E. (2018), ‘A Durkheimian Approach to Knowledge and Democracy’ In. Guile, D.,
Lambert D. & M. Reiss (Eds.), Sociology, Curriculum Studies and Professional Knowledge: New Perspectives on the work of Michael Young (pp. 73-83). London & New York: Routledge. Chapter 5.
Rata, E. (2014). Knowledge and democracy: The strife of the dialectic. In Barrett,
B. & Rata, E. (Eds.), Knowledge and the future of the curriculum: International studies in social realism. (pp. 79-91). Basingstoke UK: Palgrave MacMillan.
Project Two: Knowledge and Teaching
The purpose of this ongoing theoretical work is to understand the how academic knowledge might be best designed for teaching so that it is accessible for children in all social groups, especially those who have missed out on the benefits of education historically. My work in this field has benefitted greatly from my involvement with the social realism researchers who hold biennial symposia at Cambridge University and from the Knowledge in Education Research Unit in the School of Critical Studies in Education at the University of Auckland.
Publications from this Project are:
Rata, E. (2012) The Politics of Knowledge in Education. London: Routledge.
Rata, E. (2017). Knowledge and Teaching, British Educational Research Journal. 43(5),
Rata, E. (2016). A pedagogy of conceptual progression and the case for academic
knowledge. British Educational Research Journal, 42 (1), 168-184.
Rata, E. and Taylor, A. (2015). Knowledge equivalence discourse in New Zealand
secondary school science. New Zealand Journal of Educational Research. 50(2), 223-238. DOI 10.1007/s40841-015-0020-1
Rata, E. (2012) The Politics of Knowledge in Education. British Educational
Research Journal, 38(1), 103-124.
The research is being extended in a forthcoming paper written with my colleagues Brian Barrett and Graham McPhail entitled ‘An Engaging Pedagogy for an Academic Curriculum’. The ideas are also contributing to the model of depth pedagogy (Project 3) being undertaken with colleagues from the Engineering Faculty at the University of Auckland.
Project Three: Engineering Course Design and Student Achievement: A Model of Depth Pedagogy
The study is a joint project between the Faculties of Engineering and Education. It investigates the teaching of complex concepts in the first-year generic electrical engineering course. The study has led to the development of the Model of Depth Pedagogy (incorporating the ideas developed in Projects 2 and 4). The model was first presented to the Association of Australian Engineering Education (AAEE) Conference and will be available in a forthcoming paper.
Collis, B., Wang, C., Rowe, G., Rata, E. & McPhail, G. ‘Towards an informed course design’
Association of Australian Engineering Education (AAEE) Conference, Sydney, 10-13 December 2017.
Project Four: Curriculum Makers in an Innovative Learning Environment
This project was led by my colleague Dr Graham McPhail. We investigated curriculum design and implementation at an Auckland 21st Century Secondary School. It led to a major international collaboration with Dr Richard Pountney at the Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University. The school study showed the need to develop the theoretical tools with which to identify, analyse, and explain a particular phenomenon, in this case, the inter-disciplinary nature of curriculum design promoted in this type of school. These tools are published in:
McPhail, G. & Rata, E. (2017). A theoretical model of curriculum design: ‘Powerful
Knowledge’ and ‘21st Century Learning’. In. B. Barrett, U. Hoadley & J. Morgan (Eds.) Knowledge, curriculum and equity: Social realist perspectives. Routledge publisher. Ch 6.
McPhail, G. & Rata, E. (2015). Comparing Curriculum Types: 'Powerful Knowledge' and
'21st Century Learning' New Zealand Journal of Educational Research, 51(1), 53-68.
Project Five: Mathematics Curriculum Design in a Knowledge School
This project is at the research design stage and will involve the design and ongoing evaluation of the cumulative knowledge building in Year 7-13 mathematics at a knowledge rich school in New Zealand. The curriculum design will apply the Depth Pedagogy Model.
Project Six: TransAcquisition Pedagogy for Academic Success in Bilingual Education
This Project is extending the TransAcquistion Pedagogical Model (TAP) designed and trialled by my colleague, Dr Tauwehe Tamati. The trial was undertaken as a case study in kura kaupapa Maori schools. It demonstrated how TAP’s application increased both the students’ academic understanding and their ability to use academic forms of English and Maori languages. The purpose of the Project is to show how TransAcquisition Pedagogy is applicable to any classroom with bilingual students throughout the world. My contribution is to bring together ideas from linguistics and knowledge theory in order to examine the connection between a child’s understanding of academic ideas and the acquisition of language needed for this highly complex work. To do so I identify three ways to show how language functions as a component of cognitive activity.
Project Seven: Localisation and Ethnicity in Education
This Project continues my long-term research into the ways in which the ethnic politics of the post-1970s’s decades has influenced education. More recently I have examined the localisation of the curriculum and pedagogy with examples from New Zealand. The project has involved fruitful collaborations with colleagues and masters and doctoral students over the years leading to the following publications.
Lynch, C. & Rata, E. (under review). Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: A New Zealand Case
Rata, E. (2017) Ethnic Revival. In Fathali M. Moghaddam Ed. The SAGE Encyclopedia of
Political Behavior, (pp. 265-268). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
McPhail, G., Rata, E., & Siteine, A. (2018). The Changing Nature of Music Education. In G.
McPhail, V. Thorpe & S. Wise, Case studies in educational change. Perspectives from music education in Aotearoa/New Zealand (pp. 74-91). London: Routledge.
Lomax, D. & Rata, E. (2016). Diversity, social cohesion and the curriculum: A study of a
Muslim girls’ secondary school in New Zealand, Pacific-Asian Education. 28, 31-50.
Rata, E. M. & Zubaran, C. (2016). Ethnic Classification in the New Zealand
Health Care System, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 41: 192–209
Rata, E. (2015). Multiculturalism and education. In Mansouri, F. (Ed.), Cultural, Religious
and Political Contestations: The Multicultural Challenge. (pp.107-118). Springer.
Rata, E. (2014). The Multicultural-Liberal Contradiction. In Boulou Ebanda de B'béri &
Fethi Mansouri (Eds.), Global Perspectives on the Politics of Multiculturalism in the 21st Century. (pp. 34-49). London & New York: Routledge.
Lourie, M., & Rata, E. (2014). A critique of the role of culture in Maori education. British
Journal of Sociology of Education, 35(1), 19-26.
Rata, E. (2013). Knowledge and the Politics of Culture: An example from New Zealand’s
Higher Education Policy and Practice. Anthropological Theory, 13 (4), 329-346.
Rata, E. & Tamati, T. (2013). The Effect of Indigenous Politics on English Language
Provision in New Zealand's Maori Schools. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, 12(5), 262-276.
Rata, E. (2011). Theoretical Claims and Empirical Evidence in Maori Education
Discourse. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44(10), 1060-1072.
Rata, E. (2012). A Critical Study of Maori Education, in Openshaw, R. and Clark, J.
(Eds.), Critic and Conscience: Essays on Education in Memory of John Codd and Roy Nash, (pp. 175-202). Wellington: NZCER.
Teaching | Current
- Doctorate of Education: Serving Society - Creating equity, diversity, and justice
- EDUC 776 Education, Culture and Identity Masters course
- EDPROFST 754 Special Topic: Critical Research Methodologies in Education Masters course
- EDUC 118 History and Society in New Zealand Education
- EDUC 321 Politics, Philosophy and Education
Completions (PhD and EdD)
Tauwehe Sophie Tamati, 2016 Transacquisition Pedagogy for Bilingual Education: A Study in Kura Kaupapa Māori Schools in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Dean’s List. Nominated for UoA Best Doctoral Thesis. Nominated for NZARE Sutton-Smith Best Doctoral Award
Saba Kiani, 2014
Structural contradictions and political tensions in Iranian higher education: The case of English for Academic Purposes Programmes
Megan Lourie, 2013
Symbolic policy: A study of biculturalism and Maori language education in New Zealand
Nominated for NZARE Sutton-Smith Best Doctoral Award
Mallika Bandara, 2012
The feminisation of migration: Sri Lankan women professional in New Zealand
Graham McPhail, 2012
The canon or the kids: Teachers and the recontextualisation of classical and popular music in the secondary school curriculum
Faculty Nomination for UoA Best Doctoral Thesis. NZARE Sutton-Smith Best Doctoral Award Recipient
Leon Benade, 2011
From technicians to teachers: The New Zealand curriculum and the development of ethical teacher professionality
Kevin Kennan, 2010
Spiritual intelligence and imagination in New Zealand students
Current Doctoral Supervisions
Knowledge, Identity and curriculum: A Sociological Study of Ethnicity in New Zealand Education
Knowledge and the Market: The Internationalisation of Indonesian Higher Education
Teachers’ decisions in determining critical knowledge for secondary school history
Working Title: A Critical Analysis of Afghanistan’s Higher Education Strategic Planning
Exploring Chinese PhD candidates transformative learning experiences at the University of Auckland
What we teach in English and how we teach it: Case studies from New Zealand secondary school English departments
Global crisis and the self-education of humanity: A transformational praxis model
Educational Experiences of Pakistani Christian Refugees in Thailand
Knowledge in the New Zealand University
A case study of the pedagogical identities reproduced and created in state integrated Islamic schooling in New Zealand
Reviving the Enlightenment in New Zealand Education
Interculturality in China’s EFL (English as foreign language) policies and practices
Navigating Curriculum and Pedagogy in Secondary English Text Selection
Knowledge and Inquiry Learning in a Primary School
Comparing the New Zealand and Chinese curricula reforms
Noella Yoon 2017
National certificate of educational achievement (NCEA): education or populism?
Cristopher Lynch 2017
Teachers’ attitudes to Maori educational achievement initiatives
Vimla Sewpershad 2017
Selecting and Sequencing: Closing the gaps in secondary school mathematics learning
Emma McKeown 2016/17
Policies in Self-Managing Schools
Rochelle Spicer 2016/17
A double edged sword: The effects of changes to a school's decile rating
Steven McDonald 2016
Youth Smoking: Why do they do it?
Charles Liu 2015
Teaching writing in South Auckland primary school
Deborah Lomax 2015
Curriculum Dilemmas: A study of an Islamic girls secondary school in New Zealand
Fifita Fakatulolo Koester
Multliteracies in Tongan education policy and practice
Subject-Specific Mathematical Vocabulary in Mathematics Lessons
Anita Taylor 2014
Investigating the equity of NCEA pathways by measuring parity of innovation year 11 core subject courses in stte schools of high, mid and low decide rankings
Veronica Lovejoy 2013
Female motivation to succeed in secondary school history
Daniel Couch, 2011
The ‘new education’ in New Zealand during the 1930s and 1940s
Athlene Ramsay, 2011
Teachers choosing to teach in poor areas
Bishard Mutepha, 2010
The experience of Zimbabwean families in New Zealand
Mallika Bandara, 2007
Cultural identity and change: The experience of migrant women in New Zealand
Beliefs and practice: Teacher responses to the bicultural requirements in current New Zealand early childhood education
Linda Cheeseman, 2005
Intentions versus implementation in the numeracy development project
Ta Taoro, 2005
Students’ explanations of their truancy behaviour
Andrew Stierman, 2005
The virtual Colombo Plan
Where Ta meets Va: Pacific Island peoples’access to the creative industries of New Zealand
- 2017: World Class professor Award to State University of Semarang, Ministry of Higher Education, Indonesia
- 2014: Azim Premji Foundation Award, India
- British Educational Research Journal Paper of the Year Award, 2012
International Journal Board for:
International Studies in Sociology of Education (appointed 2006)
British Educational Research Journal (appointed 2015)
- Fulbright Senior Scholarship, Georgetown University, 2003
- Faculty of Education Excellence in Supervision Award, 2013
- Excellence in Tertiary Teaching Award, Auckland College of Education, 2002
- University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship
Areas of expertise
- Sociology of Education
- Curriculum and Pedagogy
- Anthropology of Education
- Education Policy
- History of New Zealand Education
- Maori Education
- Neotribal Capitalism
- Higher Education
- Knowledge and Democracy
- Ethnic Politics
- Social Realism
- Teacher Education
- Director: Knowledge in Education Research Unit (KERU)
- Member: School of Critical Studies in Education Research Committee
- Member: University Disciplinary Committee
- Professorial Representative: Faculty Senior Leadership Team
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Lourie, M., & Rata, E. (2017). Using a realist research methodology in policy analysis. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49 (1), 17-30. 10.1080/00131857.2016.1167655
- Rata, E. M. (2017). Ethnic revival. In F. M. Moghaddam (Ed.) The SAGE encyclopedia of political behavior (pp. 264-265). Thousand Oaks, California. USA.: Sage Publications. 10.4135/9781483391144.n125
- McPhail, G., & Rata, E. (2016). Comparing curriculum types: ‘Powerful knowledge’ and ‘21st century learning’. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 51 (1), 53-68. 10.1007/s40841-015-0025-9
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Graham McPhail
- Rata, E. (2016). A pedagogy of conceptual progression and the case for academic knowledge. British Educational Research Journal, 42 (1), 168-184. 10.1002/berj.3195
- Rata, E., & Zubaran, C. (2016). Ethnic classification in the New Zealand health care system. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 41 (2), 192-209. 10.1093/jmp/jhv065
- Rata, E., & Taylor, A. (2015). Knowledge equivalence discourse in New Zealand secondary school science. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 50 (2), 223-238. 10.1007/s40841-015-0020-1
- Lourie, M., & Rata, E. (2014). A critique of the role of culture in Maori education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 35 (1), 19-36. 10.1080/01425692.2012.736184
- Rata, E. M. (2014). Multiculturalism and Education. In F. Mansouri (Ed.) Cultural, Religious and Politicial Contestations: The Multicultural Challenge (pp. 107-118). Springer. 10.1007/978-3-319-16003-0_7