Professor Missy Morton

BA(Hons) MEd Otago, PhD Syracuse University


Missy joined the University of Auckland as Professor of Disability Studies and Inclusive Education in July 2017. She had previously been Professor and Head of School in the School of Educational Studies and Leadership at the University of Canterbury. Other roles at UC included coordinating the MEd programme, developing and leading the MEd and PGDipEd (Inclusive and special education) and Director of the Inclusive and Special Education Research Group. Prior to the merger with UC, Missy was the Research Coordinator in the School of Professional Development at the Christchurch College of Education. She has previously held leadership roles in the national offices of CCS Disability Action and IHC.

Missy has led or worked on a number of Ministry of Education projects focussed on supporting teachers and schools to build their confidence and competence in ensuring all learners are welcomed, they are learning and achieving and have a real sense of belonging. These projects include the research and development of the Curriculum Exemplars for Learners with Special Education Needs  and the Narrative Assessment: A Guide for Teachers; reviewing the international literature on individual education plans and special education assessment practices that in turn supported the development of the guide Collaboration for Success: Individual Education Plans and most recently the research, development and evaluation of the online resources Teachers and Teachers’ Aides Working Together.  Missy is a founding member of the Inclusive Education Action Group in NZ, a collaboration of disabled people and their allies, families, friends and professionals. She was a member of the writing group for the first New Zealand Disability Strategy.

Research | Current

My research interests include inclusive education, the sociology of special education, and disability studies in education. My recent projects and publications look at structures and practices that support teachers and schools to welcome all children, young people and their families and provide a quality education for all students. Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment that promote and support cultures of belonging are central to my research, teaching and leadership.

My fields of research include:

  • Disability Studies in Education
  • Social constructions of discourses of difference
  • Sociocultural perspectives on curriculum, pedagogy and assessment
  • Qualitative and participatory research methodolgies
  • Initial teacher education and professional learning for inclusive education
  • Sociology of special education

Research Projects

Using narrative assessment to support secondary school teachers' inclusive practices

Teaching | Current

DISABLTY 113G: Making disabilities: The construction of ideas

EDPROF 741: Teaching for social justice and inclusion

EDPROFST 734: Inclusive classroom contexts

EDPROFST 764: Directions in disability policy and practice

EDUC 321: Politics, philosophy and education

EDUC 201: Diversity in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Postgraduate supervision

Current Doctoral thesis students

University of Auckland - PhD

  • Evelyn Dita Christina (2018). Children's peer relationships in an inclusive primary school: Peer cultures assemblages (with Dr Joanne Walker).
  • Badhoora Naseer (2018). Becoming an inclusive educator: A rhizomatic inquiry into the process (with Dr Jennifer Tatebe).
  • Sue Spooner (2018). Relations of care: NZ families caring for their dependent adult children with complex needs (with Prof Liz Beddoe).
  • Marjolein Whyte (2019). Growing peer and whānau relationships through sharing understanding between children who have a special need, their whānau, and the centre community (with Dr Irene De Haan).
  • Romy Hume (2019). (with Prof Toni Bruce).

University of Auckland - EdD

  • Phil Kane (2018). Provision of academic numeracy for students with Mathematics Learning Disorders (MLDs) on bridging or foundation programmes at New Zealand Universities.

University of Canterbury - PhD

  • Tracy Dayman Inclusive pedagogy: moving beyond thought and into practice, the potential of Initial Teacher Education – a case study

Current Masters thesis students

University of Auckland

  • Frederique Abbott (2018). Equitable education in a changing society: how is equity perceived by educators in Auckland primary schools? (with Dr Jennifer Tatebe).
  • Joanna Morrison (2019). Effective teaching practice for learners with Down syndrome (with Dr Joanne Walker).

Completed PhD theses

University of Canterbury

  • Mukti Thapaliya (2018) Moving towards inclusive education: How inclusive education is understood expereinced and enacted in Nepali Higer Secondary Schools
  • Mel Wong (2018) Rethinking giftedness in early years through the lens of social constructionism
  • Anne-Marie McIlroy (2017) “The myth of inability” – Exploring children’s capability and belonging at primary school through narrative assessment (UC)
  • Annette Guerin (2015) “The inside view”: Investigating the use of narrative assessment to support student identity, wellbeing and participation in learning in a New Zealand secondary school (UC)
  • Christopher McMaster (2014) “Finding a shady place”: A critical ethnography of developing inclusive culture in an Aotearoa New Zealand school (UC)
  • Colin Gladstone (2014) The search for a good life: Young people with learning disability and the transition from school (UC)
  • Emma Goodall (2013) Five teachers talk about contextual factors involved in teaching students on the autistic spectrum (AS) – A case study (UC)
  • Bernadette Macartney (2011) Disabled by the discourse: Two families’ narratives of inclusion, exclusion and resistance in education (UC)

Completed Masters theses

University of Canterbury

  • Joeana Togiaso (2016) Narratives of Samoan women who established A’oga Amata in Christchurch New Zealand
  • Shil Bae (2015) Is "Positive Parenting" Really Positive for Children and Families? Early childhood Parenting as a Site of Governance in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Anne Niles (2015) Complexities of assessment: Striving to ‘get it right’
  • Niuma Mohamed (2013) Formative assessment in Male’s schools: Three Maldivian primary teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, practices and typical assessment practices
  • Badhoora Naseer (2012) Moving towards inclusion: A case study of one urban school in the Maldives
  • Lakshmi Chellapan (2012) If you talk, you are just talking, if I talk, is that bragging? Perspectives of parents with young gifted children in New Zealand
  • Rebeccah Hindin-Miller (2012) “Today has been about success”: Young mothers’ understanding of the ways a school for teenage parents supports success
  • Nicole Cunningham, 2011 “I’m learning to go to school now”: Young children’s developing understandings of school.
  • Faamoemoe Hakai Soti (2010) Teaching and learning food and textiles in Samoa: Multiple perspectives on a new curriculum.
  • Jocelyn Wright (2010) Schisms and shimmers of hope: Sector difference and the influence on children’s learning
  • Karen Turnock (2009) It’s a shift in thinking, a shift in practice: Moving to a new assessment framework in early childhood education
  • Annie Guerin (2008) “It’s the small things that count”: Making sense of working in partnership to support the inclusion of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (UC)
  • Gaylene Price (2008) Scaffolding teacher learning: Examining teacher practice and the professional development process of teachers with culturally and linguistically diverse learners
  • Chris Henderson (2008) From teacher in charge of reading to literacy leader – what is the role of the literacy leader? An in-depth qualitative study of two literacy leaders

Christchurch College of Education

  • Nicola Surtees (2006) Sexualities matters in early childhood education: The management of children/bodies and their unsettling desires
  • Ann McGrath (2005) A case study of the junior graduation programme at years 9 and 10 of one school involved with the Schools Making a Difference Project
  • Kathy Anderson (2003) Making their marks: Teachers’ understandings of art assessment at year 11.
  • Ainslee Coates (2003) A case study of curriculum implementation: Change, loss and grief in heatlh and physical education in the New Zealand Curriculum
  • Elizabeth Elsworth (2003) A difficult act to balance: Partnership between teachers and parents of a child with a disability


Visiting Professor, Faculty of Education, Manchester Metropolitan University, July – December 2017.

Canterbury Fellow at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, October - December 2013.

Visiting Fellow in the School of Learning and Professional Studies, Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology, January - May 2011.

NZARE group award for NZARE Symposium presented at AERA, Chicago, 9 – 13 April 2007.

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Professional Service Roles

Editorial Board member for Sense Publications Series on Inclusive Education. (Series editor Roger Slee).

Editorial Panel Member International Journal of Inclusive Education

Editorial Board Member International Journal of Disability Studies in Education

Consulting Editor The Australian Journal of Teacher Education

Editorial Board Member New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies

Editorial Board Member New Zealand Journal of Teachers Work

Professional Memberships

New Zealand Association for Research in Education (from 1994).

American Educational Research Association (from 2004)

British Educational Research Association (from 2013)

Australian Association of Research in Education (from 2013)

European Educational Research Association (from 2014)

World Educational Research Association (From 2014)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Morton, M., & McIlroy, A.-M. (2019). Special Education Needs and Disabilities in Primary Education (New Zealand). In C. Mutch (Ed.) Bloomsbury Education and Childhood Studies. London: Bloomsbury. 10.5040/9781350996267.0009
  • Morton, M., McIlroy, A.-M., & Guerin, A. (2019). Sociocultural perspectives on curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Implications for participation, belonging and building inclusive schools and classrooms. In M. J. Schuelka, C. J. Johnstone, G. Thomas, A. J. Artiles (Eds.) The SAGE handbook on inclusion and diversity in education (pp. 89-102). London, UK: SAGE. 10.4135/9781526470430.n10
  • Gaffney, J. S., Morton, M., & Hart, S. M. (2017). Aotearoa New Zealand. In M. L. Wehmeyer, J. R. Patton (Eds.) The Praeger international handbook of special education (pp. 289-304). Santa Barbara, CA, USA: Praeger.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Janet Gaffney
  • Morton, M., & Guerin, A. (2017). Sociocultural perspectives on curriculum, pedagogy and assessment to support inclusive education. In G. W. Noblit (Ed.) Oxford research encyclopedia of education (pp. ). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.013.147
  • Morton, Y., & Guerin, A. (2017). Examining assessment for students with special education needs in Aotearoa New Zealand: Creating new possibilities for learning and teaching for all. In J. Allan, A. J. Artiles (Eds.) World yearbook of education 2017: Assessment inequalities (pp. 198-218). London, UK: Routledge.
  • Wong, M., & Morton, M. (2017). Parents' lived experiences of teachers' constructions of giftedness: Is meritocracy part of the problem?. In B. Whitburn, V. Plows (Eds.) Inclusive education: Making sense of everyday practice (pp. 213-229). Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
  • Guerin, A., & Morton, M. (2015). Sociocultural perspectives on assessment: Implications and opportunities for students with special education needs. In A. Macfarlane, S. Macfarlane, M. Webber (Eds.) Sociocultural Realities: Exploring New Horizons (pp. 68-86). Christchurch, New Zealand: Canterbury University Press.
  • Morton, M. (2014). Using DSE to recognize, resist, and reshape policy and practices in Aotearoa New Zealand. In D. Connor, J. Valle, C. Hale (Eds.) Practicing disability studies in education : acting toward social change (pp. 197-216). New York: Peter Lang Gmbh, Internationaler Verlag Der Wissenschaften.

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 3, Room 304
New Zealand