Specialising in communication assessment and intervention for children with diverse abilities, Associate Professor Kathleen Tait from the School of Education was recently made Macquarie’s first Fellow of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA).
1. Something you’d like staff to know about
I was commissioned by Oxford University Press to be an editor/author of the 2022 text: Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement. Since the first edition of this text, over 8000 print copies and 500 e-books have been sold. It is a recommended text in 28 Australian universities and has been rated in the top 10 best-selling books both nationally and internationally for OUP.
2. Something you have recently accomplished
I am the first Macquarie University academic to be awarded a HERDSA Fellowship. The scheme offers academics an opportunity to be part of a vibrant community of practitioners and researchers interested in improving teaching and learning in tertiary education.
3. A Macquarie person you are looking forward to working with
I am delighted to be working in a multidisciplinary HDR supervision team with Dr Francesca Dominello, Senior Lecturer in the Macquarie Law School. Francesca and I are co-supervising a Law PhD study on the NDIS.
4. What you need to do your best work?
To do my best teaching, I need to be aware of the wide-ranging needs of mature age students in the postgraduate units that I teach. Some might have English as a second language (ESL); or they might have been exposed to a culturally different experience of secondary or tertiary education. I became a regular mentor of refugee students through the University’s Making Connections scheme so that I might learn more explicitly what would assist ESL students’ learning.
5. Something you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you
The architectural concept of universal design refers to the intentional planning of structures so that they are accessible to people of all abilities. A quintessential example is planning buildings without stairs rather than retrofitting them with wheelchair ramps.
Educators have adopted universal design as a metaphor for accessibility in teaching and learning – proposing that education should match the diverse ways that students learn. An interesting recent publication about this is Lessons (Not) Learned: The Troubling Similarities Between Learning Styles and Universal Design for Learning.
6. Your definition of success
Remaining true to myself. I believe that a strong indicator of success is to remain true to one’s values. After all, as Alexander Hamilton said – “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”.
7. A website or app you can’t live without
Children with profound and multiple impairments (PIMD) who appear largely passive and unresponsive can show subtle reliable and consistent signs of engagement or responsiveness across different levels of environment stimulation. So how do I capture those moments of responsiveness? I conduct a lot of my research data collection via video recording and need to be able to quickly analyse hours of video material to capture these responsive moments. I use Adobe Premiere Pro for this and, quite honestly, I could not work without it.
8. A personal quality you value in others
Honesty is the most important personal quality because it is dependent on integrity – and integrity demands truthfulness. Integrity is standing up for what you believe is right and living by your highest values.
9. Something you’re trying to do differently in 2021
I work in a very specialised field which has historically received negligible funding (in Australia, national average of research funds granted for intervention or service projects targeting these populations only achieve a six per cent success rate). Consequently, to increase my research opportunity potential, I have expanded my research field by targeting new constructs and variables, looking at new measures, and using new analysis techniques.
10. A moment you felt proud
Despite working in a highly specialised field, I have a h-index of 13 and i10-index of 15 and over 1000 total citations. I’m very proud that my work is highly valued and that readers are engaging with my publications.