Research Lab for Creativity and Change

Early years education research

The Research Lab for Creativity and Change engages in national and international research that uses a range of creative, critical and participatory processes to explore and effect educational change.

We are a richly diverse group of academics and research students. Our home is in the College of Education, Health and Human Development but extends beyond its walls and includes colleagues from our national and international networks. 

Currently our thematic interests include:

  • creativity in learning;
  • creating change for Maori and Pasifika in education
  • creating change in education in international contexts
  • participatory action research, reflective practice and arts- based research .

Our broad field is grounded in practice, aspirations, social realities, and cultural values. This field is a complex and changing one, calling for methodologies that themselves are responsive and continuously evolving.

We benefit from and build on collaborations with other labs within the College as well as partnerships in our communities and cross-nationally. We welcome collaborations with researchers who use a range of creative, critical and collaborative strategies for facilitating and investigating learning and change. 

Our achievements and projects are detailed in links to the right. 

We currently have doctoral and other research that explores:

  • Using creative processes to develop critical literacy and agentic citizenship
  • Examining how community engagement can improve educational outcomes
  • Exploring how schools can create learning communities for change
  • Investigating the work of teachers and schools
  • Investigating the roles of parents and communities in education
  • Using visual art making to explore identity and a sense of place
  • Using arts to develop a culturally responsive and inclusive pedagogy
  • Examining how leading drama teachers interpret and use the curriculum
  • Examining how music teachers and their students use technology
  • Implementing and guiding curriculum change in several international contexts.
  • Exploring relationships between knowledge, creativity and responsible citizenship
  • Exploring leadership for change
  • Investigating the importance of indigenous languages in education
  • Developing narratives of identity and criticality  

Research Organisation Memberships

  • European Educational Research Association (EERA)
  • British  Educational Research Association (BERA)
  • New Zealand  Association of Educational Research (NZARE)
  • International Drama in Education Research Association (IDEA)
  • The Arts in Society Knowledge Community 
  • Drama New Zealand 
  • Cognition Institute
  • International Society for Music Education (ISME) 
  • The Kennedy Centre

International learning circles links

  • Faculty of Education Postgraduate Programmes , University  of Southern Queensland, Australia 
  • Faculty of Education, Stavanger University, Norway 
  • Institute of Postgraduate Studies in Education, University of West Florida, USA
  • Divadelní fakulta Akademie múzických umění  (DAMU), Czech republic
  • Institute of Education and Research, Dhaka University, Bangladesh

Editorial Roles

  • Journal of  Research Practice
  • New Zealand Journal of  Research  In Drama and Education
  • Applied Theatre Researcher
  • Tvoriva Dramatika
  • Director of Publications  IDEA

Abdullah Mohd Nawi is currently working with CCEL College of English in a series of seminars that grew from the fieldwork of his PhD research both locally and abroad, and is aimed at both CCEL teachers and students. The seminars provide exposure to Abdullah’s techniques using applied drama in English language learning, as well as training for the teachers to diversify their teaching methods using more creative and engaging teaching strategies. 

Dr Richard Manning is exploring place based education and working with Ngai Tahu colleagues, a number of Christchurch school and with similar research networks in North America and Australia. His work on treaty-base issues in education is repeatedly cited in the House Parliament by politicians of various parties.

Professor Janinka Greenwood is working with Professor John Everatt and Safayet Alam and Ariful Kabir to develop and edit Research and educational change in Bangladesh, a collection of articles by emergent Bangladeshi researchers who have been studying in New Zealand and Australia.

Lynne Harata Te Aika is working with Ngai Tahu and the Ministry of Education to develop directions for education renewal in greater Christchurch.


Wise, S.L. (2014) Teachers' approaches to teaching composition using digital technology. University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus: European Association for Music in Schools (EAS) Conference, 21 May – 24 May 2014.

Wise, S.L. (2013) Contemporary music in Secondary School Music Education Programmes. Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia: 35th Australian and New Zealand Association for Research in Music Education (ANZARME) Annual Conference, 31 May-1 Jun 2013.

Greenwood, J. & Everatt, E. (Eds.). (2012).  Research and Educational Change in Bangladesh. Special Issue of  Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices.  6 (2)

Manning, R.F. (2011) A Critical Pedagogy of Place? Te Ātiawa (Māori) and Pākehā (non-Māori) History Teachers' Perspectives on the Teaching of Local, Māori and New Zealand Histories. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education 40: 102-111. 40.102.

Manning, R. (2009) Place, Power and Pedagogy: The Potential that a Critical Pedagogy of Place May Hold for Enhancing Cross-cultural Conversations in New Zealand. In K. Quinlivan, R. Boyask and B. Kaur (Ed.), Educational Enactments in a Globalised World: Intercultural Conversations: 51-64. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Manning, R.F. (1999) History never repeats itself? Colonial historical trends confront National Administration Guidelines. New Zealand Annual Review of Education 9: 63-81.

Wise, S.L. (2014) Mixed Methods – the third research community. In K. Hartwig (Ed.), Research Methodologies in Music Education: 183-198. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Wise, S. (2013) Variations on the Loops: An investigation into the use of digital technology in music education in secondary schools. PhD, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Wise, S.L. (2013) Students' Perceptions of Digital Technology in Music Education. Tehnologii Informatice si de Domeniul Muzical - ICT in Musical Field 4(1): 17-31.

  • Professor Janinka Greenwood
  • Professor John Everatt
  • Ariful Haq Kabir
  • Safayet Alam

The perfect book for Secondary Teacher Educators & Researchers

This book is an invaluable resource for all secondary educators and researchers. It contains:

  • 15 chapters that cover a range of issues across different levels of education
  • Chapters that consider more general historical and policy contexts of educational reform in Bangladesh, including the implementation of inclusive education practices, as well as factors that can support change, such as creativity/criticality and successful leadership.
  • Chapters that also focus on specific areas of education and curriculum; from better training in the use of technology in classrooms to improvements in science and language education.

This book offers us access to a number of research studies about education in Bangladesh, primarily by researchers who are Bangladeshi. Some of that research was made possible by study overseas, and in one or two cases the chapters are collaborations between emerging Bangladeshi researchers and western academic colleagues. 

The book that has emerged offers an initial contribution to the dream of local research contributing to educational change. It addresses current challenges in education in Bangladesh, using a range of research tools to probe practices and attitudes. In some cases it indicates problems, but it also explores opportunities for change. And it does this from the perspectives of researchers who are either active participants in the life of Bangladesh and shapers of its educational processes, or their working colleagues. It thus prompts critical scrutiny of what is happening now and what could be done differently and perhaps better.

This book also offers international perspectives and experience. While its focus is firmly on Bangladesh, it hopes to make an international contribution: educational challenges in Bangladesh will have resonances in other countries, and the process of locating research and knowledge in the context of one developing country may encourage others to also do so.

It is a book for students, researchers, teachers and educational policy makers. It is also a book for the simply curious.

Janinka's Seminar Notes

Reflective Practice and Participatory Action Research (PDF, 1.5MB)


UC Education Student putting books in the hands of Afghan children

A UC Education postgraduate student is putting books in the hands of Afghan children through the virtual world and distributing to villages in Afghanistan as part of his PhD research project.

Tariq Habibyar’s study project - One Story and One Village at a Time - has the goal of seeing five million Afghan children having access to his books by 2020. He is setting up a foundation with the Ministry of Justice in Afghanistan and is also keen to get support from the New Zealand Army who have previously supported Afghanistan's education. The foundation is called Aida Children's Foundation and Tariq developed his idea through the UC Innovators scholarship.

The overall goal of the foundation is not only to give Afghan children access to books and libraries but also to improve their lives through educational books. Stories will focus on promoting attitudes towards gender equality as Afghanistan is currently a highly male-dominated country.

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