Janine Campbell (centre) with supervisors Professor Lisa Smith, and Dr David Berg

Janine Campbell says her recently completed Doctor of Education (EdD) research on factors that impact international student assessment challenged many of her personal and professional assumptions – it also identified gender equality as “mattering most” when it comes to student outcomes.

Janine completed her EdD thesis, entitled International student evaluations, policy recommendations, and the teaching profession: Does context matter? via the University of Otago’s College of Education while she lived and worked in Chile.

The recently submitted work explored how certain contextual factors (or combinations of factors) are consistently present in countries that are successful on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Her work also discussed the effectiveness of educational policies (that are internationally recommended) which are mediated by the presence or absence of those conditions.

“According to the existing literature and my personal experience, I expected that the most important of those contextual factors would be wealth, income equality, and ethnic homogeneity.”

However, her research found that many factors – including poverty, income inequality, human development, individualism, and ethnic tensions – all had a bearing on educational outcomes, the most consistent relationship, “associated with the highest results in PISA when present, and the lowest results when absent,” was gen

Janine Campbell rings the bell in quadrangle between the Geology building and the Clocktower building to celebrate submitting her EdD thesis.

der equality.

Janine says her experiences as a teacher, administrator, and teacher mentor in Chile and New Zealand motivated her to undertake a EdD.

“I had a desire to understand how teaching policies are influenced by international organizations and assessments, and this was underpinned by concerns over the apparently uncritical adoption of international policy recommendations for the teaching profession, often with troubling and unexpected results.”

The mixed results that the adoption of international policies in teaching and education have had in Chile, in comparison with the effectiveness of similar policies in NZ, has been a recurring theme throughout her research career.

“This became a burning question when I completed my Masters in International Education Policy at Harvard University, which forced me to confront the promotion of the decontextualized transfer of educational policies – especially within developing countries seeking development grants – by some international organizations and institutions.”

The financial support Janine received from the College of Education allowed her to attend an international conference in Mexico, at which she presented her research, and to attend training courses in her method in Europe.

“This support was an unexpected bonus, and allowed me to connect with other researchers in my field, and to deepen both my knowledge in, and my passion for, my area of research.”

She also recognizes the challenges of studying via distance, while based in a foreign country. “This has been incredibly demanding and enriching. I know myself so much better than I did at the beginning of the journey.”

She thanks supervisors Senior Lecturer Dr David Berg (College of Education) and Professor Lisa Smith, and the College of Education and Scholarship offices for their “ongoing support and interest” in her work.

“However, my most heartfelt thanks are for my close and extended to my family, who have provided me the opportunity, the motivation, and the support to be successful in this academic endeavour,” she says.

Janine will present her findings from Chile via zoom on 1 August – the screening room will be ERGO4, Education Centre, Union Street East: Click here to view.