Joanna Higgins

Joanna Higgins profile picture

Associate Dean Research School of Education


Teaching in 2020


PhD, MA, BEd Stud, BA, Dip Teaching


I have been involved in teacher education for the last 20 years, during which time I have taught courses in initial teacher education and inservice teacher education, and at master’s level. I have also supervised Master of Education and PhD theses. Recent teaching has included on-line master’s courses in mathematics education and supervision of PhDs. I have been a Principal Investigator in the Numeracy Development Projects research and evaluation contracted by the Ministry of Education. I was also national research co-ordinator of the Inservice Teacher Education Practice project during 2006 and 2007. Earlier contracts include an evaluation of Te Kauhua, in-school facilitation in Te Kauhua and Te Kotahitanga, and Learning for Living, a numeracy professional development initiative for adult learners. During the 1990s I was Manager: Research and Academic Development at the former Wellington College of Education (now Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Education). Previous to this I taught for 15 years in primary schools in the Wellington area.

Current research

My research platform has two key components: learning environments and policy implementation that emerge from my commitment to connecting teaching, research, policy and practice with a specific interest in the influence of policy on learning environments. My research in learning environments spans classroom studies of primary mathematics; secondary science, and initial teacher education. This research, from a sociocultural theoretical stance, includes two mindfulness-based breathing intervention studies in primary classrooms; and an intervention project to promote positive emotional engagement in mathematics of prospective elementary teachers. My research in policy implementation focuses on instructional reform in mathematics education and professional inquiry of teachers and teacher educators. Studies on the enactment of policy use a sensemaking theoretical frame to investigate how facilitators shape teachers’ access to policy ideas.

Recently completed research projects

  • Mathematics Emotional Engagement (MEE) with Raewyn Eden, Massey University
  • Place | Identity @ Museum, School, and Community with Jennifer D. Adams, Brooklyn College and GC, The City University of New York (CUNY), Marissa Bellino, The College of New Jersey, and Raewyn Eden, Massey University.
  • Mindfulness in Education with Raewyn Eden, Massey University and Azra Moeed, Victoria University of Wellington.
  • Policy: Design, Enactment and Evaluation withRo Parsons, Education Review Office

Selected recent publications

Higgins, J., Moeed, A., & Eden, R. (2018). Video as a mediating artefact of science learning: cogenerated views of what helps students learn from watching video. Asia-Pacific Science Education, 4:6.

Higgins, J. & Keane. R. (in press) Mindfulness, Learning, and Education. Oxford Bibliographies in Education.

Higgins, J. & Eden, R. (in press). Cogenerated understandings of mindfulness-based breathing in elementary mathematics classrooms. TheJournal of Educational Research.

Higgins, J. & Moeed, A. (in press). Fostering curiosity in science classrooms: Inquiring into practice using cogenerative dialoguing. Science Education International.

Bellino, M., Adams, J. D., & Higgins, J. (in press). Photovoice as a vehicle for supporting environmental literacy and language acquisition. In L. Ammentorp, T. Dell'Angelo, & L. Madden, Eds.), Using Photography and Other Arts-based Methods with English Language Learners: Guidance, Resources and Activities for K-12 Educators. Rowman and Littlefield.

Huynh, T., Tran, H., Higgins, J., & Thornton, K. (2017). A Case Study: Exploring Factors Affecting Lecturers’ Research Engagement in a University in the Mekong Delta Region. Imperial Journal of Interdisciplinary Research, 3 (5)

Higgins, J., Eden, R., & Moeed, A. (2016). Mindfulness interventions in classroom learning environments. In M. Powietrzynska & K. Tobin (Eds.), Mindfulness and educating citizens for everyday life (pp. 59-72). Rotterdam: Sense.

Way, J., Bobis, J., Lamb, J., & Higgins, J. (2016). Researching Curriculum, Policy and Leadership in Mathematics Education. In K. Makar, S. Dole, J. Visnovska, M. Goos, A. Bennison & K. Fry (Eds.). Review of Australasian Mathematics Education Research: 2012-2015. Springer.

Higgins, J., & Eden, R. (2015). Practice-based inservice teacher education: Generating local theory about the pedagogy of group work. Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 17(1), 84-97.

Higgins, J., & Bonne, L. (2013). Exploring classroom life through cogenerative dialogues. Cultural Studies of Science Education, Online First, DOI 10.1007/s11422-013-9558-8.


Supervision interests

  • Mathematics and science education – formal and informal,
  • Implementation research – design, implementation and evaluation of professional development and learning
  • Educational policy
  • Research in Asian settings
  • Tertiary and adult education – numeracy focus
  • Emotions and mindfulness in education
  • Learning environments – schools and tertiary
  • Professional inquiry
  • Sociocultural Methodologies including Activity Theory, Authentic Inquiry, Ethnography, and Cogenerative Dialoguing.

Recent student supervision PhD completions:

  • May 2016: Huynh Thanh Tien Vietnamese Academics’ Research Capacity in Tertiary Contexts (Co-Supervisor)
  • December 2015: Brian Tweed Legitimation and the Learning of Curriculum Mathematics in an Indigenous Maori School (1st Supervisor)
  • March 2015: Vicki Thorpe Assessing complexity: Group Composing and New Zealand’s National Certificates of Educational Achievement (2nd Supervisor)
  • August 2014: Siti Shamsiah Binti Sani Exploring Teachers’ Approaches to Science Practical Work in Lower Secondary Schools in Malaysia (Co-Supervisor)
  • 2014: Sandi Tait-McCutcheon Teacher Practice in Primary Mathematics Classrooms: A Story of Positioning (1st Supervisor)


Teaching in 2020