Mary Jane Shuker

Senior Lecturer
School of Education

Teaching in 2020


BSocSci Ott, Montessori Dip Toronto, DipEd(ECE) MEd(Hons) PhD Massey


Mary Jane is the Programme Director for early childhood education. She has a background as an early childhood care and education teacher followed by 25 years’ experience in early childhood teacher education. Mary Jane currently teaches in the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Early Childhood Programme and the Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood Education), particularly around curriculum knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge.

Current research

Mary Jane’s teaching and research has focused on issues of diversity in early childhood settings, and young children’s literacy learning, primarily using qualitative methodology. Her approach is underpinned by a view of literacy as social practice, which acknowledges the varied literacy experiences that children bring with them from home and their community to an early childhood setting.

Research interests

  • Early childhood education
  • Multiliteracies
  • Diversity
  • Popular culture

Current research projects

2015 – 2018 Digital Storytimes in Public Libraries in New Zealand Aotearoa. Associate Investigator. Principal Investigator Professor Anne Goulding [School of Information Management], Dr John Dickie [Associate Investigator] and Neal Barber [Research Assistant]. Analysing the extent to which digital technologies are being used in public library storytimes in New Zealand Aotearoa, and how (University Team Research Fund).

2011 – 2017 Public libraries and Emergent Literacy. Associate Investigator. Principal Investigator Professor Anne Goulding [School of Information Management], Dr John Dickie [Associate Investigator] and Lauren Bennett [Research Assistant]. Exploring the contribution of New Zealand public libraries to young children’s emergent literacy development (University Research Fund).

Recently completed research projects

2012 –2013 Evaluation of the Ministry of Education-funded Early Childhood Education Professional Development Programmes. Sue Cherrington, Mary Jane Shuker, Alison Stephenson, Ali Glasgow, Lesley Rameka and Kate Thornton with Sarah Sears, Nicola Goodman, Alison Barker and Jonine Nager (Ministry of Education).

2010 – 2014 Investigated how early childhood and primary teachers make effective links to young children's knowledge by incorporating aspects of popular culture into their literacy programmmes. Co-directed with Dr John Dickie (University Research Fund).

2008 – 2016 Diversity of Diversity in Early Childhood Education. Joint project manager with Sonja Rosewarne. The research team included S. Alcock, A. Barker, F. Burgess, S. Cherrington, A. Glasgow, J. Loveridge, L. Meyer, & J. Nager (University Research Fund).

Supervision interests

I welcome inquiries from students interested in undertaking masters or doctoral research in the following areas:

  • Early childhood care and education: histories, philosophies
  • Young children and popular culture: Implications for literacy learning
  • Multiliteracies in early childhood education
  • Diversity in ECE

Research methods

  • Qualitative methodology
  • Case studies
  • Survey research

Recently completed supervisions

Doctoral thesis completions

Anita Mortlock (2015). Lifting the School Mat: An Investigation of Pedagogy and Children’s Social Worlds at Mat Time. Secondary supervisor. Primary supervisor Professor Vanessa Green; other secondary supervisor Dr Michael Johnston.

Thi Doan-Huong Dinh (2014). The Early Childhood Curriculum (2009) in Vietnam: Tensions in the first three years of implementation. Primary supervisor; Secondary supervisor Professor Carmen Dalli.

Sandi Tait-McCutcheon (2014). Teacher practice in primary mathematics classrooms: A story of positioning. Secondary supervisor. Primary supervisor A/Prof Joanna Higgins; other secondary supervisor Dr Judith Loveridge.

Master’s thesis completions

Ana Pickering (2014). Breaking the circle of one: Critical reflection in Montessori early childhood settings in Aotearoa New Zealand. Secondary supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Kate Thornton.

Toni Christie (2010). What does respect for primary caregiving, free movement, and infants’ competence and confidence look like in practice? Primary supervisor; Secondary supervisor Professor Carmen Dalli.

Robyn Grover (2010). Professional development and its impact on teachers' interactive whiteboard use in New Zealand primary schools. Primary supervisor.

Lisa Terreni (2009). A case study on how young children and teachers use an interactive whiteboard in a New Zealand Kindergarten setting for visual arts learning experiences. Primary supervisor.

Dissertation completions

Insook Lee (2017). How do early childhood teachers in one centre use learning stories as formative assessments to inform them about the language development of one EAL learner? Secondary supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Margaret Gleeson.

Bevan Connell (2016). How do children’s picture storybooks that win New Zealand awards demonstrate empathy and critical thinking? Secondary supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Anita Mortlock.

Current doctoral thesis supervisions

Luke Santamaria. The use of touch-screen tablets in ECE in New Zealand. Secondary supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Sue Cherrington.

Sola Freeman. What influences scientific learning for children in early childhood settings in New Zealand? Primary supervisor; Secondary supervisor Dr Kate Thornton.

Sureepan Iemamnuay. How does Thai culture underpin the 2003 Early Childhood Curriculum in Thailand? Primary supervisor; Secondary supervisor Dr Sophie Alcock.


Teaching in 2020