REDI PhD graduate aims to revolutionise teacher education in Indonesia

In her 18-year career as an educator at a university in Indonesia, Ella Wulandari witnessed the gaps between academic institutions and schools in shaping teaching methodologies. This presented challenges to maintaining consistency in teacher education. Motivated by a desire to enact meaningful change, she decided to pursue a PhD: ‘An Exploration of Indonesian Preservice Teachers’ Professional Learning Experiences’. Here she talks about her choice of Deakin for her PhD studies and her unwavering commitment to revolutionise teacher education in Indonesia.

PhD project

My project explored teacher education provision in a bachelor program at Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta in Indonesia. I have been involved in the program as a teacher educator for 18 years and have observed difficulties in the ways the university and its partner schools have been collaborating to educate our future teachers.

Teacher education in Indonesia

I started my career in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and I’m now a senior lecturer at the teacher education university where my research was undertaken.

As a teacher educator or trainer, I’ve worked with a vast number of teachers in teacher professional development programs held by the Indonesian government and in research initiatives funded by my home university as well as by the Ministry of Education, Research and Culture of Indonesia.

The challenges that I have had during my involvement in teacher education programs in Indonesia relate mostly to the misalignment of expectations and standards between my university and its partner schools, as well as misalignment within the design or curriculum of teacher education at my university. This sometimes made it hard to teach student teachers consistently.

Research making a difference

Through my research, I explored the realities of professional learning provided jointly by the university and practicum associate schools and examined the perspectives of the student teachers, mentor teachers, government, and teacher educator participants. Their perspectives helped me understand their expectations and how that directly or indirectly informed their engagement and participation in the joint provision of professional learning.

Deciding on Deakin

I first heard about Deakin from an information session in my hometown in Indonesia in mid-2018, where several Deakin representatives talked about Masters and Doctoral programs offered at Deakin. I investigated the School of Education and found an alignment with my research areas of Curriculum and Pedagogy so I sent my PhD application. I was accepted and found myself on Deakin’s Burwood campus in 2019!

Supportive supervisors

My supervisors, Deakin Distinguished Professor Julianne Moss and Professor Christine Ure, were very welcoming. I would describe them as supportive and collaborative. I felt supported not only academically but also mentally. It’s the collaborative construction of knowledge that I’ve taken away as a valuable learning experience from my supervisors. I felt I was given room to express my voice, and that showed their trust in my research capacity. I found their directions were very valuable throughout my research journey.

PhD highlight

My Confirmation of Candidature public presentation and the private sessions with the board of examiners in February 2020 were highlights and have stayed with me. Presenting before a panel of esteemed academics made me feel that I was officially accepted into an internationally acclaimed research community. In 2023, I had the opportunity to present at the Southeast Ministry of Education Regional English Learning Centre (SEAMEO RELC) in Singapore and attended the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA) conference in Sydney. The ATEA session was inspiring and taught me how passionate and committed Australian academics are about sustaining quality teacher education. Meeting academics whose publications are on the list of my references left me star-struck.

Next steps

Since I submitted my doctoral thesis, I’ve resumed teaching at my university. I can still see gaps in teacher education collaboration for preparing future teachers in my region, so I want to keep researching and finding ways to improve teacher education in Indonesia. I’m working on two research projects aimed at trialling a model of partnership between teacher education universities and partner schools.

Left to right: Professor Christine Ure, Ella Wulandari, Deakin Distinguished Professor Julianne Moss

News 11 April 2024