Outline of my program

My research strengths are in the areas of: economics and sociology of education as well as psychology and education. More recently I have turned my attention to economics and sociology of religion. I have also published in the area of behavioural economics/finance. My broad philosophy of research, and my areas of research interest, stem from my overarching interests/values in social justice and spirituality (poor in spirit). I am looking to use a mixture of econometric, analytical, and computational methods to analyse these research questions. In the future I would like to add experimental techniques to my list of tools. I am currently supervising a Masters by Resarch student who is completing a thesis in the topic area of ‘socio-economic status, self-efficacy and retention/returning to study’.

Current Projects

Interrelationships between religiosity with education and income: An Australian study

The role that education and income play in influencing levels of religiosity remains an open question in sociology and economics. Using Australian microeconomic data, this paper seeks to explore the relationship between self-reported religious conviction, edcuation and membership and education and income. A key control variable in this analysis islevels of attendance at religious services, which in turn is related to levels of education. This introduces issues of endogenity which, to our knowledge, has not been adequately dealt with in previous studies.

Variations in accounting students’ conceptions of learning

Students’ conceptions of learning or preconceived views of what learning means to students have been found to play a significant role in how they choose to approach their learning. This study investigates conceptions of learning held by accounting students in their second- and third-years in university. The study is based on phenomenographic and content-analytic approaches applied to survey responses of 207 accounting students from an Australian university. In the first phase of the analysis we identify 6 learning conceptions. Learning is conceived as: (1) increase of knowledge; (2) understanding; (3) knowledge acquisition for application; (4) a pathway to success; (5) seeing in new ways; and (6) self-development. Compared to similar studies we did not find evidence of the conception ‘learning as memorisation’. In contrast to prior research ‘learning as understanding’ emerged as a lower-order conception of learning in accounting students in this study. In the second phase we find that, after controlling for a range of factors that are likely to affect students’ conceptions of learning third-year students are more likely to adopt a higher-order conception. However, majority of the students, including third year students, continue to adopt low-order conceptions. These findings highlight the need to extend student learning beyond the acquisition of technical skills and knowledge to instil higher-order learning conceptions which underpin the development of generic skills much demanded of professional accountants. As a result, the findings of this study have implications for curriculum and assessment design, and learning and teaching practice in accounting degree programs.

An economic and sociological model of post-secondary students’ decision to attend university;

Understanding the relationship between over-confidence and student approaches to learning