College of Humanities and Social Sciences staff

Dr Vijaya Dharan staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 84315

Dr Vijaya Dharan Education

Senior Lecturer in Specialist Teaching/Inclusive Education

Institute of Education

Prior to entering academia, I worked as a psychologist with children and young persons with a range of educational, social and emotional needs for nearly 15 years. I have also worked as a classroom teacher both in New Zealand and overseas and briefly as an itinerant special needs teacher. I have been involved in inter-agency work with governmental and non-governmental organisations.This positions me well to undertake collaborative research work alongside school and teachers, as well as researchers in the field of health, social work and psychologists.

My professional philosophy is underpiined by a firm belief that every child can learn and thrive given appropriate opportunities and support.  Therefore my research and supervision interests support the themes of equity and social justice in schools and communities. I am fundamentally a qualitative researcher with a keen interest to explore perceptions and lived experiences of individuals.  Currently I supervise and co-supervise a number of Master's students and a couple of doctoral students. I also  mentor and advise Master's students undertaking professional inquiry projects.

I am an academic appointee on the Massey University Ethics Committee and an invited peer reviewer for National and Internation Journals.

My current interests for research and supervision are:


The search for what works effectively for children and young persons with ASD in educational settings is a field of ongoing enquiry and with very limited research in New Zealand, I am keen on supervising students who are interested in undertaking research in a range of areas for those with ASD aged 0-21 years.

They include voices of children and young persons with ASD; Family voices; Teachers’ beliefs, perspectives and practices; 
Effective practices in schools/early childhood centres; Professional development. Ecological influences on children and young persons with ASD, Transitions and Twice Exceptional learners.


My other strand of interest in the inclusive education field is that of school disciplinary processes as systemic disciplinary processes exclude children and young people from their learning contexts – i.e. early childhood settings, primary, intermediate and high schools. Following a national study on the category of Continual Disobedience that results in excluding the largest number of students that showed both intra and inter school variances, I am interested in researching and supporting research that examines:

  • The perceptions, understandings and contributions of students to the disciplinary processes in their schools.
  • Beliefs and practices of teachers and school leaders on disciplinary matters.
  • Voices and contributions of family/whānau to disciplinary processes and consequences.
  • Equally I am also interested in examining and showcasing effective practices in schools that have a more inclusive approach to disciplinary matters. 


I  am Senior Lecturer at Massey University New Zealand where I coordinate and teach postgraduate specialist teacher training in Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am the programme coordinator for Special and Inclusive Education undergraduate programme. My research interests are in the field of inclusive education, ASD, children and young persons with emotional and behavioural difficulties, school engagement of secondary age students and initial teacher education.  I am a registered psychologist with annual practising certificate and also a registered teacher.

My  other academic research  interests are in the area of multicultural education, cognitive neuropsychology and organisational culture,



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Contact details

  • Ph: +64-6-3569099 ext 84315
    Location: 3.1, Collinson Village
    Campus: Turitea


  • PhD - Victoria University of Wellington (2010)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Inclusive education; Autism; Emotional and Behaviour difficulties; .Student engagement in Secondary schools. Teacher Edcuation;Multicultural Education;

Research Opportunities

  • MURF project  (24/01/2014) Exploring the interpretations of 'continual disobedience' by secondary schools as this category attracts the maximum number of suspensions and stand-downs in high schools.
  • Early Researcher Grant  (15/09/2013) Autism project


21st Century Citizenship

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102): Education (130000): Education Systems (130100):
Educational Psychology (170103):
Higher Education (130103): Primary Education (excl. Maori) (130105):
Psychology (170100): Psychology And Cognitive Sciences (170000):
Special Education and Disability (130312): Specialist Studies in Education (130300): Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators (130313)


 Inclusive education; Autism; Emotional and Behaviour difficulties; .Student engagement in Secondary schools. Teacher Edcuation;Multicultural Education;

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 1 1

Research Outputs


Mentis, M., Holley-Boen, W., Butler, P., Kearney, A., Budd, J., Riley, T., . . . Bevan-Brown, J. (2016). Māwhai: Webbing a professional identity through networked interprofessional communities of practice. Teaching and Teacher Education. Volume 60(November), 66-75
[Journal article]Authored by: Budd, J., Butler, P., Dharan, V., Holley-Boen, W., Kearney, A., MacArthur, J., Mentis, M., Riley, T.
Bourke, R., & Dharan, V. (2015). Assessment practices of educational psychologists in Aotearoa/New Zealand: from diagnostic to dialogic ways of working. Educational Psychology in Practice. 31(4), 369-381
[Journal article]Authored by: Bourke, R., Dharan, V.Contributed to by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, V. (2014). Beginning Teachers and diversity - why the need for extended critical professional support. Asia Pacific Journal of Teacher Education. 43(1), 61-74 Retrieved from
[Journal article]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, V., Meyer, L., & Mincher, N. (2012). At the receiving end - Are policies and practices working to keep students in high schools?. New Zealand Annual Review of Education. 21, 119-141 Retrieved from
[Journal article]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Bourke, R., Holden, B., & Dharan, V. (2007). You think you're doing it, but now I question myself. Using a self-review process in New Zealand schools for learning and change. The International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations. 7(2), 57-66
[Journal article]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Muralidharan, V. (2006). Enhancing Effective Practice in Special Education (EEPiSE).. Kairaranga. 7, 3-7
[Journal article]Authored by: Dharan, V.


Dharan, V. (2016). Introduction. In J. Bevan-Brown, & V. Dharan (Eds.) Autism Spectrum Disorder in Aotearoa New Zealand Promising Practices and Interesting Issues. (pp. 1 - 13). Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council of Educational Research Press
[Chapter]Authored by: Dharan, V.Edited by: Dharan, V.
Bevan-Brown, J., & Dharan, V. (Eds.) (2016). Autism spectrum disorder in Aotearoa New Zealand: Promising practices and interesting issues. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Education Research
[Edited Book]Contributed to by: Dharan, V.Edited by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, V. (2015). Engraining inclusive pedagogy: The role of teacher educators in the practicum and beyond. In E. Walton, & S. Moonsamy (Eds.) Making Education Inclusive. (pp. 75 - 93). Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publisher
[Chapter]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Muralidharan, V. (2013). Understanding diversity - Moving beginning teachers beyond receiving the baton. In Inclusive Education: Perspectives on professional practice. (pp. 52 - 65). Auckland, New Zealand: Dunmore Press
[Chapter]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Carrington, S., Bourke, R., & Dharan, V. (2012). Using the Index for Inclusion to develop inclusive school communities. In S. Carrington, & J. Macarthur (Eds.) Teaching in Inclusive School Communities. (pp. 341 - 364). Australia: Wiley & Sons
[Chapter]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Margrain, V., & Dharan, V. (2011). Connecting curriculum. In V. Margrain, & V. Macfarlane (Eds.) Responsive Pedagogy: Engaging restoratively with challenging behavior.. (pp. 64 - 82). Wellington: NZCER Press
[Chapter]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Meyer, LH., & Muralidharan, V. (2011). Special education, teacher education and diversity.. (Vol. Four) ,Los Angeles: SAGE
[Scholarly edition]Authored by: Dharan, V.


Dharan, VM. (2010). Beginning Teachers, schools, and diversity.. (Doctoral Thesis)
[Doctoral Thesis]Authored by: Dharan, V.


MacArthur, J., Dharan, V., & Rutherford, G. (2017, October). Feeling in or out: Students' perspectives on learning support at secondary school. Presented at The Inclusive Education Symposium. Adelaide.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Dharan, V., MacArthur, J.Contributed to by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, V. (2017). The tryst with curriculum for parents with children with ASD. Poster session presented at the meeting of Asia-Pacific Autism Conference. Sydney, Australia
[Conference Poster]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, V. (2015, November). Continual disobedience - Are we singing from the same song sheet?. Presented at Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE). Perth, Western Australia.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Dharan, V.
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, V. (2015). We do, but should we: Dilemma of parents of children with ASD. , Australian Association of Research in Education
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, V. (2015). Hearing from the experts – Parents’ knowledge of what works for their children. , Altogether Autism New Zealand
[Conference Abstract]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, VM. (2015). Engraining inclusive pedagogy: Role of teacher educators in practicum and beyond. In E. Walton, & S. Monogamy (Eds.) Journal. (pp. 75 - 93). : SAALED
[Conference Paper in Published Proceedings]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, V. (2013, July). For whom the [warning] bells toll. Presented at Inclusive Education Colloquium. Brisbane, Australia.
[Conference Oral Presentation]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Muralidharan, V.Systemic synchronisation of expectations and practices in training teachers. . Johannesburg, South Africa
[Conference Paper]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Dharan, V.(2011, November). Culturally competent psychological services - knowing what aspect(s) of diversity matters in pedagogical practice.. .
[Conference]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Muralidharan, V. (2011). Tracking beginning teachers' orientations of diversity: why do they change?. CD-ROM. (pp. 1073 - 1082). : Back to the Future: Legacies, Continuities and Changes in Educational Policy, Practice and Research
[Conference Paper in Published Proceedings]Authored by: Dharan, V.
Muralidharan, V.What we know and what we learn: perceptions of beginning teachers on student diversity.. . Rotorua
[Conference Paper]Authored by: Dharan, V.


Haworth, PA., & Dharan, V. (2017, April). Conducting ethical research.
[Oral Presentation]Authored by: Dharan, V., Haworth, P.
Averill, R., Hynds, A., & Muralidharan, V. (2011, November). Visiting lecturers' perceptions of the scope of GTS (Graduating Teacher Standard ) three: understand how contextual factors influence teaching and learning'.. In Victoria University Faculty of Education staff.
[Oral Presentation]Authored by: Dharan, V.

Consultancy and Languages


  • Tamil
    Last used: Everyday
    Spoken ability: Excellent
    Written ability: Excellent
  • Hindi
    Last used: 2015
    Spoken ability: Excellent
    Written ability: Average
  • Kannada
    Last used: 2015
    Spoken ability: Excellent
    Written ability: Needs work

Supervision and Teaching

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Co-supervisor 2 0


My teaching papers both in the UG and PG are online papers. I thoroughly enjoy this mode of teaching as it provides a lot of scope for students to express their ideas in many ways including moving away from traditional essay type assignments. I use of community of practice approach to teaching and strongly believe that peer resources are very under used and provide every opportunity in my course to tap into student expertise. 

As a supervisor, I believe in supporting students not only during the completion of their thesis  in a respectful and responsive manner, but also encourage and support their publishing as a co-author.

Current Doctoral Supervision

Co-supervisor of:

  • Branka Vasilic - Doctor of Philosophy
    Exploring relational flow in effective interprofessional collaborative practice
  • Johanna Wood - Doctor of Education
    Professional Learning in Teen Parent (alternative) Education Updated Title 'The professional learning landscape for teen parent educators in New Zealand

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