Dr Vijaya Dharan staff profile picture

Contact details +6469517315

Dr Vijaya Dharan

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

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 3

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

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

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.

Courses Coordinated

  • 249.744 Understanding Learners with Behaviour Difficulties
  • 249.749 Evidence-based Interprofessional Practice in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • 256.304 Positive Behaviour for Learning
  • 256.707 Mānuka Tākoto - Behaviour Challenges
  • 256.855 Educational and Developmental Psychology Practice
  • 267.871 Thesis 120 Credit Part 1
  • 267.872 Thesis 120 Credit Part 2
  • 267.881 Thesis 90 Credit Part 1
  • 267.882 Thesis 90 Credit Part 2
  • 267.895 MPhil Thesis 120 Credit Part 1
  • 267.896 MPhil Thesis 120 Credit Part 2

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Main Supervisor 2 0
Co-supervisor 3 1

Current Doctoral Supervision

Main Supervisor of:

  • Jeanette Hastie - Doctor of Philosophy
    Autism and indigenous values of diversity
  • Leanne Romana - Doctor of Philosophy
    How, when and where do we belong? Exploring teacher perspectives of belonging from lived experience

Co-supervisor of:

  • Vani Narayanan - Doctor of Philosophy
    Social experiences of children with autism in inclusive educational settings.
  • Branka Vasilic - Doctor of Philosophy
    Exploring relational flow in effective interprofessional collaborative practice

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2019 - Johanna Wood - Doctor of Education
    Professional Learning in Teen Parent (alternative) Education

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