Navigating researcher positionality in Comparative and International Education research: Perspectives from emerging researchers



Researcher positionality, emerging researchers, insider and outsider research, Comparative and International Education


The ability to articulate one’s positionality as a researcher is a crucial aspect of social research. This is particularly important in the field of Comparative and International Education where context, culture, and notions of power underpin much of this work. Yet, what is meant by researcher positionality is seldom articulated and rarely discussed within Comparative and International Education literature. What’s more, researcher positionality has a multiplicity of meanings, making it challenging for emerging researchers to navigate this muddied, cluttered and unfamiliar terrain. In this article, seven emerging researchers examine their own researcher positionality within the context of their postgraduate research. They draw attention to the different conceptualisations of researcher positionality, and uncover the tensions, challenges and questions that this exploration has raised. Through a series of short vignettes, this article brings greater clarity to the notion of researcher positionality within the field of Comparative and International Education. 

Author Biographies

Mellisa Chin, University of Waikato

Mellisa Chin is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Te Kura Toi Tangata School of Education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Her doctoral research project focuses on the development of inclusive education policies for children with disabilities in Malaysia. She earned her B.Ed. and M.Ed. from the University of Malaya (Malaysia). Her research interests include policy studies, inclusive education, and children with learning disabilities

Victoria Beckwith, University of Waikato

Victoria Beckwith is currently the Literacy & Numeracy Leader at the Universal College of Learning (UCOL), Aotearoa New Zealand, and a Ph.D. student in Te Kura Toi Tangata School of Education at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand. Her doctoral research project focuses on the phenomenon of global citizenship through children’s lived experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand. She earned her B.Sc.(Hons) from the Open University in the United Kingdom and her M.Ed. from the University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand. Her research interests include global citizenship, global citizenship education, literacy and numeracy, and dyslexia.

Ben Levy, University of Waikato

Ben Levy is the Senior International Officer at Ramapo College of New Jersey and has more than 20 years of experience as a practitioner-researcher in the field of Higher Education Internationalisation. In his current role, he leads the institution’s comprehensive internationalization strategy and initiatives through robust faculty engagement, focus on access and diversity, and meaningful bilateral global partnerships. He holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from Nova Southeastern University (USA), a M.A. in Sustainable Development from the SIT Graduate Institute (USA), and will pursue his PhD in 2022. In 2015, Mr. Levy was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to Japan, where he had the unique opportunity to gain comprehensive knowledge of the Japanese Higher Education system and build new partnership opportunities. His research focus has included reconstructing models of higher education internationalisation and mobility of knowledges from non-western, non-settler-colonial approaches.

Swati Gulati, University of Waikato

Swati Gulati is currently a Science Teacher at Melville High School, Hamilton, New Zealand.  For Masters' research project, she investigated the ideation and development of the World Bank’s Strengthening Teaching-Learning Results for States (STARS) program from a critical theory perspective for India. She earned her M.Ed from the University of Waikato, New Zealand and B.Ed and B.Tech from the Kurukshetra University, India. Her research interests include global education policy, the role of international aid organisations, immigration and refugees, and STEM education.

Alea Ann Macam, University of Waikato

Alea Ann F. Macam is a Doctorate Researcher at the University of Waikato. Her thesis investigates the conceptualisation of teacher professionalism in the Philippines as influenced by education policies. Her research explores the cultural, social, political, and economic factors that have influenced the ideation, development, and enactment of the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers policy to help teachers improve their teaching practice. Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree, she worked as a teacher professional development specialist in development programs for public education in the Philippines. 

Tanya Saxena, University of Waikato

Tanya Saxena completed her Masters in Educational Leadership from Te Kura Toi Tangata School of Education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. During her master's research she interviewed mathematics teachers from secondary schools of the Waikato region. Her thesis focused on STEM conceptualisation of teachers and curriculum leadership practices of middle level school leaders to implement STEM education in mathematics classrooms.

Dwi Purwestri Sri Suwarningsih, University of Waikato

Dwi Purwestri Sri Suwarningsih is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Te Kura Toi Tangata School of Education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Her doctoral research project focuses on the mentoring relationship for ECE teachers' professional development in Kupang, Indonesia. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Wangsa Manggala University, Indonesia, and  Post Graduate Diploma in Education and an M.Ed. from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She has 20+ years of experience working with local and international NGOs as well as in one of the United Nations Agencies in Indonesia and her work is focusing on children's development and teachers' professional development.