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Dr Michaela Oliver

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor in the School of Education


Dr Michaela Oliver is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Durham University and Programme Director for the BA Primary Education programme. She currently teaches across undergraduate, master's and on Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes. She is a supervisor on UG and MA Dissertation programmes.

After achieving a first-class degree in Education and English Literature at Durham University, Michaela completed a Primary PGCE and taught in a large primary school in the North East of England. Michaela completed a PhD at Durham University funded by a studentship from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). She also gained a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods with Distinction and a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) while completing her doctoral studies. The PGCAP programme awarded Fellowship to the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). Michaela engaged in teaching across two Higher Education Institutions throughout her doctoral studies.

Michaela’s research explores reasoning practices (or ‘styles’) important in primary English from a sociocultural perspective. Her doctoral research was concerned with identifying discipline-specific reasoning styles in the primary English curriculum area and supporting promotion of these in teaching. To support such promotion, her research explores the roles of pedagogical task design, dialogic and collaborative teaching and learning approaches. Michaela continues to explore these areas further in her current research and publications.

Michaela is currently involved in two funded research projects exploring ways to improve the teaching of critical digital literacies in primary and secondary education. Drawing on other interests, these projects also explore the role of (discipline-specific) reasoning promotion and task design. 

Michaela is committed to widening participation and inclusive practice. She has been involved in teaching on the Supported Progression and Sutton Trust summer schools at Durham University since 2018 and leads the First Generation Scholars Network in the School of Education.


Research Groups

Pedagogy and Curriculum

Twitter: @Michaela0liver

Research interests

  • Reasoning
  • Primary Education
  • Discipline-specific practices
  • Task design
  • Dialogic teaching and learning
  • Critical thinking

Esteem Indicators

  • 2023: Member of the Editorial Board for The Curriculum Journal:
  • 2022: Conference Presentation; Durham Learning and Teaching Conference: ‘Rethinking learning, teaching and assessment':
  • 2022: Conference Presentation; The Three Rivers Conference: 'Engaging Students: Building Communities':
  • 2020: Conference Presentation; Imagining Better Education Conference; Durham University:
  • 2019: Conference Presentation; Imagining Better Education Conference; Durham University:
  • 2019: Conference Presentation; BERA:
  • 2018: Conference Presentation; Imagining Better Education Conference; Durham University:
  • 2018: Conference Presentation; Wolfson Early Career Researcher Conference; Durham University: