A Conversation with Barbara Comber

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Dr. Barbara Comber is known for her work in the areas of creative teaching pedagogy, critical literacy, poverty, and social justice. In particular, she studies the kinds of teaching practices that make a difference to young people's literacy learning trajectories and what gets in the way. Barbara has collaborated on and conducted a number of competitively funded research projects concerned with literacy development, teaching and socioeconomic disadvantage. Her work has appeared in Theory into Practice, Linguistics and Education, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, The Reading Teacher, Curriculum & Inquiry, Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice, Language Arts, Teaching Education, Critical Studies in Education, International Journal of Educational Research, Discourse, International Journal of Innovation in Education, Australian Geographer, Australian Educational Research, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, and many other journals. Her books include Literacy, Place, and Pedagogies of Possibility. She has co-edited a number of books including the International Handbook of Research in Children's Literacy, Learning and Culture, Literacies in Place: Teaching environmental communications, Negotiating Critical Literacies in Classrooms, and Turn-around pedagogies: Literacy interventions for at-risk students. She has also authored or co-authored over 100 book chapters. Her work has been funded by the Australian Research Council, the Spencer Foundation, Myer Foundation, and Education Departments in Australia. Barbara has developed or contributed to language and literacy teacher education materials in a number of Australian states, the US and Canada. In 2015, she was elected member to the Reading Hall of Fame and in 2022, Barbara was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to education. Dr. Comber is an Adjunct Research Professor in the Centre for Research in Educational and Social Inclusion, Education Futures at the University of South Australia.


Education research has a problem. The work of brilliant education researchers often doesn’t reach the practice of brilliant teachers. Classroom Caffeine is here to help. Each week, I invite a top education researcher to sit down and talk with teachers about what they have learned from years of study.

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