Higher-degree research being undertaken by Eve Mayes




Associate Professor Deb Hayes and Professor Susan Groundwater-Smith

Thesis title:

The lines of the voice: a participatory ethnography of 'student voices' in school reform.



Project description

‘Student voice’ has re-emerged in the last twenty years as a ‘buzz’ term, adopted by schools in school improvement processes. Concerns have been raised by researchers and practitioners surrounding the linguistic focus of ‘student voice’, the complexity of power/knowledge relations in ‘voice’ endeavours and the potential for students’ work to be co-opted. However, students have generally not participated in these broader theoretical and ethical debates.

This project maps with students the discursive practices, affective intensities and embodied experiences of student participation in one school’s reform process during National Partnerships for Low Socio-Economic Schools funding (2010-2013). During a year-long participatory ethnography, I engaged students previously and currently involved as researchers in the school’s student voice initiative in group conversations, collaborative writing, diagramming, arts-based explorations, joint analyses and concept creation about voice, affect and power in student participation. Teachers and parents also participated in interviews and focus groups about their experiences of the reform process.

‘Thinking with’ the work of Gilles Deleuze, and his collaborations with Félix Guattari and Claire Parnet, I examine the concept of student voice and its affects and percepts: how bodies react to ‘voice’ and how responses to teacher/student interactions are articulated in language. The analytic modes of rhizoanalysis (Deleuze & Guattari, 1980/1987; Masny 2013) and schizoanalysis (Deleuze & Guattari 1972/1977; Guattari 1992/1995) are drawn upon to consider the discursive, affective and material dimensions of student participation in school reform at one school, and their transversal relations with fourth wave policy discourses (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009) and the global education reform movement (Rivzi & Lingard, 2010).

Eve Mayes has been an English and English as a Second Language teacher in NSW public schools in south-west Sydney and is currently a PhD candidate. Her classroom was one of the case studies in the University of Western Sydney (UWS) Teachers for a Fair Go research. Eve initiated facilitating a ‘students-as-co-researchers’ in school reform initiative in 2010 in collaboration with Honorary Professor Susan Groundwater-Smith. Eve has tutored and lectured at the University of Sydney and the University of Western Sydney. She was awarded an AARE Postgraduate Student Research Award in December 2013.


  • 2013 - Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Postgraduate Student Research Award
  • 2012 - present: Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship
  • 2012 - present: University of Sydney Merit Award scholarship

Professional and community roles

  • mETAphor journal committee member, NSW English Teachers Association (NSW ETA)

Book chapter

Journal Publication

  • Mayes, Eve. (in press). Negotiating the hidden curriculum: Power and affect in negotiated classrooms. English in Australia.

Conference presentations

  • Mayes, Eve. (2014). “I’M CONCERNED THESE WORDS WILL NOT LAST”: The irruption of an art project into an ethnography of ‘student voice’ in school reform. 35th Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 28 February – 1 March, 2014.
  • Mayes, Eve. (2013). Speaking for and before students: Becoming in an ethnographic study of student participation in school reform. Deleuze Guattari Schizoanalysis Education conference. Murdoch University, Perth, 11-13 December, 2013.
  • Mayes, Eve. (2013). Students researching teachers’ practice: Lines of flight and temporary assemblage conversions in and through a students-as-co-researchers event . Australian Association for Research in Education conference. Adelaide, 2-5 December 2013.
  • Mayes, E. & Sawyer, W. (2013). Teacher research as innovation. Invited keynote paper at NSW English Teachers Association Annual Conference, 22-23 November 2013.
  • Mayes, E. & Sawyer, W. (2013). Teachers-as-researchers in low-SES contexts. Equity in Education symposium. Centre for Education Research, UWS, 28-30 October 2013.
  • Mayes, E., Arya-Pinatyh & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2013). Participation, connection and rupture: Cross-age, cross-school and cross-sectoral links across heterogeneous Australian settings. Student voice annual gathering. Cambridge University, 25-27 June 2013.
  • Mayes, E. (2013). Student voice and the student who does not speak: A Deleuzian/ Butlerian response to the judgment of voice. Voice, presence, absence conference. University of Technology, 13-15 February 2013.
  • Mayes, E. (2012). Rhizomatic figurations of student participation in school reform. Affecting Deleuze conference. University of Auckland, New Zealand, 19-20 October, 2012.
  • Mitra, D. (chair), Holdsworth, R., Zygnier, D., Searle, L., Mayes, E., Johnson, K., McLelland, S. (2012). Student voice in schools. 17th Annual Values, Ethics, Leadership in Education. Brisbane, Queensland, 1-2 October 2012.