Associate Professor Deborah Heck | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Associate Professor Deborah Heck

PhD Griffith, MEnvEd Griffith, BEd Qld.UT

  • Dean, School of Education and Tertiary Access
  • Associate Professor, Education
+61 7 5456 5112
Office location
SD C.2.50
Sunshine Coast
Debbie Heck

Associate Professor Deborah Heck is Dean of School of Education and Tertiary Access at UniSC. She has been associated with the university since 2010 as an Associate Professor.

As a leader, Debbie is noted for her strong commitment to social justice and equity, and her steadfast interest in creating pathways to higher education that span from enabling programs to PhD work. She is energised by the prospect of working jointly with academic and professional faculties, students, and communities to hone the exploratory, research-oriented and societal support work that leads all involved to (re)imagine education as a place where teachers inspire students to be curious about the world and to address its open questions.

Debbie's academic research focuses on broad areas of education theory, curriculum, policy reform, evaluation and method across multiple theories of discourse. Her work contributes to understanding professional practices, academic innovations, teacher identity, higher education assessment methods, dialogic teaching, cogenerative inquiry and theoretical themes relevant to decolonisation.

Debbie's dedication extends to supporting academic faculty and teachers seeking to enter the profession and helping guide them through research undertakings. In 2019-2022, she was the  President of the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA) (2002- 2022). In 2021, she became a member of The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) - Teacher Education Expert Standing Committee. Debbie is a founding member of the International Teacher Education Research Collective (ITERC) and is the ATEA book series editor. Debbie was awarded the Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy award, recognised globally for her teaching. Her teacher education strengths involve senior secondary curriculum with a specialisation in geography and education research for post-graduate students as a pathway to higher degree study.



Recent research leadership includes establishing the inaugural editorial team for the Springer Book Series titled: Teacher Education Research: Shaping Practice Policy and theory with Professor Parlo Singh and Associate Professor Angelina Ambrosetti. The book series provides opportunities to work with editors and chapter authors to mentor them and further develop teacher education researchers to engage with education theory and how it shapes policy and practice.

Founding member of the International Teacher Education Research Collective (ITERC), a group interested in teacher education policy and practice research. ITERC has developed three strands Professionalism, teacher knowledge base and ethics and politics. Deborah is the leader of the latter group, which encompasses working with colleagues in Ireland, the UK and Denmark.

ITERC is currently preparing an editing book, and the ethics and politics group are preparing a chapter on negative universality. ITERC are also planning to generate collaborative research project protocols to explore the areas of teacher professionalism, teacher knowledge base and the ethics and politics of teacher education and will meet for the first time in person in Glasgow August 2023.

Established Reading and Writing International Collective to explore the work of Gert Biesta – World Centred Education. An international reading group in Sept/Oct 2022 also engaged with the author to examine the book World Centred Education.

In 2023 the group of 60 international scholars, including academic staff and HDR students from UniSC in SETA, UQ and CQU commence a writing project that connects academics in Australia, Denmark, UK and Canada and again engage directly with Professor Gert Biesta to generate a scholarly publication.

Research areas

  • Teacher education
  • Education policy
  • Curriculum, identity and agency
  • Education theory and research
  • Dialogic teaching and metalogue
  • Higher education

Associate Professor Debbie Heck has an impressive track record in teacher education, as evidenced by invitations to participate in working parties and recognition by national bodies, such as the award of Distinguished Member of the Australian Association for Teacher Education for their contribution to the profession. Additionally, they have been involved in a range of national initiatives, such as acting as a panel chair for teacher education program professional accreditation with the Australian Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT). Furthermore, the AITSL Board has invited Debbie to join the Teacher Education Expert Standing Committee (TESSC) to advise on the future development of teacher education policy. Furthermore, A/Prof Heck was the President of the Australian Teacher Education Association 202-2022, where they have led national and international collaborations to support research through mentoring, early career activities, conferences, publications, and an edited book. At the state level, they are one of two tertiary representatives on the Queensland Curriculum Assessment Authority (QCAA) committee for senior secondary schooling, which connects with government and non-government schooling sectors across Queensland. This combination of experience and influence in teacher education, schooling and higher education makes Associate Professor Heck uniquely qualified to lead the political agenda and mentor and guide members of the school leadership team to build their capacities to influence the future of education.


Teaching areas

  • Masters and Research Higher Degree Supervision

Deborah Heck's specialist areas of expertise include teacher education, enabling curriculum and pathways into higher education. She is a teacher educator who researches education, policy, change and curriculum in the context of schooling and higher education.

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