Joseph (Mark) Thomas

    Joseph (Mark) Thomas

    PhD student

    Biographical note

    After completing a Bachelor of Science in Business Finance from the University of Colorado in 2001, Mark relocated to the Middle East in order to pursue a better understanding of the enduring Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Throughout the last decade, he has been deeply involved in international educational collaborations to connect students in the United States and Canada with their counterparts in the Middle East, including Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria and Israel. Mark also has several years of professional experience working in the non-profit sector as a development coordinator for non-governmental organisations specialising in women’s rights and empowerment, disability rights and grassroots community organising.

    Research topic

    Neoliberal performance and resistance in Australia’s flexible learning sector

    Research outline

    Flexible learning options (FLOs) for young people experiencing disengagement from formal schooling are an increasingly prominent feature of Australia’s educational landscape. This mixed-methods research queries performance of and resistance to neoliberal educational policy in Australia’s flexible learning sector. The study considers the influence of the prevailing market-based valuation paradigm upon FLO goal setting, program design, assessment and school improvement processes.

    By locating FLOs within the neoliberal social, economic and political contexts that inform the appraisal of educational outcomes, the valuation exercise itself may be reconceived. A matching estimators technique is utilised to estimate long-term benefits associated with holistic educational re-engagement and expand the empirical basis for educational policymaking in Australia.

    Research questions

    • In what ways do FLOs complement and challenge neoliberal policy and praxis in the Australian educational system?
    • How can propensity score matching be utilised to estimate the long-term benefits of FLOs’ educational and psychosocial outcomes?

    Supervisory Team

    Associate Professor Riccardo Welters, College of Business, Law & Governance

    Professor Brian Lewthwaite, Adjunct, College of Arts, Society & Education

    Research Grants

    Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Scholarship (2014-17)

    Australian Postgraduate Award (2017-18)

    Conference papers

    Murray, D., & Thomas, J. (2017). Flexible learning communities—Challenging disadvantage, enacting equity. Paper presented at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement Annual Conference, Ottowa, Canada.

    Thomas, J. (2015) Flexible learning in the neoliberal Australian political economy: Grassroots perspectives on educational policy and praxis. paper presented at The Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference, Cairns.

    Thomas, J., & Welters, R. (2017). The importance of belonging—Measuring the impact of young people’s sense of belonging at school on their quality of life as young adults. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference, Canberra.

    Welters, R., & Thomas, J. (2016). Re-engaging disenfranchised learners: Where do they go next? Paper presented at the Doing School Differently Conference, Melbourne.

    Publications

    Peer-reviewed journal articles

    Myconos, G., Thomas, J., Wilson, K., Te Riele, K., & Swain, L. (2016). Educational re-engagement as social inclusion: The role of flexible learning options in alternative provision in Australia. FORUM, 58(3), 345-354. doi:10.15730/forum.2016.58.3.345

    Stoeckl, N., Hicks, C., Farr, M., Grainger, D., Esparon, M., Thomas, J., & Larson, S. (2018). The crowding out of complex social goods. Ecological Economics, 144, 65-72. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.07.021

    Thomas, J., McGinty, S., Te Riele, K., & Wilson, K. (2017). Distance travelled: outcomes and evidence in flexible learning options. The Australian Educational Researcher, 1-18. doi:10.1007/s13384-017-0239-6

    Chapters in edited books

    Lewthwaite, B., Babacan, H., TeRiele, K., Murray, D., & Thomas, J. (2018). Overview, conclusions and implications. In B. Lewthwaite, S. McGinty, K. Wilson & J. Thomas (Eds.),Gauging the value of flexible learning options for disenfranchised youth: Flexible learning options (pp. 131-146). Brill: Leiden.

    Thomas, J. (2018). Flexible learning options in the neoliberal educational landscape. In B. Lewthwaite, S. McGinty, K. Wilson & J. Thomas (Eds.), Gauging the value of flexible learning options for disenfranchised youth: Flexible learning options. Brill: Leiden.

    Stoeckl, N., Larson, Thomas, J., Hicks, C., Pascoe, S., & Marsh, H. (2018). Socioeconomic impacts of changes to marine fisheries and aquaculture that are brought about through climate change. In B. Phillips & M. Perez-Ramirez (Eds.), Climate change impacts on fisheries and aquaculture: A global analysis (pp. 925-958). Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Thomas, J., & Welters, R. (2018). The importance of belonging: The impact of young people’s sense of belonging at school on their quality of life as young adults. In B. Lewthwaite, S. McGinty, K. Wilson & J. Thomas (Eds.), Gauging the value of flexible learning options for disenfranchised youth: Flexible learning options (pp.105-129). Brill: Leiden.

    Edited books

    Lewthwaite, B., McGinty, S., Wilson, K. & Thomas, J. (Eds.) (2018). Gauging the value of flexible learning options for disenfranchised youth: Flexible learning options. Brill: Leiden.

    Policy & technical reports

    Welters, R. & Thomas, J. (2018). A holistic analysis of the economic and social impact of Defence Townsville in and its interaction with the city of Townsville. Townsville: Australian Government—Department of Defence (forthcoming).

    Stoeckl, N., Esparon, M., Grainger, D., Jarvis, D., Thomas, J. & Larson, S. (2017). Multiple benefits and knowledge systems of Indigenous Land Management Programs (ILMPs): Economic perspectives. Progress report for the National Environmental Science Program Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub (NESP NAER)—Project 5.3. Darwin: NESP NAER.

    Thomas, J., Stoeckl, N. & Esparon, M. (2015). State of Wet Tropics Report 2014/15: Economic Value of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Cairns: Wet Tropics Management Authority.

    Thomas, J. & Stoeckl, N. (2015). Economic Opportunities and Risks of Cruise Tourism in Cairns. Cairns: Australian Marine Conservation Society.

    Under Review

    Lewthwaite, B., Thomas, J., Welters, R., Wilson, K. (n.d.) How Do Disengaged Youth Perceive the Learning Environment of Their Current Flexible Learning Option as Compared to Their Previous School: A Quantitative Study of Contrast. Article submitted 19 Oct. 2016 to the International Journal of Inclusive Education. Status: Under review.

    Teaching Experience

    Tutor (2014-17) College of Business, Law & Governance—James Cook University:

    BU1003, Economics for Sustainable Business; BU1007, Business Data Analysis and Interpretation


    Extended Profile

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