Dr Kathy Gibbs spent a career working with young people before coming into a niche area of research in inclusive education, focused on ADHD support and differentiated instruction.  

Having spent 35 years working with young people, Kathy is passionate about teaching and learning and her research has been inspired by a desire to learn more about how to support students diagnosed with ADHD.  

On her transition into research Kathy says: 

“As the head of learning support in a large independent boy’s school, part of my role was to observe students who had been diagnosed with ADHD. They had varying different symptomologies and I felt then I needed to learn a lot more about this and how to support students in this area. I was in a position to go back to study, so I took the opportunity. It has been very beneficial.” 

Her research area has expanded to combine with her area of teaching in inclusive education. She has a combined research focus of ADHD and differentiated instruction, which is a mode of instruction to help teachers support multi-ability classrooms.  

Kathy is dedicated to sharing these learnings and is now the Program Director for the Bachelor of Education at Griffith University. 

Kathy says:  

“The climate our teachers are teaching in now, is that students who were previously in special schools are now in mainstream classrooms with mainstream teachers. Teachers need to modify their teaching in multi ability classrooms, where there are students below/above/at year level expectations. This is a real challenge. Differentiated instruction is one teaching practice that provides teachers with capacity to teach in multi-ability classrooms.”  

Kathy is a qualitative researcher, specialising in thematic analysis. Her research work involves interviews with those in schools including teachers and school leaders.   

She has recently published a paper which looks at differentiated learning experiences and practices best suited to supporting students with ADHD in schools.  This is a niche area of research, especially in Australia, and Kathy hopes to use this as a platform to build an international profile in this area with researchers from other universities and countries.  

“Differentiation is a complex teaching practice. There is a lot of research on it, especially in the USA. However, about 3 years ago I completed a systematic review of the papers in Australia on this, and I found six. So, it is still growing in Australia.” 

She seeks to fuse research and practice and is dedicated to supporting teachers’ professional development in this area.  

“Teachers need professional learning experiences. I am hoping to send the message out to schools that I am here, working in this space, and let me help you. I have a couple of schools that I’m connected to. I am hoping my research in this area will continue to expand.” 

On research motivation, she says: 

“The innate teacher drives me. Over 30 years of teaching young people hasn’t waned. If somebody gives me an idea, I love bringing that to fruition.” 

Read more about Kathy’s fascinating research on her Griffith Expert’s profile and below.