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Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education
Leesa Wheelahan

Leesa Wheelahan

phone: +1 416 978 1217

Leadership, Higher and Adult Education

Centre for the Study of Canadian and International Higher Education

Research Overview

My research has a number of strands that are all underpinned by a concern for social justice in access to, and the outcomes of, education. My research focuses on the role of theoretical knowledge in qualifications; pathways between the sectors of tertiary education and between tertiary education and the labour market; relations between colleges and universities; and, tertiary education policy. My current research includes educational and labour market pathways; baccalaureate degrees in colleges; and, marketisation and privatisation in vocational education and the college sector.

Curriculum Vitae

Academic History

1993: Graduate Diploma of Community Development (RMIT)
1994: Bachelor of Arts (Social Science) (Monash University)
1997: Graduate Diploma of Education (University of Melbourne)
1999: Masters of Education (Victoria University)
2008: PhD (Monash University)

Teaching Overview

LHA1803 Recurring Issues in Higher Education
LHA1805 The Community College
LHA1820 Politics in Higher Education
LHA1820 Lifelong Learning and Vocational Education

Representative Publications

Wheelahan, Leesa (2010) Why Knowledge Matters in Curriculum: A Social Realist Argument, London: Routledge.

·       Hard back published in 2010
·       Softback published in 2012

Wheelahan, Leesa; Moodie, Gavin & Doughney, James. 2022. "Challenging the skills fetish."  British Journal of Sociology of Education: Early Open Access 1-20.

Wheelahan, Leesa, & Moodie, Gavin. (2021). Gig qualifications for the gig economy: Micro-credentials and the ‘hungry mile. Higher Education, Early Open Access.
Wheelahan, L. &  Moodie. G., 2021. "Analysing micro-credentials in higher education: a Bernsteinian analysis."  Journal of Curriculum Studies 53 (2):212-28. doi: 10.1080/00220272.2021.1887358.
Wheelahan, L. (2019) Knowledge, competence and vocational education in Guile, D. & Unwin, L. (eds.) Wiley International Handbook on Vocational Education and Training., Chapter 6; pp. 97-112.
Moodie, G., Skolnik, M., Wheelahan, L., Liu, Q., Simpson, D., & Adam, E. (2019). How are ‘applied degrees’ applied in Ontario coleges of applied arts and technology? In Jim Gallacher & Fiona Reeve (Eds.), New Frontiers for College Education: International Perspectives (pp. 137-147). London: Routledge
Arnold, Christine, Wheelahan, Leesa, Moodie, Gavin, Beaulieu, Jacqueline, & Taylor-Cline, Jean-Claude. (2018). Mapping the typology of transition systems in a liberal market economy: the case of Canada. Journal of Education and Work, Early online. doi:

Wheelahan, L., & Moodie, G. (2017). Vocational education qualifications’ roles in pathways to work in liberal market economies. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 69(1), 10-27. doi: 10.1080/13636820.2016.1275031

Wheelahan, L., & Moodie, G. (2016). Global Trends in TVET: a framework for social justice. Brussels: Education International.

Wheelahan, L. (2016). The roles and purposes of qualifications, their relationship to the labour market and how this helps to shape educational pathways. In S. Bohlinger, M. Klatt & K. A. Dang (Eds.), Education Policy: mapping the landscape and scope (pp. 461-486). Frankfurt: Peter Lang Publishers.

Wheelahan, L. (2016). Patching bits won't fix vocational education in Australia - a new model is needed. International Journal of Training Research, early online. doi: 10.1080/14480220.2016.1254368

Wheelahan, Leesa (2016) ‘College for all’ in Anglophone countries – meritocracy or social inequality? An Australian example, Research in Post-Compulsory Education,  21:1-2, 33-48.

Wheelahan, Leesa (2015). ‘Not just skills: what a focus on knowledge means for vocational education’, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 47:6, 750-762.

Wheelahan, Leesa (2015) ‘The future of Australian vocational education qualifications depends on a new social settlement’ in Journal of Education and Work, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 126-146.

Wheelahan, Leesa; Buchanan, John; and, Yu, Serena (2015) Linking qualifications and the labour market through capabilities and vocational streams, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide:
Moodie, Gavin; Wheelahan, Leesa; Fredman, Nick; and, Bexley, Emmaline (2015) Towards a new approach to mid-level qualifications, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide:
Moodie, Gavin; Fredman, Nick; Bexley, Emmaline; and, Wheelahan, Leesa (2013), Vocational education’s variable links to vocations, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide: <> viewed 21 December.

Wheelahan, Leesa (2013) Babies and bathwater: revaluing the role of the academy in knowledge, in Barnett, Ron and Gibbs, Paul (eds.) Thinking about higher education, Springer: New York. 

Wheelahan, Leesa (2011), Beware Anglophone countries bearing gifts, in Bohlinger, Sandra and Münchhausen, Gesa, (eds.) Validierung von Lernergebnissen - Recognition and Validation of Prior Learning, Bonn, Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung

Moodie, Gavin and Wheelahan, Leesa (2012) ‘Integration and fragmentation of post compulsory teacher education’, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, Vol. 64, No. 3, pp. 317-331.

Wheelahan, Leesa (2011) ‘From old to new: the Australian qualifications framework’ Journal of Education and Work, Vol 24. No. 3-4, pp. 323 – 342.

Moodie, Gavin & Wheelahan, Leesa (2009) ‘The significance of Australian vocational education institutions in opening access to higher education’, Higher Education Quarterly, Vol. 63, no. 4, pp. 356-370.

Wheelahan, Leesa (2009) ‘Do educational pathways contribute to equity in tertiary education in Australia?’ Critical Studies in Education, Vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 261-275.

Wheelahan, Leesa (2009), ‘The problem with CBT (and why constructivism makes things worse)’, Journal of Education and Work, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 227-242.

Wheelahan, Leesa (2008) ‘Neither fish nor fowl: the contradiction at the heart of Australian tertiary education’, Journal of Access, Policy & Practice, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 133-152.

Wheelahan, Leesa (2007) ‘Blending activity theory and critical realism to theorise the relationship between the individual and society and the implications for pedagogy’ in Studies in the Education of Adults, Vol. 39, No. 2. pp. 183-196.

Wheelahan, Leesa (2007) ‘How competency-based training locks the working class out of powerful knowledge: a modified Bernsteinian analysis’ in British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol. 28, No. 5, pp. 637-651.

Meet Leesa - Watch the Video