Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education - Faculty of Social Sciences


For teachers in isolated schools in remote New South Wales, Australia, support may be lacking in meeting the needs of students with oppositional and defiant behaviours. This lack of support may lead to impediments in the development of teacher professional identity and could even lead to teachers leaving the profession. These trends are alarming considering the disproportionate number of beginning teachers working in isolated schools.

The purpose of this research was to design an effective method of meeting the needs of teachers in isolated school of students with oppositional and defiant behaviours. The study investigated the needs of these teachers in regards to professional support. Further the study aimed to establish innovative ways to provide for the teachers’ professional learning that could increase the capacity of the teachers to meet the needs of this challenging cohort and at the same time reduce the impact on teachers and students alike.

The Bringing It To The Teachers (BITTT) research project consisted of three elements: the BITTT online learning environment, the BITTT Community of Practice and the BITTT model. These three elements combined together to support teachers in isolated schools to cope with the demands of teaching students demonstrating externalising behaviour. Further they informed future directions for teacher support in isolated schools.

Building on a sociocultural theoretical frame, this study utilised a four-­‐phase design-­‐ based research model to develop, test and refine the Bringing It To The Teachers (BITTT) online learning environment and model in an authentic setting. Then it utilised a Community of Practice framework to develop the dispersed BITTT community. This qualitative study allowed ten purposively sampled teachers, of varying experiences, the opportunity to participate in the development and refinement of these important tools that sought to enhance their teaching experience in isolated settings. It incorporated data from a series of participant interviews and questionnaires with data from a focus group of experts in student oppositional and defiant behaviours and statistical data to shape the direction of the research. These data sources combined with existing design principles to allow the creation of the BITTT community of practice, which successfully delivered online support and professional learning for the participant teachers.

The online learning environment was tested and refined through iterative cycles of improvement, culminating in the final version of the site, and a set of the design principles. The results demonstrated that the online learning environment met the professional learning needs of teachers in isolated schools, particularly in regards to the students with oppositional and defiant behaviours. Also it was an effective vehicle for supporting their professional skills, efficacy and professional identity in an authentic setting.