Board of Directors

Laboratory Board of Directors

The Lab is directed by Mary Hamilton, Bryan Maddox, Radhika Gorur, Camilla Addey and Sam Sellar. Their biographical notes follow:


Mary Hamilton is Professor of Adult Learning and Literacy in the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University, UK. She is Associate Director of the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre and a founding member of the Research and Practice in Adult Literacy group. Her work explores communication and interaction in the everyday textually-mediated social world and involves close analysis of how texts, both print and digital, are used within social encounters and circulate within institutional settings. She has a long-standing interest in informal, vernacular learning and how communicative and learning resources are built across the life span. She has become increasingly involved with historical and interpretative policy analysis exploring how international influences reach into local practice and the implications of this for tutor and student agency in literacy education. Her current research is in literacy policy and governance, socio-material theory, academic Literacies, digital technologies and change.

Mary Hamilton is interested in the reception and interpretation of findings from international surveys of literacy. She is currently involved in a comparative study of media coverage of the PIAAC survey findings. She has worked with Keiko Yasokawa (UTS, Sydney) and Jeff Evans (Middlesex University, UK) on the first round of the survey and co-authored an article comparing media coverage in three countries (Japan, The UK and France). More recently she has been collaborating with scholars in the nine additional countries participating in round 2 of the PIAAC survey to follow up on the earlier study. She is especially interested in the rise of data journalism and the use of multiple modes of communication to publicise the findings, including numbers and visualisations.

Relevant publications

  • Hamilton, M., Maddox, B., & Addey, C. (Eds.). (2015). Literacy as Numbers. Cambridge University Press.
  • Hamilton, M. (2012). Literacy and the Politics of Representation. Routledge.
  • Yasukawa, K., Hamilton, M., & Evans, J. (2016). A comparative analysis of national media responses to the OECD Survey of Adult Skills: policy making from the global to the local?. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 1-15.
  • Hamilton, M. (2014). Survey literacies. In Duckworth, V., & Ade-Ojo, G. (Eds). Landscapes of Specific Literacies in Contemporary Society: Exploring a social model of literacy. Routledge. Pp 47-60.


Radhika Gorur is a DECRA Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Deakin University, Australia. Her research explores how some ideas begin to cohere, stabilise, gain momentum and make their way in the world. In particular, she is interested in contemporary efforts to translate the world into numbers, and the mobilisation, stabilisation, circulation  and contestation of numbers in the mutual productions of states and statistics. Using material-semiotic approaches, she studies national and international comparative assessments, contributing to the emerging field of sociology of numbers and measurement. A significant concern in her critique has been to avoid simply ‘debunking’ numbers and polarising people into ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ number camps. Instead, she has sought to challenge the apparent neutrality and objectivity of numbers, and to explore their performative politics. She has sought to demonstrate, through empirical examples, that number work is not merely descriptive but productive, and that understanding the performative nature of numbers is key to raising important moral questions about their participation in contemporary social life.

Radhika is currently working on an ARC-funded project Accountability and global education policy networks in the Indo-Pacific, which aims to describe how contemporary education reforms are unfolding under the Sustainable Development Goals agenda in Bangladesh and Cambodia. By studying empirically how assessment and accountability assemblages are performed,  she hopes to develop a set of principles for sustainable, participatory accountability practices. Prior to joining Deakin University, Radhika was a Senior Fellow at the Victoria Institute, and before that, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, where she worked closely with Prof Fazal Rizvi and focused on issues of transnationalism and globalisation and Indian higher education policies. Her interest in internationalism stems from her extensive experience internationally as an educator; Radhika has held a variety of senior positions in schools in Nigeria, Oman, India and Australia.

Relevant publications

  • Gorur, R. (forthcoming). “The ‘Thin Descriptions’ of Secondary  Analysis of PISA.” Educação & Sociedade
  • Gorur, R. (forthcoming). Towards sustainable, collective and  participatory accountability in Education 2030 – A Think Piece for the Global Education Monitoring Report. Paris, GEMR, UNESCO.
  • Gorur, R. (2016). “Seeing like PISA: A Cautionary Tale about the Performativity of International Assessments.” European Educational  Research Journal. 15(5).
  • Gorur, R. (2015). Assembling a Sociology of Numbers. Literacy as Numbers – Researching the Politics and Practices of International Literacy  Assessment. M. Hamilton, B. Maddox and C. Addey. London, Cambridge  University Press: 1-16.
  • Gorur, R. (2015). The Performative Politics of NAPLAN and My School.  National Testing and its Effects: Evidence from Australia. G. Thompson,  S. Sellar and R. LIngard. London, Rutledge.


Dr Bryan Maddox teaches social anthropology and education and international development at the University of East Anglia, UK. He specialises in ethnographic and mixed methods research on globalised literacy assessments and the literacy practices of non-schooled adults. He completed his PhD at Kings College London under the supervision of Professor Brian Street. Bryan has conducted ethnographic research on literacy assessment in Nepal, Bangladesh, Mongolia and Slovenia. With Esposito and Kebede he combined methods from ethnography and economics to develop new measures of functional adult literacy and the measurement of literacy values. His contribution to ethnographies of assessment provides ethnographic accounts of testing situations, and how well standardized tests travel and are received across diverse cultural settings. His recent research collaborations ‘inside the assessment machine’ combine ethnographic accounts of assessment practice with large-scale psychometric data. He is co-editor of Literacy as Numbers.

The ‘Micro-Analytic Perspectives on ILSAs’ research projects: Dr Bryan Maddox has two projects that investigate response processes and interaction in assessment from a micro-analytic perspective. These involve small-sale observations in ILSA testing situations and their combination with large-scale data – in this case from the OECD Adult Skills Survey, PIAAC.  They build on Maddox’s previous micro-ethnographic research with UNESCO on LAMP in Mongolia (e.g. Maddox, 2014, 2015; Maddox, Zumbo, Tay-Lim and Qu, 2015). In Slovenia, Maddox observed and video-recorded a series of real-life test administrations (assessment events) in the OECD PIAAC assessment. The research produced ethnographic and linguistic data on interaction in assessment between the interviewer (test administrator), the respondent and the computer. This has informed several papers (in press) from a micro-analytic perspective on the verbal and gestural character of these interactions and the insights that they provide into ‘interviewer effects’, and on interaction, stance and affect in computer-based testing.

A second research project in its data collection phase is funded by the OECD and based in the psychology lab at the University of East Anglia. The research is investigating test-taking behaviours and interaction though lab-based observations of respondents in the OECD PIAAC computer-based assessment. This combines video-ethnographic methods with physiological research methods to generate very detailed micro-analytic data including ‘process data’ on test items and data on gesture and interaction.

Relevant publications

  • Maddox, B. (2014). ‘Globalising assessment: An ethnography of literacy assessment, camels and fast food in the Mongolian Gobi’. Comparative Education, 50, 474–489.
  • Maddox, B. (2015). ‘The neglected situation: Assessment Performance and Interaction in Context’. Assessment in Education. Vol. 22 (4) 427-443.
  • Maddox, B. and Zumbo B.D. (forthcoming) ‘Observing Testing Situations: Validation as Jazz’. In B.D. Zumbo and A.M. Hubley (Eds.), Understanding and Investigating Response Processes in Validation Research. Springer Press.
  • Maddox, B., Zumbo, B., Tay-Lim, B., & Qu, D. (2015). ‘An anthropologist among the psychometricians: Assessment events, ethnography and DIF in the Mongolian Gobi’. International Journal of Testing. Vol. 15 (4). 291-309.


Dr Camilla Addey is a lecturer in International and Comparative Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, USA. Previously, she was a researcher at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. She researches international large-scale assessments and global educational policy. Through qualitative research designs, Dr Addey has been following the development of International Large-Scale Assessments (ILSAs) developed specifically for lower and middle income contexts and their orientation towards policy. In particular, Camilla has focused on UNESCO’s adaptation of the OECD’s ILSAs for lower-middle income contexts and on the OECD’s enhancement of its ILSAs for contexts where ILSA data are described as poorly policy relevant.  Before obtaining her PhD at the University of East Anglia (UK), she worked at UNESCO (Paris, France) in the Literacy and Non-Formal Education section. She is author of Readers and Non-Readers and co-editor of Literacy as Numbers.

The ‘PISA for Development for Policy – PISA4D4Pol’ research project: The ‘PISA for Development for Policy – PISA4D4Pol’ research project focuses on the OECD as a global education policy actor moving into newly reached contexts, the negotiation of the OECD’s global policy tools with the private sector contracted to develop the instruments, and the meanings of ILSAs as global education policy tools in Ecuador and Paraguay. The PISA4D4Pol research project draws on document analysis of PISA for Development working materials, participant observations of PISA for Development activities, and interviews with OECD staff, private company staff developing PISA for Development, and high level policy actors in Ecuador and Paraguay. Drawing on the theoretical tools of Actor-Network Theory, but also on global educational governance research, the projects follows the PISA for Development actors as they reframe their identities, negotiate policy artefacts and knowledge, and decontextualize and recontextualise global education policy tools. This research is supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

Relevant publications 

  • Addey, Camilla (2017): Golden relics & historical standards: how the OECD is expanding global education governance through PISA for Development, Critical Studies in Education, DOI: 10.1080/17508487.2017.1352006
  • Addey, Camilla, Sam Sellar, Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Bob Lingard & Antoni Verger (2017): The rise of international large-scale assessments and rationales for participation, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2017.1301399
  • Addey, C. and Sellar, S. Forthcoming. Why do countries participate in PISA? Understanding the role of international large-scale assessments in global education policy. In, Global Education Policy and International Development. Edited by A. Verger, M. Novelli and H. K. Altinyelken. Bloomsbury.
  • Addey, C. Forthcoming. The assessment culture of international organizations: from philosophical doubt to statistical certainty through the appearance and growth of international education assessments. In, Pupil Assessment Cultures in historical perspective. Editted by C. Alarcón and M. Lawn.
  • Addey, C. 2016. PISA for Development and the sacrifice of policy-relevant data. Educação & Sociedade. v. 37, no. 136, p.685-706.
  • Addey, C. 2015. International literacy assessments in Lao PDR and Mongolia: a global ritual of belonging, in Hamilton M., Maddox B., Addey, C. (Eds). 2015. Literacy as Numbers: Researching the Politics and Practices of International Literacy Assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Dr Sam Sellar is Reader in Education Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University. He was previously Postdoctoral Senior Research Fellow in the School of Education at The University of Queensland. Sam’s research focuses on intersections between education policy, governance and data. Sam has worked closely with teacher associations around the world to develop understanding about the politics of educational accountability and the commercialization of public education through the provision of data-focused products and services. He is currently an associate editor of Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education and was formerly an editor of Critical Studies in Education. Sam is co-author of Globalizing Educational Accountabilities (2016, Routledge) and co-editor of National testing in schools: An Australian assessment (2016, Routledge).

Together with Bob Lingard, Sam has investigated how PISA has shaped the role of the Directorate for Education and Skills within the OECD and the role of the OECD in global education policy. Sam has also studied the impact of PISA on national and sub-national education policy contexts in Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK, and sought to theorise how the transformation of data into narrative and visual representations can generate affective responses that are described as ‘PISA shocks’. With a team of colleagues (B. Lingard, K. Gulson, K. Takayama, C. Lubienski and P.T. Webb), Sam is currently working on an international comparative study of data infrastructure in schools and school systems in Australia, the USA, Canada and Japan (Australian Research Council Discovery Grant 150102098). In this project, the team is investigating how schools and school systems produce, share, store, analyse and use data of various kinds, including data from international assessments. In 2017, they will be tracking the impact of PISA 2015 in each of the countries in this study. This study is also spurring an interest in new forms of data analytics, computer-based assessments and the education technology market. Another strand of Sam’s research programme focuses on the use of assessment data in educational accountabilities and explores possibilities for increasing data literacy and opportunities for teachers, parents and other stakeholders to participate in data-driven educational governance.

Relevant publications

  • Lewis, S. Sellar, S. & Lingard, B. (2016). PISA Test for Schools: Topological rationality and new spaces of the OECD’s educational governance. Comparative Education Review, 60(1), 27-57.
  • Sellar, S. (2014). A feel for numbers: Affect, data and education policy. Critical Studies in Education, 56(1), 131-146.
  • Sellar, S. & Lingard B. (2014). The OECD and the expansion of PISA: New modes of global governance in education. British Educational Research Journal, 40(6), 917-936.
  • Sellar, S. & Lingard, B. (2013). Looking East: Shanghai, PISA 2009 and the reconstitution of reference societies in the global policy field. Comparative Education, 49(4), 464-485.