School of Applied Human Sciences

Mary van der Riet


  • Details

  • Position Senior Lecturer
  • Discipline Psychology
  • CampusPietermaritzburg Campus
  • Office AddressRoom 38, Psychology, Golf Road,

Degrees Held

  • BA(WITS),
  • Higher
    Diploma in Education (HDE, WITS),
  • Honours Psychology (Rhodes),
  • Masters
  • Phd (UKZN)

Research Interests:

  • HIV and AIDS, youth and risk; participatory research and intervention approaches; the use of cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) and developmental work interventions (DWR/CL) in researching and changing risk behavior; conducting research in resource poor contexts; HIV stigma; contraceptive use amongst tertiary level students
  • (Click on the following for her Researchgate)

Teaching Interests:

  • contextualizing child development, qualitative research design and practice; participatory research theory and practice; the psychology of change and transformation; Sociocultural approaches in psychology

Publications / Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Van der Riet, M. (2012). Working with historicity: tracing shifts in contraceptive use in the activity system of sex over time.PINS, 2012, 43, 23-39
  • Goodall, J.; Van der Riet, M.; O’Neill, V. & Killian, B. (2011). HIV and AIDS related stigma: a necessary protective mechanism for children in high exposure areas? South African Journal of Psychology, 41 (2), 187-195.
  • Van der Riet, M. &Boettiger, M. (2009). Shifting research dynamics: addressing power and maximizing participation through participatory research techniques in participatory research. South African Journal of Psychology 39 (1), 1-18.
  • Van der Riet, M. (2008). Participatory Research and the philosophy of Social Science: Beyond the moral imperative. Qualitative Inquiry, 14 (3), 546-565.
  • Van der Riet, M. (2008).Diagramming as mediational means: Vygotskian theory and participatory research.South African Journal of Psychology, 38 (3), 455-465.
  • Killian, B.; Van der Riet, M.; Hough, A; O’Neill, V., &Zondi, T. (2008).Children’s loss of agency under extreme adversity.Journal of Psychology in Africa, 18 (3), 403-312.
  • Van Maltzahn, R. & Van der Riet, M. (2006). A critical reflection on participatory methods as an alternative mode of enquiry.New Voices in Psychology.2 (1), 108-128.
  • Van der Riet, M; Hough, A. & Killian, B. (2005).Mapping HIV/AIDS as a barrier to education: a reflection on the methodological and ethical challenges to child participation, Journal of Education, 35, 75-98.
  • Van der Riet, M. &Knoetze, J. (2004).Help seeking patterns in urban and rural youth in two South African provinces: a socio-contextual view. School Psychology International, 25 (2) 223-240
  • Van der Riet, M., Dison, A. & Quinn, L. (1998).Conceptual development through process-writing in a Psychology II course.South African Journal of Higher Education 12 (1) 220-226
  • Van der Riet, M., Gilbert, A., Kelly, K., and Fischer, S. (1996) Academic development: in pursuit of academic, vocational and professional literacy in Academic Development Programme (Eds.) Discourse: The Journal of the Rhodes University Academic Development Programme 7 (1) May 1996

Chapters in Books

  • Van der Riet, M. & Durrheim, K. (2006). Putting design into practice: Writing and evaluating research proposals. In M. Terre Blanche, K. Durrheim & D. Painter (Eds.) Research in practice: Applied methods for the social sciences (2nd ed.) (pp. 80-111). Cape Town: UCT Press.

Community Involvement

  • I am on the Board of SaveAct a community entrepreneurial training and savings and credit NGO.
  • As part of the Masters in Research course, we conduct practical participatory research for local NGO’s who work in rural communities.

Teaching Expertise

  • (Psychology level 200, 300, Honours and Masters) Research design, qualitative research, participatory research, cultural historical activity theory (CHAT), sociocultural approaches in psychology, HIV risk and youth, intervention research

Student Supervision (Honours, Masters, PhD …)

Post Graduate supervision since 2010



  • Misokuhle Mhlongo
  • Reshoketswe Matlala
  • Christopher Hamlyn
  • Joanne Phyfer
  • Senzo Ntuli
  • Thobeka Shozi
  • Cardwick Ruhukwa
  • Nicole Rungasamy

Current (co-supervision)

  • Amanda Mwelase
  • Gugu Madlala
  • Noxolo Mkhize



  • Cindy Coleman (co-supervision)
  • Lois Deacon
  • Khanyisile Nene
  • Sakhile Msweli


  • Bomkazi Tutshana
  • Patience Lunga
  • Maria Michell (full thesis)
  • Olwethu Jwili
  • Tendani Gabakaiwe
  • Nasiphi Mqedlana
  • VuyolwethuTuluma
  • Natalie Hutton (co-supervision)
  • Wendy Etchells (co-supervision)
  • Julie Sutherland
  • Ngcwalisa Jama



  • Graeme Hoddinott
  • Merridy Grant
  • Dumisa Sofika


  • NRF Thuthuka grant for 2011-2013 (total amount awarded R811 000) for a research project in the Eastern Cape “Activity theory and behaviour change”.