Current research projects

young girl smiling in grassy field
Mapping scientific concepts through nature play in early childhood education: Achieving excellence in STEM through evidence-based pedagogies
  • Lead Researcher: Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie
  • Co-Investigators: Associate Professor Alexandra Lasczik, Professor Karen Malone (Deakin), Associate Professor Linda Knight (RMIT)
  • Scheme: Education Horizon Grants Scheme 2019, Qld Government Department of Education

Project Summary: This project aims to determine how young children's (4four-to-five years) learning of scientific concepts can be supported through nature play. The increase of children attending kindergarten/preschool continues to rise markedly with 339,243 Australian children enrolled. Coupled with this increase is the rapid surge of nature-play pedagogies in kindergartens. However, the effectiveness of nature play is untested, making this the first study in the world to explicitly research nature play in early childhood education. This is significant because nature play is a core feature and tradition of early childhood education practice and pedagogy.

This project will forge new knowledge about nature-play pedagogies and how they can support children’s scientific learning in early childhood education. Such research supports both the Queensland Department of Education STEM Strategy (2016) and the National STEM Education Strategy (2016-2026) where “it recognises the importance of a focus on STEM in the early years”.

Visit the Childhood Nature Play website

Listen to The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Research Files podcast

Amount: $88,725

Beyond global discourses of data: Storying learning in marginalised schools
  • Lead Researcher: Associate Professor Ian Hardy (UQ)
  • Co-Investigators: Associate Professor Louise Phillips (SCU), Dr Obaid Hamid (UQ), Associate Professor Vicente Reyes (Nottingham)
  • Scheme: Australian Research Council Discovery Project

Project Summary: Globally, Australian school education is seen as under-performing. Consequently, attention to data, particularly numeric and standardised test data, in schools have become pervasive. This project aims to understand how teachers and educators in schools and school systems actually engage with a broader conception of data for enhanced learning, on a truly global scale, particularly in schools serving struggling communities. This project will reveal the myriad ways educators in diverse settings - England, Australia, Singapore and Bangladesh – engage with data. The project will re-conceptualise how data are understood globally, and will provide significant benefits including informing education policy-making and improving teaching practices.

Visit the Beyond global discourses of data website

Amount: $333 786

Parklands with pond in the background
Learning about climate change through public spaces
  • Lead Researcher: Dr Angela Turner
  • Partner: Nambucca Shire Council
  • Scheme: The Dawkins Park Reserve Project, Nambucca Shire Council

Project Summary: This project will implement measures to improve water quality through energy-efficient water aeration and develop an interactive environmental education precinct outlining the measures and how they build resilience to climate change. The education program will be developed with Southern Cross University, local schools and local community groups.

Amount: $95,000

Closeup of caterpillar on leaf
Mapping A/r/tography: Transnational storytelling across historical and cultural routes of significance
  • Lead Researcher: Dr Rita Irwin
  • Co-Investigators: Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie, Associate Professor Alexandra Lasczik, Katie Hotko
  • Scheme: Partnership Development Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SHRCC)

Project Summary: The Mapping A/r/tography partnership builds upon and extends an international community of practice by establishing seven sites for the study of historic contemporary cultural routes of significance while employing movement (walking/hiking/trekking) based research practices within culturally conceived a/r/tographic perspectives: Canada's Trans Canada Trail (three sites), China's Silk Road, Japan's Kumano Kodo Trail, Spain's Camino de Santiago, and Australia's Gondwana Subtropical Rainforests.  We are the only Australian partner. Using a distinctly new template for approaches to public pedagogy, this partnership responds to the vital need for innovative models of learning, teaching, and scholarship that create and examine human-land relationships as collective expression grounded in movement of thought (theory) and body (practice) by drawing on a transnational coalition of scholars, students, artists and writers in education.

Amount: $200,000

CC+Me Research Program
  • Chief Investigators: Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles (Lead CI), Dr David Rousell, Professor Karen Malone & Maia Osborn
  • Funding Provider: NSW Environmental Trust, Australian Association for Environmental Education & Manchester Metropolitan University

Project Summary: CC+Me is an international research program involving children and young people researching climate change and co-designing and co-publishing climate change education programs, curriculum and research outputs.

Visit the Climate Change and Me website.

View and intereact on the Climate Action Adventure! App

Amount: $100,000+

Two children sitting on grass in nature
  • Chief Investigators: Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles (Lead CI), Dr Marianne Logan and Associate Professor Lexi Laszcik
  • Funding Provider: Australian Government Department of Science, Innovation and Industry

Project Summary: This project is about increasing young people's participation in Landcare reserves on Tamborine Mountain. Landcare reserves on Tamborine Mountain are interwoven in communities, yet children and young people's awareness of and participation in these sites is largely unknown. The project is about working with children and young people as co-researchers in understanding young people's perspectives and experiences of Tamborine Mountain Landcare reserves.

From that research footing, SCU researchers and co-researchers will co-design resources to position these sites as everyday neighbourhood spaces in order to increase participation.

This project is highly significant because of national and international research reporting rapid declines in young people's participation in natural environments.

Visit the Youth4Landcare website

Amount: $49,000

Two men working out equations on perspex board
An investigation into factors impacting on the development of teacher-of-mathematics identity and retention in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW
  • Lead Researcher: Professor David Lynch
  • Co-Investigators: Associate Professor Geoff Woolcott, Dr Tony Yeigh, Dr Christos Markopoulos, Dr Sue Hudson, Dr Lewes Peddell, Dr Vinh Bui
  • Funding Provider: Mathematical Association of NSW (MANSW)

Project Summary: This project represents an explorative research project designed to test a number of propositions associated primarily with mathematics education, regional rural and remote mathematics teaching, pedagogical practice, rural teacher retention, community-of-practice, coaching, mentoring and feedback, teaching performance data, school-based leadership, various school readiness attributes and ongoing school-based capacities. MANSW and Southern Cross University have a clear vision that this research project is to focus on gaining research-based findings regarding the development of 'mathematics teacher identity' so as to improve their practice and to improve student outcomes in alignment with established theory and practice. Furthermore, MANSW places prime importance on gaining the research-based input of teachers-of-mathematics into this project.

Amount: $690,000

Group of people around a table working on computers and talking together
Teachers as Researchers Investigation Project
  • Lead Researcher: Dr Sarah James and Professor David Lynch
  • Co-Investigators: Dr Jake Madden, Dr Lewes Peddell, Dr Royce Willis and Megan Lee
  • Funding Provider: St Edwards Catholic Primary School, Tamworth

Project Summary: Working with teachers from St Edwards Catholic School, Tamworth, the project aims to conceptualise, develop and investigate a teacher as researcher model as a vehicle for teaching improvement.  The project is focused on understanding how professional knowledge is acquired when teachers act as researchers of their own teaching practice and if such knowledge contributes to the improvement of teaching.

Amount: $40,000

A school playground in Japan
The Aoba-Japan International School Blended Learning Product Development Project
  • Chief Investigators: Prof David Lynch, Dr Tony Yeigh
  • Co-Investigators:  Dr David Turner,  Mr Royce Willis
  • BBT/ AJIS Co-members     Mr Paul Fradale, Mr Ken Sell, Mr Ed Lawless
  • Funding Provider:   BBT University / Aoba Japan International School

Project Summary: Aoba International School (The School) planned in 2016 to develop a whole of school approach to Blended Learning in its group of schools  (K-12). This approach was part of the School’s desire to better position its students for a fast-changing, technologically based and globalising world. The School also wanted to rethink its pedagogic approach and increase the capacities of its teachers to better deal with student-centred learning. These foundations of the project were an extension of research work into whole of school teaching improvement lead by Professor David Lynch and Dr Tony Yeigh. To effect such an outcome, these researchers partnered with the Aoba School system to develop, pilot and evaluate, a key conceptual model for whole of school Blended Learning, underpinned by a coaching, mentoring and feedback (CMF) regime for teachers and an embedded approach to the use of ICTs in the curriculum. A main purpose of this project was to answer the following research questions:

  • What are the outcomes for teachers when a coaching, mentoring and feedback regime is implemented in a school as a means to develop and implement ‘EBL’ (Embedded Blended Learning)?
  • What are the learning outcomes for students when they are involved in ‘EBL’?
  • What are the logistical considerations for a school when implementing a CMF regime as a means to embed blended learning instruction’?
  • What are the logistical considerations for a school when EBL is implemented for teaching and learning effect?
  • What are the key learnings of teachers and school leaders when undertaking such a project?

Amount: $965,000

View taken from head height of feet and sticks on sandy ground
NT School Improvement Projects (3)
  • Lead Researcher: Prof David Lynch, Dr Tony Yeigh
  • Co-Investigators: Dr Tina Doe,  Mr Royce Willis
  • Funding Provider: (1) Nhulunbuy High School, (2) Nhulunbuy Primary School, (3) Maningrida College

Project Summary: Through 3 separate yet parallel projects in Northern Territory Schools, researchers worked with each school to enact whole of school teaching improvement within the context of Indigenous learning. The 3 projects built on research into whole of school teaching improvement undertaken by Professor David Lynch and Dr Tony Yeigh over the past ten years. The research strategy, conducted by Dr Tina Doe, was to first identify levels of ‘readiness for improvement’ in staff (a custom ‘Readiness Report) and then working to optimise staff alignment, capability and engagement for the purpose of maximising teacher effectiveness. The researchers and school staff co-developed and located a whole of school teaching improvement focal task into the school, and through a coaching, mentoring and feedback regime, used school data and the principles of research inquiry to progressively improve teaching practice.

Amount: $130,000

Pencil sitting on technical papers
Connecting mathematics learning through spatial reasoning
  • Lead Chief Investigator (CI): Professor Joanne Mulligan (Macquarie University)
  • Chief Investigators (CI) and Principal Investigator (PI): Associate Professor Geoff Woolcott (CI), Professor Michael Mitchelmore (CI) (Macquarie University) and Professor Brent Davis (PI) (University of Calgary, Canada)
  • Funding Provider: Australian Research Council
  • Scheme: Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARCDP170101588) 2017-2020

Project Summary: This project aims to create a framework based on spatial reasoning that identifies pathways for mathematics learning, pedagogy and curriculum. Realising Australia’s Innovation and Science Agenda fundamentally rests on transforming the nation's mathematical capacity. Spatial reasoning, an emerging transdisciplinary area, is integral to all human learning, particularly for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. This project will map the unknown complex systems linking spatial and mathematical concepts, and design, implement and evaluate a longitudinal intervention study of primary students, including tracking of highly able students. This will lead to more highly skilled and adaptive citizens.

Amount: $305,000

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