Current research projects
Research is a core part of the Faculty of Education at Southern Cross University. Our team partners with external organisations to work on world-class research and are passionate about each research project they work on. Select the project title below to find out more about each project.
Sustainability, Environment and the Arts in Education (SEAE) Research Cluster:
- Supporting teachers and teaching in flexible and non-traditional schools
- Exploring education policy through newspapers and social media
- Tuning in and turning up the conversation on consent in university residential colleges
- Mapping scientific concepts through nature play in early childhood education: Achieving excellence in STEM through evidence-based pedagogies
- Beyond global discourses of data: Storying learning in marginalised schools
- Learning about climate change through public spaces
- Mapping A/r/tography: Transnational storytelling across historical and cultural routes of significance
- CC+Me Research Program
TeachLab Research Group:
- The power of play
- A Fair Go for Each and Every Child: Equity in education and health in Australia
- Equity in Education: Policies, Practices, and the Future of Education
- An investigation into factors impacting on the development of teacher-of-mathematics identity and retention in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW
- Teachers as Researchers Investigation Project
- The Aoba-Japan International School Blended Learning Product Development Project
- NT School Improvement Projects (3)
Early Years Research Group:
- Lead Researcher: Professor Liz Mackinlay
- Co-Investigators: Professor Lisa Featherstone (UQ)
- Scheme: This project is part of a multi-moded project “Sexual violence and the limits of consent” which was granted funding from a special Federal Government Research Support Package (RSP) at UQ which aims to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s research
Project Summary: In this project, the overarching aim is to make such unspeakability heard and provide insights into sexism and sexual violence facing girls and young women in secondary and tertiary education in the context of schools, streets, social and sexual relationships, universities, and workplaces. More specifically, by engaging and working with external partners whose primary goal is the development and promotion of education which empowers young women in university residential colleges this project seeks to develop a research process and partnership that provides us with a means to understand how girls and young women make sense of sexism and sexual violence and the actions they might take to respond critically, collectively, and creatively. This one-year project is funded by The University of Queensland’s 2022 Vice Chancellors Strategic Funding. Liz is joined in this work by Associate Professor Margaret Henderson, Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Renee Mickelburgh and research assistant Bonnie Evans (School of Communication and the Arts, UQ); Dr Christina Gowlett (School of Education, UQ); and Dr (Rev) Anita Munro (Principal, Grace College UQ).
Amount: $599 000
- Lead Researchers: Professor Pasi Sahlberg, Professor Sharon Goldfeld (University of Melbourne)
- Co-Investigators: Caitlin Senior, Jon Quach (UoM), and Cecilia Sinclair (Royal Children’s Hospital)
- Funding Provider: Philanthropic
Project Summary: Australian states and territories have jointly agreed in the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration that pursuit of equity and excellence should be our highest priority in seeking world-class education for all children. Similarly, since introducing Medicare in 1984, the hope for the Australian health care system has been that it would provide an adequate and fair level of quality care for all Australians, including children. This multi-phased research project will provide an evidence-based rationale for that mission and analyse condition under which health could be considered as an essential 21st skill taught in every school in the country in the future.
- Lead Researcher: Professor Pasi Sahlberg
- Co-Investigators: Caitlin Senior
- Scheme: Philanthropic
Project Summary: Improving educational performance of education systems is shifting its focus from only investing in developing quality of education towards strengthening equity of education throughout the system. Since the release of the seminal findings by the OECD in 2011, policymakers have been advised to better combine efforts to enhance (individual) excellence and (social) equity in whole system reforms. This research that has both national and international focus will build on current work underway in intergovernmental organisation in innovation to redesign education policies and design of new metrics to better monitor and measure equity in education systems. Project focuses on the future, providing new insights on approaches to fairer and more inclusive education systems.
Amount: $100 000
- Lead Researchers: Professor Pasi Sahlberg
- Co-Investigators: Professor Richard Holden (UNSW), Caitlin Senior
- Funding Provider: Philanthropic
Project Summary: Disruption caused by the ongoing covid pandemic has also disrupted lives of many children by diminishing outdoor playtime and increased time they spend in front of digital screens. Research evidence before and during the pandemic has convincingly shown the multiple benefits that high quality play can have on children’s development, health, and learning. This joint inter-disciplinary research project uses randomised survey experiment to test how information and knowledge about the power of play affects parents’ and educators’ perceptions of play as an element in formal education. This study has potential to find new ways to give play a clearer role in policy and practice in Australian education.
- Lead Researcher: Professor Jo Lunn (QUT)
- Co-Investigators: Professor Sue Walker (SCU), Professor Mary Ryan (QUT), Professor Leonie Rowan (QUT), Associate Professor Terri Burke, Dr Lyra L'Estrange (QUT), Professor Eva Johanssen, Associate Professor Anita Berge
Project Summary: This project investigates how teacher educators’ reflexive decision making enables them to prepare teachers for socially just teaching in diverse Australian classrooms. The project takes a transdisciplinary approach by bridging the fields of epistemic cognition and reflexive decision making to explore how rigorous teaching can be enacted in socially and culturally diverse classrooms. Expected outcomes include enhanced capacity of those preparing future teachers for new classroom conditions, which will provide benefits for a quality teaching workforce. It is also expected that the focus on epistemic reflexivity will lead to a reconceptualization of classroom readiness which engages classroom innovation.
Visit the Teacher Educators for Diversity website
- Lead Researcher: Dr Aspa Baroutsis (SCU)
- Co-Investigators: Professor Bob Lingard (UQ and ACU)
Project Summary: Legacy news media such as newspapers, and new media such as Twitter, continue to change, and remain persuasive forces, in the field of education policy. The project seeks to identify accounts of the functioning and effects of legacy and social media in education policy. Methodological and ethical strategies for researching newspapers and social media and their effects on education policy are investigated, and how educators, policy makers and journalists can work productively together with these media. One outcome of this project is a book, published by the prestigious Routledge group, whose critical focus is the profound digital disruptions affecting media and the functioning of society, including education.
Amount: $10 000
- Lead Researcher: Associate Professor Glenda McGregor (GU)
- Co-Investigators: Dr Aspa Baroutsis (SCU), Professor Martin Mills (QUT)
- Partners: Australian Association for Flexible and Inclusive Education (AAFIE), Jabiru Community College (Brisbane), Youth Inc. (Adelaide)
- Scheme: Australian Research Council – Linkage Projects (LP190100398)
Project Summary: This project aims to address an important gap in the research literature pertaining to the conditions and contributions of staff undertaking teaching duties in Australia’s flexible/non-traditional schooling sector. This study expects to generate new knowledge of the experiences and needs of teaching staff as an underrepresented segment of the workforce. It draws upon a mixed-methods approach which includes innovative ethnographic methods used to foreground the voices of staff educating our most marginalized youth. Expected outcomes of this research include significant benefits for sponsors and principals of, and teachers in, flexible/non-traditional schools in the form of research-based recommended practices and management frameworks.
Visit: Teachers and teaching in non-traditional schools website
- Lead Researcher: Associate Professor Michelle M. Neumann
- Co-Investigators: Dr Stacey Campbell (Queensland University of Technology)
Project Summary: Early literacy and the teaching of reading is a high priority on the Government’s agenda and this is reflected through education and teacher training policies. This research program addresses how reading and writing can be best taught to young children from diverse social and cultural backgrounds in the years prior to school and early years of school. It aims to investigate how children’s love of reading, writing and motivation can be nurtured alongside developing skills, knowledge and understanding required for decoding and making meaning. This research program also explores how mobile digital technologies (e.g., tablets, iPads) can be utilised at preschool to support early learning experiences, reading and writing programs, and literacy assessment practices.
- Lead Researcher: Associate Professor Michelle M. Neumann
- Co-Investigators: Professor David Neumann and Ruby Barry (Griffith University)
- Scheme: Griffith Health Capital Expenditure Equipment Scheme
Project Summary: This program of research advances knowledge on the role of social robots in preschool for learning and investigates the impact of social robots on children’s developmental domains (social-emotional, cognitive, and physical). Little is known about how social robots can be best used in the early years of school to support preschoolers and teachers in the classroom. The first study of the program explored children’s engagement with a social robot compared to a human, during preschool activities (e.g., physical activities such as Simon Says and drawing). The following study investigated the relationship between preschooler individual differences, namely children’s temperament and anxiety and engagement with a social robot during preschool activities. This research work will increase our understanding of how social robots can used in the early years classroom to enhance teaching and learning experiences and how this digital tool could support classroom learning and engagement.
Visit the Social Robots education
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, 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
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
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.
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.
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
- 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
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: Dr Tony Yeigh, Dr Christos Markopoulos, Dr Lewes Peddell, Dr Royce Willis
- Funding Provider: Mathematical Association of NSW (MANSW)
Project Summary: How can we best support the many teachers in NSW who are teaching 'out of teaching field' mathematics in regional, rural and remote school locations? This research project involves SCU and the Mathematical Association of NSW joining forces to test a research proposition that organizes the elements of remote in-service teacher education, pedagogical practice, communities-of-practice and coaching, mentoring and feedback for direct teaching support effects.
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.
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?
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.