Learning Sciences Research Group

The Learning Sciences Research Group (LSRG) is dedicated to the scientific understanding of learning and teaching. Research in the LSRG focuses on cognitive-psychological, social-psychological, and cultural-psychological foundations of human learning, as well as on the teaching/learning nexus and the design of positive learning environments. The group welcomes enquiries from students wishing to undertake postdoctoral studies in education that have a focus in cognitive pedagogy or function, particularly where these studies may use scientific protocols, neuro-scientific protocols, or protocols based in modern cognitive or behavioural psychology.

Our SCU team

Higher Degree Research

Shae Brown (PhD) "Identity, engagement and exceptionality: a novel model for educational environments" (2015 - present). Principal supervisor Dr R. Smith and co-supervisor Dr G. Woolcott.


  • Jacki Reid, University of New England
  • Dr Margaret Marshman, University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Associate Professor Jason Giri, Federation University Australia
  • Dr Linda Pfeiffer, Central Queensland University
  • Professor Sebastian Lipina, Unit Director at the Unit for Neurobiology, CEMIC-CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Professor Yukari Okamoto, Gervitz Graduate School of Education, University of Califormia, Santa Barbara, USA
  • Dr Susanna Chamberlain, Griffith University
  • Chris Wines
  • Professor Brent Davis, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada
  • Professor Catherine Bruce, School of Education and Learning, Trent University, Peterborough, Canada
  • Professor Nathalie Sinclair, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
  • Grant Rix, Mindful Aotearoa: Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand



The primary aim of the Learning Science Research Group (LSRG) is to investigate teaching and learning in a context of behavioural and neuro-cognitive educational theory and practice. Members of the LSRG are engaged in educational research that embraces several existing disciplines at Southern Cross University, including educational psychology, cognitive and social psychology, anthropology, cognitive science, and neuroscience. We are exploring research areas that build on the individual strengths of group members, such as classroom behaviour, emotion and affect in teaching and learning and social-emotional well-being. We are particularly focused on collaboration as a way of combining and leveraging our experiences, in order to optimise our impact, including collaborations across both the education and non-education sectors.

Members of the Learning Sciences Research Group are involved in the following funded, education-based projects:

It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education, led by Dr Geoff Woolcott and funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching, as part of the Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers Program (ETMST)($1,000,000). The primary objective of this project is to develop new modules for university pre-service education curriculum in order to improve mathematics and science teaching across the Regional Universities Network (RUN). The project involves application of neuro-cognitive approaches to studies of affect (emotion) in pre-service teachers.

Identification of risk factors in first year university education, led by Dr Geoff Woolcott, Professor Robyn Keast & Alison Graham and funded through the SCU Higher Education Participation Project (HEPP). The project is a pilot study of an interrelationship model, based on a widely recognised social ecologies framework, developed from educational psychology, which will give more accurate identification of individual student risk over existing methods.

Selected publications

Anderson, D. L., Watt, S. E., & Shanley, D. C. (2014). A multi-dimensional model of the origins of attitude certainty: Teachers' attitudes toward attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Social Psychology of Education, 17(1), 19-50.

Anderson, D.L., Watt, S.E., Noble, W., & Shanley, D.C. (2012). Knowledge of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attitudes toward teaching children with ADHD: The role of teaching experience. Psychology in the Schools, 49, 511-525. doi: 10.1002/pits.21617

Bellert, A., & Graham, L. (2013). Neuromyths and neurofacts: Information from cognitive neuroscience for classroom and learning support teachers. Special Education Perspectives, 22(2), 7-20.

Donnelly, J. (2012). Concussions in children: Persistent symptoms but more persistent myths. In R van der Zwan (Ed.), Current trends in experimental and applied psychology, pp. 56-60. Brisbane: Primrose Hall.

Farr-Wharton, B., D., Thomas, J., Ruiz-Gutiérrez, J., Guillaumon, S., Casado, T., Gomes, L., & Johnston, L. (2013). Giving voice to cultural enterprises from the global south. The 12th International Conference on Arts and Cultural Management. School of Management, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia. Jan. 2013.

Farr-Wharton, R., Farr-Wharton, B., Brunetto, Y., & Bresolin, F. (2014). The role of generational cohorts: comparing approaches to innovation using internal networks. International Journal of Innovation Management, 18(04) doi: 10.1142/S1363919614500285

Gaetano, J., van der Zwan, R., Blair, D., & Brooks, A. (2014). Hands as sex cues: Sensitivity measures, male bias measures, and implications for sex perception mechanisms. PloS one, 9(3), e91032.

Graham, A, Powell, M, Taylor, N, Anderson, D & Fitzgerald, R. (2013). Ethical research involving children. UNICEF Office of Research: Innocenti, Florence, Italy. ISBN: 9788865220238

Graham, A., Powell, M. A., & Taylor, N. (2014). Ethical research involving children: Encouraging reflexive engagement in research with children and young people. Children & Society. doi10.1111/chso.12089.

Graham, L., Berman, J., & Bellert, A. (2015). Sustainable learning: Inclusive practices for 21st century classrooms. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

Hacker, G., Brooks, A., & van der Zwan, R. (2013). Sex discriminations made on the basis of ambiguous visual cues can be affected by the presence of an olfactory cue. BMC psychology, 1(1), 10.

Kean, B. (2012). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Controversial Diagnosis. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 14(1), 3.

Kean, B. (2009). ADHD in Australia: The emergence of globalization. In S Timimi & J Leo (Eds.), Rethinking ADHD: From brain to culture, pp. 169-198. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan.

Keast, R., & Mandell, M. (2012). The collaborative push: Moving beyond rhetoric and gaining evidence. Journal of Management and Governance, 18, 9-28.

Keast, R., & Waterhouse, J. (2014). Collaborative networks and innovation: The negotiation-management nexus. In C. Ansell & J. Torfing (Eds.), Public innovation through collaboration (pp. 148-169). New York: Routledge.

Lutz, D., Fisher, K. R., & Robinson, S. (2015). Sharing the focus: Engaging with support workers to include people with communication needs in research. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(2), 1-8. doi.org/10.1111/bld.12126

Martin, F. H., & Provost, S. C. (2014). Teaching students to discriminate between good and poor writing. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 141, 205-209.

Powell, T., Ross, R., Kickett, D., & Donnelly, J. F. (2014). Red dust healing: Acknowledging the past, changing the future. In P. Dudgeon, H. Milroy & R. Walker (Eds.), Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice, pp. 459-474. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Smith, R. J. (2014). The unforgettable sentinel: the Australian cream-box as folk memory. Tradition Today, 4, 38-45.

Smith, R. J. (2012). Food for thought: The hunger for satisfaction in a world of increasing choice. Australian Folklore, 27, 133-140.Whitehair, L., Provost, S., & Hurley, J. (2014). Identification of prescribing errors by pre-registration student nurses: A cross-sectional observational study utilising a prescription medication quiz. Nurse education today, 34(2), 225-232.

Winskel, H., & Lee, L. W. (2013). Learning to read and write in Malaysian/Indonesian: A transparent alphabetic orthography. In H. Winskel & P. Padakannaya (Eds), South and Southeast Asian Psycholinguistics, pp. 179-183. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Winskel, H., & Perea, M. (2014). Does tonal information affect the early stages of visual-word processing in Thai?. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(2), 209-219

Woolcott, G. (2015). Technology and human cultural accumulation: The role of emotion. In S. Tettegah & R. E. Ferdig (Eds.), Emotions and technology: Communication of feelings for, with and through digital media. New York: Routledge. (Forthcoming)

Woolcott, G. (2013). Giftedness as cultural accumulation: An information processing perspective. High Ability Studies, 24(2), 153-170

Yeigh, T. (2014). Cognitive inhibition and cognitive load: A moderation hypothesis. International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education, 5(3), 1744-1752.

Yeigh, T. & Woolcott, G. (2015). Using emotional literacy to improve pedagogical confidence: Initial findings from a STEM project. Official Proceedings of the Asian Conference on Education 2014 (ACE2014), pp. 561-576. Nagoya, Japan: The International Academic Forum.

Conference presentations and papers

Enhancing mathematics (STEM) teacher education in regional Australia: Pedagogical interactions and affect. The 38th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA38), University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Qld, 30 June -3 July 2014. G. Woolcott, & T. Yeigh.

Engaging with diverse communities: Analysis of a complex interaction. Annual meeting of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA2015) 6-9 July, 2015, Melbourne. G. Woolcott & D. Chamberlain.

Development evaluation and dynamic policy making: Complexity solutions for complex interactions. Public Policy Network Conference, 19-23 January, 2015, Deakin University, Melbourne. A. Scott & G. Woolcott.

Enhancing science education in regional Australia: Giving pre-service teachers confidence and competence in teaching primary school science. The Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education and the New Zealand Association for Research in Education, 30 November to 4 December, 2014, Brisbane, Australia. L. Pfeiffer & G. Woolcott.

Enhancing mathematics and science teacher education in regional Australia: Examining pre-service teacher responses to feedback processes for building confidence and competence. The Asia Pacific Educational Research Association International Conference 2014 (APERA2014): Managing Global Changes and Education Reforms: Asia and Pacific Responses, Hong Kong, China, November, 2014. C. Lembke & G. Woolcott.

Enhancing mathematics and science teacher education in regional Australia: Pedagogical interactions and their affective outcomes. The Asian Conference on Education 2014 (ACE2014), Osaka, Japan, October 2014. T. Yeigh & G. Woolcott.

Emotion in pre-service teachers: Relations among self- and observer-reports on classroom videos and voice parameter analyses. Paper Presented at the Australian Psychological Society Conference, Oct 2014, Hobart, TAS, Australia. J. Donnelly, L. Pfieffer, G. Woolcott, T. Yeigh, & M. Snow.

Links to associated resources


Dr Tony Yeigh