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Significant Research Projects

Project Title:  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: Matt Skoss (Project Manager), A/Prof Geoff Woolcott, Dr Tony Yeigh, Dr Christos Markopoulos, Dr Lewes Peddell, Dr Vinh Bui, David Ellis, Royce Willis (Research Assistant)

MANSW Members: Darius Samojlowicz (Executive Officer, MANSW) and Maria Quigley (MANSW Board member)

Funding Provider: Mathematical Association of NSW (MANSW)

Project Summary: A team of researchers from SCU TeachLab, working in partnership with the Mathematical Association of NSW (MANSW), are conducting a 3-year research project to investigate factors impacting on the development of teacher of mathematics identity and retention in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW. By way of context, it is important to note that numerous studies and reports have examined a wide range of factors related to and contributing to the attrition of teachers of mathematics, internationally and in Australia. However, the retention of teachers of mathematics remains a significant issue in Australian schools and especially so in regional, rural and remote areas. Furthermore, the persistence of this decades-long issue of how to retain teachers of mathematics warrants continued investigation, especially in areas that have the potential for sustainable and scalable impact. To this end, the research project will be examining how teachers of mathematics participation in professional learning networks influence their sense of teacher of mathematics identity and, providing there is an influence, how this may impact on retention of these teachers in the mathematics teaching profession.

Amount: $690,000

Project Title:  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 about 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

Project Title:  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: A/Prof Alexandra Lasczik, Prof Karen Malone (Deakin), A/Prof 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 (4-5 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” (p.5)

Amount: $88,725

Project Title:  Mapping A/r/tography: Transnational storytelling across historical and cultural routes of significance

Lead Researcher: Dr Rita Irwin

Co-Investigators: Prof Amy Cutter-Mackenzie, A/Prof 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. Utilizing 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 

Project Title:  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

Project Title:  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.


Amount: $100,000+

Project Title:  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

Project Title: Youth4Landcare

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.


Amount: $49,000

Project Title: 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

Impact and Engagement

Conferences and forums attended by our researchers to present their current findings as keynote speakers:

The School of Education researcher contributions in media:

Recent articles published in The Conversation:


Research Awards and Recognition

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