STEM group research

The STEM-RG research is focussed on investigating science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a context of educational theory and practice. Members of the STEM-RG at Southern Cross University are engaged in educational research that embraces several disciplines here at Southern Cross University across education and the social sciences. We are exploring research areas that build on the individual strengths of group members, with a focus on the integration of scientific and mathematics research with educational research. We see extensive collaboration as a way forward and are documenting our progress using multi-dimensional approaches, including the use network analysis.

Members of the STEM-RG are involved in the following funded education-based projects

Connecting mathematics learning through spatial reasoning, an ARC Discovery Project funded through the Australian Research Council 2017-2020. The project is a partnership with Professor Joanne Mulligan (lead CI, Macquarie University), Associate Profesor Geoff Woolcott (CI), Professor Michael Mitchelmore (CI, Macquarie University) and Professor Brent Davis (PI, University of Calgary, Canada). 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.

Bite size Maths: Building mathematics capability of low SES students in regional/remote Australia, led by Assoc Professor Geoff Woolcott with onging data collection in 2017 and 2018, is funded through the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program, National Priorities Pool–2015. The project nominates Prof William Boyd, Dr Christos Markopoulos, Alan Foster (all SCU) as project team members. The project aims to develop a Massive online Open Course based on cognitive load theory applied to learning mathematics incrementally.

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 neruo-cognitive approaches to studies of affect (emotion) in pre-service teachers (Learning Sciences Research Group).

The Spatial Reasoning Knowledge Synthesis Project. The Spatial Reasoning Study Group (SRSG), an international collaboration dedicated to research on the impact of spatial reasoning in education, specifically mathematics education. Funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The Spatial Reasoning Network Mapping Project. The Spatial Reasoning Study Group (SRSG), an international collaboration dedicated to research on the impact of spatial reasoning in education, specifically mathematics education. Funded by the Imperial Oil STEM project (IOSTEM) through its Early Years Mathematics Initiative (IOSTEM) at the University of Calgary, Canada.

Inspiring Science & Mathematics Education (iSME), led by Southern Cross University, with project partners Charles Darwin University, the University of Wollongong, the Australian Academy for Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and Stile Education Pty Ltd. Funded through the Australian Government AMSPP ($987,500). The iSME project aims to enhance teaching and learning of the science and maths curriculum in Years 7 to 10 and involves the development of at least five authentic, multidisciplinary classroom modules which use cutting-edge science and engineering contexts and the latest educational theory from the partner universities and other research institutions to excite and engage students.

The Regional Universities Network (RUN) Maths and Science Digital Classroom: A connected model for all of Australia, led by the University of Southern Queensland and including all six members of the Regional Universities Network (RUN) as well as the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI), The Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE), and secondary and primary schools in regional and peri-urban Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Funded through the Australian Government as an Australian Mathematics and Science Participation Program (AMSPP) Priority Project ($998,880). The project aims to harness the greatly enhanced digital connectivity that comes with the national broadband roll-out to enable the project partners to pilot a model that could ensure that, regardless of location and resourcing, schools anywhere in Australia can provide engaging, enriched and leading-edge education in mathematics and science.

Evaluating and selecting STEM resources: capacity building for teachers in rural and regional schools (STEMCrAfT), led by the University of Tasmania, with university partners Southern Cross University, Deakin University, Edith Cowan University and the University of South Australia, as well as government and industry partners. Funded through the Australian Government as an AMSPP Priority Project ($378, 550). The project aims to establish a sustainable model for building confidence and capacity of rural and regional primary and junior secondary teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through a teacher and expert jointly-developed framework for teacher analysis, critique, and evaluation of STEM resources.

Mathslinks: Network analysis of spatiotemporal connectivity in mathematics conceptual development. This project, led by Dr Geoff Woolcott, aims to examine student learning as assessed through student performance, using mathematics as an illustrative case. Funded by a School of Education Grant ($5,200). This project expands work completed in the earlier project, Examining spatiotemporal links in mathematics concept learning in classroom and online environments, built around an examination of complex linkages or networks in mathematics learning. Funded by a School of Education Grant ($5,000). Both projects are directed towards a larger project that focuses on the examination of connectivity hypotheses related to learning and student performance, an emerging area of research that engages scientific viewpoints. These projects utilise an innovative and trans-disciplinary approach to exploring the relationships between concepts that underpin successful learning, including network representation and analysis based in modern application of graph theory.

Contact us

Dr Geoff Woolcott