Abstracts of faculty grants 2009

Research Grants - 2009 Archive

Page archived at: Mon, 14 December 2009 10:34:11 +1000

The millennium child: new frontiers in understanding the adaptability of children and young people
A/Prof AJ Martin

Australian children and young people experience changes and challenges at micro (eg. educational, psychological, social) and macro (eg. climate change, globalisation) levels. Successfully resolving these relies to a large degree on their ability to adapt. At a broader level, for Australia to compete and innovate on a global scale and to most profitably fulfil its educational, social, economic, and cultural potential, it is essential that it nurtures children and young people who can adapt to and for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century. The Millennium Child Project scopes and progresses the concept of adaptability and answers important and complex questions relevant to a nation's capacity to adapt and thrive.



Comprehensive support for collaborative writing: visualising argument, text and process structures
Prof P Reimann; Dr RA Calvo; Dr K Yacef

This project will provide benefits on a national level due to the importance of collaborative writing (CW) in business, government, and research. Most writing in professional contexts is, to some extent, accomplished collaboratively, but writing is taught almost exclusively individually. This research will yield a suite of integrated software tools to support all aspects of the CW team process, and the effectiveness of the main innovations will be empirically tested. This has the potential to contribute to the competitiveness of Australia's businesses and to the efficiency of its administrative systems. Further benefits include improved e-learning tools in the secondary and tertiary education sector, such as online team learning.



Professional learning for knowledgeable action and innovation: the development of epistemic fluency in higher education
Prof P Goodyear; Dr L Markauskaite

The ability to work effectively with complex knowledge, as a member of a multidisciplinary team, is essential for many areas of professional practice and in other areas of graduate work. Little is known about the abilities that allow individuals, teams and professional communities to work effectively with complex knowledge. The project will therefore help understand some key aspects of innovation and of knowledge-intensive work. This has implications
for individual employability, the competitiveness of Australian firms in a global economy and the ability of Australian organizations to innovate and improve, using the best available evidence. Project outcomes will be able to inform the enhancement of professional education.


Learning through inquiry in higher education
Prof P Goodyear; A/Prof RA Ellis; Prof MT Prosser

This project can make a significant contribution to socioeconomic well-being. It addresses a major dilemma in higher education practice. It focuses on learning through inquiry - an approach to education that many claim is particularly appropriate for training graduates for knowledge work in the 21st Century. Our project makes a timely intervention by providing broad-based evidence that can inform debates about the future direction of this area of higher education. In practical terms, take-up of the outcomes of this project can improve the quality of Australian higher education, as well as the knowledge and skills of graduates entering the Australian workforce. It helps understand what is involved in promoting an innovation culture.


Disciplinarity, knowledge and schooling: analysing and improving integrated, cumulative learning in classrooms
Prof PR Freebody; Prof JR Martin; Dr KA Maton

For Australia to enhance its educational and professional standing, it needs growing levels of intellectual expertise and flexibility among school graduates, who now operate in workplaces that are rapidly evolving intellectually and technologically. This project will contribute to research, debate, and practice, by focusing on sustained integrated knowledge-building, but it also aims to offer practitioners and authorities an enhanced, locally-grown evidence for educational decisions, practice, and policy. While the motivations for the project are theoretical, professional, and methodological, they arise from a recognition of the economic and cultural importance of intellectually strong citizens in an increasingly demanding global setting.


Writing in the academy: the practice-based thesis as an evolving genre
A/Prof BR Paltridge; Dr SB Starfield; Dr LJ Ravelli

National benefits of this project include: An improvement in the quality of research higher degree scholarship in the areas of the Creative and Performing Arts in Australian universities. A greater understanding of what counts as successful writing in practice-based doctoral theses in Australian universities. A research-informed basis for the development of training initiatives which target the specific needs of students writing practice-based doctoral theses in Australian universities. A research-informed basis for improving the quality of research higher degree supervision in the areas of the Creative and Performing Arts in Australian universities.


Redesigning schools and school leadership: an Australian comparative case study
Prof JA Blackmore; A/Prof DN Hayes

This project on school redesign addresses an urgent need identified in Government and OECD reports for schools and systems to redesign in order to be more responsive to multiple social and economic pressures while addressing significant disparities between schools. Longitudinal case studies with a focus on schools in particularly challenging circumstances will reconceptualize the relationship between sustainable school reform, leadership, student learning and school-community relationships. These are all policy priority areas. Communication strategies aim to inform policymakers, professional associations, the new National Institute for Quality Teaching and School Leadership, and schools about how to conceptualise and sustain reform.


The Chinese knowledge diaspora and the international knowledge network – Australian and Canadian universities compared
A/Prof AR Welch; Dr R Yang

For Australia, one of the key contemporary challenges is to understand China, in ways that maximise mutual benefits. This includes the key arena of education, where the growing number of Chinese intellectuals working in Australian (and Canadian) universities, can assist in replenishing an ageing domestic academic work force, as well as forging international research networks. The bi-cultural, bi-lingual expertise of this Chinese knowledge diaspora constitutes a key resource with which to build trans-national research and knowledge networks with the diverse and growing Chinese scholarly community, worldwide. The advantages, prospects and difficulties of such trans-national networks are explained.


Transforming the technologies and modalities of learning: the case of the new life sciences in secondary schooling
Prof PR Freebody; Prof JG Hedberg; Dr KC Nichols; Dr WS Van Rooy

This project aims to provide theoretical and analytic frameworks for understanding changing intellectual, technological and communicational parameters of contemporary education, but it also aims to make these frameworks accessible enough to become part of the conceptual repertoire of professional practitioners and flexible enough to allow practitioners to maintain currency in evolving fields of knowledge in the NLS. As the NLS, and education in this field are both expanding export industries, this study will offer Australian practitioners and authorities evidence and ideas for the growth of the NLS in schools, thereby supporting the maintenance of Australia's prominence in the region as a high-quality, current education provider.


The well-rounded person: the role of sport in shaping physical, emotional and social development
A/Prof CA Lumby; Prof EC Probyn; Dr JA O'Dea; Ms KM Albury

Young Australians who play sport have better physical health, higher levels of self-esteem and are less likely to be obese. Yet sports participation rates among young Australians remain low and there are growing concerns that participation in some sports is associated with antisocial off-field behaviours. This project investigates the real impact playing sport has on young Australians' physical, emotional and social development. It will identify barriers to participation in sport and suggest solutions to concerns about antisocial behaviours. Ultimately, this project will assist public and private sector organisations involved with sport to increase participation and tackle negative attitudes or behaviours associated with that participation.


The role of arts education in academic motivation, engagement, and achievement
A/Prof AJ Martin; Dr MJ Anderson; Dr R Gibson; Dr DR Sudmalis
Collaborating/Partner Organisation(s) Australia Council for the Arts

Research is needed to examine the impact of arts education on students' motivation, engagement, and achievement. Findings will help better direct funding and policy to arts education that makes a real difference in the academic and non-academic lives of children and young people. In the school context, findings will link directly to aspects of arts education and achievement motivation that enhance educational attainment, reduce disengagement, and instil greater satisfaction with school life. At a national level, findings will provide an evidence base for the integrated development of cultural, educational and social capital that better enable Australia to contribute to leadership and advocacy in the arts internationally.


Teaching effective 3D authoring in the middle school years: multimedia grammatical design and multimedia authoring pedagogy
Unsworth, L. and Thomas, A.
Collaborating Organisation(s) Australian Children's Television Foundation

This project addresses the National Research Priorities goal 'promoting an innovative culture and economy'. It provides radical re thinking of literacy pedagogy essential in globalised knowledge based economies mediated by digital multimedia literacies. 3D multimedia authoring pedagogy, emphasizing playful innovation and explicit knowledge of multimedia design, will increase digital age student engagement in learning. The Australian Children's Television Foundations' Kahootz is uniquely effective, highly motivating authoring software for schools. What is needed is a thoroughly researched multimedia authoring pedagogy to fully realise Australian leadership potential in renovating literacy pedagogy for the digital multimedia age.


Rethinking timelines: a new methodology for describing and communicating history
Dr IR Johnson; Dr SM Robertson; Prof P Reimann; Asst Prof R Mostern
Collaborating organisations: Macquarie Library P/L; Australian National Maritime Museum

The project will lead to better ways of understanding historical events in context through active engagement of learners in the construction of timeline visualisations. It will contribute to the development of better strategies for collaborative content creation and quality control in web-based community resources, and facilitate creation of significant online collaborative databases by communities of interest, without the technical requirements and costs of one-off programming. It will add value to Australian online resources such as MacquarieNet, contribute to new methods of information visualisation in Australian museums and visitor centres, and generate national and international consultancies for the project partners.


Working from the ground up: a participatory approach to community regeneration in project title public housing neighbourhoods
A/Prof JL Irwin; A/Prof E Baldry; Em/Prof T Vinson; Dr S Goodwin
Collaborating/Partner Organisation(s):Department of Housing, TAFE Equity, Department of Education and Training, Health Promotion Service, Division of Population Health South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service

This research will discover approaches, strategies and interventions that contribute to sustainable changes in public housing estates. It will trial interventions and develop quantitative tools. The outcomes of the project will include stronger, more cohesive communities, opportunities for residents to actively participate in their communities, and the development of services through partnerships between the communities and relevant government, non government and private organizations. This will enhance health and wellbeing and increase education and training opportunities for residents.


Accessing the cultural conversation: investigating participation and non-participation of young people as audiences of live theatrical performances in Australia
Prof JR O'Toole; Prof BV Burton; A/Prof RA Ewing; A/Prof AM O'Brien; A/Prof PJ Bundy; Dr KJ Donelan; Dr MJ Anderson; Dr J Hughes; Dr CE Sinclair; Mr NA Jordan
Partner Organisations: The Australia Council for The Arts, The Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, The Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland Theatre Company, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Arena Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, the Arts Centre, Arts Victoria, NSW Ministry for the Arts

In order to promote the healthy development of young Australians, where health in middle and late childhood is crucial (National Research Priority 2) a thriving arts sector is essential. For young people to see themselves as real participants in civic engagement with their society not as a marginalised group but as a legitimate sub-group of society, they need access to active participation in the cultural conversation, including live theatrical performance. For this, the arts community, policy makers and arts educators need to better understand young people's engagement with the major providers of theatre, and what factors inhibit or exclude them.


Middle years transition, engagement and achievement in mathematics. The MYTEAM Project
A/Prof AJ Martin; Dr JM Bobis; Dr JA Anderson; Dr JA Way; Mr A Fraser
Collaborating Organisation: Catholic Education Office, Sydney

It is a Commonwealth policy objective that all students attain essential numeracy skills. In reality, 30% of 15 year olds do not attain these skills. Alongside this are declining enrolments in mathematics, a trend away from advanced mathematics courses, and an emerging 'skills shortage' in mathematics-related pathways. The MYTEAM project provides new solutions to national problems associated with disengagement, under-participation and underperformance in mathematics and empowers more individuals to aspire to and realise mathematics-related employment opportunities. Addressing such a shortfall in the labour market will have a positive impact on the future economy, the nation's social well-being, and individuals' pathways beyond school.


AusAID at work: the design, delivery and impact of Australian aid to education in Asia and the Pacific
A/Prof PW Jones

The project is designed to determine how Australian overseas aid can make more effective interventions in the education sector, at a time of significant budgetary increases. Australian overseas aid is officially regarded as a key means of promoting poverty reduction, economic growth, social cohesion, expanded trade and regional security. Each objective is significant for Australian futures. Aid to the education sector has been taking on increasing weight, given that well-performing education systems are known to impact positively in these areas. The project provides a platform for greater impact of Australian aid, including that provided in partnership with other donors.


Positive pathways to reading for disadvantaged children: identifying psychosocial antecedents and implementing effective intervention to enhance literacy, self-concept, and motivation
Prof RG Craven; Dr AJ Martin; Em/Prof T Vinson; Mr WJ Johnson; Mr P Slator; Dr DK Tracey
Administering Institution: University of Western Sydney
Partner Organisation(s):Learning Links, Unilever Australasia


Early intervention to combat reading difficulties in primary schools is vital given the pervasive long-term academic and mental health consequences. Consistent with National Research Priorities (Promoting/maintaining good health/well-being),our research offers important educational/socio-economic benefits by: enriching disadvantaged children's reading achievement, promoting psychosocial adjustment and life potential, and elucidating multiplier effects of the intervention on volunteers administering the intervention, home life, and school engagement. Synergies between substantive research, methodological rigour, and practice will ensure real solutions and a research framework that will make a substantial contribution to Australia's future.