Abstracts of school grants 2015

Research Grants - 2015 Archive

Page archived at: Fri, 16 December 2016

New grants


Agent-based virtual learning environments for understanding science
M. J. Jacobson, D. Richards (MQ), C. Taylor, L. Sutherland & M. Kapur (NIE)

It is vital that students understand science given its relevance in important economic and professional areas as well as for an informed democratic citizenry. This project will conduct classroom-based research in which students learn content in the Australian Curriculum - Science through the use of an innovative agent-based virtual learning environment (ABVLE) that supports authentic science inquiry activities to enhance learning of difficult scientific knowledge and skills. The project will also develop teacher professional development materials for teachers to en-hance teacher capacity to use innovative pedagogies and learning technologies in Australian schools.



Enhancing workplace learning through mobile technology
F. Trede (CSU), L. Markauskaite, P. Goodyear, S. Macfarlane (Deakin) & F. Tayebjee (UWS)

This project aims to develop and pilot a set of resources to help students, academics and workplace educators (WPE) make better use of personal, mobile technologies to connect learning and work. Alongside activities, tips and important information, core issues and recommendations emerging from consultation with academics and WPE will also be included in this set of resources. The resources will be integrated into a Mobile Learning Capacity Building Framework.



Modelling complex learning spaces
Robert Ellis, Peter Goodyear, Kenneth Fisher (Melb), Alexi Marmot (UCL)

Growing use of digital tools and resources means that students’ learning activities are no longer tied to unique physical places. Their work is distributed across increasingly complex mixtures of physical and digital spaces, which both shape and are shaped by students’ activity. This project aims to identify productive ways of modelling the characteristics and uses of complex learning spaces in higher education. Evidence and models generated by the project will strengthen the logic connecting the use, management and design of learning spaces. A better understanding of the relations between pedagogy, activity and space will improve the work of architects and other designers, campus managers, university teachers and students themselves.



Neurodidactics of performing arts: The impact of drama teaching on second language acquisition
M. Morosin

Since the 1990s, Educational Neuroscience has become an emerging field of research which studies cognitive brain functions (thinking, memory, attention, emotions) and interfaces with the educational environment with the aim of improving teaching and learning. Simultaneously, "Drama Teaching", a teaching methodology based on performing arts introduced in the 1970s, is now generating interest, especially in Foreign Language Learning. This research project will investigate aspects of cognition involved in the language learning process and it will analyse how Drama Teaching dynamics can impact language learning and proficiency. In order to define Drama Teaching as a methodology which involves the brain-mind-body dimension and fosters development of the learner as a whole person, a cognitive perspective will be adopted in relation to issues of a) embodied cognition, b) role of emotions in learning, c) impact of context and experience on learning d) crosscultural identity process, development and awareness. Theoretical scientific investigation will be conducted on cognitive aspects relevant to learning, followed by the study and observation of dramatization practices. Development of curriculum and course implementation will follow. Particular attention will be given to the assessment of learning results and proficiency levels, as well as to the cognitive and emotional factors. The inter-disciplinary perspective adopted by this study is aimed at contributing to the debate on creative, interactive Foreign Language Education taking place in Europe and in the world. The scope is to contribute to the multi-disciplinary inquiries of Educational Neuroscience by elaborating a neuroscientifically grounded theory of Drama Teaching which gives educators guidelines to expand the range of teaching possibilities in accordance with the principles of Learning/Teaching of the “Common European Framework of Reference for Languages”.



Parent and community relations in Australian schooling, 1940s-2010s: expertise and authority, reform and crisis
H. Proctor

The project undertakes the first national history of parent-school-community relations in Australia. Examining public, Catholic and independent school sectors, it combines a cultural history of transformations in school parenting with a policy history of school-community engagement over a period characterised by contestations between schools and parents about whose expertise and authority prevails. By documenting the history of the "good" educational parent and the "good" community-aware school and tracking historical and contemporary shifts and variations in the meanings of "community" and "parent", the project aims to inform current policy and practice in parent involvement, community engagement and public school devolution.



The PATRICIA project: Pathways and research in collaborative inter-agency working
L. Laing, C. Humphreys (Melb), M. Connolly (Melb), L. Healey (Melb), A. Shlonsky (Melb), D. Chung (Curtin) & I. Katz (UNSW)

The PATRICIA project is investigating how services are working together to respond to the needs of women and their children who have experienced domestic and family violence (DFV) and are involved with statutory child protection agencies. The project will gather, analyse and synthesise evidence on how to develop greater cross-sector collaboration to respond to the needs of women and their children.



Playing Beowulf: Gaming the library
M. Anderson

This collaboration between the Institute of Education, the British Library, and the universities of Sydney, Cape Town and Bournemouth, builds on and extends earlier work in two earlier Digital Transformations pilot projects. The new project combines these rationales: to explore how a Shakespeare text might be adapted to a game; and how this might produce new ways for young people to engage with the text.
The project will feature an international seminar for educators, industry, policy-makers and researchers; training workshops for teachers in Prague and Bournemouth; dissemination events in Sydney and Cape Town; and a Digital Conversations event at the British Library.



What's best for my child? – Parents' perspectives of childcare quality and early learning as contributors to childcare choice
M. Fenech, S. Degotardi (MQ), N. Sweller (MQ), M. Beange (KU Childrens Services) & K. Liley (Goodstart Childcare)

In Australia today one million children birth-to-five years are enrolled in formal childcare. Research unequivocally shows that developmental outcomes for children, and productivity outcomes for the nation, depend on parents enrolling their children in high quality childcare. Little is known, however, about parents' understandings of childcare quality, or of the early years as a foundational period for lifelong learning. This study will investigate parents' understandings of childcare quality and early learning as influences on their childcare choices. The study will inform developing Australian Government childcare policy and parents' capacity to discern, demand and choose quality early learning experiences for their children.


Ongoing grants


The creative leadership in learning program
M. Anderson

Sydney Opera House and the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney are in the early phases of planning to develop a unique and innovative approach to fostering creativity in schools and beyond. The Creative Leadership in Learning Program is designed to impact on all stakeholders in schools. Principals, teachers, students and families will develop creative capacities through tailored learning programs that practically engage with creative learning. In each of these innovative programs, creativity and arts practice will develop capacities in the areas of:

  • leadership in creativity
  • creativity in cross curricula learning
  • professional learning for teachers in creative learning and teaching
  • enriching the creative and cultural lives of families



Anticipation and decision-making skill: From testing to training
D. O'Connor, P. Goodyear, M. J. Jacobson & J. Causer

This project examines how experts anticipate and make decisions in dynamic, time constrained environments. The project will identify factors that contribute to the development of expertise and develop simulation-based training programs to facilitate the more rapid acquisition of the skills underpinning anticipation and decision making.



Being Australian: A study of Korean Australians social, economic & political participation in Australian society
R. Phillips

In the current political climate of a growth in Islamaphobia and broader discussions about racism and freedom of speech, migrant communities have been targeted with imperatives to ‘be Australian’. This study, and the planned further research,explores what facilitates and what inhibits migrants from a sense of ‘being Australian’.



Collaboration agreement with UQ: Inspiring mathematics and science in teacher education
M. Goos (UQ), J. Grotowski (UQ), S. Belward (JCU) & J. Anderson

The project aims to foster genuine and sustained collaboration between mathematics, science and education scholars so as to institutionalise new ways to integrate their collective content and pedagogical expertise in order to improve teacher recruitment, preparation and continuing professional learning after graduation.



Educational leadership and turnaround literacy pedagogy
D. Hayes, R. Hattam & B. Comber

This project will provide new ways of thinking about school reform for improving literacy achievement in high poverty contexts. The project will examine the ways in which new forms of educational leadership are developing in South Australian public schools and their effects on school culture, pedagogy and student literacy learning.



Empowering teachers of middle years mathematics: Becoming self-directed learners
J. M. Bobis, J. A. Way & J. A. Anderson

This project will provide innovative strategies to enhance mathematics teaching and learning of middle years students. It will develop a robust teacher learning development model that can be used by our industry partner and practitioners in the wider educational community to contribute to the development of teachers becoming self directed learners.



Exploring the effects of boarding school on academic and non-academic outcomes: A longitudinal study of boarding and day students
A. Martin, P. Ginns & T. Hawkes

There is little large scale Australian and international research assessing the effects of boarding school on academic and non academic outcomes. In partnership with the Australian Boarding Schools Association and schools overseas, this Project examines the effects of boarding school over and above other factors that might explain student outcomes. Through concurrent assessment of day students in the same schools, the study informs academic and non academic development for all students. Findings will assist policy, pedagogy, and pastoral care directed at enhancing academic and non academic pathways and centrally position Australia as a leading nation in
boarding school research and potentially, youth based residential care more generally.



Global arenas of knowledge: Centre/periphery relations and change in knowledge production on a world scale
R. Connell, F. Collyer, J. M. Maia, R. Morrell

Organized knowledge has become a valuable commodity produced and exchanged on a global scale. The system of knowledge is socially structured, with some countries leading the process and obtaining greater economic and social benefit. This project examines in fine detail the formation of new bodies of knowledge and the socio-cultural factors shaping the inequalities of the system. It will draw on interviews, linked ethnographic fieldwork and quantitative publication data from both core and peripheral countries. The study will contribute to higher education policy, and lead the international research effort in this emerging field.



Identifying pedagogical factors enabling success in elite level team sport for Indigenous Australian
J. Evans & R. Light

Despite significant social disadvantage and alarming underachievement in educational outcomes, Indigenous Australians achieve remarkable success across a range of high profile sports. Indigenous Australians' achievement in sport is often explained as a result of inherited racial characteristics but, when seen as the result of a process of learning, it demands inquiry into how this learning occurs and what socio-cultural factors facilitate this. This project will identify the socio-cultural and pedagogical factors that encourage and enhance achieving excellence at the highest levels of sport as a process of learning.



Images, perceptions and resources: Enhancing Australia's role in China's English language education
H. Shen, R. Ewing, M. Kettle & A. Luke

Education, being the third largest export industry, plays an extremely important role in Australia's engagement with the Asia region. Chinese students are by far the largest single group of overseas students studying in Australia. However, there is little evidence regarding Australia's presence in the English language market in China, nor of how Chinese language learning businesses draw on Australian sources and resources. The association with two premier Chinese language learning and publishing houses through this joint research project will promote Australian content for language learners in China and provide information for Australian language resource developers focusing on the Chinese market.



Improving dyslexic children's reading abilities: The role of action video games and hypermedia texts
P. Trevisan

The main aim of this project is to identify practices for improving dyslexic children’s reading abilities, starting from some recent groundbreaking discoveries in the field. The project involves both English and Italian speaking kids, and analyses the impact of cross-linguistic factors on their reading experiences. The ultimate goal of the project is to lay the foundations for the creation of a Digital Multimodal Adaptive Training System for supporting reading improvement and literacy in dyslexic students.



Learning, technology and design: The architecture of productive learning environments
P. Goodyear

Human beings learn a great deal from each other: through direct contact, through what they write and through other traces left by their action. In a networked world, learning from others is often mediated by digital technology. It is situated in learning networks. This project aims to: explain successful learning networks, improve our ability to analyse the complex mix of people, tools and tasks involved in networked learning, and equip teachers and educational designers to meet the challenges and opportunities of learning in a networked world. The project will make it possible to connect the best new evidence from research in the learning sciences with the design decisions and learning outcomes of everyone involved in networked learning.



Learning the complexity of scientific knowledge about climate change with computer modelling and visualization technologies
M. J. Jacobson, H. Cherry, R. O'Reilly & L. Markauskaite

This project provides benefits to the national priorities of a environmentally sustainable Australia; and frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries. The project helps students in Australia more deeply understand the sciences that underlie environmental sustainability. Learning with modelling and visualization technologies will help students learn important scientific knowledge and prepare them for the use of frontier technologies that are becoming infused into the practices of scientists and professionals in many fields. This project also directly contributes to the national Digital Education Revolution initiative.



The making of market society on a world scale: Social experience and social theory from the global south
R. Connell

How does our social world change, when markets become dominant? This project explores the problem on a global scale-beyond Eurocentrism. Placing Australia in a broad world context, using both web-based and close-focus research methods on four continents, this project will pioneer a new approach to understanding modern society.



Maximising the potential of Australia's language resources: exploring and developing languages across sectors, schools and communities
K. E. Cruickshank, H. Chen, S. Kerkyasharian, L. Morgan, S. O'Grady, K. Olah, J. Wright & L. T. Tsung

Australia is resource-rich in languages; this project will explore strategies to co-ordinate and develop these resources across schools and communities. It is the first with an in-depth focus on key urban and regional sites, identifying how resources can be matched with more effective provisions especially in the area of key Asian languages.



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

Australian children and young people experience changes and challenges at micro (e.g. educational, psychological, social) and macro (e.g. 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 fulfill 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.



National educational goals, schools and building democratic citizens for the future
M. Print

Australia needs the next generation to understand, practice and support our democracy. Schools are expected to fulfill this role but evidence suggests students do not learn to become active and responsible citizens. This research investigates why this is the case and what can be done to resolve the problem.