Abstracts of school grants 2016

New grants


The contribution of becoming reflective on the employability of teachers and social workers
Fran Waugh, Robyn Ewing, Wendy Bowles (CSU), Joanne O'Mara (Deakin), Jan Fook (LTUC), Jonathan Doherty (LTUC), Jane McLenachan (StirUni), Christine Morley (QUT), Lisa Kervin (UOW) & Jessica Mantei (UOW)

Whilst it is generally agreed that employability should be a key outcome of higher education, reflective capacities are almost universally regarded as important for the professional workplace. Professional practitioners must be adaptable in responding to increased complexities and uncertainties in the context of continual change in order make a positive difference to children, schools, communities and society. Unfortunately reflection can be regarded as challenging to identify and measure, and difficult to integrate with the skills of employability. This project has a deliberate interdisciplinary (education and social work professions) and international (Australia, England and Scotland) focus to maximise the transferability of the project learning outcomes between different settings. The project comprises three stages: an audit on reflective practices; development of case studies; and development of online and multimedia resources. The development, trial and evaluation of an improved integrated curriculum will provide authentic links between reflective capacities in pre-service programs and practice in workplace settings.



An integrated analysis of sport, education, health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities
John Evans (Honorary A/Prof), Timothy Olds (UniSA), Rachel Wilson

This project aims to explore the significance of participation in sport and its links to education attainment and health and wellbeing outcomes. Recent research suggests that that there is a significant positive relationship between physical activity and cognitive functioning in children, and also a positive relationship between self-reported participation in sport and general health and wellbeing. However, there has been no research to date that examines sport, education, health and wellbeing in Indigenous communities. This study aims to address this lack. Project outcomes may inform polices and community programs targeting sport, educational attainment, and health and wellbeing outcomes among Indigenous youth in Australia. They may also contribute to frameworks for evaluating future programs.



Speak out: Fostering intercultural dialogue and social transformation through spoken word poetry
J. S. Curwood

Drawing on sociocultural theory, this ethnography investigates spoken word poetry – a burgeoning cultural phenomenon – as a practice, a process, and a product. The first of its kind in Australia, the study builds on prior international research that has demonstrated that spoken word poetry has multiple emotional and social benefits.


Ongoing 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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.