Abstracts of school grants 2017

New grants


Assessment for Graduate Teaching - AITSL TPA Grant - University of Melbourne led consortium
University of Sydney members: D. Mayer, J. Tognolini, A. Simpson, W. Cotton, D. Talbot, J. Bobis, P. Brownlee

The aim of this project is to develop a Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) that can be implemented in all Australian Initial Teacher Education (ITE) institutions, with the input and collaboration of stakeholders, as a summative assessment of pre-service teachers that provides evidence of their classroom readiness.



The commercial provision of schooling and its implications for Australia
R. Lingard (UQ), G. Thompson (QUT), K. Gulson (UNSW), N. Mockler, A. Hogan (UQ)

The integration of public schooling and corporate investment has become relatively commonplace around the world, yet there is no academic research on how this phenomenon could impact Australia. The aim of this project is to identify modes of commercial provision of schooling around the globe and the policy networks and changing forms and practices of the state that facilitate this provision. The project will provide new knowledge on how commercial provision of schooling is creating new relationships between governments and private companies and the implications of this commercial provision for equitable and democratic schooling in Australia.



Gendered engagement and participation in sciences and mathematics
H. Watt

Gendered engagement and participation in sciences and mathematics. This project aims to identify the reasons for the declining numbers of girls (and boys) studying sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects during secondary school. This project will conduct complementary longitudinal studies in Australia, in collaboration with leading international scholars, analysing declining motivations, especially for girls/women, to show how this predicts different STEM career choices and actual occupational outcomes, to yield theoretical developments and inform policy to improve the participation of girls/women (and boys/men) in these fields. Expected outcomes of this project include the provision of comprehensive evidence-informed recommendations to Federal and State government, industry and education stakeholders, which will enable the coordinated development of intervention programs to address these issues.



Getting an early start to aspirations: Understanding how to promote educational futures in early childhood
V. Harwood

Promoting educational futures in early childhood. Children from low socio-economic status (LSES) backgrounds are three times less likely to attend university than their high socio-economic status peers. For families without experience of higher education it is difficult to know how to encourage young children's aspiration for educational futures. This project aims to improve aspirations for educational futures in LSES early childhood settings. A social marketing intervention targeting parents, children and early childhood educators will be developed and longitudinal interviews will be conducted to understand the development of aspirations by LSES families with young children. The project will produce a unique 'education promotion' strategy for early childhood.



Invisible practices: Intervention with fathers who use violence
S. Heward-Belle, L. Laing, C. Humphreys (Melb), M. Connolly (Melb), L. Healy (Melb), D. Chung (Curtin), D. Green (Curtin), P. O'Leary (griffith), M. Tsantefski (Griffith)

The Invisible Practices action research project will investigate and simultaneously develop the workforce capacity of child protection and family services working with fathers who use domestic and family violence. A significant amount of intervention with men who use violence and abuse in relationships does not occur in specialized men’s behaviour change programs. More prevalent is intervention with men through child protection and generic family services programs, yet these practices are undocumented and not evidence-based. What constitutes good practice, poor and dangerous practices is largely unknown. No standards and little guidance exist. The expertise of practitioners will be harnessed through Communities of Practice which will also be capacity built through training and coaching by David Mandel and the Safe and Together resources. A researcher will work alongside Communities of Practice in four states to investigate changes in practitioner
practices and the experience of organisational support. This proposal responds to: Program 3.2 The examination of alternative/hybrid models of best practice with family and domestic violence perpetrators; and has relevance for: 2.3 Evaluation of specific interventions such as the Safe and Together child protection model and 2.4 the role of child protection and other services that engage perpetrators and seek to motivate change.



Mentoring and Indigenous higher education: Understanding how university students mentor Indigenous school students
V. Harwood, P. Chandler (UoW), S. O'Shea (UoW)

Mentoring and Indigenous higher education: How university students mentor Indigenous school students. Mentoring Indigenous school students by university students is an expanding initiative to address the education gap experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This project will investigate what works in successful mentoring between university students and young Indigenous Australians and what are 'mentoring best practices' with Indigenous young people. The project builds on our research with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), a program engaging university students and Indigenous young people across Australia. Expected outcomes are new knowledge on university student mentoring of Indigenous school children and the design of 'remote' university student mentoring using communication technology.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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

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



Reframing the PhD for Australia's future universities
S. Barrie (Honorary Associate Professor), T. Peseta (Honorary Senior Lecturer), K. Trigwell (Honorary Professor), P. McCallum, L. Partridge (UWA), J. Graffam (Deakin), J. Fyffe (La Trobe), A. Kawn (Auckland)

This research project will deliver practical strategies and resources that re-frame and integrate (i) the PhD research project, (ii) its supervision, (iii) the disciplinary community the PhD occurs in, and (iv) universities’ doctoral research skills and teaching development strategies, to better prepare graduates for employment in both academia and industry. The project addresses the role of the PhD in preparing the future academic workforce, especially in relation to higher education teaching. While it pays particular attention to the preparation of doctoral students for careers in academia, it does so in a way that will also better prepare them for careers in industry and elsewhere. As a result of collaborations with international researchers, the project brings a much-needed academic tenor to the national conversations about the PhD. Through the nation’s Academic Boards, it will engage academic communities in shaping a different way of thinking about the research ‘heart’ of the PhD borrowing from, and extending, the Carnegie Foundation’s idea of ‘stewardship’.



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.



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.