Disciplinarity, classroom practice, and students’ work products


Research is under way under Professor Freebody’s supervision that examines the influence of disciplinarity in best practice teaching of senior secondary students. The projects focus on four subject areas: Biology, Modern History, Music and Physics. The project team is interested in documenting and analysing the ways in which the different subject areas require different approaches to developing student knowledge and understanding.


Professor Peter Freebody

Research Location

Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition (CoCo)

Program Type



The study involves what it means to ‘know a discipline’, to ‘think like a disciplinary expert’ and to ‘teach and learn a discipline’. The purpose is to investigate how teachers use these ideas to build their students’ knowledge. The research is particularly timely in Australia where there are many initiatives involving interdisciplinary curricula in education.

Additional Information

The CoCo Research Centre was created at the University of Sydney in 2003. Our primary goal is research. We study innovative uses of advanced learning technologies, in order to gain a better understanding of learning, teaching, technology and their inter-relationships.

We also contribute to innovation in the use of ICT for learning and teaching within the University, and to the development of professionals who support other people’s learning in the corporate and public sectors. Our professional development opportunities focus on specialists in e-learning, instructional/educational design, knowledge management, organisational development and educational administration, as well as teachers, trainers and lecturers.

Our core themes include:

  • computer-supported collaboration, co-operation, and cognition;
  • co-construction of knowledge;
  • learning in communities of practice;
  • communication;
  • computation;
  • complex learning; and
  • conviviality.
 Previous projects supervised include;
  • Predicting reading achievement in the first year of schooling.
  • The representation of technical knowledge in high school students’ writing for science.
  • The language of aboriginal and non-aboriginal children and the texts they encounter in schools.
  • Schooling in small rural and remote communities.
  • The development of textual understandings in the first 12 months of schooling.
  • Quantitative and interpretive analyses of classroom talk as a cognitive context for learning about literacy.
  • Literacy acquisition and diffusion among pre-literate adults in non-industrialised communities in Papua New Guinea.
  • Assembling and assessing the student: The ‘child’ as enacted in a primary school literature classroom.
  • Documenting and changing the teaching of reading in the primary school.
  • Policy and practice in workplace literacy.
  • Accounting for culture, language and identity in educational discourses: The case of indigenous Sami in a Finland, Sweden and Norway.
  • ‘Good citizenship’ as a situated moral and practical accomplishment.
  • Representations of motherhood in contemporary Australian adolescent fiction.
  • Diversity and institutional interaction in secondary ESL classrooms.
  • An ethnomethodological study of participation and severe intellectual impairment.
  • Predicting the patterns of early literacy achievement: A longitudinal study of transition from home to school.
  • Topical talk in general practice medical consultations.
  • A corpus study of the representation of scientific knowledge in school textbooks.
  • Becoming school-literate in China: Historical, semiotic and interactional analyses.

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Pedagogy Education literacy, the Arts. Curriculum, literacy education, educational disadvantage, classroom interaction and quantitative and qualitative research methods. Schooling, children, classrooms. Australian Literacies: Informing national policy on literacy education, textual practice: critical literacy. Knowledge, culture, power, literacy policies and practices. textual practice

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 431

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