Our research

The following is a list of some of our recent research projects.

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Peopling Educational Policy: Realising the New Australian English and Mathematics Curricula (2011-2013)

The new Australian Curriculum initiative provides an important opportunity for improvement in the teaching of English and mathematics. This research will study the impact of the Australian Curriculum (AC) initiative in English and mathematics. The immediate focus of the project is on the resources needed and professional learning opportunities needed to support teachers in the implementation of these new curriculums. More generally, the focus will be on system and teacher learning and processes needed to support improvement in practice in the context of the new curriculum. (Doug Clarke with colleagues from Monash University, Newcastle University, Sydney University, University of Melbourne, and University of Technology Sydney, the New South Wales Education Department, Catholic Education Office Melbourne, and Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority)

Investigating the Relationship Between Teacher Expectations, Student Persistence and the Learning of Mathematics (2011-2013)

This research is investigating a major factor restricting student opportunities to learn mathematics. We will explore what is needed to encourage students to embrace challenges and to persist even when tasks are difficult. We will also examine what is needed to support teachers in developing the strategies needed to pose challenging tasks and to encourage students to engage with those tasks. The outcome will be enhanced mathematics learning and improved self confidence in students. (Doug Clarke and Anne Roche with colleagues from Monash University)

Enhancing Numeracy Learning and Teaching Across the Curriculum (2012-2014)

This project aims to initiate a paradigm shift in the teaching and learning of numeracy by implementing, evaluating, and refining a rich model of numeracy across the curriculum (Goos, 2007). The project addresses three strategic areas: curriculum, teacher development, and student learning. Specifically, it aims to analyse the numeracy learning demands of all subjects in the F-10 Australian curriculum (currently mathematics, English, science, history); investigate the extent to which engagement with a rich model of numeracy leads to changes in teachers’ personal conceptions of numeracy and confidence in numeracy teaching in mathematics and other curriculum areas; identify and document changes in teachers’ curriculum planning and pedagogical approaches for developing numeracy within mathematics and other curriculum areas; and investigate the extent to which students’ numeracy learning is enhanced through engagement with the numeracy model.(Vince Geiger with Merrilyn Goos and Shelley Dole, University of Queensland, and  Helen Forgasz, Monash University)

Contemporary Teaching and Learning of Mathematics (2008-2012)

This project provides research and professional learning support to approximately 30 Catholic primary schools in the Melbourne Archdiocese each year. The project aims to enhance teacher pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and thereby student mathematical learning. Data are being collected on student understanding through one-to-one interviews by ACU final-year students, and on teacher growth in PCK and other aspects of professional growth through questionnaires, journals and classroom observations. A study of classroom change is also being undertaken within the overall project. (Doug Clarke directs the project, Ann Downton is Project Coordinator, while Jill Brown, Philip Clarkson, Marj Horne, Andrea McDonough, Anne Roche, Anne Scott, Matt Sexton, Karina Wilkie, Vince Wright, Louise Hamilton, and Rose Knight also have key roles)

Professional Learning in Mathematics through Action (2010-2012)

The major aim of this project is to investigate how teacher change can be enhanced by participation in specifically targeted teacher professional learning projects.  Teachers in the schools are involved in Professional Learning Teams who are undertaking action research projects as well as participating in professional learning days.  The Project is funded through the Beachside Network and the Southern Region of the DEECD. (Marj Horne and Philip Clarkson)

Let’s Count Pilot (2011-2012)

This research investigates in the impact of a new early mathematics program designed by The Smith Family and the researchers to assist parents and other family members to help their young children aged 3-5 years play with, investigate and learn powerful mathematical ideas in ways that develop positive dispositions to learning as well as mathematical knowledge and skills. It includes professional learning for Early Childhood educators, who assist the parents and other family members in providing the opportunities for the children to engage with the mathematics in their everyday lives, talk about it, document it, and extend it in ways that are relevant to them. (Ann Gervasoni, with Professor Bob Perry, CSU)

Make It Count: Numeracy, Mathematics and Indigenous Learners (2010-2011)

This research project is designed to evaluate student experiences in mathematics/numeracy within a larger initiative, Make it count: Numeracy, mathematics and Indigenous learners, which is being conducted by the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers and funded by the Australian government. The main focus of the Make it Count project is the improvement of mathematics and numeracy outcomes for Indigenous students. Specifically, the project is concerned with Indigenous student experiences and aims to evaluate development in Indigenous students’ attitudes to, and confidence with, mathematics/numeracy at school through the duration of the Make it Count national numeracy project. (Vince Geiger with Professor Merrilyn Goos, University of Queensland)

Leading Numeracy Learning (2010-2011)

In this research and development project conducted through the support of Brisbane Catholic Education, the research team has worked with teachers on developing a rich understanding of numeracy based on Goos’ (2007) numeracy model. The project aims to assist teachers to enhance their numeracy practice through attention to planning and by developing capacities for self-reflection. Outcomes from the project, to date, include the development of models for teacher learning trajectories within numeracy and a deeper understanding of the role of ICTs in supporting numeracy (Vince Geiger, with Merrilyn Goos and Shelley Dole, University of Queensland)

Mathematics Development of Children with Down Syndrome (2009-2011)

This project aims to describe the mathematical development over one year of primary school children with Down syndrome. The project, supported by funding from the SiMERR ACT hub, is in the analysis and reporting phase. Mathematical development (apart from aspects of counting) is uncharted territory for children with Down syndrome. Methodological difficulties arise as this area has had little investigation by mathematics education researchers. The limited research available has been undertaken by psychologists who bring different methodologies and therefore, findings, to the literature. Methods to plot the development of learning for children with DS were developed and explored in this research where we explored the use of methodologies developed in the Early Numeracy Research Project.  Dr Faragher and Associate Professor Barbara Clarke (Monash University) are compiling an edited book tentatively titled Educating Learners with Down Syndrome: Research to Practice. (Rhonda Faragher with Barbara Clarke, Monash University)

ACT Education for Sustainability in Pre-service Teacher Education (2009-2011)

This project is an ongoing project which examines drivers and blockers to embedding Education for Sustainability across primary pre-service teacher education courses in the ACT.  It investigates factors that might support change in pre-service teacher education, and evaluates sustainability programs for pre-service teachers undertaking Bachelor of Education courses at the Australian Catholic University and the University of Canberra. Focus group discussions will be held with teacher educators to ensure the units are relevant and develop ‘best practice’ in education for sustainability. It provides opportunities for participants to engage with understandings, knowledge, skills and values relevant to the teaching of Education for Sustainability in teacher education courses. The project was funded by DEWHA (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts) through The Australian Research Institute for Environment and Sustainability. (Sue Wilson)

Models of Leading Curriculum Change in Numeracy (2011-2012)

This study is investigating promoting and inhibiting practical actions and processes taken by leaders within different levels of schooling and school systems. The study is situated within three North Region schools of Brisbane Catholic Education that are in the process of implementing curriculum change in the teaching and learning of numeracy. This investigation draws its theoretical underpinnings from the BCE Leadership Framework and the Goos (2007) Numeracy Model. One of the anticipated outcomes of this research is the development of a new, rich model for leading curriculum change in numeracy to be used in a larger scale project on completion of this pilot study. (Janeen Lamb and Vince Geiger with Professor Chris Branson, University of Waikato, NZ  and Professor Robyn Jorgensen (Griffith University)

Mathematical Wellbeing (2008-2013)

Many students are often categorised as not being motivated to do mathematics and generally having negative attitudes to mathematics. But it is not always so. Some students are well motivated, show much confidence in their approach and generally like doing mathematics.  Understandably more often than not research has been more interested in the negative. In this project we develop a construct as an extension of our previous work on values of mathematics that allows teachers and students to envisage how students will behave when they are have a sense of wellbeing when engaged with mathematics.  . (Philip Clarkson, with Bill Atweh, Curtin University and Alan Bishop and Wee Tiong Seah, Monash University)

University Partnerships for Teaching and Learning Mathematics (UPTLM) project (2010-2012)

This project was developed at the beginning of 2010 and it seeks to research ways that preservice teacher capacity can be developed for effective mathematics teaching. In particular, this capacity building is researched within school-university partnerships between ACU preservice teachers, ACU mathematics education lecturers and CTLM school communities. Recent findings reveal that preservice teachers engage in becoming teachers of mathematics by inquiring into their teaching practices whilst being inducted into the mathematics teaching profession. (Matt Sexton and Andrea McDonough)

Supporting the Learning of Professional Teaching Communities in Remote Regions with High Teacher Turnover (2011-2013)

The primary aim of this study is to investigate how groups of mathematics teachers can be supported to form lasting, collaborative professional teaching communities that focus on improvement of mathematics teaching and learning, and especially, how this can be accomplished in regions with high teacher turnover. Understanding the processes of induction of new members to an established professional teaching community and the means that support and hinder the newcomers’ learning is of key importance. Gaining insight into the institutional context of the teachers’ school is critical for understanding the teachers’ learning in the professional development program and in their classrooms. This pilot project is currently funded by the University of Queensland, Education Queensland and the Queensland Association of Mathematics Teachers.  (Janeen Lamb in collaboration with Dr Jana Visnovska, University of Queensland)

Interest and Recruitment in Science (IRIS) Study (2011-2012)

IRIS is a large-scale international study of student recruitment, retention and gender equity in university science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. The study addresses the challenge that too few young people, and few women in particular, are choosing STEM career paths. IRIS was developed by a consortium of European universities and initially funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Program. The national IRIS report will provide universities with important insights into the motivations of their STEM students, the efficacy of recruitment initiatives and strategies for student retention. SiMERR. National Centre for Science Mathematics Education in Regional and Rural Australia. (Sue Wilson with Terry Lyons and Frances Quinn, UNE,  Jan West and Peter Hubber, Deakin, John Kenny, UTAS, Len Sparrow, Curtin and Neil Anderson, JCU)

Investigating Early Concepts of Mass (2011-2012)

This project involved a design experiment regarding Year 1 and 2 children’s concepts of Mass measurement. The methodology, including the collection of quantitative and qualitative data, allowed us to examine the complexity of the classroom including the tasks and problems the children were asked to solve, the discourse, the participation in the classroom and the materials with which the children were engaged. (Andrea McDonough with Jill Cheeseman (Monash University) and Sarah Ferguson (Clairvaux Primary School).
Learning Trajectories as a Feature of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (2011-2012)
The project focuses on establishing the extent to which a teacher accesses hypothetical learning trajectories to inform their instructional decisions. The data came from audio recordings of a classroom over a two-week period, interviews with ten individual students, recordings of planning meetings and reflections with the class teacher, and work samples. Analysis of the data continues. (Vince Wright)