Helping young people face life's challenges

Published: Wednesday 8th April 2015

LSIA Director and Program Directors
LSIA Director Professor Claire Wyatt-Smith with LSIA Program Directors (left to right): Associate Professor Clarence Ng, Associate Professor Joce Nuttall, Professor Brendan Bartlett, Professor Joy Cumming, LSIA Director Professor Claire Wyatt-Smith, Professor Sheryl Hemphill, Professor Len Unsworth, Professor Carmel Diezmann, Associate Professor Stephanie Taplin

Helping young people face life's challenges

Children and young people face many challenges as they transition through life, moving from the early years through to school and then on to higher education, vocational training or the workplace.

The Learning Sciences Institute Australia (LSIA) aims to help young people deal with these challenges which may include cyber bullying, family breakdown, substance abuse or learning difficulties.

LSIA was formally launched in Brisbane last month by ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven and Professor Emeritus Marylin McMeniman AM, Acting Ordinary Commissioner, Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission.

Speaking at the launch, Professor Craven said LSIA's work strongly aligned with ACU's Mission and Catholic ethos.

"Every child is entitled to a good education, the opportunity to learn and thrive, to realise their potential. At the core of the Institute is a drive to generate new knowledge about young people's wellbeing, their learning in school settings, in the curriculum and in family and community contexts," he said.

Professor Craven said the Institute's research aimed to identify, examine and remove barriers to learning and wellbeing.

"LSIA's interdisciplinary, multitheoretical research connecting policy and practice will make a real difference to the lives of children, young people and their families," he said.

The Foundation Director of LSIA is Professor Claire Wyatt-Smith. Speaking at the launch, she said that the Institute takes a unique 'whole child' or 'ecological' approach to its research.

"Our approach encircles the child and takes account of their family and the community in which they live. It brings together different groups from education, psychology, health, the law, economics and social work, to encourage fresh thinking and new perspectives," she said.

Professor Wyatt-Smith said the Institute's approach works to strengthen the policies and systems – whether they are educational or societal – that are needed to encourage positive outcomes for children, young people and their families.

Established in January 2014, the Institute has already received $1.2 million in ARC Discovery funding and is currently working on large-scale projects funded by the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council and various state governments and bodies.

LSIA has eight research programs spanning two domains – Education and Schooling and Child and Youth Studies.

The programs of research include:

  • Assessment, Evaluation and Student Learning, led by Professor Joy Cumming (Program 1).
  • Enhancing Literacy and Engagement for Overcoming Disadvantage, led by Associate Professor Clarence Ng (Program 2).
  • Mathematics Futures for All, led by Professor Carmel Diezmann (Program 3).
  • Early Childhood Futures, led by Associate Professor Joce Nuttall (Program 4).
  • Enhancing Children's Safety and Life Chances (Institute of Child Protection Studies), led by Professor Morag McArthur and Associate Professor Stephanie Taplin (Program 5).
  • Promoting Healthy Development and Inclusion in Families, Schools and Communities, led by Professor Sheryl Hemphill (Program 6).
  • Transitions and Youth at Risk, led by Professor Brendan Bartlett (Program 7).
  • Educational Semiotics in English and Literacy Pedagogy, led by Professor Len Unsworth (Program 8).

LSIA Program Directors and researchers are internationally recognised scholars with expertise stretching across education, psychology, social work, the law, economics, health and youth work.

You can find out more about the Institute's work here and follow them on Twitter @LSIA_ACU.

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