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Current Research Projects

Research staff at the School of Education are currently involved in a number of Australian and Internationally funded research projects (click on the links for more information):

Supporting transgender and gender minority youth in schools: Policy and practice

This is an international study that is concerned to investigate trans affirmative school based education policies and practices in Australia (Western Australia), Canada (Ontario) and the United States (California and Colorado).The purpose is to investigate the nature of specific policies and practices committed to addressing transgender equality and gender democratization in the school system. Through engaging in collaborative interpretive research with transgender and gender minority youth, and those who work closely with them in the trans community, our aim is to provide detailed pedagogical insights into how trans-infused policies and resources are being deployed in schools and with what effects for building a culture where a spectrum of gender expression and embodiment is affirmed and celebrated. This research is funded by Canadian federal government's Social Sciences, Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Members of the research team include: Professor Wayne Martino (Principal Investigator, The University of Western Ontario, Canada), Associate Professor Wendy Cumming-Potvin (Research Collaborator, Murdoch University) and Associate Professor Elizabeth Meyer (Research Collaborator, University of Colorado, Boulder). Contact: Associate Professor Wendy Cumming-Potvin

Developing inclusive educational communities: Supporting Literacy, Technology and Diversity in Gender and Sexuality

This study aims to develop inclusive communities, which support social justice for all students, including those who identify as gender variant and sexuality diverse. Phase 1 explores teachers’ perceptions and classroom practices in literacy and technology, with a focus on Secondary English and topics inclusive of diversity in gender and sexuality. Phase 2 gives voice to university students to discuss literacy, technology, curriculum and campus life, with particular reference to diversity in gender and sexuality. This study is funded by the Young and Well CRC. The Young and Well CRC is affiliated with approximately 100 organizations across academic, government, not-for-profit and corporate sectors to improve young people’s mental health and well-being (e.g. Beyond Blue, Freedom Centre, Twenty10, National LGBTI Health Alliance, The Commission for Children and Young People, Murdoch University, The Australian National University, Edith Cowan University, The University of Melbourne, RMIT University, The University of Sydney, etc.). Main contacts are Assoc. Prof. Wendy Cumming-Potvin (Murdoch University)\, and co-researcher Professor & Adjunct Prof. Wayne Martino. Contact: Associate Professor Wendy Cumming-Potvin

Building resilience in teacher education (BRiTE)

Teacher resilience has become an important field of research nationally and internationally as concern grows about retaining teachers who thrive in their professional lives. While factors such as teacher stress and burnout have been associated with teacher attrition, less is known about why teachers stay, and the conditions in which teachers thrive. Building on the successful Keeping Cool project, two current projects are investigating personal and contextual factors that contribute to teacher resilience and processes for building resilience at pre-service and in-service levels. the BRiTE funded project is creating online modules to support the development of professional resilience for pre-service teachers. Opportunities exist for postgraduate research students (MEd/EdD/PhD) to work in this field and contribute to understanding the mechanisms for supporting teacher resilience. Contact: Dr Caroline Mansfield

Contextual supports for the early development of self-regulated learning

This three year project aims to understand how young children develop the skills to self-regulate their learning. The project will examine how factors in children’s home and classroom environments can play a role in developing the ability to work towards goals, understand and enact strategies to solve problems and evaluate their performance. Beginning mid-2015, 160 pre-primary aged children from a range of Perth schools will participate in a longitudinal study, where their abilities to self-regulate their learning will be assessed for 18 months. Information about classroom and home environments will be collected and the quality of parent-child and teacher-student interactions will be investigated. Results will inform educational policy and interventions at family and school levels. Contact: Dr Deborah Pino-Pasternak

Advancing future primary teachers' engagement in inquiry-based science

The aim of this project is to investigate the conditions that promote future primary teachers’ holistic and productive engagement in inquiry-based science activities while positioned as learners. This research is undertaken by a multidisciplinary team including science educators, future teacher educators, scholars in the fields of Science Education and Learning Sciences, and junior researchers. The team is comprised by members of Murdoch University in Australia, University of Turku in Finland, and The City University of New York in the US. Contact: Professor Simone Volet

Young people and arts practice: Impact, evaluation and the third space

Claims about the social impact of the arts on dislocated young people abound. This research helps better understand impacts on participants and communities by considering Australia’s foremost social impact of the arts company—Big hART. Of particular interest are conceptual and imaginative activities that occur in a ‘3rd space’ where creativity and learning combine to produce benefits. Big hART distinctively creates 3rd space for creativity, learning and identity formation addressing fragile communities. A better understanding of these practices will reveal effective processes used benefits that accrue, and the stock and flow of creative ideas tools and people in this complex dynamic system leading to markers of quality and evaluative tools. This project links researchers across three Australian universities, the Centre for Medical Humanities Durham University, UK and Big hART themselves. Contact: Dr Peter Wright

Particpatory arts in regional communities: Evaluating FIVE

FIVE is a two-year pilot project aimed at addressing mental health issues in regional communities across Western Australia through participatory arts. Contact: Dr Peter Wright

Technologies for Supportive Communities: Tech connection for hospitalised youth

This study, in partnership with the Hospital School Service at Princess Margaret Hospital, Perth, broadly aims to understand how mobile technologies are currently being used by teachers and support staff supporting hospitalised students, and for what purposes. Specifically, it will examine teachers’ perceptions about pedagogy, technology and content knowledge in the context of their teaching in hospital schools, and the impact that professional development may play in changing these perceptions. In addition, this study will investigate current needs of the teachers and support staff in relation to the use of mobile technologies to overcome students’ social isolation and enhance their learning and wellbeing. Contact: Dr Dorit Maor

Improving educational opportunities for Aboriginal Education Workers through technology based pedagogy

The project uses design based research methodologies to develop an understanding of the potential educational roles for AEWs that are enabled by mobile and e/Learning technologies. The project also aims to develop a module for Pre Service Teachers working with AEWs. Contact: Mrs Elizabeth Jackson-Barrett

Teacher Identity: Understanding the development of teacher identity with first and final year education students

Using arts based research methods, this project aims to examine the drawings of both first year students in the first instance and final year students along with narratives and interviews to seek understandings as to how students develop a sense of the teacher self. In the first phase of the research we have examined 124 drawings from first year students in early childhood, primary and secondary programs. Phase two will begin in October when we will analyse the drawings of the final year undergraduate students. Team members: Associate Professor Sue Beltman, Dr Judith Dinham, Dr Beryl Chalk, Ms Bich Nguyen (Curtin University) and Chris Glass (Murdoch University). Contact: Dr Chris Glass

Internships: policies, practices and issues

Teacher Internships have been alternative options for initial teacher education programs since the early 1900s. Policy changes have impacted the popularity of the strategy over the last hundred years and seen it rise and fall out of popularity. Despite the differences of internships, they operate from a singular premise, namely, the belief that experiential learning supports transition into the workforce. The current range of internship programs within Australia is diverse and under-reviewed, and as such, requires further investigation. Contact: Dr Sue Ledger

Classroom Readiness for Undergraduates

Much scrutiny has centred on the quality of pre-service teachers and their readiness for the workforce. However, there is little debate about the shared responsibility of Schools and Universities to transform pre-service teachers into professional teachers. Beginning teachers, principals and experienced staff have often expressed their concern about the lack of classroom management strategies offered in initial teacher education. A recent investigation reviewed the way in which classroom management was addressed in thirty-five Initial Teacher Education programs through Australia. The findings called for mandatory stand-alone ‘Classroom Management’ units. Moreover they recommend that CM units should be linked to scheduled professional experiences. How do new teacher education policy reforms address these concerns? Contact: Dr Sue Ledger

Group regulation in science collaborative problem-solving activities in Early Years and/or Primary Settings

Collaborative group learning activities are commonly used in teaching science to facilitate learning. However, it is not enough to simply place students together to ensure that collaboration and learning occurs in the small group setting. The aim of this research is to investigate the nature of social interactions (interpersonal regulation processes) occurring in group problem-solving science activities, and the associations between these processes and academic outcomes. Depending on interest, an Early Years and a Primary Education strand will be developed. Contacts: Dr Amanda Woods-McConney and Dr Deborah Pino-Pasternak

The international study of avid book readers

This study seeks to create a substantial international data set about avid adolescent and adult book readers, as there is a paucity of current research exploring why keen readers read with frequency. These data will be collected to investigate this area and inform future intervention to arrest the increasing prevalence of a literacy, whereby capable readers choose not to engage in regular reading, excluding themselves from the multiple benefits conferred from engagement in the practice. Contact Dr Margaret Merga.