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Current Research Projects

Bouncing forward: Building resilience in teacher education (BRiTE)            Research_BRITE.png

Teacher resilience and wellbeing have become important issues in many countries, especially in Australia. The BRiTE program (www.brite.edu.au) aims to help pre-service teachers build their awareness of the skills and practices that will help facilitate resilience in their teaching career. The program contains 5 online interactive learning modules designed for pre-service teachers. Informed by an extensive review of the teacher resilience literature and empirical research, the modules include the following topics: Building resilience, Relationships, Wellbeing, Taking initiative, and Emotions. Each module uses innovative and engaging approaches such as self-reflection quizzes and interactive learning activities, as well as tips, videos, scenarios, and ‘what do the experts say’ sections. The modules are personalised, so users can build their own toolkit, record their learning and ‘pin’ items for future reference.

The modules were developed with the support from the Office of Learning and Teaching (Australian Department of Education and Training) and colleagues A/Prof Susan Beltman (Curtin University), Prof. Tania Broadley (QUT) and Dr Noelene Weatherby-Fell (University of Wollongong). Ongoing research is investigating user online behavior and the impact of the modules on the experiences of pre-service and early career teachers.

Contact: A/Prof Caroline Mansfield

Supporting early career teachers

The aim of this study is to explore the journeys of early career teachers, investigating the extent to which induction supports (professional learning, in-school mentors, in-class coaching), and work environment influence their resilience, efficacy, commitment, development of positive professional identity and perceived effectiveness in their first year of teaching. In partnership with Prof. Qing Gu (University of Nottingham) and the Institute of Professional Learning (EDWA), this study will help gather much-needed evidence to help develop successful national approaches for retaining and supporting the best teachers for the profession.

Contact: A/Prof Caroline Mansfield

Contextual supports for the early development of self-regulated learning       Research_Contextual supports.png

This three-year project aims to understand how young children develop the skills to self-regulate their learning. The project examines 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, 178 pre-primary aged children from a range of Perth schools participated in a longitudinal study, where their abilities to self-regulate their learning will be assessed for 18 months. Two publications have resulted from this project so far:
 Malpique, A., Pino-Pasternak, D., & Valcan, D.(2017). Handwriting Automaticity and Writing Instruction in Australian Kindergarten: An Exploratory Study. Reading and Writing. DOI 10.1007/s11145-017-9753-1
Valcan, D., Davis, H., & Pino-Pasternak, D. (2017). Parental Behaviours Predicting Early Childhood Executive Functions: A Meta-Analysis. Educational Psychology Review.10.1007/s10648-017-9411-9
We look forward to receiving contacts from schools or teachers interested in developing this area in Early Childhood.

Contact: Dr Deborah Pino-Pasternak

For the Love of Reading: Exploring Barriers to Allowing Time for Reading Aloud

This mixed method research project funded by a Collier Charitable Foundation grant seeks to capture quantitative empirical data that provide insight into the following areas, as reported by teachers, parents and students’ frequency of teachers and parents reading to students across Years 1-6, duration of reading sessions when teachers and parents read to students and barriers to frequency and duration of reading aloud. The project will yield important insights into the current practice of reading aloud at school and at home, including indication of whether the practice of reading aloud is curtailed prematurely at school and at home as students’ progress through the primary school years.

Contacts: Dr Margaret Kristin Merga and Dr Susan Ledger

Western Australian Study in Children’s Book Reading (WASCBR)

This study funded by an Ian Potter grant focuses on West Australian children’s book reading practices at 24 Western Australian primary schools. It explores a range of research questions through a mixed-methods approach, with a particular focus on social influences on fostering recreational book reading, and children's book reading preferences.

Contact: Dr Margaret Kristin Merga

On Country Learning:  Promoting Remote AustralianResearch page_ECE on country.jpg Aboriginal Children’s Wellbeing and Creativity - this project is funded by the Froebel Trust

 
On-Country Learning (OCL) is a pedagogical approach to Aboriginal early years education. The approach addresses new ways of meeting the educational aspirations of Aboriginal students, their families and communities.
  The approach consists of class visits to designated places on Country on a weekly or fortnightly basis.  The Elders of the community choose the sites, so that they can teach and nurture a generation of children with the skills, knowledge and values from that Country.
 Through their participation, the children adopt an active role in constructing meaning from their experiences and develop deep understandings. Teachers are supported to connect the experiences on Country with the school curriculum and plan further investigations that germinate from the visits on Country. OCL provides children with educational experiences that are hands-on and relevant. This engages them in a central tenet of their being, Country.
 Our pilot work in two urban and one remote schools provides preliminary evidence that the experience of being involved in OCL improves children’s levels of involvement and wellbeing. This was measured using the Leuven Wellbeing and Involvement Scale (Laevers, 1994). 

Contact: A/Prof Libby Lee-Hammond and Elizabeth Jackson-Barrett

The Biography of Toys Project


Funded by the Department of Culture and the Arts, the City of Fremantle and the City of Kwinana this interdisciplinary project was developed in partnership with the Western Australian Museum and based on my research into Toys found in the Early Childhood Collection of the WA Museum.
The aim of the Biography of Toys project was to positively impact the learning and wellbeing of children who had migrated to Australia via a series of Art/Literacy workshops.
The workshops were conducted in two primary schools. As part of this project, participants were asked to provide survey feedback. As guided by the Art of Being Healthy Framework, the aim of the evaluation was to assess the effectiveness and the impact of the project on participants. Overall 39 children participated in the Biography of Toys project of which 51% participated in all sessions. The average age of participants was 8 years. In addition to Australia, one or more participants had previously lived in Afghanistan, Chile, Croatia, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines and Portugal.

Contact: Dr Audrey Fernandes-Satar

Technologies for Socially Inclusive Communities: Mobile technologies to support hospitalised young people was funded by the Young and Well CRC

This project first examined the impact of a year-long innovative professional development program to transform teaching in the hospital context via the integration of mobile technologies with sound content and pedagogical knowledge. It highlights the importance of pedagogy-focused training alongside coaching in a collaborative group setting. The project illustrates what is possible with teachers, university researchers, hospital school leadership and students working together to enable an innovative, relevant and flexible program to be developed.
In the second phase of the study we explored the use of mobile technologies to connect students to their schools, classmates, and families in an effort to reduce their isolation and disrupted schooling experiences. We found that mobile technology use in a hospital school was critical to engage adolescents in learning and keep them up-to-date with schoolwork. Mobile technologies should be available and accessible in hospital for adolescent patients for the purpose of meeting their learning, communication and wellbeing needs. In particular, mobile technology should be used as a therapeutic tool to overcome hospitalized adolescents’ social isolation and improve their wellbeing.
Currently we are planning the next stage of the research in the new Perth Children Hospital for mid 2018.

Contact: A/Prof Dorit Maor

Teacher librarians as Australian literature advocates in schools

This two year project funded by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund will determine how teacher librarians in primary and secondary schools advocate for the reading of Australian literature, as well as literacy and literature more generally. Teacher librarians' beliefs, practices and experiences will be explored in in-depth interviews.
 Data analysis will lead to the creation of a best-practice framework for promoting engagement with Australian literature in schools.

The study aims to:
Explore the scope of teacher librarian's roles in literacy and literature engagement and their perceived extent of influence, with a focus on Australian literature promotion; and
Investigate the degree of school culture and collaborative support for literacy and literature engagement (with a focus on AL promotion)

Contact: Dr Margaret Kristin Merga