School of Education

Student Research Opportunities

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Learning and Teaching 

Learners and Learning Processes 

This area comprises the study of individual, dyadic and group learning processes and their facilitation in real-life learning environments. Topics of research under this area include metacognition, self-regulation of learning, motivational and attitudinal aspects of learning, teacher-student interaction and collaborative group work. Learning processes are studied across the life span and in a range of curriculum domains. Various qualitative and quantitative methodologies are used to explore learning processes including novel and software-assisted analysis of video recorded data. 
ContactDr Deborah Pino-Pasternak, 

Teachers and Teaching 

This research area focuses on teachers and teaching in a variety of educational settings. Research concerning the cognitive, social and emotional aspects of teachers’ work and lives is considered as well as the local, national and international contextual influences on teachers’ work. Topics include teachers’ beliefs and thought processes, identity, emotions, wellbeing and resilience across career stages. Teacher professional learning, instruction, mentoring and teacher-student interactions are also explored. School-based research and teacher action research is welcomed. 
ContactA/Prof Caroline Mansfield, 

Innovation in Diverse Contexts 

Trends in educational technology are driving educational change worldwide. We examine the use of educational technology and innovative pedagogies in a range of contexts. Specific topics include: 
• mobile technologies for supporting hospitalised children’s learning, communication and wellbeing 
• technological developments to support individual or collaborative learning in higher education settings 
• mobile learning to promote student learning 
• teacher capacity to use emerging technologies 
• adult learning in vocational education and workplace with the focus on innovative pedagogies and 
• enhancing doctoral education through the use of technologies to create a web of researchers. 
Contact: A/Prof Dorit Maor, 

Early Childhood settings and the development of self-regulation

We welcome projects that investigate features of early childhood settings that promote the emergence of self-regulation in young children. A focus on activity types, structure and resourcing, as well as peer-based and adult-child interaction will be explored.
Contact: Dr Deborah Pino-Pasternak

Associations between children’s self-regulated learning and parental support
Self-regulated learning, understood as children’s deliberate approaches to attain their learning goals, has been associated with academic gains in students of different ages and abilities. This area investigates the specific role that parents play in the development of SRL in early childhood and the primary years.
Contact: Dr Deborah Pino-Pasternak

Teacher-student dialogue and opportunities for self-regulated learning: Impact on academic gains

 This area explores features of teacher-student dialogue that relate to children’s development of self-regulated learning (i.e. students’ deliberate approaches to attain their learning goals) and academic gains. The project will focus on the teacher’s scaffolding of student thinking in early childhood and primary-school settings.
Contact: Dr Deborah Pino-Pasternak


Arts in Education 

This research area is informed by investigations into learning in the arts, through the arts and how the arts can enrich engagement and learning across the curriculum; STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) being one such example. As arts education researchers we are actively interested in and support research in each art form and productive intersections between them in the context of learning. Our research includes arts learning in formal, informal and non-formal spaces, curriculum development and implementation, policy, teacher development in the arts and ArtsHealth.

Contact: A/Prof Peter Wright, 

Health and Physical Education 

We can support research in a range of areas within the Health and Physical Education (HPE) context. We have a research and publication profile that focusses on expert teacher behaviours, teachers’ work life, HPE curriculum development, implementation and evaluation, as well as HPE pedagogy, assessment, teaching and learning. We are also interested in students’ engagement in and motivation to perform physical activity, student nutrition and healthy lifestyle programs, school communication of key health messages and health outcomes of heavy screen use. The social implications of engagement in sport, as a participant or spectator, are also of keen interest and we embrace interdisciplinary perspectives on Health and Physical Education issues. 
A/Prof Peter Whipp,

Literacy and Society 

In an increasingly diverse sociocultural and technological world, literacy impacts dramatically on the way we live, work, play and communicate. Crossing local and global curricula and communities, literacy education is essential from early childhood through to primary, secondary, tertiary years and beyond. This research area investigates literacy teaching and learning in society, through themes such as reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing and critical inquiry. Topics of focus include: 
• literacy and the world of media, computers and mobile devices 
• teachers’ work and teacher education 
• English and literature nimas e anisah.jpg
• gender 
• human rights 
• learning difficulties and diverse learning needs and contexts 
• oral reading, handwriting, grammar and phonics and 
• assessment 
A variety of research methods and approaches may be employed. 
A/Prof Wendy Cumming-Potvin,


Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and emergent areas such as STEAM, which includes the Arts, are widely recognised as important for a country’s growth and well-being. Furthermore, numeracy and scientific literacy are advantageous at the societal and individual levels since many issues and decisions in today’s world intersect scientific and mathematical knowledge. Specific topics that we examine include: 
• multiplicative thinking in primary school students 
• professional learning that can assist early career teachers to improve numeracy outcomes in remote Aboriginal schools and communities 
• the use of technology in mathematics education 
• the role of inquiry in learning and teaching science 
• factors associated with students’ literacy and engagement in science and 
• using STEAM as a tool for student engagement and participation. 
We are committed to linking theory and practice through partnerships with schools. 
Dr Amanda Woods-McConney (Science Education),
Mrs Lorraine Jacob (Mathematics Education),
Dr Kai Fai Ho (Mathematics Education),
A/Prof Peter Wright (Arts Education),
A/Prof Dorit Maor (ICT in Education),
A/Prof Andrew McConney (Science Education),

Early Childhood Education 

Our expertise in early childhood education spans the period from birth to eight years of age. We have expertise in early years curriculum development, early childhood philosophy, parental engagement, child participation, democratic processes in the early years, wellbeing and involvement of young children, learning environments, play-based pedagogies, gifted and talented education, children’s self-regulation, Indigenous early years, pedagogical documentation, social justice, early years for vulnerable children (e.g. refugee children, children living in poverty), STEM education and multiliteracies. We are currently engaged in a range of local, national and international research projects addressing questions relevant to early childhood through the use of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. 
Contact: A/Prof Libby Lee-Hammond,

Contexts and Systems

Indigenous-focused Education 

We are passionate advocates for research that promotes equity, is based on the principles of respect, responsibility and relatedness and that is strengths-based and community driven. Specific topics include On Country Learning, professional development and learning for Aboriginal Education Workers (AEWs), the role of Elders in promoting culturally responsive curricula, Aboriginal supported playgroups, school transitions and Indigenous students’ literacies and engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the Arts and the intersection of these with Indigenous traditions of knowing the natural world. We often use Indigenous methodologies including post-colonising frameworks in addition to mixed approaches. We support projects that enable non-Aboriginal educators and the wider community to learn alongside Aboriginal students, their families and communities. We conduct research in both urban and remote Australian settings, by Indigenous Australian and non-Indigenous researchers. 
Contacts:nina e michael.jpg

Libby Jackson-Barrett,

A/Prof Libby Lee-Hammond, 

International Education 

This research area comprises international education. Specific topics include the International Baccalaureate and other forms of international schooling, internationalisation of K-12 and higher education, international research on teachers and teacher education and the development of global citizenship and intercultural competences among teachers and students. 
Contact: Dr Susan Ledger, 

Pedagogies for Social Justice 

This research area focuses on schools serving vulnerable children and communities in a context of rising inequality, poverty and social exclusion. It is organised around three key questions: 
(i) How do we explain educational inequality? 
(ii) How can schools and teachers improve student engagement and achievement? 
(iii) How might we re-imagine policy, practice and research in more hopeful ways? 
Topics covered include: theories and methodologies; teachers’ work; re-designing pedagogy; whole-school change; learning communities; student dis/re/engagement; inclusivity, equity and diversity; Indigenous education; curriculum and assessment; and school leadership. 
Prof Barry Down, 

Education Policy and Equity 

This area examines educational inequalities and the education policies and structures that mediate them. The causes and consequences of between-school inequalities, school stratification and social segregation are explored, as well as solutions for remedying them. Educational marketisation is a key area of research, with topics including school choice, school funding, school autonomy, school selectivity, school sector and privatisation, high-stakes testing and reporting and accountability regimes. The impact of education policies and structures on educational effectiveness and equity are also examined. We draw on the disciplines of education policy, comparative education and sociology of education and use various research methods to explore these topics. 
A/Prof Laura Perry, 


In education, assessment refers to processes of documenting, typically in measurable terms, some construct of interest like students’ achievement, attitudes, skills and beliefs. On the other hand, evaluation refers to making judgments about the effectiveness or efficiency or sustainability of programs, projects, personnel, and policies, based on valid assessment information. At Murdoch, we have welcomed and nurtured special relationships with local, state, and federal education authorities, as well as international agencies to be responsive to their needs for skilled educational evaluation.  These have typically used mixed-method designs, involving both quantitative and qualitative assessment (data gathering) anchored within a pragmatic and pluralistic worldview that values problem solving and program improvement. If you would like to know more, or perhaps have a program, project or policy evaluation about which you would like advice, or perhaps would like to think about an evaluation research project for your postgraduate degree, please contact A/Prof Andrew McConney.

A/Prof Andrew McConney,