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Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Research Group

Our team | Research | Resources | Publications | Contact

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Research Group (STEM-RG) is primarily aimed at research in pre-service teacher education and teacher professional learning in science and mathematics. The focus of the group reflects international concerns related to education policy and curriculum development across the STEM disciplines as well as the focus across courses provided at Southern Cross University.

The STEM-RG aims to build a broader profile through collaborations across SCU and other university partners. The STEM-RG builds on a the considerable body of research conducted at SCU by Adjunct Professor Robert J. (Bob) Wright and Adjunct Professor Keith Skamp. It also expands into new areas of interest of current School of Education researchers. This includes mathematics and anxiety (Alan Foster); Geometry and ICT (Dr Christos Markopoulos) and scientific approaches to STEM education (Dr Geoff Woolcott).

Our team

SCU team members


Higher degree research students

CandidateDegreeThesisSupervisors
Tran Li ThiPhD An investigation of key elements of one-to-one intervention teaching of whole-number arithmetic: A retrospective study.

Principal supervisor: Professor Bob Wright and Professor Martin Hayden
Associate supervisor: Dr Geoff Woolcott

David Ellemore-CollinsPhDDesigning arithmetic instruction for intervention with low-attaining students. Principal supervisor: Professor Bob Wright and Professor Martin Hayden
Associate supervisor: Geoff Woolcott
RumiatiPhDMental calculation strategies of students attending a special school for the intellectually disabled.Principal supervisor: Professor Bob Wright and Professor Martin Hayden
Associate supervisor: Geoff Woolcott
Connie MillerPhDThere's thinking and then there's mathematical thinking: Similarities, differences and related motivational and emotional aspects.Principal supervisor: Dr Robert Smith
Associate supervisors: Geoff Woolcott and Dr Christos Markopoulos
Graeme WardPhDRelational analysis of teacher-learner connectivity: Complexity approaches to mathematics and science pedagogy. Principal supervisor: Dr Robert Smith
Associate supervisor: Dr Geoff Woolcott

Associates

Our research

The STEM-RG research is focussed on investigating science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a context of educational theory and practice. Members of the STEM-RG at Southern Cross University are engaged in educational research that embraces several disciplines here at Southern Cross University across education and the social sciences. We are exploring research areas that build on the individual strengths of group members, with a focus on the integration of scientific and mathematics research with educational research. We see extensive collaboration as a way forward and are documenting our progress using multi-dimensional approaches, including the use network analysis.

Members of the STEM-RG are involved in the following funded education-based projects

It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education, led by Dr Geoff Woolcott and funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching, as part of the Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers Program (ETMST) ($1,000,000). The primary objective of this project is to develop new modules for university pre-service education curriculum in order to improve mathematics and science teaching across the Regional Universities Network (RUN). The project involves application of neruo-cognitive approaches to studies of affect (emotion) in pre-service teachers (Learning Sciences Research Group).

The Spatial Reasoning Knowledge Synthesis Project. The Spatial Reasoning Study Group (SRSG), an international collaboration dedicated to research on the impact of spatial reasoning in education, specifically mathematics education. Funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The Spatial Reasoning Network Mapping Project. The Spatial Reasoning Study Group (SRSG), an international collaboration dedicated to research on the impact of spatial reasoning in education, specifically mathematics education. Funded by the Imperial Oil STEM project (IOSTEM) through its Early Years Mathematics Initiative (IOSTEM) at the University of Calgary, Canada.

Inspiring Science & Mathematics Education (iSME), led by SCU, with project partners Charles Darwin University, the University of Wollongong, the Australian Academy for Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and Stile Education Pty Ltd. Funded through the Australian Government AMSPP ($987,500). The iSME project aims to enhance teaching and learning of the science and maths curriculum in Years 7 to 10 and involves the development of at least five authentic, multidisciplinary classroom modules which use cutting-edge science and engineering contexts and the latest educational theory from the partner universities and other research institutions to excite and engage students.

The Regional Universities Network (RUN) Maths and Science Digital Classroom: A connected model for all of Australia, led by the University of Southern Queensland and including all six members of the Regional Universities Network (RUN) as well as the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI), The Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE), and secondary and primary schools in regional and peri-urban Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Funded through the Australian Government as an Australian Mathematics and Science Participation Program (AMSPP) Priority Project ($998,880). The project aims to harness the greatly enhanced digital connectivity that comes with the national broadband roll-out to enable the project partners to pilot a model that could ensure that, regardless of location and resourcing, schools anywhere in Australia can provide engaging, enriched and leading-edge education in mathematics and science.

Evaluating and selecting STEM resources: capacity building for teachers in rural and regional schools (STEMCrAfT), led by the University of Tasmania, with university partners Southern Cross University, Deakin University, Edith Cowan University and the University of South Australia, as well as government and industry partners. Funded through the Australian Government as an AMSPP Priority Project ($378, 550). The project aims to establish a sustainable model for building confidence and capacity of rural and regional primary and junior secondary teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through a teacher and expert jointly-developed framework for teacher analysis, critique, and evaluation of STEM resources.

Mathslinks: Network analysis of spatiotemporal connectivity in mathematics conceptual development. This project, led by Dr Geoff Woolcott, aims to examine student learning as assessed through student performance, using mathematics as an illustrative case. Funded by a School of Education Grant ($5,200). This project expands work completed in the earlier project, Examining spatiotemporal links in mathematics concept learning in classroom and online environments, built around an examination of complex linkages or networks in mathematics learning. Funded by a School of Education Grant ($5,000). Both projects are directed towards a larger project that focuses on the examination of connectivity hypotheses related to learning and student performance, an emerging area of research that engages scientific viewpoints. These projects utilise an innovative and trans-disciplinary approach to exploring the relationships between concepts that underpin successful learning, including network representation and analysis based in modern application of graph theory.

Upcoming events

Enhancing the training of mathematics and science teachers (ETMST)

Showcase Forum at Southern Cross University
Gold Coast Campus
Thursday 5 November 2015, 9:30am - 2:30pm

On Thursday 5 November, Southern Cross University (SCU) is hosting a Forum, Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers, at the Gold Coast Campus. This Forum will showcase how the face of pre-service teacher education is changing across Australia through five exciting and innovative projects being undertaken across 25 Australian universities. These projects are supported by the Australian government, through the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Office for Learning and Teaching, as part of the program Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers.

The projects are all designed to improve pre-service teacher education but we expect that they will have broader effects across mathematics and science education in both primary and secondary schools. Several of the projects, for example, have components that have been or will be adapted to teacher professional development and mentoring. The Showcase is focused on providing education stakeholders in Southern QLD and Northern NSW a view of what these five projects are delivering, and what they can offer mathematics and science educators across the region as we move Australian mathematics and science education into a secure and sustainable future.

For more information, visit the It's Part of My Life website.

Education resources

Related resources

Publications and conference papers

Upcoming conference presentations

Science teacher education in regional Australia: Evaluating enhancement and feedback/reflection modules designed to engage and motivate pre-service teachers of science. Australian Association of Educational Research (AARE) annual conference, Perth, Dec 2015. Geoff Woolcott.

The RUN Digital Classroom project: Integrating scientific research into classroom teaching in regional Australia. Australian Association of Educational Research (AARE) annual conference, Perth, Dec 2015. Alan Foster.

Recent presentations

Collaboration, innovation and impact in a RUN mathematics and science teacher education project. Research Dialogue, School of Education Research Series, 27 October, 2015.

Collaboration, impact and innovation: a fresh approach using networks. Scholarship of Teaching Symposium, 22 September, 2015, Southern Cross University. Geoff Woolcott with Dan Chamberlain.

STEM Projects at Southern Cross University. Invited presentation at Queensland University of Technology, 17 September 2015. Geoff Woolcott.

Project sustainability: A case study. Scholarship of Teaching Symposium, 22 September, 2015, Southern Cross University. Poster Session. Geoff Woolcott and Amanda Scott.

Selected conference presentations and papers by STEM-RG members

Mathematical thinking in a context of 'general thinking': Implications for mathematics education. The 38th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, MERGA38, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Qld, 30 June -3 July 2014. C. Miller, C. Markopoulos & G. Woolcott.

Through the lens of complexity theory: Formative evaluation of an education project. Annual conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM), 30 March - 1 April, 2015 Birmingham, UK. A. Scott & G. Woolcott.

Enhancing science education in regional Australia: Giving pre-service teachers confidence and competence in teaching primary school science. The Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education and the New Zealand Association for Research in Education, AARE-NZARE, 30 November to 4 December, 2014, Brisbane, Australia. L. Pfeiffer & G. Woolcott.

Enhancing mathematics and science teacher education in regional Australia: Examining pre-service teacher responses to feedback processes for building confidence and competence. The Asia Pacific Educational Research Association International Conference 2014 (APERA2014): Managing Global Changes and Education Reforms: Asia and Pacific Responses, Hong Kong, China, November, 2014. C. Lembke & G. Woolcott.

Enhancing science and mathematics teacher education in regional Australia: Evaluating an enhancement module for science pre-service teachers. The Annual Conference of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST2015), Chicago, 11-14 April, 2015. G. Woolcott.

Recent poster (refereed)

Woolcott, G. & Scott, A. (2015). Project sustainability: A case study. Scholarship of Teaching Symposium, 22 September, 2015, Southern Cross University. Poster Session.

Recent publications

Mulligan, J., & Woolcott, G. (2015). What lies beneath? The conceptual connectivity underpinning whole number arithmetic. In X. Sun, B. Kaur & J. Novotná (Eds.), The 23rd ICMI Study: Primary mathematics study on whole numbers, pp. 220-228. Macao, China: University of Macau.

Woolcott, G., & Chamberlain, D. (2015). Engaging with diverse communities: Analysis of a complex interaction. Proceedings of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA2015) 6-9 July, 2015, Melbourne. Forthcoming.

Woolcott, G., Chamberlain, D., & Mulligan, J. (2015). Using network analysis to connect structural relationships in early mathematics assessment. In K. Beswick, T. Muir, & J. Wells (Eds.). Proceedings of the 39th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (Vol.4), pp. 321-328. Hobart, Australia: PME.

Woolcott, G., & Yeigh, T. (2015). Enhancing mathematics (STEM) teacher education in regional Australia: Pedagogical interactions and affect. In M. Marshman, V. Geiger & A. Bennison (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, pp. 651-658. Adelaide: MERGA.

Woolcott, G., (2015). Enhancing science and mathematics teacher education in regional Australia: Evaluating an enhancement module for science pre-service teachers. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching, Chicago, 2015. Published online 14 February, 2015.

Publications

Afari, E., Ward, G., & Khine, M.S. (2012). Global self-esteem and self-efficacy correlates: Relation of academic achievement and self-esteem among Emirati students. International Education Studies, 5(2), 49-57.

Graham, L., & Bellert, A. (2012). Literacy, numeracy and low-achieving students: Cautious directions from cognitive neuroscience. Paper presented to the Successful Learning Conference, Sydney, NSW, 8-9 October.

Graham, L., Bellert, A., Thomas, J., & Pegg, J. (2007). QuickSmart: A basic academic skills intervention for middle school students with learning difficulties. Journal of learning disabilities, 40(5), 410-419.

Boyd, W., Foster, A., Smith, J., & Boyd, W.E. (2014). Feeling good about teaching mathematics: Addressing anxiety amongst pre-service teachers. Creative Education, 5(4), 207-217.

Chaseling, M., Boyd, W. E., Robson, K., & Brown, L. (2014). Whatever it takes! Developing professional learning communities in primary school mathematics education. Creative Education, 5, 864-876.

Forbes, A. & Skamp, K. R. (2013). Knowing and learning about science in primary school 'communities of science practice': The views of participating scientists in the MyScience Initiative. Research in Science Education, 43(3), 1005-1028.

Luke, H., Lloyd, D. J., Boyd, W. E., & den Exter, K. A. (2014). Improving conservation community group effectiveness using mind mapping and action research. Conservation and Society, 12(1), 43-53.

Mason, R., & Cooper, G. (2013). Mindstorms robots and the application of cognitive load theory in introductory programming, Computer Science Education, 23(4), 296-314.

Mason, R., Cooper, G., & Comber, T. (2011). Girls get IT. ACM Inroads, 2(3), 71-77.

Markopoulos, C., & Alexopoulou, E. (2012). Representational systems on 3D navigation process. In C. Kynigos, J. E. Clayson & N. Yiannoutsou (Eds.), Constructionism 2012: Theory, Practice and Impact. (pp. 184-193). Athens, Greece.

Markopoulos, C., & Diamantis, M. (2012). Geometrical transformations in the New Mathematics Curriculum: The case of reflection. In E. Koleza, A. Garmpis & C. Markopoulos (Eds.), Innovative approaches in education: Design and networking, (pp.73-90). Patras, Greece: University of Patras.

Mulligan, J., & Woolcott, G. (2015). What lies beneath? The conceptual connectivity underpinning whole number arithmetic. In X. Sun, B. Kaur & J. Novotná (Eds.), The twenty-third ICMI Study: Primary mathematics study on whole numbers, pp. 220-228. Macao, China: University of Macau.

Rumiati, R. & Wright, R.J. (2014). Mental Calculation Strategies of a student attending a special school for the intellectually disabled. Proceedings of the 37th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Sydney, 29 June to 5 July, 2014.

Rumiati, R. (2014). Arithmetical strategies of a student with Down Syndrome. Proceedings of the 37th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Sydney, 29 June to 5 July, 2014.

Skamp, K. R., Boyes, E., & Stanisstreet, M. (2013). Beliefs and willingness to act about global warming: Where to focus science pedagogy? Science Education, 97(2), 191-217.

Tran, T. L. & Wright, R. J. (2014). Beliefs of teachers who teach intensive one-to-one intervention about links to classroom teaching. Proceedings of the 37th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Sydney, 29 June to 5 July, 2014.

Tran, T. L., & Wright, R. J. (2014). Using an experimental framework of key elements to parse one-to-one, targeted intervention teaching in whole-number arithmetic. Proceedings of the 38th Conference of the International Group for Psychology of Mathematics (PME38), July, Vancouver, Canada.

Ward, G. (2011). Constructing an effective and empowering mathematics learning environment for EFL engineering students. Dissertation for a Mathematics Education Doctorate (MEdD). Curtin University, WA: Curtin University Press.

Woolcott, G. (2013). The place of the natural sciences in the modern curriculum: The view from modern science. The International Journal of Pedagogy and Curriculum, 19(3), 269-278.

Woolcott, G., Chamberlain, D., & Mulligan, J. (2015). Using network analysis to connect structural relationships in early mathematics assessment. Proceedings of the 39th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, July 2015, Hobart, Australia. Forthcoming.

Wright, R. J. (2014). Assessing early numeracy: Significance, trends, nomenclature, context, key topics, learning framework and assessment tasks. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 3(2), 21-40.

Wright, R. J., Ellemor-Collins, D., & Tabor, P. D. (2011). Developing number knowledge: Assessment, teaching and intervention with 7-11 year olds (Vol. 4). London: Sage.

Projects

New funded projects

Connecting spatial reasoning and mathematics conceptual development using network analysis. A Seed grant from the DVC(R) at Southern Cross University, awarded to Geoff Woolcott and project partners Christos Markopoulos and Joanne Mulligan (Macquarie University).

Applying an alternative mathematics pedagogy for students with weak mathematics foundation: Phase 1: meta-analysis of alternative pedagogies. SCU Higher Education Participation Project (HEPP) Grant to Prof W. Boyd, Dr G. Woolcott, Dr C. Markopoulos, Mr A. Foster, Dr W. Boyd & Ms M. Wallin.

The Spatial Research Study Group (SRSG) - Second Special Symposium for the Spatial Reasoning Network Mapping Project (SRPNMP) organised by Prof Brent Davis of the University of Calgary (Canada), 17-25 August, 2015, Kananaskis, Canada and funded by the IOSTEM Early Years Mathematics Initiative.

Contacts

Dr Geoff Woolcott