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2015 research

Seminars and Forums

Evaluation Forum March 2015: Breakthroughs and Potential Breakthroughs in the SCU OLT project. Geoff Woolcott

It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education. Invited address at "Inspiring STEM Education" a Showcase Forum at Southern Cross University, Gold Coast, 6 November, 2015

Refereed Book Chapters and Journal Articles

Woolcott, G. (2016). Technology and human cultural accumulation: The role of emotion. In S. Tettegah & R. E. Ferdig (Eds.), Emotions, technology, and learning, pp. 243-263. Vol. 1 in series Emotions and technology: Communication of feelings for, with, and through digital media editor S.Y. Tettegah. London: Academic Press. ISBN: 978-0-12-800649-8

Abstract:
This article focuses on the broad view of technology as human manipulation of environment and of emotions as brain-based motivators for learning. Using scientific views of problem solving, or dealing with new input information, as the basis for human learning, the article explores the relationship between technology and emotion and learning. The placement of technology as a component of human culture accumulated through emotion-driven learning may help to reconcile differing views of technology and emotion and broaden the modern perspective on how they may be related to education.

Yeigh, T., Woolcott, G., Donnelly, J., Whannell, R., Snow, M., & Scott, A. (2016). Emotional Literacy and Pedagogical Confidence in Pre-Service Science and Mathematics Teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education. Accepted

Abstract:
This report details the findings from initial research seeking to improve the pedagogical confidence of pre-service STEM teachers by encouraging emotional literacy in the form of affect awareness. The report discusses how affect was measured for the study, what the affect outcomes were and how these measures are conceptually related to improving confidence for the pre-service teachers (PSTs). Findings indicate enhanced emotional feedback enabled the PSTs to analyse, understand and make use of affect information to reflect on their teaching confidence overall. Ongoing research will need to address the issue of negative affect awareness in teacher training, and strategies for approaching this issue are provided.

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Conference Presentations

PPN 2015

Development evaluation and dynamic policy making: Complexity solutions for complex interactions. Public Policy Network Conference, 19-23 January, 2015, Deakin University, Melbourne. A. Scott & G. Woolcott.

Abstract:

Internationally there is a growing need to evaluate and implement public policy dynamically. This reflects the nature of public policy, which may vary over time according to the nature of the relationships between the stakeholders engaged in policy making, implementation and impact. Existing strategies, while often well developed in planning and early implementation phases, can become problematic, particularly if they ignore new and emerging patterns of behaviour that may be associated with a complex rather than linear system.For effective policy making, consideration must be given to the environments that underpin the development process, in particular the analysis of feedback from multiple stakeholders, analysts and ultimately decision makers. The level of complexity involved in effectual policy decision making reinforces the importance of exploring efficient and appropriate ways to measure, evaluate and understand this complexity in order to better manage the policy development process and ensure an optimal policy impact. This presentation discusses solutions to this problem that use methods from developmental evaluation processes, grounded in complexity theory, that examine how agents and their interactions may influence stability of a complex system.Social network analysis is used to determine the potential interdependence of the factors affecting the efficiency, effectiveness and appropriateness of the collaborative process that supports policy development. This presentation will focus on how network construction related to agents and interactions at the social (personal) and organizational level may allow visualization of connections, sometimes overlooked, as they emerge within a complex system. Identifying the network structure of policy as it is being developed may capture the complexity of the system, and make it possible to improve and assess the effectiveness of policy during planning and implementation. It may also help determine how to manipulate a system through factor or agent prioritization in order to guide successful policy making.

MERGA 2015

Conceptual connectivity in mathematics. The 38th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia,University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Qld, 30 June -3 July 2015. J. Mulligan & G. Woolcott.

Abstract:

Human environmental interactions involve general conceptual connectivity processes such as categorisation, abstraction and generalisation. These are linked to the development of mathematics concepts, but research in this area is relatively new in mathematics education. A conceptual connectivity lens, however, has been used in cases where there are difficulties in mathematics learning, such as developmental dyscalculia, as well as in studies of mathematical pattern and structure with young gifted children. This presentation suggests that such studies support the determination that individual differences in processing of environmental information are an important way forward in understanding what underpins mathematics conceptual development.

MERGA 2015

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

Abstract:

This new project explores the similarities and differences of mathematical thinking and 'general thinking', as well as related motivational and emotional aspects, focusing on how these differ in educational contexts. It will examine assumptions of the underlying feature of mathematics curriculum design and pedagogy, for example, that linear structure is the most efficient means of building mathematical knowledge or that number-based knowledge is a reliable indicator of mathematical skill. Insights gained will be used to improve the current paradigms in course structure and pedagogy for classroom mathematics in order to develop a structure better aligned to student capabilities and potentials

AARE 2015

Science teacher education in regional Australia: Evaluating enhancement and feedback/reflection modules designed to engage and motivate pre-service teachers of science. The Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education, 1-5 December, 2015, Perth, Australia. G. Woolcott

Abstract:

Maintaining high standards in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is a critical for an industrialised economy. There is, however, a downtown in the availability of well-trained and motivated pre-service teachers that are a requirement for sustainability of such economies. This presentation reports on efforts that the Australian government has made in providing new initiatives in the education of pre-service teachers of science and mathematics through the project, It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education. This project is designed to target specifically mathematics and science teacher education in regional and peri-urban Australia. The project combines the resources of the six partners of the Regional Universities Network (RUN) and their extensive experience in the provision of training and professional development, both pre-service and in-service, in mathematics and science teaching.
This presentation outlines one university's engagement in this project and the use of collaborative nexus of scientists and educators to motivate pre-service teachers and improve their confidence and competence in teaching science. The presentation specifically examines the evaluation of two modules, an Enhancement Module and a Feedback/Reflection Module, used in iterations designed to assist pre-service teachers in developing engaging science lessons for their classrooms. This report is based on Phase I Trials of the Modules that involved a small sample of volunteers, as well as on scaled up versions of the Modules being trialled for delivery across a larger number of students within science education courses. The results indicate that both of the Modules positively engage the pre-service teachers, both together and separately, as well as the university scientists and specialist educators. The Modules and their iterations across the teaching lessons appear to be effective in grounding pre-service teacher education in targeting regional contexts relevant to the daily lives of both pre-service teachers and their classroom students. The Modules also contribute to improved confidence and competence in teaching science and provide a two-way interchange of ideas about science research and pedagogy. The combination of video resources based on the input of scientists and an innovative method for using affect in critical moment analysis appears to be a powerful development that has emerged from the trialling of these modules.

NCTM 2015

Improving Pre-Service Teachers' Mathematics Teaching: An Innovative Affect-based Reflection. The Annual Meetings and Exposition of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), 11-13 April, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Abstract:
This proposal describes innovations in within in a multi-university project conducted across regional eastern Australia. A key project focus is the improvement of mathematical thinking of pre-service teachers (PSTs) by aligning their pedagogy with the mathematical thinking that occurs in authentic, real-world contexts. The paper specifically describes PST responses to innovations of an iterated sequence of enhancement-lesson-reflection (ELR). The ELR uses a powerful combination of two relatively simple processes, a scientific and educational collaboration nexus and a reflection protocol based on affect-based critical moments in teaching. This article, therefore, reports on emotional literacy and emotional regulation as aspects of self-reflective professional development and how these measures are conceptually related to improving competence and confidence for PSTs in teaching mathematics.

IRSPM 2016

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.

Abstract:
My research investigates the application of network analysis in developmental evaluation of an education project being conducted across 6 universities in eastern Australia. The research is based in recent approaches to formative evaluation, grounded in complexity theory, that focus on how agents and their interactions may influence stability of a complex system. Collaboration in projects is important for innovation and change and is crucial to successful research. In the past few years we have seen an increasing requirement for grant projects to be engaged in multi-context collaborative partnerships. However, collaborative settings are a challenging environment to work in with dispersed resources, multiple actors and, at times, conflicting agendas. When evaluating these types of projects, current evaluation strategies, while often well developed in planning and early implementation phases, can become problematic, particularly if they ignore new and emerging patterns of behaviour that may be associated with a complex system such as a collaborative partnership. The challenge for evaluators of collaborative projects is to identify models, frameworks and tools that will:

  • Better capture the complexity within collaborative networks
  • Support more effective, efficient and appropriate monitoring and response in such complex environments
  • Encourage dynamic real time feedback to foster innovation and change.

My research explores how network representations, through the use of social network analysis, may act as indicator systems, and be useful in identifying patterns of behaviour and self-organisation, or emergent behaviour to assist in determining and utilising elements influencing positive system change, or behaviour optimisation.

HICE 2015

Whannell, R., Woolcott, G., & Whannell, P. (2015). Development of scales to measure mathematical thinking and teaching pedagogy relevant to the Australian Teaching Standards. Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on Education (HICE2014), Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, January 2015.

Abstract:
SCU publishes information about our English Language Entry Pathways at: This paper presents the findings from initial research conducted as part of a multi-institutional three year research project that aims to improve the confidence and competence of pre-service teachers to teach mathematics. Two inventions are being developed, the first focusing on pre-teaching enhancement to improve the standard of mathematical thinking and understanding of real-world applications of mathematics. The second intervention utilises a post-teaching feedback and reflection process to assist in understanding how emotional experiences during teaching influence confidence and competence. The paper describes the initial instrument development and findings of the first data collection.

NARST 2015

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.

Abstract:
Science and mathematics education is seen as central to an industrialised economy and motivated and well-trained pre-service teachers are a requirement for sustainability of such economies. The Australian government has initiated several projects to satisfy this requirement, with the project, It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education, designed to target the enhancement of mathematics and science teacher education in regional and peri-urban Australia. This six-university project applies a collaboration nexus model with lesson feedback and reflection models in an iterative process comprising a repeated sequence of an Enhancement Module, a subsequent Teaching Lesson and a Feedback/Reflection Module. This paper reports on qualitative investigations of the effectiveness of the collaboration nexus in the Enhancement Module and comments on the value of the iterative process. Although this report is based on a small sample from a pilot program, results indicate that the Module positively engages all participants, pre-service teachers, university scientists and specialist educators. The Module and its iterations appear to be effective in grounding pre-service teacher education in targeting regional contexts relevant to the daily lives of both pre-service teachers and their classroom students. The Enhancement Module also contributes to improved confidence and competence in teaching science and provides a two-way interchange of ideas about science research and pedagogy.

MERGA 2015

Enhancing mathematics (STEM) teacher education in regional Australia: Pedagogical interactions and affect. The 36th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Qld, 30 June -3 July 2014. G. Woolcott, & T. Yeigh.

Abstract:
This article reports on initial findings, including the mathematics components, of a multi-institutional STEM project, It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education. This project is focussed on improving the scientific and mathematical thinking of pre-service teachers (PSTs) by aligning their pedagogy with the scientific and mathematical thinking that occurs in authentic, real-world contexts. This article discusses emotional literacy and emotional regulation as aspects of self-reflective professional development and how these measures are conceptually related to improving competence and confidence for pre-service STEM teachers. This report details how emotional feedback was used in trials of a pilot program to enable PSTs to analyse, understand and make use of emotional information to improve their teaching confidence, particularly in mathematics.

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Conference Papers

IRSPM 2015

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.

Abstract:
My research investigates the application of network analysis in developmental evaluation of an education project being conducted across 6 universities in eastern Australia. The research is based in recent approaches to formative evaluation, grounded in complexity theory, that focus on how agents and their interactions may influence stability of a complex system. Collaboration in projects is important for innovation and change and is crucial to successful research. In the past few years we have seen an increasing requirement for grant projects to be engaged in multi-context collaborative partnerships. However, collaborative settings are a challenging environment to work in with dispersed resources, multiple actors and, at times, conflicting agendas. When evaluating these types of projects, current evaluation strategies, while often well developed in planning and early implementation phases, can become problematic, particularly if they ignore new and emerging patterns of behaviour that may be associated with a complex system such as a collaborative partnership. The challenge for evaluators of collaborative projects is to identify models, frameworks and tools that will:

  • Better capture the complexity within collaborative networks
  • Support more effective, efficient and appropriate monitoring and response in such complex environments
  • Encourage dynamic real time feedback to foster innovation and change.

My research explores how network representations, through the use of social network analysis, may act as indicator systems, and be useful in identifying patterns of behaviour and self-organisation, or emergent behaviour to assist in determining and utilising elements influencing positive system change, or behaviour optimisation.

HICE 2015

Whannell, R., Woolcott, G., & Whannell, P. (2015). Development of scales to measure mathematical thinking and teaching pedagogy relevant to the Australian Teaching Standards. Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on Education (HICE2014), pp. 2176-2190. Honolulu, HI: HICE Education.

Abstract:
The number of students studying science and mathematics at the secondary and tertiary levels of education in Australia has been in steady decline for many years. A number of major research projects have been funded in an attempt to address this decline by identifying strategies that will improve the experience and engagement of students studying mathematics and science in primary and the early years of secondary education. This paper reports on a multi-institutional project focused on improving the mathematical thinking of pre-service teachers and changing mathematics teaching pedagogy to be more closely based on mathematical thinking in real-life contexts. It also describes the initial development of scales to measure self-reported ability of pre-service teachers to think mathematically and to teach mathematics using pedagogies as specified by the recently developed Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Early data analysis indicates that the scales will have the potential to provide robust measures of these dimensions.

NARST 2015

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.

Abstract:
Science and mathematics education is seen as central to an industrialised economy and motivated and well-trained pre-service teachers are a requirement for sustainability of such economies. The Australian government has initiated several projects to satisfy this requirement, with the project, It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education, designed to target the enhancement of mathematics and science teacher education in regional and peri-urban Australia. This six-university project applies a collaboration nexus model with lesson feedback and reflection models in an iterative process comprising a repeated sequence of an Enhancement Module, a subsequent Teaching Lesson and a Feedback/Reflection Module. This paper reports on qualitative investigations of the effectiveness of the collaboration nexus in the Enhancement Module and comments on the value of the iterative process. Although this report is based on a small sample from a pilot program, results indicate that the Module positively engages all participants, pre-service teachers, university scientists and specialist educators. The Module and its iterations appear to be effective in grounding pre-service teacher education in targeting regional contexts relevant to the daily lives of both pre-service teachers and their classroom students. The Enhancement Module also contributes to improved confidence and competence in teaching science and provides a two-way interchange of ideas about science research and pedagogy.

MERGA 2015

Enhancing mathematics (STEM) teacher education in regional Australia: Pedagogical interactions and affect. The 36th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Melbourne: MERGA.

Abstract:
This article reports on initial findings, including the mathematics components, of a multi-institutional STEM project, It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education. This project is focussed on improving the scientific and mathematical thinking of pre-service teachers (PSTs) by aligning their pedagogy with the scientific and mathematical thinking that occurs in authentic, real-world contexts. This article discusses emotional literacy and emotional regulation as aspects of self-reflective professional development and how these measures are conceptually related to improving competence and confidence for pre-service STEM teachers. This report details how emotional feedback was used in trials of a pilot program to enable PSTs to analyse, understand and make use of emotional information to improve their teaching confidence, particularly in mathematics.

PME 2015

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.

Abstract:
Awareness of Mathematical Pattern and Structure (AMPS) has been described as a general construct that underpins early mathematical development. Five structural groupings of concepts that contribute to AMPS were assessed through a Pattern and Structure Assessment (PASA) interview conducted with 818 Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. Network analysis was applied to map relationships between the levels of structural development and structural groupings coded from student responses. The network analysis revealed a complex web of interrelationships between students obtaining high and low AMPS levels and within and between particular structural groupings. The analysis showed also that responses in counting-based structural groupings may have masked the difficulties encountered in other structural groupings.

ICMI 2015

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.

Abstract:
Whole number arithmetic (WNA) is considered central to mathematics in the modern industrialised world. New developments in the cognitive and neurocognitive sciences, however, propose that WNA should be viewed in relation to the domain of mathematics more broadly and the real world interactions from which mathematics has developed. This may require mathematics to be conceptualised as a coherent domain that develops from human interaction, and that is reliant on spatial negotiation of one's environment. A lens on conceptual connectivity integral to an awareness of spatial pattern and structure, therefore, may offer a more complete picture of the connectivity that underlies WNA. A stronger focus on 'non-numerosity' attributes of mathematics learning and how they underpin WNA and mathematics more generally is proposed.

HERDSA 2015

Woolcott, G., & Chamberlain, D. (2015). Engaging with diverse communities: Analysis of a complex interaction. In T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft (Eds.), Research and development in higher education: Learning for life and work in a complex world (Proceedings of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Vol. 38). Milperra, Australia: HERDSA. 978-0-908557-96-7.

Abstract:
One of the roles of a modern university is to engage with community as a co-creator of society's collective knowledge. Engaging university-based research with diverse communities in such co-creation, however, is a complex task and finding appropriate community collaborators is difficult. This paper reports on one university's engagement processes in a collaborative project designed to engage the diverse educational community across the footprint of six regional Australian universities. Network analysis was used to examine the complex growth of these collaborations and to determine the interdependence of the factors affecting the progression and effectiveness of project development. The analysis suggested that development of a well-connected network may actually be optimised if pre-service teachers, rather than teachers, were adopters. Continued network analysis appears to be a useful way of prioritising connections for new participants in order that they are connected across a sustainable feedback network.

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