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2014 research

Seminars and Forums

Evaluation Forum March 2014: It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education project logic statements. Geoff Woolcott

Partner mid-year Forum May 2014: It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education research update. Geoff Woolcott

End-of-year Forum Research Update November 2014: It's part of my life: Engaging university and community to enhance science and mathematics education partner seminar. Geoff Woolcott

Conference Presentations

STEM Vancouver (Canada) June 2014

Enhancing mathematics and science teacher education in regional Australia: Iterations, interactions and modules. The Annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Conference (STEM), 12-15 July, 2014, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. G. Woolcott.

Abstract
This presentation outlines a three-year project funded across six regional universities in eastern Australia to enhance mathematics and science teacher education. The project research and implementation uses iterative processes to trial and develop modules for teacher education and other university curriculum. Trial iterations draw together, through targeted interactions, the strengths of university mathematicians, scientists, and specialist educators in collaborations directed at grounding pre-service teacher education in contexts that are part of daily life in regional Australia. The trial iterations utilise also enhanced feedback where pre-service teachers learn to self-analyse critical affective states recorded while they were teaching. This feedback is directed at improving pre-service teacher performance through an investigation of the contribution competence, gained through the interactions with specialist educators, scientists and mathematicians, to pre-service teacher confidence. Both trials and module development and implementation will involve also the following research initiatives: a formative evaluation of the project; and, an investigation of mentoring of current project pre-service teachers by past project pre-service teachers.

MERGA Sydney July 2014

Enhancing mathematics and science teacher education in regional Australia: Modules for primary mathematics pre-service teachers. The 37th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA37), 30 June - 4 July, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. G. Woolcott, R. Whannell, J. Reid, A. Harris.

Abstract
This presentation describes an initial mathematics component of a project designed to enhance mathematics and science teacher education in regional Australia. The project utilises iterative processes to develop and trial enhancement and feedback modules. The enhancement module involves preservice teachers, university mathematicians and specialist educators in targeted interactions designed to ground pre-service teacher education in regional contexts relevant to daily life. The feedback module, designed for self-evaluation, involves pre-service teachers analysing critical affective states recorded while teaching. The aim is to improve pre-service teacher performance through an investigation of the contribution of competence, from the enhancement and feedback modules, to confidence.

AES Darwin September 2014

Through the lens of complexity theory: Formative evaluation of an education project designed to enhance mathematics and science teacher education in regional Australia. The Australasian Evaluation Society, 2014 International Evaluation Conference, Darwin, Australia, September, 2014. A. Scott & G. Woolcott.

Abstract
This presentation outlines a proposal to examine the application of network analysis in developmental evaluation of an education project being conducted on a number of different universities campus locations across eastern Australia. The proposal 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. 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 rather than linear system. In this proposed evaluation, network analysis will be used as a tool to determine the potential interdependence of the factors affecting the efficiency, effectiveness and appropriateness of project development. Analyses will be conducted at several different levels, but this presentation focuses on network construction related to agents and interactions at the social (personal) level as well as the organizational level. Network representations may allow visualization of connections, sometimes overlooked, as they emerge within a complex system. These representations may act as indicator systems, and be useful in identifying patterns of behaviour and self-organisation, or emergent behaviour and assist in determining and utilising elements influencing positive system change, or behaviour optimisation. The presentation will outline some of the network construction that is planned and ask for input from the audience as to what other networks they think may be important, and what factors they feel will require attention if the project is to be maintained as a stable rather than chaotic system. In other words, we will seek input from our collective audience expertise as to how we may manipulate the system through factor or agent prioritization in order to guide the development of strategies that make the project successful.

APS Hobart October 2014

Donnelly, J., Pfieffer, L., Woolcott, G., Yeigh, T., & Snow, M. (2014). Emotion in pre-service teachers: Relations among self- and observer-reports on classroom videos and voice parameter analyses. Paper Presented at the Australian Psychological Society Conference, Oct 2014, Hobart, TAS, Australia.

Abstract
Video-based reflective practices have long been part of teacher education. Frequently the feedback or focus is about content or organisation of the material, but enhancing one's level of emotional mindfulness has also been suggested as a means to improve performance in teaching and a speaker understands of how they may be perceived by the audience. The affective component of teaching has been argued to be a key predictor of pupil engagement. The effects of emotion on vocal expression is apparent in everyday speech but can also be characterised by using voice analysis software (PRAAT). The aim of the current research was to inform reflective practice and test links among various indices of emotional state in pre-service teachers (PSTs) giving lessons to school children. Participants were 54 PSTs in teacher training at 3 regional universities. Participants worked in small groups and alternated between being the Teaching PST and Observing PST. Several emotion measures were used in repeated measures designs. Teaching PSTs completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) before and after each lesson. Emotion checklists completed by Teaching and Observer PSTs for segments of recorded lessons were evaluated to determine the level of individual emotions and profiles of blended emotions. Observer PSTs also rated the affect of Teaching PSTs during the lessons. The points of concordance and disparity between the Teaching and Observer PST ratings were used to inform the reflective exercises overseen by mentor teachers. The affect/emotion ratings were also used to help characterise various voice parameters (e.g., fundamental frequency, intensity variability) as calculated by PRAAT software. Preliminary results indicate that the method for recording emotion during teaching was feasible and did not intrude significantly on the classroom. Concordance between Teaching and Observing PST reports was not always high but the discussions about differences were considered fruitful in terms of assisting reflection. The similarity between PANAS scores and ratings of emotion for teaching segments was also variable. Our voice analyses to decode emotion effects indicated that laboratory reports about emotion-parameter links may not apply well to recordings in naturalistic settings that evoke blended and fluid emotional reactions.

ACE Osaka (Japan) October 2014

Enhancing mathematics and science teacher education in regional Australia: Pedagogical interactions and their affective outcomes. The Asian Conference on Education 2014 (ACE2014), Osaka, Japan, October 2014. T. Yeigh & G. Woolcott.

Abstract
This report outlines particular aspects of a three-year project funded across six regional universities in eastern Australia, designed to enhance the pre-servicer education and training of mathematics and science teachers. The project research and implementation uses iterative processes to trial and develop modules for teacher education and other university curriculum. Trial iterations draw together, through targeted interactions, the strengths of university mathematicians, scientists, and specialist educators in a collaboration pedagogy that is directed at grounding pre-service teacher education in contexts that are part of daily life in regional Australia. Importantly, the trials utilise enhanced emotional feedback whereby the critical affective states of pre-service teachers (PSTs) are analysed both objectively and subjectively, and where the PSTs learn to self-analyse their own critical affective states from recordings made while they are undertaking classroom teaching. This feedback is directed at improving PST performance through the development of emotional literacy as an aspect of teaching competence and teaching confidence. The report discusses these aspects of the project, in particular the importance of emotional literacy and emotional regulation to self-reflective professional development, how affective measures were constructed for the project, and how these measures are conceptually related to improving competence and confidence for pre-service STEM teachers. An overview of the research methods designed to connect emotional literacy to the overall project goals is also provided.

APERA Hong Kong (China) November 2014

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.

Abstract
This presentation is based in an examination of preservice teacher responses, through use of semi-structured interviews, to feedback processes involved in a project designed to enhance preservice teacher confidence and competence in mathematics and science teaching. These feedback processes are an integral part of a three-year project funded across six regional universities in eastern Australia. The project utilizes a series of iterated trials to develop, and to gauge the effectiveness of enhancement and feedback modules suitable for embedding within teacher education and other university curriculum. Trial iterations draw together, through targeted interactions, the strengths of university mathematicians, scientists, and specialist educators in collaborations directed at grounding pre-service teacher education in contexts that are part of daily life in regional Australia. The trial iterations utilise also feedback processes where pre-service teachers learn to self-analyse critical affective states recorded while they were teaching. This feedback is directed at improving pre-service teacher performance through an investigation of the contribution competence, gained through the interactions with specialist educators, scientists and mathematicians, to pre-service teacher confidence. This presentation focuses on preservice teacher responses to feedback processes within iterations of a high school trial conducted within the broader project. Analysis will test the how these responses relate to the overall aims of the project and whether they can be used as a guide to project progress. (219 words)

AARE-NZARE Brisbane December 2014

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, 30 November to 4 December, 2014, Brisbane, Australia. L. Pfeiffer & G. Woolcott.

Abstract
There is a need to increase the number of people studying science, both at school and in post-school courses. One of the ways to do this is to motivate primary and high school students so that they see science as an important and interesting subject. By teaming up enthusiastic science research experts with enthusiastic teachers, exciting and engaging science lessons can be created in Australian schools. This research project aims to increase teacher confidence by improving their competence in science content, and embedding a reflective and collaborative process into teacher education courses at the tertiary level. This paper outlines the first two Trials completed as part of a three-year project funded across six regional universities in eastern Australia to enhance mathematics and science teacher education.

The project aims to improve pre-service teacher confidence by connecting them with the mathematics and science of daily life in Australian regional communities, and develop collaborations between university mathematics and science research experts and education specialists to drive renewed pre-service mathematics and science education that can be embedded in the university education curriculum. The project addresses two critical issues in mathematics and science education: lack of teacher confidence, and lack of student interest. The project involves a series of Trials conducted over 3 years at each institution. The first two trials conducted at CQUniversity involved volunteer pre-service teachers who delivered two science lessons to their class, one lesson with specialised assistance in planning and reflecting and one without. Data was collected in the form of pre- and post-tests, observations, audio and video recordings for analysis. The pre-service teachers analysed their own teaching video to identify 6 critical moments which were then viewed by the group and analysed further. The impacts of this research include long-term benefits to pre-service and current teachers in the primary and secondary education sector, teaching science and mathematics, through the utilisation of the reflective processes and data obtained from these projects. The embedded versions of school-based trials in university education curriculum could be of benefit to education systems as a model of how teacher training in mathematics and science may be undertaken in regional areas and how pre-service teachers may gain a better grasp of pedagogies and knowledge in these subject areas and how they can apply regional contexts in their teaching of science.

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Conference Papers

ACE October 2014

Yeigh, T. & Woolcott, G. (submitted). Using emotional literacy to improve pedagogical confidence: Initial findings from a STEM project. Official Proceedings of the Asian Conference on Education 2014 (ACE2014), pp. 561-576. Nagoya, Japan: The International Academic Forum.

Abstract
This paper reports on the initial research findings from a multi-institutional STEM project (the Project: It's Part of MY Life) focused on improving the scientific and mathematical thinking of pre-service teachers (PSTs) by enhancing their pedagogical confidence via improved emotional literacy. This report details how the Project trials have utilised enhanced emotional feedback to enable PSTs to analyse, understand and make use of emotional information to improve their teaching confidence and teaching competence. The report discusses emotional literacy and emotional regulation as aspects of self-reflective professional development, how affect measures were constructed for the project, and how these measures are conceptually related to improving competence and confidence for pre-service STEM teachers. An overview of the research methods designed to connect emotional literacy to the Project goals is also provided, and recommendations made for ongoing research within the project parametres. Read the paper here