School of Education

PeCALE current research



Project title: Teachers’ capacity building in literacy: collaborating as a professional learning team to develop a high-performance culture of students’ literacy at a regional primary school

Investigator: Dr Anna Fletcher

Aim: To explore teachers’ capacity building through their participation in a collaborative professional learning team (PLT) aimed at developing a students’ performance in literacy. In particular, the study seeks to explore any reciprocity between the shared PLT activities; what individual teachers do to inform and shape their practice to develop a high-performance culture of students’ literacy, and the reasons for their choices; and students’ perception of what high performance in literacy entails for themselves as learners.


Title: Science education beyond the classroom: pre-service teacher views and reflections

Investigators: Dr Monica Green & Dr Hongming Ma

Aim: The aims of the project include:

To explore pre-service teacher views and attitudes about teaching science beyond the classroom; To examine how a university–school partnership enables the reshaping of science teaching in schools; To determine how a university–school partnership enable pedagogical possibilities for science teacher education; To identify the contribution of a university–school partnership for supporting science teacher education and science teaching pedagogies in outdoor settings.


Title: Thinking in senior secondary mathematics: a case study of probability

Investigators: Heather Ernst, A/Prof Margaret Plunkett and Dr Peter Sellings

Aim: The key research aim of this project is to explore the Victorian senior secondary mathematics curriculum in the area of Probability. In 2016 the VCE mathematics curriculum was modified to align with the Australian curriculum. The changes include: increased content in the Probability area of study and changes in assessment tasks in the school-based and written examinations. This project aims to investigate the implementation of this curriculum from the perspectives of the levels of thinking and reasoning in the formal written curriculum, the implemented curriculum of the teachers and the attained curriculum of the students.

Learner Engagement


Project title:The Future I’d Like”: Developing a digital literacy project to advance career and job aspirations of Latrobe Valley children

Investigators: Dr Anna Fletcher and Dr Monica Green

Aim: This pilot project provides scope for children to participate in planning and design processes that build digital literacy and communication skills, as well as a sense of entrepreneurship and aspiration for future careers/jobs. The project is intended to involve six rural and regional primary schools from Churchill/Morwell/Moe.

The project is primarily aimed at students in Years 5/6, due to clear alignment with the curriculum at these year levels. In addition, a focus on grades 5/6 students value-adds to the current Horizons and Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) works currently being implemented. The project adopts and is informed by a ‘digital literacies’ framework that recognises the sociocultural connections between literacy, learning and meaning. The term ‘digital literacy’ is concerned with developing in children and young people, the skill and confidence to communicate and access information across a number of digital platforms that currently make up the current digital world, such as computers and the internet, virtual reality, mobile phones computer games and other digital media, which provide new ways of mediating and representing the world, and of communication more broadly.

2015 -

Project title: Positive Attitude to School Change- A Narrative Inquiry into Adolescent Students’ Lived Experiences

Investigators: Sylwia Wojtaszek and A/Prof Robyn Brandenburg

Aim: The PhD research study showcases a more detailed and complete concept of the complex experience of a positive attitude to school change among adolescent students in Year 10, as it presents insight into critical student experiences that have profound effects on students’ engagement with learning. The aim of the research was to identify and examine the factors that contribute to a positive attitude to school change.

Project title: A Comparative Research Study: The Effects of Different Types of Learning and their Intensity on the Adolescent Student.

Investigators: Helen de Weerd; A/Prof Nicola Johnson and Dr Yutang Wang

Aim: Gaining an understanding of the different ways in which we learn, and how diversity in learning can affect our brain, is the focus of the project.

The methodological approach for this investigation requires collecting, analysing and integrating data using quantitative methods to prove or disprove the hypothesis: Intense learning during primary and secondary school years in dance, or music with composition, influences student outcomes for one or more of the core subjects of Science, English, Mathematics, and Language.

A structured questionnaire will be employed purely as a fact gathering tool and to sort the students into three groups: 1) Formal education with no extra-curricular activities (the control group); 2) Formal education with dance (rote learning), and 3) Formal education with music & composition (Rote learning & creative thinking and learning). Data from the student’s Year 10 school reports will then be collected and analysed.

The investigation aims to be objective and hypothetically deductive in its approach to constructing a theory, by using statistical techniques to assess, measure, and recognise overall patterns in order to identify a cause and effect relationship across the three groups.

2014 –

Title: Empowering education support staff in their interpretation and implementation of a regional reading intervention program.

Investigators: Clare Williams, A/Prof Nicola Johnson and Professor John McDonald

Aim: The key research aim of this project is to explore, through Participatory Action Research (PAR), the perceived value and deployment of education support staff (ESS), working in two junior secondary campuses of a Victorian regional secondary College.

The ESS are invited to engage as active, reflective, co-researcher-participants, whose views contribute to an exploration of shared ideas about collaborative teaching for transforming school learning communities.

Investigating the perspectives, practices and identities of the ESS, this study explores how as co-researchers, they understand their use of literacy learning practices in the area of reading development.

Using principles of PAR cycles to investigate what ESS do to inform and shape their literacy practices, this qualitative research project aims to explore personal understanding in ESS through participation in action research collaboration