Staff profile - Gaye Williams

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Dr Gaye Williams

Position: Senior Lecturer
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Arts and Education
Department: SoE Arts & Ed
Campus: N2.13, Melbourne Burwood Campus
Phone: +61 3 924 46629 +61 3 924 46629



  • Master of Education, University of Melbourne, 2000
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne, 2006

Career highlights

Career highlights are associated with working hard to achieve those goals I am passionate about to do with improviing student experiences associated with mathematics learning (intrinsic rewards). Accompanying these intrinsic rewards have been extrinsic valuings of these goals achieved.

Australian Research Council Fellowship (2009-2012) as part of Discovery Grant

PhD Thesis Awards:

1) University of Melbourne Chancellor's Prize (2007)

2) Australian Association of Researchers in Education Doctoral Award (2006)

Masters Thesis Paper Award:

Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia Early Career Award (2000)

Teaching Awards Associated with developing an approach to problem-solving (in senior and junior secondary school classes):

1) Teacher representing Victoria at Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers' Conference (1997): innovative teaching practice

2) National Excellence in Teaching: Victorian Award: 1994


Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA)

International Group for Research into the Psychology of Mathematics Education.

Mathematical Association of Victoria

Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers

Australian Association of Researchers in Education.


Teaching Interests

Undergraduate and Master of Teaching (Secondary):

Secondary Mathematics Education Curriculum Studies

Undergraduate Primary:

Fourth Year Mathematics Education (Primary)

Master of Teaching (Primary):

Fostering students' engagement in mathematics learning

Master of Education:

Knowledge Learners and Learning

Supervision of PhD and MEd research students:

Exciting research projects about group interactions, student emotions and mathematics tasks, and teacher actions inflluencing the quality of student conversation in mathematics classes

Knowledge areas

The role of context (including teaching approach, social interactions, group composition, personal characteristics, and task) in the construction of insights during mathematical problem-solving activity.

Knowledge construction processes occuring during mathematical problem-solving

Influences of personal characteristics on knowledge construction including:

- the role of optimism (resilience) on collaborative problem-solving activity

- the role of optimism on teachers' inclination to implement group problem-solving activity

- Optimism building approaches (to problem-solving in class and professional learning of teachers) and processes of optimism building

- associations between optimism building and increased problem-solving capacity

Teaching approaches enabling autonomous, spontaneous and creative knowledge construction in mathematics

Group interactions influencing the construction of knowledge in mathematics education

Influences of group composition on the construction of mathematical insights during problem-solving activity

Task features that influence opprtunities to construct mathematical insights

influences of group interactions on the construction of knowledge across other subject domains.


Awards and prizes

2009 Dean's Award: Best Early Career Researcher, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University.

2008 Australian Research Council Post-doctoral Fellowship (2009-2012)

2007 Chancellor's Prize, University of Melbourne

2006 Doctoral Thesis Award for Research in Education, AARE (Australian Association for Research in Education)

2002 Mathematical Association of Victoria PhD Research Scholarship

2001-2003 Dept. Science and Mathematics Eduction (University of Melb) Post Graduate Research Scholarship.

2000 Early Career Award, MERGA (Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia)

1997 Victorian Representative for Innovative Mathematics Teaching, AAMT (Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers)

1994 Victorian Award for Excellence in Teaching, NIETA (National Excellence in Teaching)


Research projects

FLIPP: Flexibile pedagogical problem-solving to enable mathematical problem-solving in class (Funded through consultancies associated with findings from ARC project). This is a study of teacher change during whole school / whole cluster professional learning programs informed by previous study of the role of resilience (optimism) in student problem-solving activity leading to the question: "what is the role of optimism in pedagogical problem-solving activity?' Research team includes Drs Leicha Bragg, Esther Loong, Sandra Herbert, Wanty Wadjaja, and Libby Hirsh each examining teacher activity from different perspectives to enable networking of findings to link this new angle with previous research on quality teaching.

ARC Discovery Project 2009-2012.
Longitudinal video-stimulated interview study across Grade 4/5/6 classrooms to study optimistic activity, how optimism builds, and links between increased optimism and increased problem solving capacity.

Pilot to this (Deakin Central Research Grant): Collaborative problem solving in small groups with intermittent whole class feedback (Class Collaboration) intended to lead to the creative development of mathematical insight. Study examines the role of optimism in collaborative creation of mathematical ideas and concepts.

International Learners' Perspective Study (2000-ongoing)

Research interests

The role of optimism in flexible pedagogical practices during mathematical problem solving implementation.

"The role of optimism during collaborative problem solving: Building problem solving capacity"

PhD: Submitted 2005, Confirmed 2006 (See URL Link 1)
Williams, G. (2005). Improving intellectual and affective quality in mathematics lessons: How autonomy and spontaneity enable creative and insightful thinking.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

MEd Thesis: Collaborative Problem Solving in Mathematics: The nature and function of task complexity (See URL Link 3)

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