Staff profile - Lihua Xu

Staff image

Dr Lihua Xu

Position: Lecturer in Science Education
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Arts & Education
Department: School of Education
Campus: Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus
Phone: +61 3 52272656 +61 3 52272656



  • Doctor of Philosophy (Education), University of Melbourne, 2010
  • Master of Education, University of Melbourne, 2006
  • Bachelor of Education, Shanghai Normal University, 2003
  • Graduate Certificate of Higher Education, Deakin University, 2014


Subjects and units currently teaching

EXR781 Education Research Methodology

EES345 Primary Science Education 1

ECE220 Science 1: Science and Environmental Awareness for Young Children

ECE320 Science 2: Science & Design Technology

ECE 763 Science and Environmental Awareness

EPS 735 Primary Science and Technology Education


Student supervision

PhD project: The alignment of valued performance types in assessment practices and curriculum in year 5 mathematics and science classrooms (completed in 2015)




Research projects

Curriculum Decision-making Project (2015) - Evidence-based Curriculum Decison-making for Primary School Science

Professional Noticing Project (2015) - Enhancing primary school teachers’ professional noticing through artefact-stimulated reflection

The PRIMSS Project (2014-15) - Sustainability conditions of a major primary science specialist teacher initiative

The Practical Work Project (2012-14) - Analytical tools for identifying high quality science practical work internationally

The Alignment Project (2010-12) – Valued performances in mathematics and science classrooms in Australia, Finland and China: Interrogating the alignment of curriculum, instruction and assessment

Project website:

Causal Connenctions in Science Classrooms (2008-11) - An investigation of causal relations between complex classroom practices and science learning using high capacity new research technologies and multiple theory-testing

The Learners' Perspective Study (2004-13) - An international collaboration in matheamtics education.

Project website:


Research interests

My research career has been diverged into several pathways, but converges on the passion to impact on and improve student learning and teaching practices in education in general and science education in particular. Since 2005, my research work has been dedicated to a program that examines how children learn science in classroom settings. This research program investigated children’s learning of science through carefully monitoring children’s interactions with each other and with resources. This work is underpinned by some contemporary learning theories including Distributed Cognition and Variation Theory of learning. In addition to this line of research, I have also been heavily involved in international comparative studies, which passaged some further rethinking about the notion of “teaching as a cultural practice” and the improvised nature of school-based curriculum development. This work also steered into some further development of a video–based research methodology in which digital video technologies are not only used as a documentation tool of interactions but also a stimulus material for discussion. Recently, I am working closely with local primary schools to support teachers’ professional growth and facilitate school change in the area of science education.

My research interests include:

  • Student Learning in Science
  • Classroom Research
  • International Comparative Studies
  • Video-based Research Methodologies
  • School-based Curriculum Development
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development

Research grants

Lihua Xu, Linda Hobbs, Russell Tytler

Evidence-based Curriculum Decision-making for Primary School Science (AUD15,000)

CREFI Development Research Grant - 2015


Wanty Widjaja, Lihua Xu, Jun Li, Wendy Jobling, Colleen Vale

Enhancing primary school teachers’ professional noticing through artefact-stimulated reflection (AUD 15,000)

CREFI Development Research Grant - 2015


Coral Campbell, Gail Chittleborough, Linda Hobbs, Laura Barraza, Peta White, Lihua Xu, John Cripps Clark, Russell Tytler

Sustainability conditions of a major primary science specialist teacher initiative (AUD20,000)

CREFI Development Research Grant - 2014


Lihua Xu, Xinning Pei, David Clarke

Analytical tools for identifying high quality science practical work internationally (AUD 9,935)

Melbourne Graduate School of Education Staff Competitive Grant for 2012/13:


Research groups

Convenor, Video-based Research in Education (VRiE) faculty research group


Research page



Scholarly book chapters
Clarke, D., Xu, L., & Wan, M. E. V. (2013). Spoken Mathematics as an Instructional Strategy: The public discourse of mathematics classrooms in different countries. In B. Kaur, G. Anthony, M. Otani, & D. Clarke (Eds.). Students’ Voice in Mathematics Classrooms around the World (pp. 13-32). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Clarke, D., Xu, L., & Wan, M. E. V. (2013). Students Speaking Mathematics: Practices and consequences for mathematics classrooms in Different Countries. In B. Kaur, G. Anthony, M. Otani, & D. Clarke (Eds.). Students’ Voice in Mathematics Classrooms around the World (pp. 33-52). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

O’Keefe, C., Xu, L., & Clarke, D. (2006). Kikan-Shido: Between Desks Instruction. In D. Clarke, E. J., J. E. & I. A. Mok (Eds.), Making Connections: Mathematics Classrooms around the World (pp. 15-37). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Refereed journal articles
Xu, L. (2015, submitted). Relating teaching and learning of science through the lens of Variation Theory. Research in Science Education.

Xu, L. & Clarke, D. (2013). Meta-rules of discursive practice in mathematics classrooms from Seoul, Shanghai, and Tokyo. ZDM - The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 45(1), 61-72.

Xu, L., & Clarke, D. (2012). What Does Distributed Cognition Tell Us about Student Learning of Science? Research in Science Education, 42(3), 491-510.

Xu, L., & Clarke, D. (2012). Student Difficulties in Learning Density: A Distributed Cognition Perspective. Research in Science Education, 42(4), 769-789.

Kang Y., Cao, Y., Xu, L., Clarke, D. (2012). A Comparative Study of Content Settings of Mathematics Curriculum Standards from China, Australia, and Finland. Journal of Educational Studies, 1, 2012

Clarke, D. J., Xu, L., Wan, V. (2010). Student speech as an instructional priority: Mathematics classrooms in seven culturally differentiated cities. Procedia Social and Behavioral Science, 2, 3811-3817.

Clarke, D. J., Xu, L., Wan, V. (2010). Spoken mathematics as a Distinguishing Charateristics of Mathematics Classrooms in Different Countries. Mathematics Bulletin – A journal for educators (China), 6, 1-12.

Clarke, D., & Xu, L. (2008). Distinguishing between mathematics classrooms in Australia, China, Japan, Korea and the USA through the lens of the distribution of responsibility for knowledge generation (performed as classroom mathematical orality). ZDM Mathematics Education, 40(6), 963-981.

Clarke, D., Mesiti, C., O'Keefe, C., Xu, L. H., Jablonka, E., Mok, I. A. C., et al. (2007). Addressing the Challenge of Legitimate International Comparisons of Classroom Practice. International Journal of Educational Research, 46, 280-293.


Link to publications

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