Contemporary Approaches to Research in Mathematics, Science, Health and Environmental Education Symposium

Monday 23–Wednesday 25 November 2020

Event details

This symposium focuses on practical and theoretical aspects of research methodology.

Hosted by the Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and Environmental (STEME) Education Research Group of Deakin University's strategic research centre in education, Research for Educational Impact (REDI), it follows the highly successful symposia held annually at Deakin University (from 1993 to 2005 and again from 2010 to 2019), in which methodological techniques and issues (such as socio-cultural perspectives, productive use of quantitative data, collaborative practitioner research designs and analysing discourse) have been discussed in a lively, informal setting.

Keynote speakers

Michael Tan, National Institute of Education, Singapore

Trust me, I am an expert: Researching contingent contexts for ecological validity

Tracking shifts in epistemological thinking in the past century, we seem to have vacillated between an uncritical optimism about the possibility of scientific certainty, through to a radical scepticism about the separability of power and knowledge. In STEM education research contexts that we find ourselves now, we still desire some semblance of scientism, the result of which are findings which are correct, but not necessarily true. The research community has shifted its emphasis on studying what is in the mind, to what the mind is in, but such research still finds difficulty being accepted by decision makers desiring mechanistic control of schooling. While I will not offer any specific solutions (oh, the irony!), this talk seeks to open up a discussion on more or less productive means of thinking about contingency and ecological validity.

Michael Tan headshot

Michael Tan

Michael Tan is a Lecturer (Research Scientist) at the Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Never feeling grounded while growing up in the shadow of post-colonial Singapore’s confused identity, he visited Toronto, Canada as a graduate student only to become more bewildered about his place in the world. Now embracing doubt and porosity across boundaries as a lens to view the world, Michael is researching how the weak form of makerspaces can contribute to the learning of interdisciplinary innovativeness. Michael is the author of Makerspaces, Innovation, and Science Education: How, why, and what for? published by Routledge.

Jill Brown, Deakin University

Bridging the gap between evidence-based research, policy, and its implementation in classrooms

Academics and policy makers often act as if initiatives - if evidence-based - are easily implemented. However, in reality, for many policy initiatives, there tends to be a big gap between the policy and what happens in the classroom. How do we synthesis the realities of classrooms and evidence-based research initiatives in a way that these will be successful, not only on a local scale but on a broader scale? This keynote, drawing on methodologies used in various research projects, will take an ecological perspective look at classrooms and teaching and learning, acknowledging the ‘fit between the mind and environment’. Analysis will focus at multiple levels, the macro (e.g., state initiative), the mesa (e.g., initiative by Department of Education), the micro (e.g., the school, but also the classroom) level taking a funnelling down and building up approach.

Jill Brown headshot

Jill Brown

Jill Brown is a senior lecturer in mathematics education at Deakin University. Her research focuses on mathematics education with primary and secondary school students, and their teachers and future teachers. Jill’s research covers the overlapping sub-fields of mathematical functions, mathematical thinking (including mathematical modelling, reasoning, and proof), and teaching and learning mathematics in environments that include digital technologies. One of her most recent, of over 55, publications is a co-edited book, entitled Lines of Inquiry in Mathematical Modelling Research in Education published by Springer in 2019.

Submit an abstract

If you are interested in presenting at this symposium please register your expression of interest before Friday 2 October 2020 on the Re-Imagining Futures in STEME website (, which provides online submission. Presenters will be invited to submit a chapter for the CAR Symposium book series.

Each presentation should be 10–15 minutes in duration. It should briefly outline the research question being addressed and may include the findings or likely outcomes of the research, but should focus mainly on the research methodology. Reports on work in progress are welcome.

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Key information

Date and time

Monday 23–Wednesday 25 November 2020