Science, Technology and Environmental Education Teaching and Research Group

The Science, Technology and Environmental Education Teaching and Research Group is a diverse group of researchers and educators who focus on delivering high-quality education and research outcomes relating to science, technology and environmental science.

Our focus

Our research is strongly focused on theory and practice, leading to improvement and innovation in teaching and learning. The group has been uniquely influential in policy and practice at state, national and international levels, and has strong links with schools and policy makers in science curriculum and teaching.

Research has included major funded projects (including 12 funded by the Australian Research Council), and research leadership in diverse fields, including contracted professional learning and research funding. We also offer support to practicing teachers in a variety of ways.

Our members have been involved in a range of projects, both recent and ongoing. They promote curriculum innovation in STEM built around the 'practice turn' in science curricula and advocacy of competence based curricula focused on '21st century skills'.

The group has strong connections with schools and early childhood centres in metropolitan, regional and rural areas and runs innovative pre-service programs involving partnerships and close liaison with primary schools.

Visit the Deakin STEME Education blog for more of our work


Study opportunities

Science, technology and environmental education is taught in these initial teacher education courses:

There are also research and professional education pathways for science, technology and environmental educators through the following:

Group members

Our group members have expertise in a variety of research areas.

Staff

NameAreas of supervision
Professor Russell TytlerRepresentation construction, sociocultural semiotic perspectives, arts and science, video methodologies, sustainability and socio-scientific issues, interdisciplinarity and STEM education research, inquiry learning, curriculum policy and practice, school-industry links
Professor Vaughan PrainRepresentation construction, sociocultural, science literacy
Associate Professor Linda HobbsScience education, STEM education, teacher education, Teacher Professional learning, teaching out-of-field, teacher identity
Associate Professor Coral CampbellTechnology education, early childhood, STEM research, creativity, bush kinder, cross cultural
Dr Lihua XuReasoning, assessment, multi-modal interaction, distributed cognition, early childhood, video methodologies, professional noticing
Dr John Cripps ClarkScience communication, science centres, CHAT, STEM education
Dr Wendy JoblingTechnology education, early childhood, interbaccelareate, video methodologies
Dr George ArandaTechnology education, digital literacies, science communication, video methodologies
Dr Peta WhiteEnvironmental, sustainability, climate change and biology education and research, interdisciplinarity and STEM education research, activist methodologies, school-industry links
Dr Seamus DelaneyChemistry education, Informal science education (out of school contexts, outreach), augmented and virtual reality, sustainability
Dr Sandra HerbertMathematical reasoning, science education, mathematics education, STEM education, teacher education, digital technologies, Teacher Professional learning, phenomenography, embodied cognition, gesture
Katie ChealuckOnline science, digital technology, science literacy

Students

Higher degree by research (HDR) students work on a range of research projects across science, technology and environmental education areas.

Student projects

Project titleStudent
A little green is good for the soul, but what about 'STEM learning' with the wonder of outdoor gardening spaces in early childhood curriculum and pedagogy? Bess Sajfar
Investigating the long-term effects of pre-service teacher science education in primary schools Rebecca Greene
Media and social media influence on scientific literacy levels of pre-service teachers Katie Chealuck
What is the impact of school-based science units? Rebecca Greene
Intentionally teaching or planning for play: examining children’s involvement in early learning science affordances Suzanne Infantino
The affordances of Film Noir narrative in establishing new understandings for students looking for resolution to social aspects of Human Induced Climate Change Jorja McKinnon
Non-residential alternative Year 9 programs in Victorian schools Joshua Ambrosy
A blended learning philosophy of practice for higher education Rachael Hains-Wesson
Visualizing the cosmos: teaching cosmology using art, VR and AR in high school physics in the era of big data Saeed Salimpour
(Re)storying environmental education: a researcher–teacher collaboration Kathryn Riley
Conceptualising and exploring the potential of Critical Co-design methodology to empower Indigenous young women to privilege Indigenous knowledge and biocultural diversity, in Australia and Mexico Desiree Hernandez Ibinarriaga
A service-oriented framework for evaluating higher education curriculum Maurice Abi Raad
Teacher pedagogy impacts on children’s creativity in a bush kinder setting Chris Speldewinde
An investigation on how secondary students construct representations to enhance their problem-solving skills and conceptual knowledge in chemistry Lam Pham
Examining the effects of adapting and implementing the Japanese model of lesson study for pre-service teachers Barbara Joan Black
The social media classroom Stephen Thompson
In what ways do the first year college students’ critical thinking skills for the Sino-China English for Academic Purpose program compare with the Australian first-year college students? Musa Manning
Associations between student emotions and mathematics classroom tasks Fabio D'Agostin
Transformative learning and public pedagogies of sustainability: Shifting practice in critical timesBronwyn Sutton
Representing Scientists and their Practices in the Science ClassroomMary Vamvakas
Dimensions and pathways of teacher change and professional growth in an interdisciplinary mathematics - science innovationChris Nielsen

Innovation in science teaching and learning

Deakin researchers have worked with schools and teachers over five Australian Research Council-funded projects to develop an approach to teaching and learning that brings classroom practices closer to the knowledge-building practices in science. This involves students creating and critiquing representations such as drawings, animations and models, and is strongly focused on an expanded perspective on disciplinary literacy.

This work has extended to study models of professional learning and inquiry approaches in digital environments. The research has underpinned a number of major professional learning initiatives funded by the Victorian Department of Education, and was influential in shaping the Primary Connections program led by the Australian Academy of Science.

The group is currently expanding on a tradition of working across the science-mathematics boundary to investigate interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning in science and mathematics.

Learn more about representations in the classroom with Alfred Deakin Professor Russell Tytler

Enriching mathematics and science learning: an interdisciplinary approach

2018–2021

This international, longitudinal project aims to investigate the effectiveness of an innovative interdisciplinary learning approach in mathematics and science. Through collaborating primary schools in Australia and the US, it will investigate how students’ invention and transformation of representational systems can connect to support deeper reasoning and learning.

The project will form the bases for new curricular designs that leverage students’ representational practices across science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to promote more robust and generative knowledge.

Research team: Russell Tytler, Joanne Mulligan, Peta White, Lihua Xu, Leona Schauble, Richard Lehrer and Vaughan Prain

Funding: Australian Research Council (ARC), $434,716

Multiliteracies for addressing disadvantage in senior school science

This project develops and refines a pedagogy focused around multi-literacy representation construction, to engage students in science learning in the senior school years. The approach combines Tytler’s representation construction research with a significant research program in Structural Functional Linguistics in the context of the constrained senior science curriculum context, for learners in low-SES settings.

Research team: Len Unsworth (ACU), Russell Tytler, Kay O’Halloran (Curtin), Sally Humphrey, Kristina Love, Anne Lynzaat, Sarah Moss-Holland, Emmaleen Oakley and Robert Dullard.

Funding: ARC, $500,000

Science of Learning Research Centre

2013–2017

In this innovative new centre, researchers in education, neuroscience and cognitive psychology will work together with teachers to understand the learning process. This collaboration will establish new criteria to assess the impact of different types of learning and strategies to inform teaching practices of benefit to all Australians.

While the funds have now been expended, there is ongoing analysis round a series of 8 projects that generated significant data in the SLR classroom at University of Melbourne, with a common theme of representing and modeling. Some funds are being sought for analysis work.

Research team: Ottmar Lipp, John Hattie, Michael Timms, Pankaj Sah, and others including Russell Tytler

Funding: ARC, $16,000,000

Elements of Sustainable Chemistry (ESC) interdisciplinary research hub

2019–2022

Established initially through a Deakin Science and Society Network (SSN) establishment grant, this is an interdisciplinary research hub that consists of Chemistry and Education lecturers and researchers who have a shared passion and commitment to promote the vital role of chemical sciences in addressing global socio-scientific issues including sustainable development. We collaborate with national and international partners, including research leaders in the international STICE project, to develop and evaluate teaching and learning resources for primary, secondary and tertiary education settings. We also facilitate professional learning workshops for secondary and tertiary educators.

Research team: Seamus Delaney, Madeleine Schultz (School of Life & Environmental Science), Joseph Ferguson, Lisa Chiavaroli, Andrew Eaton (Wollondilly Anglican College), Joanne Jamie (Macquarie University)

Funding: Deakin Science and Society Network (SSN), Australian National Commission for UNESCO, Research for Educational Impact, Chemistry Education Association

100 Jobs of the future

2018

Deakin researchers are working with researchers and industry experts in key ‘future of work’ clusters to identify what 100 Jobs of the Future might look like, showcasing roles in growing and developing industries to highlight the importance of STEAM education in Australia and help young Australians visualise what jobs opportunities may be open to them in STEAM industries.

Research team: Russell Tytler, Peta White, Ruth Bridgstock (Griffith), Dineli Mather, Trevor McCandless, Julian Sefton-Green and Vaughan Prain

Funding: Ford Australia

STEM teaching and learning

Innovation in teaching and learning relevant to STEM is a key focus for our team. Projects range from development of online resources, developing theoretical frameworks for quality teaching and learning, and the provision of high quality student STEM learning experiences for a range of audiences.

Advancing science by enhancing learning in the laboratory (ASELL) in the secondary school sector

2015–2017
This initiative aims to build capacity in years 7–10 science education through teachers’ internalising learning around practicals in peer-to-peer dialogues where peers are also academics. Specific objectives are to:

  • design practical work and associated resources that integrate expertise from Science, Engineering and Education in supporting a holistic consideration of all three strands (SU, SIS, SHE) of the Australian Curriculum: Science
  • support the differing needs of the diverse science teaching community, including Indigenous, migrant, low SES and rural
  • generate professional conversations, enabling science teachers to utilise an evaluation framework in adapting science practicals to their local contexts and to share with others
  • develop Teacher Scholars who work with scientists, educators, and engineers in capitalising on practicals in their teaching, schools and professional communities
  • facilitate professional dialogues within the broader community including connecting teachers, scientists, engineers and teacher educators.

Research team: Associate Professor Kieran Lim, Dr Peta White and Dr John Long

Funding: $255,250

Periodic Table of Sustainable Elements – Chemistry school outreach

2019–2021

Chemistry educators from both the School of Education and School of Life & Environmental Sciences are developing hands-on activities for lower secondary and upper primary school children, that illustrate the importance of chemistry for sustainability.

The International Year of the Periodic Table (2019) provided the perfect opportunity to implement community engagement activities to re-position the public image of chemistry, from one that currently suffers from the consequences of large-scale uptake of its previous successes such as plastic waste and polluting industrial plants, to one that has embraced the principles of sustainability. In 2019, a free school outreach program (Periodic Table of Sustainable Elements) was offered to schools in rural and regional Victoria, and this will continue in 2020 and 2021.

Research team: Seamus Delaney, Madeleine Schultz (School of Life & Environmental Science, Deakin)

Funding: Australian National Commission for UNESCO $16,500

Understanding innovation and change processes in a collaborative European project

2016–2017

The project aims to examine the processes by which the SSIBL pedagogy framework is conscripted by the different European teams for their purposes, and the nature of the communal negotiation and individual pathways to understanding during the project development. These case stories are seen as illustrative of change processes attendant on European innovation projects and will provide fresh insights both into the broader European union project, and the way that innovation intersects with different education and epistemological histories and beliefs.

Research team: Russell Tytler; Dr Peta White with Professor Isabel Martins, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil; Professor Pedro Reis, Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto de Educação; and Professor Doris Jorde, Professor of Science Education, University of Oslo

Funding: Research for Educational Impact, $8929

STEM collaborations and teacher PD

Deakin’s STEM team have successfully designed and delivered high-quality government-funded professional development (PD) to primary and secondary school teachers in the areas of science through the Science in Schools (SIS) and Improving Middle Years Maths and Science (IMYMS) programs.

More recently this has been done through the Primary science specialist program (PrimSS), and Switched on Science professional learning (SoSPL) programs.

This has also occurred in STEM education through the Skilling the Bay initiatives in the Geelong region (Successful Students – STEM Program), the STEM Catalyst program, and through supporting the new tech schools initiatives in Geelong and Wyndham.

We were partners in the Re-imaging Maths Science and Technology program (REMSTEP) that developed resources and conducted research based on relationships between STEM-related university faculties and teacher education. Such links are also capitalised on in the ASELL project, which involves developing resources for schools through collaborations between teacher education students, practising teachers and STEM specialists.

Girls as Leaders in STEM (GALS)

2018–2023

The Girls as Leaders in STEM (GALS) 2 Program provides opportunities for girls to engage in design-based learning experiences in STEM in order to foster their interest in STEM and entrepreneurship, develop STEM capabilities, and build their professional networks. Girls work closely with female STEM role models (science students, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs) in a number of workshop/mentoring experiences. Teachers are provided with a Professional Learning day and participate with the girls to guide their developing understanding.

The program features:

  • a 12 month program, focused on school years (5-8). Delivered in Geelong, Warrnambool and Mildura across 3 years
  • industry/teacher planning session
  • teacher professional learning day
  • three project workshop days with girls, teachers, industry mentors
  • school celebration day and community expo
  • curriculum development across the three years.

Research aligned with program to determine the critical success factors for sustainable development of girls’ STEM capabilities.

Research team: Coral Campbell, Lihua Xu, Linda Hobbs, Jorja McKinnon, Chris Speldewinde

Funding: $378,900

STEM and Entrepreneurship in Primary Schools

2018–2020

The SEPS program delivers professional development in STEM and entrepreneurial thinking to primary teachers in the Geelong region. The program includes intensive professional learning days, a Maker Faire delivered, and a STEM Education Conference in November 2018 and 2020.

Research team: Lihua Xu, Coral Campbell, Linda Hobbs

Funding: Maker Fair grant 2018; Skilling the Bay 2020

Primary Science Specialist Professional Learning and Research program

2011, 2012–2014, 2014–2015 , 2016, 2018–2019

A professional development program delivered by Deakin to provide program advice and training for primary teachers to become specialists in science. Deakin has been involved in delivering this professional development since 2011. An extended research project was developed to investigate the mechanisms of leadership, mentoring, team building and strategic planning used by the participants in the Primary Science and Mathematics Specialist program.

Research team: Associate Professor Coral Campbell, Dr Gail Chittleborough, Professor Russell Tytler, Associate Professor Peter Hubber, Dr John Cripps-Clarke, Dr Wendy Jobling, Ass Pro Linda Hobbs, Dr Sandra Herbert, Dr Lihua Xu and Dr Peta White

Funding: Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 148,000; 78,000; 108,000; $8000, 10,000, 47,000

Secondary STEM Catalyst professional learning program

2016–2018

A professional development program delivered to teachers from Victoria’s most disadvantaged schools. Teachers undertake the Graduate Certificate of STEM Education – a new, specially-designed qualification being delivered by Deakin University. Each of the four units include five days of intensive professional learning

Funding: DEECD, $729,000

Chemistry education research catalysed professional learning communities

2020–2022

Over the course of a school year, current secondary chemistry teachers will be supported to co-design a classroom activity with peers and the project team, incorporating the latest chemistry education research (CER) evidence of how best to enhance critical thinking on important socio-scientific issues in chemistry.

With extensive support from the project team, the participating teachers will collect evidence from their respective classrooms on the impact of their co-designed classroom activity. Teachers will also be supported to take an active role in reporting these findings to the chemistry and science education community, encouraging them to take a future role in conducting professional development, either in their own schools or in chemistry or science education learning communities.

Research team: Seamus Delaney, Lisa Chiavaroli, Madeleine Schultz (School of Life & Environmental Sciences)

Funding: Chemistry Education Association (CEA) $17,500 in 2020 then ongoing

Teaching out-of-field

A number of projects and international collaborations have focused on the issue of teachers teaching outside their subject area. This research agenda includes an ARC-funded Discovery Project exploring teacher learning for teachers new to teaching a subject. It specifically focuses on beginning teachers and the role of school context in shaping their experience.

Other research projects have explored policy settings and systemic differences in creating the conditions for perpetuating the need for out-of-field teaching in schools, and the capacity of different systems to respond in terms of support needs, increasing the supply of teachers and providing supportive and appropriate school leadership.

Out-of-field teaching: sustaining quality practices across subject

2015–2017

With a comparatively high percentage of out-of-field teachers, Australia is exposed to significant social, economic and educational costs. Through the development of longitudinal case studies, this project investigates the changing landscape of teacher perceptions and practices over three years, within school institutional cultures relating to teacher assignment, support, and out-of-field mathematics and science teaching.

Outcomes of the project will inform the development of system and school policy and practice in dealing with this internationally pervasive issue.

Research team: L. Hobbs, C. Campbell, R. Tytler, C. Vale, Terry Lyons, Frances Quinn and Robert Whannell

Funding: ARC Discovery, $226,900

Early childhood science and STEM

A team of researchers are exploring STEM in early childhood through a number of projects, including:

  • the learning potential afforded by alternative kinder settings like ‘bush kinders’
  • the possibilities and nature of STEM learning in early childhood settings
  • international comparisons of STEM in early childhood
  • the development of teacher education textbooks to support early learning of STEM.

Staff are actively involved in local kindergartens and provide professional development and resources to help raise STEM as a critical part of early childhood education.

Bush kinders in Australia: locating the science

2015–2017

This project investigated the affordances for science learning in bush kinder settings at five pre-schools in Victoria.

Principal investigators: Associate Professor Coral Campbell and Chris Speldewinde

STEM literacies in early childhood

2018

This project aims to undertake an extensive review of literature around STEM in early childhood, to inform the development of a package of STEM literacy materials.

The STEM literacy materials will be evaluated late in 2018.

Principal investigator: Associate Professor Coral Campbell

Funding: Ardoch (consultancy and research)

How young children learn with tangible coding technologies in an emergent STEM curriculum

2018

This pilot project aims to undertake preliminary investigations into tangible coding technologies in selected pre-schools. The data will inform the development of a larger funded project.

Principal investigators: Associate Professor Coral Campbell, Dr George Aranda and Dr Karen Murcia (WA)

Digital Technologies in Early Childhood

2019–2020

This project is investigating the use of tangible coding technologies in 4 pre-schools to enhance both teachers and children’s understandings of science and STEM underpinning inquiry-based collaborative learning. Linking with the European Project roBOTics and STEM education for children and primary schools - botSTEM, ERASMUS+ (Marie Fridberg, Björn Cronquist and Andreas Redfors), the outputs will be compared with the European results to inform cross-cultural dialogue.

Principal investigators: Associate Professor Coral Campbell, Dr George Aranda, Dr Joe Ferguson, Chris Speldewinde

Funding: REDI $2800 (2018)

STEM project evaluations

Tech School Evaluation

2019–2023

Tech Schools provide innovative, problem-based education programs that give students practical experience and skills they need to flourish in emerging global economies. The Tech School Evaluation to be conducted by Deakin seeks to understand the effectiveness of the initiative at multiple levels to inform future development of the Tech School Initiative.

Research team: Linda Hobbs, Seamus Delaney, Peta White, John Cripps Clark, George Aranda, Russell Tytler, Christine Ure, Coral Campbell, Chris Speldewinde, Bronwyn Sutton.

Funding: Department of Education

Evaluation of the STEM Academy

University of Sydney, Russell Tytler, Gaye Williams

The University of Sydney STEM Enrichment Academy responds to growing concern in Australia about the engagement of students in STEM pathways and stagnation or loss of ground in student competence shown on international tests.

This evaluation utilised a series of data processes including a survey of Academy teachers after each workshop, interviews and field notes, a survey of a previous cohort concerning sustainability, and case studies of selected schools.

Overall the evaluation found substantial evidence of change in school practices and take up in particular of interdisciplinary STEM approaches. Aspects of the program that supported teacher and school change were identified, and a number of recommendations were made based on teachers’ testimony, and analysis of school processes.

Addressing disadvantage

Improving regional low-SES students' learning and wellbeing

2015–2018

This study aims to address the learning and wellbeing needs of over 7000 predominantly low socio-economic status students in regional Australia by researching the conditions that enable refinement and extension of a successful curricular and wellbeing program.

The current low educational performance of this student cohort has significant negative effects on individual employment prospects and broader national productivity. Their under-achievement and disengagement from schooling also contribute to many antisocial, harmful short-and long-term outcomes for individuals, with significant health and other costs to the broader community.

Outcomes from the project have the potential to improve these current outcomes and to be applicable to similar settings.

Research team: Professor Vaughan Prain, Professor Bruce Waldrip, Professor Russell Tytler, Dr Craig Deed, Professor Noel Meyers, Associate Professor Damian Blake, Dr Tracey Muir, Dr Cathleen Farrelly, Dr Amanda Mooney and Mr Damon Thomas

Funding: Australian Research Council, $424,174

Curriculum renewal

Curriculum Renewal in Biology Education

2019–2020

Deakin researchers were contracted to develop the biology benchmarking report, perform the curriculum writing, and update the Advice for Teachers of the Biology study design. Research involving contemporary science practice in school was infused throughout.

Research team: Peta White, Amanda Peters, Mary Vamvakas

Funding: VCAA $20,000

Curriculum Renewal in Chemistry Education

Year range: Upper Primary, Secondary, Undergraduate

The team were contracted by VCAA to produce a benchmarking report comparing VCE senior secondary chemistry to other national and international senior secondary curricula. Members of the team, in collaboration with the Chemistry Education Association, also provide professional learning opportunities for in-service and pre-service chemistry teachers across Victoria. Through the Elements of Sustainable Chemistry (ESC) interdisciplinary research hub, based out of Deakin University, the team also collaborate with national and international partners to provide curriculum advice on approaches to embed a focus on sustainable development practices in chemistry teaching and learning.

Research team: Seamus Delaney, Lisa Chiavaroli, Amanda Peters, Madeleine Schultz

Funding: Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority (VCAA), Chemistry Education Association

Research and Consultation for Primary Connections Stage 7

2019–2020

Australian Academy of Science’s Primary Connections project 2019 to 2020.

This project provides an embedded, ongoing connection between research and practice through the Primary Connections project, building on and maintaining the project’s reputation as a research-based approach which responds to the everyday needs and realities of classroom teachers. The key activity of the research consultants Primary Connections is to provide expert advice to the project with a focus on the area of effective, evidence-based science and technology education for Australian primary schools with a particular focus on professional learning for teachers.

Research team: Coral Campbell, Wendy Jobling

Funding: Australian Academy of Science $60,000

Teaching and research networks and conferences

A number of researchers in the STEE group manage networks that relate to teaching and learning and key issues relating to science, technology, and environmental education. Other networks explore the use of theory in educational research.

A number of conferences are convened to allow for discussions relating to research, and innovations in teaching and learning:

Contact us

For more information about STEE research, please contact Associate Professor Linda Hobbs.

Associate Professor Linda Hobbs
Associate Professor of Education (Science Education)
Email A/Prof. Hobbs
+61 3 5227 2661