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.

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.

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.


NameAreas of supervision
Professor Russell TytlerRepresentation construction, sociocultural, arts and science, semiotics, video methodologies, sustainability, STEM education, inquiry learning, teaching across fields, interdisciplinarity
Professor Vaughan PrainRepresentation construction, sociocultural, science literacy
Associate Professor Peter HubberRepresentation construction, sociocultural, online learning, teacher education, video methodologies
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 education, self-study and reflective practices, STEM education, digital literacy, sustainability literacy
Dr Sandra HerbertScience, mathematics
Dr Seamus DelaneyScience education
Katie ChealuckOnline science, digital technology, science literacy


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
Negotiating expatriate teacher identity in higher education: a case study from the United Arab Emirates Josephine Butler
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
A critical exploration of environmental education objectives 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
Creating a green culture in TVET: a New Zealand perspective Rashika Sharma
An investigation on how secondary students construct representations to enhance their problem-solving skills and conceptual knowledge in chemistry Lam Pham
Learning science: students generating representations in a blended classroom Constance Lee Cirkony
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

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


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


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

STEM teaching and learning

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

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

School-industry partnerships around socio-scientific issues


The proposed ARC linkage extends the work of linking scientists with pre-service teachers during the OLT REMSTEP project, and a longstanding program of research into school-community partnerships including the CSIRO evaluation.

In particular we will incorporate the focus on socio scientific issues of the Toulouse group and more widely the EU funded PARISSE project which we have been involved with and researched. The Toulouse researchers draw on contemporary scientific issues to introduce PSTs and school students to the complexity of scientific work and its links with societal issues.

The aim will be to enrich and deepen the focus of scientist-teacher-PST collaboration to develop new types of approach to considering the nature and impact of contemporary science, and the complex reasoning and commitments required of engaged, scientifically literate citizens.

The initial focus will include food production and consumption and agriculture, nanotechnology (with Toulouse industry links), integrative ecology, and contemporary materials research (Deakin).

Research team: Professor Russell Tytler, Dr Peta White, Associate Professor Stuart Palmer, Adjunct Professor David Symington and Laurence Simonneaux and Jean Simonneaux – Grand Ecole Agronomique Toulouse

Funding: Research for Educational Impact, $9,877

Understanding innovation and change processes in a collaborative European project


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

Growing Tall Poppies Program: an authentic science experience for year 10 students


The project is an Australian student-scientist partnership program aimed to increase the participation of girls in physics beyond the compulsory years. The project entails Year 10 and 11 female students attending a science organisation for 3–5 days wherein they work with scientists in undertaking an authentic research project directly related to the research area of the scientist.

As part of the GTP program students are expected to present their findings on a poster and give an oral presentation to peers, teachers and scientists. These are available on the GTP website.

Australian Mathematics & Science Partnership Project (AMSPP), Australian Government DET, Melbourne University (lead partner), Deakin University (P. Hubber), Santa Maria College, Charles La Trobe College, Australian Synchrotron, ANSTO, Catholic Education Office, Imaging Centre ARC Centre of Excellence, University of NSW, La Trobe University, Griffith University, The Mathematical & Statistical Frontiers and ARC Centre of Excellence.

Funding: $726,000

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 Catlayst 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.

100 Jobs of the future


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

Funder: Ford Australia

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


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

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.

Teaching science and mathematics out-of-field: Investigating systemic factors from a transnational perspective


This transnational project with Germany adopts examines the systems - government, university and school systems – that generate, sustain and promote teaching quality in response to the reality of out-of-field teaching.

The research builds on existing understanding of these three systems and generates new data from representatives of each of these systems in order to construct case studies of the systems that can then be used in international comparisons with German researchers.

The research has implications for policy and practice relating to this issue.

Research team: Linda Hobbs, Colleen Vale, Coral Campbell, Günter Törner and Raphaela Porsch

Funding: Research for Educational Impact

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


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

Government policy, perspectives and funding initiatives regarding out-of-field teaching across Australia


This project examines government policy and practice across Australia relating to out-of-field mathematics and science teaching through document analysis and interviews with key governmental personnel and key stakeholder associations. The project will examine the need for and nature of suitable policy and systemic practices that develop and maintain a highly skilled and valued workforce.

Research team: Linda Hobbs (Lead), Colleen Vale and Brian Doig

Funding: Research and Development Grant, Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation (CREFI), Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University, $13,417

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


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


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


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)

STEM project evaluations

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.

CSIRO Assessment impact and value: scientists and mathematicians in schools


The project investigated the context in which the Scientists and Mathematicians in School Program operates. The research interrogated the models and practices surrounding the support and management of SMiS partnerships.

Research team: Professor Russell Tytler, Associate Professor Coral Campbell, Dr Gail Chittleborough, Dr Gaye Williams, Dr Peta White, Professor David Symington and Garrett Upstil

Funding: CSIRO, $95,000

The IB Primary Years Program NAP – science literacy in Australia


The project investigated the performance of Year 6 students, enrolled in the Primary Years Program (PYP), against the Australian Proficiency Standards for Science Literacy as well as the 2012 National Sample Assessment in Science Literacy.

Research team: Associate Professor Coral Campbell, Dr Gail Chittleborough, Dr Wendy Jobling and Dr Brian Doig

Funding: $24,000

Addressing disadvantage

Improving regional low-SES students' learning and wellbeing


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

Video research in education

A number of researchers in the STEE group, and more generally in the School of Education, use video as part of their research programs.

A research group, established and led by STEE members, meets regularly to discuss issues relevant to video-based methodologies, and to disseminate practice inside and outside of Deakin University.

This work has led to a book with national and international authors.

Contact us

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

Dr Linda Hobbs
Senior Lecturer In Education (Science Education)
Email Linda Hobbs
+61 3 5227 2661