Multi-funding success for education research

Research news
13 December 2018

Online learning methods, influence of teacher expertise and participation levels in Higher Education will be explored through Deakin-led research projects funded by the Australian Research Council.

Deakin University has further cemented its place as a leader in education research with three academics receiving funding for their projects in the latest Australian Research Council (ARC) funding round.

Post-doctoral Research Fellows Dr Steven Lewis, Dr Jessica Holloway and Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen are the recipients of the ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). Over $1m in funding will support the three-year projects within Deakin’s Research for Educational Impact Strategic Research Centre (REDI).

Close to 200 DECRA’s are issued each year to “support excellent basic and applied research by early-career researchers”.

In addition, REDI’s Professor Amanda Keddie and Professor Jill Blackmore, along with Associate Professor Jane Wilkinson (Monash University), Dr Bradley Gobby (Curtin University), Dr Richard Niesche (UNSW) and Dr Scott Eacott (UNSW) were awarded a Discovery Project Award, receiving funding of $340,692 over three years. Their project aims to provide an evidence base for policymakers and practitioners that articulates how Australian public schools at individual and system levels engage with school autonomy reform.

How effective are online learning methods?

Dr Steven Lewis will investigate online methods of professional learning and its ability to inform professional knowledge and practice in teaching. The $340,383 grant will assist Dr Lewis to examine how international forms of evidence and expertise, along with emergent private policy networks, are reshaping teacher knowledge, learning and practice in both Australia and America.

“The funding will enable a series of interviews, Internet and social media analysis to be conducted to highlight the changing nature of evidence-informed solutions,” Dr Lewis said.

“The aim is to create opportunities for teachers and policymakers to learn how to use professional learning and evidence to influence local schooling practices.”

The project will enhance teacher professional learning on student learning outcomes, as well as potentially improve the cost-effectiveness of delivering professional development programs for teachers.

Investigating the role of teachers in modern societies

Dr Jessica Holloway’s project aims to provide new insights into the role of education in modern democratic societies, with a particular focus on teachers and teacher expertise. Dr Holloway has been awarded $383,157 for the project, which involves developing case studies from three Western Democracies (Australia, the UK and America) to investigate the role of teachers.

“My research will specifically look at the ways in which policy and practice are affecting teachers’ professional expertise and authority in their classrooms and schools,” Dr Holloway said.

Using an innovative approach to comparative case studies, the project will advance knowledge about the relationship between schools, professional expertise and democracy.

African refugee Higher Education participation in Australia

Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen was awarded $350,000 to examine Higher Education participation among African refugee youth in Australia.

“The project aims to provide empirical knowledge on African refugee youths’ transition to and progression in Higher Education,” Dr Mekonnen said.

He will generate data generated through interviews, focus group discussions, policy reviews and enrolment pattern mapping. Expected project outcomes include the development of an analytical framework and guidelines for assessing educational disadvantage and policy responses.

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The Australian Research Council has awarded three Deakin academics with over $1m in funding for their projects.

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The Australian Research Council has awarded three Deakin academics with over $1m in funding for their projects.

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