Research on teaching and learning
Research into teaching and learning explores the process of education in context or in their communities of practice. Research in teaching occurs around three interlaced themes: One theme is pedagogy and the practice of teaching. A second theme focuses on specific curriculum areas, exploring what teachers teach, how and why. The third theme examines the context of teaching, in schools and other formal education settings at different levels, in occupations and in organizations. Perspectives and experiences of learners are integral to research on pedagogy and specific methodologies used in this field incorporate the 'student voice' or analyse learning outcomes to evaluate teaching practice.
Creative and performing arts
Research in creative and performing arts education examines the ways that drama, visual arts, music and film (media) learning and teaching occurs in schools and other settings. Key questions include how learners from diverse backgrounds engage in specific arts forms and how that engagement shapes their responses to other aspects of their lives. The relationship between arts and other key learning areas such as literacy, and the benefits of arts-enriched programs on academic achievement, are also of concern to researchers in this field.
Early childhood education
A child’s early learning is a critical factor in determining his or her life chances. Many children in Australia do not currently experience quality early learning education and increased supply of early childhood teachers is frequently the only initiative proposed as the answer to need in this area. Research in early childhood addresses the complex range of contextual and cultural issues which need to be addressed to support and enhance the development of high quality early childhood education. Underpinned by a child-centred philosophy focusing on the individual needs of the child, research in this area is informed by developmental psychology, recent developments in the neurosciences as well as social scientific and educational frameworks and methods. The slow development of the professional standing of early childhood education in Australia is another important research theme.
English and literacy
Debates about practice, curriculum and policy in English and literacy education have raged for many decades and continue to attract media and public attention: How best to teach English and literacy in the early, acquisition stages of schooling? How to maintain English and literacy learning through the middle years? How to strengthen English education in the senior phase of schooling, particularly in the area of literary and arts-enriched studies, while supporting and extending literacy capabilities across the school curriculum, and across print and digital media? How to expand our view of English and literacy education to incorporate the complex visually presented information used across the curriculum areas? These and other questions continue to drive research into this critical area.
Health and physical education and development
Research in these fields investigates the implementation of school-based health promotion, physical activity, nutrition education and obesity prevention programs. Key topics include school and community based health promotion interventions, obesity prevention, physical activity promotion and health status among primary and secondary school students, children, adolescents, undergraduate teachers and practising teachers.
Learning and teaching in higher education
Tertiary education is diverse both across and within institutions. Approaches to pedagogy need to support and encourage the independence of learners while providing discipline specific training. Research on learning and teaching in higher education uses diverse methodological approaches to investigate the opportunities and challenges of new educational technologies, more diverse student bodies, rapid disciplinary evolution and the growth of cross-disciplinary fields.
Mathematics and science
Mathematics and science education research is concerned both with the subject content in these disciplines and with exploring what students of all ages understand about mathematics and science, how they develop this understanding and how best to teach them. Some research explores content specific issues related to student’s understanding of simple and complex concepts in mathematics and science, or affective issues concerning student motivation and engagement in these disciplines. Research also investigates the impact of technology on student learning, as well as exploring the most effective ways to improve and sustain teacher professional learning.
Social sciences, including civics
Research on teaching and learning in social sciences, such as history, examines fundamental issues of curriculum, pedagogy, policy and assessment in these key disciplines. How teachers might be well-prepared for teaching social sciences, as well as critical engagement with what they teach, and why, are important themes in research in this area. Civics and citizenship education is one significant stream of research in social sciences education, tackling issues such as the role schools play in preparing democratic citizens, the curricula required to prepare global citizens, and how Australian education in these areas compares with other countries.
Special and inclusive education
Research on special and inclusive education covers a wide range of topics exploring conceptual, theoretical, methodological and policy and practice issues. Research on special education includes evidence-based and effective teaching practices for literacy and numeracy, behaviour management and educational interventions for specific disabilities such as autism, blindness, physical disabilities, learning difficulties and intellectual disabilities. Research on inclusive education focuses on attitudinal research, teacher training and professional development, research with families, and development of inclusive practices and collaboration within and across schools and systems.
Teacher education and professional learning
Teachers form the largest single professional group in Australia. Research on teacher education examines a wide range of issues, spanning studies of the efficacy of pre-service teacher education programs, analyses of policies driving change in these programs, and explorations of the experience of ‘becoming’ in this key social profession. Research on teacher professional learning also has a wide span, taking in studies of specific interventions to sustain and enhance in-service teacher knowledge professionalism as well as studies of the development of teacher practice and identity over time.