Honorary Associate Professor Susan Colmar

BA(Auck), MA(Hons)(Auck), DipEdPsych(Auck), PhD(Macquarie)

Email:

Phone: +61 2 9351 6265

Fax: +61 2 9351 2606

Building.Room: A35.805

Research interests

Learning sciences; psychology of education

  • Learning, cognition and motivation

Research on teaching and learning

  • English and literacy


Keywords

language and literacy assessments and interventions



Professional biography

Susan is a practising, qualified educational psychologist who has more than 40 years' experience working with children, parents and teachers.

She is the director of training in school counselling/school psychology within the faculty, where she lectures in psychological and educational assessment, language and literacy, professional practice and ethics, behaviour management and counselling children and adolescents.

Susan is a member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and a registered psychologist, with endorsement in educational and developmental psychology, as well as a member of the APS College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists.

She has particular interests in young children and early intervention work with children with special needs. Susan researches in the areas of language and literacy, with a focus on parent based interventions in the former and psychological correlates of academic achievement, particularly literacy, in the latter.

Susan is a regular invited speaker and contributor to academic literature about the subjects of language assessments and interventions, assessment issues, early reading and reading interventions, academic buoyancy and behaviour problems.

Interests:

  • Language intervention strategies in book reading contexts with young children and their parents
  • Working memory interventions within classrooms
  • School leadership models of cognitive style
  • Literacy including reading interactions, parental beliefs and intervention techniques
  • Validity of diagnostic methods for reading and spelling, and phonological processing variables
  • Disability issues particularly for indigenous Australians 

In the media:

  • Adelaide Advertiser (2017). Making mates to enhance students’ working memory skills. November 7th, 2017. Item ID: 869969502
  • Duggan, S. (2017). Pilot program to boost kids' memory has 'staggering' results. Australian Teacher Magazine, November, 2017.
  • Education Matters Magazine (2017). Improving working memory in primary school students: Research.
  • FASS News (2017). Improving working memory and attention in primary school students. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Sydney, Issue 83 - Thursday 31 August 2017
  • Smith, L. (2017). ‘Memory Mates’ assist school kids. Education Review, September 2017.
  • The University of Sydney News (2017). Improving working memory and attention in primary school students. 30 August 2017
  • Channel Ten News, Channel 10, Ron Wilson (February, 2010)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, Anna Patty, p. 3 (February, 2010) Shush Folks, We're Trying to Read.
  • Triple J News, Sydney (February, 2010)
  • ABC 702, Russell Woolf (Perth), Richard Glover (Sydney) (February, 2010)
  • ABC 666, Canberra (February, 2010)
  • ABC 612, Brisbane (February, 2010)
  • ABC Riverina, Paul Turton (February, 2010)
  • ABC Northern Tasmania, Elaine Harris (February, 2010)
  • ABC North West WA, Barry Nicholls (February, 2010)
  • ABC Western Queensland, Georgia Stynes (February, 2010)
  • Lifematters Radio National ABC, podcast (September, 2007)
  • Lifematters Radio National ABC, interview National ABC (June, 2007)
  • Readers Digest (October, 2006) Expand your child’s word power
  • Sydney Central Courier (July, 2006)
  • The Melbourne Age (July, 2006)
  • Sydney Morning Herald (July, 2006) Look who’s talking when parents are seen, not heard.
  • Herald Sun, Melbourne (July, 2006)
  • Canberra Times (July, 2006)
  • Perth Sunday Times (July, 2006)
  • John Laws 2UE (July, 2006)
  • ABC Adelaide (July, 2006)
  • ABC Perth 6PR Lliam Bartlett (July, 2006)
  • ABC 1233 Newcastle Jen Fleming (July, 2006)
  • ABC Mid North Coast Michael Corkill (July, 2006)
  • Macquarie University News (1995). The Good Way to Break Bad News: How to Tell Parents that their Child has a Disability.
  • ABC 2CN Canberra (1995). Good News and Bad News.
  • ABC 2BL Sydney (1995). Your Child Has a Disability: Perspectives on Learning that your Child has a Disability.
  • Channel Seven Television National (1993). The 11 AM Show Language Interventions with Down Syndrome Children


Awards

  • Faculty of Education and Social Work Teaching Excellence Award 2007

  • Faculty of Education and Social Work Teaching Excellence Award 2013

  • Faculty Research Grant 2013-2014

  • Cambridge University Press 27 most cited articles (Psychology journals) - Colmar, S., Davis, N., Sheldon, L. (2016). A Pilot Classroom-Based Study of Attention and Working Memory Strategies for Primary-Aged Students. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 26(1), 125-136.

  • Inaugural FASS Research Engagement and Impact Award 2019 -Memory Mates: A student-centred working memory intervention for classroom contexts



Professional and community roles

  • Tertiary Representative on the Australian Guidance and Counselling Association NSW Chapter

  • Editor Applied Practices section of the Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling



Current projects

  • Low working memory skills present a high risk factor for educational underachievement in the primary school years and may underlie many learning difficulties. Children with working memory failures tend to make poor academic progress and present with attention and behavior problems because they can be overloaded with instructions and classroom demands. The goal of this research is to increase teacher expertise in teaching strategies to improve working memory in their students and to increase learning outcomes. In addition, we aim to ensure the independent use of strategies by all students. A series of instructional supports have been developed, referred to as Memory Mates (Davis, Sheldon, & Colmar, 2013). The research program will extend this pilot work and determine if teaching students attention and working memory strategies, within everyday lessons, will improve literacy, spelling, mathematics, self-concept and self-reflection, academic buoyancy and academic engagement.
  • Interactive Book Reading Between Parents and Children with Autism ISS research grant Publication in progress Joanne Arciuli Susan Colmar Berna Gurisik David Evans Stewart Enfield Trevor Parmenter
  • A Cyberbullying Intervention with Primary Aged Students Paper in Preparation to be Submitted to the Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, Applied Practices Troy Toshack, DET NSW and Susan Colmar, PhD, The University of Sydney
  • Teachers’ Workplace Well-being: Exploring a Process Model of Goal Orientation, Coping Behavior, Engagement, and Burnout Submitted paper under revision Philip D. Parker,a,b, Andrew J. Martin,a, Susan Colmar,a, & Arief Liem,a aUniversity of Sydney, Australia bUniversity of Tübingen, Germany The current research integrated components of the transactional model of stress and coping with the motivational theories of self-worth and goal theory to examine a model where (a) teachers’ goal orientation (as indicated by mastery and failure avoidance) was hypothesized to predict their workplace behavioral coping strategies (as indicated by problem- and emotion-focused coping) and (b) teachers’ workplace coping was hypothesized to predict their occupational well-being (as indicated by engagement and burnout). A longitudinal sample of 430 teachers took part in the research. With the structural equation model suggesting an acceptable fit to the data, findings generally supported hypotheses. Implications for theory and practice are discussed
  • Leaders’ cognitive information-processing systems are related to student learning outcomes. Abstract: Research has shown that school principals who display transformational leadership are likely to influence organizational commitment and job satisfaction (Koh, 1990) and this in turn is thought to influence student learning outcomes. Using a sample of experienced educational leaders (N = 88) this study examined if transformational leadership and information-processing systems according to the Cognitive-experiential Self-theory (CEST) predict teachers’ job satisfaction and student learning outcomes. The rational system and constructive elements of the experiential system were fund to have a significant positive connection with student learning outcomes. Cerni, Curtis & Colmar Accepted subject to revision in Educational Administration Quarterly
  • Green, J., Martin, A., Colmar, S., Marsh, H., & McInerney, D. (Submitted May 2010). Academic motivation, self-concept, engagement, and performance in high school: Key processes from a longitudinal perspective. Submitted to Contemporary Educational Psychology, awaiting disposition
  • Martinez, C.J., Martin, A.J., Liem, G. A., & Colmar, S. (Submitted October 2010). A longitudinal analysis of psychological and physical well-being amongst late adolescents: Exploring the mediating role of perceived life quality and satisfaction.
  • A Parent-based Book Reading Intervention for Disadvantaged Children with Language Difficulties. Paper in preparation for submission to Child Language Teaching and Therapy. Abstract. Children with delayed language skills, who were from a socio-economic area defined as disadvantaged, made significant improvements in language skills, with large effect sizes, four months after their parents were trained in easily learned strategies, enabling them to make simple changes in the way they interacted with their children. The intervention strategies, used both during book reading and during everyday conversations included: pausing to allow the child an opportunity to talk about a topic of interest to them; asking open-ended questions; and encouraging the child to talk more on their chosen topics. In simple terms, adults were taught to wait, and thus provide the child with an opportunity to initiate a conversation. In turn, by asking the child an open question, children were provided with an opportunity to respond, thus to speak more. Highly significant results were obtained in favour of the intervention group, with excellent effect sizes, whereas no changes were observed in the Waiting List Control group or a typically developing comparison group of children.
  • The relationships between academic buoyancy, self-concept and achievement in reading and mathematics, in a primary aged sample Faculty Research grant for $3000; this is an ongoing project Initial dataset collected, 191 children, 4 outcome factors, with age, gender etc as predictors Work is continuing through 2012 and will include work on adaptability
  • Conceptual Framework for Policy and Research Development With Indigenous People with a Disability Submitted to the Journal of Australian Aboriginal Studies, November , 2011 Gilroy, J. Colmar, S., Parmenter, T., & Donelly, M.


Current research students

Project title Degree Research student
Competencies required for NSW government school psychologists in the 21st century. (working title) PhD W. David McKie
The effects of computerised cognitive training on executive function, academic achievement and fluid intelligence in Year 3 and Year 5 students. (Auxiliary supervisor) MPhil David Hegarty
Retaining the first generation of professionally accredited teachers: A mixed methods study of second-stage teachers' career perceptions and goals PhD Natalie Johnston-Anderson


Selected publications

Books

  • Cerni, T., Curtis, G., & Colmar, S. . (2010). Cognitive-Experiential self theory and transformational leadership: Information-processing, educational leadership, conflict-handling styles. Mauritius: VDM Publishing House.

Book chapters

  • Martin, A., Nejad, H., Colmar, S. & Liem, A. (2014). From measurement to modeling: A case study of the development and implementation of the Adaptability Scale. In L. Kervin, S. McMahon, S. O'Shea & V. Harwood (Ed.), Digital storytelling : capturing the stories of mentors in Australian indigenous mentoring experience London: Sage.
  • Martin, A., Green, J., Colmar, S., Liem, A. & Marsh, H. W. (2011). Quantitative Modelling Of Correlational And Multilevel Data In Educational Research: A Construct Validity Approach To Exploring And Testing Theory. In Markauskaite, L., Freebody, P. & Irwin, J. (Ed.), Methodological Choice and Design: Scholarship, Policy and Practice in Social and Educational Research (pp. 209–224), New York: Springer.

Journal articles

  • Colmar, S., Double, K., Davis, N., Sheldon, L., Phillips, N., Cheng, M. & Briddon, S. (in press). Memory Mates: An evaluation of a classroom-based, student-focused working memory intervention. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools. DOI:10.1017/jgc.2020.9
  • Colmar, S., Liem, A., Connor, J. & Martin, A. (2019). Exploring the relationships between academic buoyancy, academic self-concept, and academic performance: A study of mathematics and reading among primary school students. Educational Psychology, 39(8), 1068–1089. DOI:10.1080/01443410.2019.1617409
  • Colmar, S. & Double, K. (2017). Working memory interventions with children: Classrooms or computers?. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 27(2), 264–277. DOI:10.1017/jgc.2017.11
  • Franceschini, S., Trevisan, P., Ronconi, L., Bertoni, S., Colmar, S., Double, K., Facoetti, A. & Gori, S. (2017). Action video games improve reading abilities and visual-to-auditory attentional shifting in English-speaking children with dyslexia. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 1–12. DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-05826-8
  • Colmar, S., Davis, N. & Sheldon, L. (2016). A Pilot Classroom-Based Study of Attention and Working Memory Strategies for Primary-Aged Students. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 26(1), 125–136. DOI:10.1017/jgc.2016.10
  • Gilroy, J., Donelly, M., Colmar, S. & Parmenter, T. (2016). Twelve factors that can influence the participation of Aboriginal people in disability services. Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin, 16(1).
  • Martin, A., Nejad, H., Colmar, S., Liem, A. & Collie, R, J. (2015). The role of adaptability in promoting control and reducing failure dynamics: A mediation model. Learning and Individual Differences, 38, 36–43. DOI:10.1016/j.lindif.2015.02.004
  • Colmar, S. (2014). A parent-based book-reading intervention for disadvantaged children with language difficulties. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 30(1), 79–90. DOI:10.1177/0265659013507296
  • Campbell, M. & Colmar, S. (2014). Current status and future trends of school counseling in Australia. Journal of Asia Pacific Counseling, 4(2), 181–197.
  • Cerni, T., Curtis, G. & Colmar, S. (2014). The cognitive information-processing systems of leaders and their relation to student learning outcomes. Journal of School Leadership, 24(2), 287–310.
  • Cerni, T., Curtis, G. & Colmar, S. (2014). Cognitive-Experiential Leadership Model: How leaders' information-processing systems can influence leadership styles, influencing tactics, conflict management, and organizational outcomes. Journal of Leadership Studies, 8(3), 26–39. DOI:10.1002/jls.21335
  • Davis, N., Sheldon, L. & Colmar, S. (2014). Memory Mates: A classroom-based intervention to improve attention and working memory. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 24(1), 111–120. DOI:10.1017/jgc.2013.23
  • Gilroy, J., Donelly, M., Colmar, S. & Parmenter, T. (2013). Conceptual Framework for Policy and Research Development With Indigenous People with a Disability. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2013(2), 42–58.
  • Martin, A., Nejad, H., Colmar, S. & Liam, A. (2013). Adaptability: How students' responses to uncertainty and novelty predict their academic and non-academic outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(3), 728–746. DOI:10.1037/a0032794
  • Arciuli, J., Villar, G., Colmar, S., Evans, D., Einfeld, S. & Parmenter, T. (2013). Home-based reading between mothers and their children with autism spectrum disorders. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 18(1), 17–33. DOI:10.1080/19404158.2012.747186
  • Liem, A., Martin, A., Porter, A. & Colmar, S. (2012). Sociocultural antecedents of academic motivation and achievement: role of values and achievement motives in achievement goals and academic performance. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 15(1), 1–13. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-839X.2011.01351.x
  • Parker, P., Martin, A., Colmar, S. & Liem, A. (2012). Teachers' workplace well-being: Exploring a process model of goal orientation, coping behavior, engagement, and burnout. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28(4), 503–515. DOI:10.1016/j.tate.2012.01.001
  • Cerni, T., Curtis, G. & Colmar, S. (2012). Cognitive-experiential self theory and conflict-handling styles: Rational and constructive experiential systems are related to the integrating and compromising conflict-handling styles. International Journal of Conflict Management, 23(4), 362–381. DOI:10.1108/10444061211267263
  • Toshack, T. & Colmar, S. (2012). A cyberbullying intervention with primary-aged students. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 22(2), 268–278. DOI:10.1017/jgc.2012.31
  • Martin, A., Nejad, H., Colmar, S. & Liem, A. (2012). Adaptability: Conceptual and empirical perspectives on responses to change, novelty and uncertainty. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 22(1), 58–81. DOI:10.1017/jgc.2012.8
  • Green, J., Liem, A., Martin, A., Colmar, S., Marsh, H. W. & McInerney, D. M. (2012). Academic motivation, self-concept, engagement, and performance in high school: Key processes from a longitudinal perspective. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 1111–1122. DOI:10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.02.01
  • Martinez, C., Martin, A., Liem, A. & Colmar, S. (2012). A longitudinal analysis of physical and psychological wellbeing amongst late adolescents: Exploring the transition from school to postschool life. Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 29(1), 17–43. DOI:10.1017/edp.2012.1
  • Colmar, S. (2011). A book reading intervention with mothers of children with language difficulties. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 36(2), 104–112.
  • Cerni, T., Curtis, G. & Colmar, S. (2010). Increasing transformational leadership by developing leaders' information-processing systems . Journal of Leadership Studies, 4(3), 51–65. DOI:10.1002/jls.20177
  • Cerni, T., Curtis, G. & Colmar, S. (2010). Executive coaching can enhance transformational leadership. International Coaching Psychology Review, 5(1), 83–87.
  • Martin, A., Colmar, S., Davey, L. & Marsh, H. W. (2010). Longitudinal modeling of academic buoyancy and motivation: Do the '5Cs' hold up over time? . British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(3), 473–496.
  • Brown, G. & Colmar, S. (2009). Historical and current perspectives on the necessary and sufficient components for effective classroom instruction . Special Education Perspectives, 18(1), 47–60.
  • Wilson, J, Colmar, S. (2008). Re-evaluating the significance of phonemic awareness and phonics in literacy teaching: The shared role of school counsellors and teachers. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 18(2), 89–105.
  • Cerni, T, Curtis, G, Colmar, S. (2008). Information Processing and Leadership Styles: Constructive Thinking and Transformational Leadership. Journal of Leadership Studies, 2(1), 60–73.
  • Colmar, S. (2008). Who parents and “counsels"?. Directions in Education, 17(2), 15th Feb–15th Feb.
  • Colmar, S. (2006). Books and Language Learning. Directions in Education, 15(17).
  • Colmar, S, Maxwell, A, Miller, L. (2006). Assessing intellectual disability in children: Are IQ measures sufficient, or even necessary?. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 16(2), 177–188.

Conference papers

  • Cerni, T., Curtis, G. & Colmar, S. (2013). Information-processing and Leadership: An Introductory Review and the Cognitive Leadership Model (CLM) . In V. Ribiere & L. Worasinchai Proceedings of ICMLG 2013: The International Conference on Management, Leadership and Governance (pp. 34–40). Bangkok, Thailand, 7-8 February.
  • Parker, P, Martin, A.J., Colmar, S, Debus, R. (2007). The Forgotten Helpers: A Psychosocial Model of Clergy Burnout. In Miner, M and Dowson, M Proceedings Annual Conference 2007 UWS Psychology and Spirituality Society. Spirituality in Australia: Psychological, Social and Religious Perspectives (pp. 153–163). University of Western Sydney, 20 July 2007.
  • Rider, N, Colmar, S. (2006). Reading achievement and reading self-concept in Year 3 students. In Jeffery, PL AARE Education Research. Creative Dissent: Constructive Solutions (pp. 1–Paper No). Parramatta, 27Nov-1 Dec 2005.

Other

  • Sheldon, L., Davis, N., & Colmar, S. . (2020). Memory Mates: A classroom-based intervention to improve attention and working memory in primary-aged students (Revised edition), .
  • Colmar, S., Davis, N., & Sheldon, L. (2020). Parents’ guide: Memory Mates for working with your child at home, .
  • Cerni, T. & Colmar, S. (2019). Closing the gap: Thinking styles and academic performance among senior high school students, 17th Hawaii International Conference on Education, Honolulu, January 5-8.
  • Colmar, S. (2018). Editorial: Applied practices, Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors, 28(2) 234.
  • Colmar, S. (2018). Editorial: Applied Practices, Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors, 28(1) 118-119.
  • Colmar, S. (2017). Unique student-focussed program to enhance learning, Psychologists in Schools Newsletter, 4 p.2.
  • Colmar, S. (2016). Editorial: Applied Practices , Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 26(2) 191-192.
  • Colmar, S. (2016). Editorial: Applied Practices, Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 26(1) 115-116.
  • Davis, N., Shedlon, L. & Colmar, S. (2016). Memory Mates (website), http://www.memorymates.education/.
  • Colmar, S. (2015). Editorial: Applied Practices, Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 25(1) 75-76.
  • Sheldon, L., Davis, N. & Colmar, S. (2015). Memory mates: A classroom-based intervention to improve attention and working memory in primary-aged students (booklet), .
  • Colmar, S., Davis, N. & Sheldon, L. (2015). Memory Mates: A set of classroom-based intervention strategies to improve attention and working memory in primary aged students (Workshop), Australian Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools Conference, Adelaide, 28 September.
  • Colmar, S., Davis, N. & Sheldon, L. (2015). Research on a classroom based working memory intervention: Memory Mates (Invited presentation), SE Sydney Region Conference of School Counsellors, St Georges, Sydney, 13 November.
  • Colmar, S. (2014). Editorial: Applied Practices, Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 24(1) 109-110.
  • Colmar, S. (2013). Editorial: Applied Practices , Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 23(2) 271-272.
  • Colmar, S. (2013). Attention and working memory, APACS (Australian Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools Association) NSW E-Newsletter, Term 4, 3.
  • Colmar, S. (2013). What is the optimal intensity of interaction between adult and child in their learning and language development? (Invited presentation) , Bowen Institute of Family Studies Conference, North Sydney, 20 June.
  • Colmar, S. (2012). Applied Practices: Perspectives from the Field Section within the Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 22(2) 266-267.
  • Nejad, H., Martin, A., Colmar, S. & Liem, A. (2012). Adaptability: Exploring its personality antecedents and well-being outcomes (presentation), European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Regensburg, Germany.
  • Maher, E. & Colmar, S. (2011). Promoting social responsiveness within a developmental relationship-based approach with primary caregivers and young children with autism, Asia Pacific Autism Conference (APAC) 2011, poster presentation.
  • Colmar, S. (2011). Parents as teachers: Benefits of book reading communication for young children with language difficulties (Invited presentation) , First Australian Parenting Conference, Darling Harbour Conference Centre, Sydney, February.
  • Maher, E. M. & Colmar, S. (2011). Promoting social responsiveness within a developmental relationship-based approach with primary caregivers and young children with autism, Asia Pacific Autism Conference (APAC) 2011, Perth, WA, 8-10 September.
  • Colmar, S. (2010). Language intervention research demonstrates significant improvements in children with language difficulties, Report produced for Australian Guidance and Counselling Association NSW Newsletter, April.
  • Colmar, S. (2010). Children’s language skills: A research report, Report produced for Australian Guidance and Counselling Association National Newsletter, September No.3.
  • Colmar, S. (2006). Talking less equals talking more, On Line Opinion: Australia's e-journal of social and political debate (Online 14/9/06) .