MERGA members achieve ARC success


MERGA members have played a significant and leading role in recently awarded ARC projects. This is an acknowledgement of what we already know - that MERGA members are at the cutting edge of research into education more broadly and mathematics education in particular.

November 2017 Announcement


Discovery Early Career Researcher Award


Dr Amy MacDonald

This project aims to investigate mathematics education for babies and toddlers by focussing on the practices of the educators who work with children aged under three years. This project expects to generate new knowledge about when and how mathematical experiences are provided for children in Under 3s settings. It will contribute to the current agenda of enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) participation and outcomes by elucidating the early mathematics education base upon which STEM education can build. Findings will inform the development of professional learning materials for Under 3s settings and will enhance pedagogical approaches to support high-quality mathematics education for very young children.

Discovery Project Awards


Professor Lyn English; Dr Donna King; Associate Professor Tamara Moore; Assistant Professor Nicholas Mousoulides
This project aims to introduce a new approach to advancing mathematics learning and problem solving across grades four to six. This project expects to generate new knowledge by building on primary school students’ science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) competencies across several years. The project will establish critical foundations for advancing core mathematics content and multidisciplinary problem-solving knowledge. Expected outcomes include evidence based findings and resources to inform ways to stimulate, sustain, and improve achievement across the STEM disciplines.


Professor Russell Tytler; Professor Joanne Mulligan; Dr Lihua Xu; Dr Peta White; Associate Professor Leona Schauble; Professor Richard Lehrer; Professor Vaughan Prain
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 United States of America (USA), 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.

Professor Jennifer Gore; Dr Andrew Miller; Dr Jessica Harris; Dr Elena Prieto; Professor David Lubans; Associate Professor Peter Howley; Dr Julie Bowe
Investigating the efficacy, complexity and sustainability of teacher change. This project aims to investigate the path from professional development to changes in teaching practices and student achievement. As a randomised controlled trial, this study integrates sophisticated quantitative and qualitative methods, driving innovation in educational research. Expected outcomes include significant insights into how professional development can impact measurably in ways that benefit the ongoing renewal of Australia's teachers to enhance student outcomes. This project will provide evidence to inform teacher development policy and practice in order to enhance student outcomes.

November 2016 Announcement


Discovery Project Awards


Professor David Clarke
; Professor Douglas Clarke; Professor Yiming Cao; Professor Dr Andrea PeterKoop

This project aims to study teacher in class learning for the improvement of teaching. Teachers learn from the act of teaching a lesson. Do teachers in different countries attend to different things and what do they learn from teaching a lesson? This project will create controlled conditions using purposefully designed and trialled lesson plans to investigate the process of teacher knowledge construction. This project combines focused case studies and an online survey of mathematics teachers’ selective attention and consequent learning in Australia, China and Germany. This project is expected to optimise teacher learning during the design and teaching of lessons.

Professor David Clarke; Professor Yiming Cao
This project aims to investigate aspects of learning for which “the social” is the most fundamental and useful level of explanation, modelling and instructional intervention. Interactive problem solving and learning are priorities in contemporary education, but have proven difficult to research. This project will use Australian and Chinese research facilities to investigate social interactions and classroom learning by strategically orchestrating conditions for collaborative problem solving and knowledge construction by mathematics students in two very different cultures and pedagogical traditions. Outcomes from this project are expected to identify and optimise the function of social interaction in learning.

Associate Professor Vince Geiger; Associate Professor Gloria Stillman; Dr Jill Brown; Hon. Professor Peter Galbraith; Professor Dr Mogens Niss
This project aims to identify, apply and refine teaching approaches that help secondary students learn mathematical modelling, using mathematics to solve real world problems. The study will investigate the mathematical, cognitive, social and environmental factors that "enable" Year 10/11 students to develop mathematical representations of a real world problem. This project expects to generate theoretical and practical insights into how these enablers promote successful modelling, tasks that support students' development as modellers, and effective teaching approaches that promote student capability and interest in mathematics.

Professor Thomas Lowrie; Professor Robyn Jorgensen
The project aims to understand the influence of Spatial Reasoning on school mathematics. Spatial Reasoning skills are a significant predictor of achievement in mathematics, and will become increasingly necessary in digital and dynamic environments. Opportunities for disadvantaged students to develop such reasoning skills are limited; they are typically not taught in schools. The project investigates the role and nature of Spatial Reasoning in students’ mathematics development; and substantiates the long term effect of a spatial learning programme on educationally disadvantaged students’ mathematics performance and reasoning. This project is expected to improve disadvantaged students’ spatial reasoning and mathematics skills and their life opportunities.

Associate Professor Katie Makar; Dr Jill FieldingWells
This project aims to study inquiry norms in primary mathematics classrooms, including expert teachers’ signature practices, how norms are developed and their effect on learning. Classroom norms dictate the learning environment in school mathematics, but many students have lost interest in STEM subjects. This project aims to boost inquiry norms that engage students in productive social interactions, improve their mathematical knowledge and their interest in, valuing of and capacity to solve complex problems.

Professor Joanne Mulligan; Dr Geoffrey Woolcott; Associate Professor Michael Mitchelmore; Professor Dr Andrew Davis
This project aims to create a framework based on spatial reasoning that identifies pathways for mathematics learning, pedagogy and curriculum. Realising Australia’s Innovation and Science Agenda fundamentally rests on transforming the nation's mathematical capacity. Spatial reasoning, an emerging transdisciplinary area, is integral to all human learning, particularly for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. This project will map the unknown complex systems linking spatial and mathematical concepts, and design, implement and evaluate a longitudinal intervention study of primary students, including tracking of highly able students. This will lead to more highly skilled and adaptive citizens.