Project team and partner organisations

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Exploring problem-based learning in school-based STEM education

Project team and partner organisations

Our team represents a collaboration between researchers at Monash University, the University of Queensland, Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools and Brisbane Catholic Education.

Chief investigators

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Dr Kathy Smith (Project Lead)

Monash Education

Kathy Smith is a Senior Lecturer  in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. Her research actively positions teachers as self-directed learners and co researchers and her research findings and publications have ensured teacher expertise is accessible to enrich the professional perspectives of other educators. Her work in science and STEM education has advanced knowledge of teacher professional learning, scientific literacy and whole school change. Kathy’s research has impacted education sectors across Australia and internationally.

Kathy's research profile

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Emeritus Professor Deb Corrigan

Monash Education

Deborah Corrigan is a Professor of Science Education at Monash University. Her research focuses on science that is relevant and useful to learners and she explores the values that underpin knowledge in science and STEM more broadly. Prior to becoming a science education researcher, Deborah was a chemistry and biology teacher.

Deb's research profile

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Professor Mandi Berry

Monash Education

Amanda Berry is a Professor in STEM Education at Monash University. Amanda has a distinguished international profile in science education research, particularly science teacher knowledge, including pedagogical content knowledge. Amanda has led numerous projects at state, national and international levels focusing on innovations in science teaching and learning and the development of teacher knowledge and practice. Amanda is currently CI on two ARC projects focusing on interdisciplinary science and mathematics learning, and problem-based learning in STEM Education.

Mandi's research profile

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Associate Professor Nicoleta Maynard

Monash Engineering

Nicoleta Maynard is an Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering and the Director of Engineering Education at Monash University. In her role, Nicoleta is working with academic staff and students across Engineering, Organisational Psychology and Education to establish communities of practice, aimed to develop students’ employability skills.  Her research, focused on employing Engineering Education Research Methodologies and Methods to develop, implement and assess innovative curriculum models, is aimed to enhance engineering students’ design, teamwork, leadership and reflective practice skills. Through her ARC grants and collaborations, Nicoleta has been working to develop strategies to raise awareness and embed STEM Education in schools.

Nicoleta's research profile

Jennifer Mansfield

Dr Jen Mansfield

Monash Education

Jennifer Mansfield is a science teacher educator in the Faculty of Education, Monash University. Jennifer's passion for science and science education has seen her work as a scientist and secondary school science teacher before transitioning into pre-service teacher education. Her research interests include the development of teachers' professional knowledge of practice and the development of teachers' understanding and attitudes about science education, in particular science as a human endeavour and the nature of science.

Jen's research profile

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Dr Peter Ellerton

University of Queensland (UQ)

Peter Ellerton is Curriculum Director of the University of Queensland (UQ) Critical Thinking Project and Senior Lecturer in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry and the School of Education at UQ. Peter’s areas of focus include Public Reasoning, Science Communication, Argumentation and Critical Thinking in education. Peter has been a teacher, teacher educator and a syllabus designer for state and national bodies and his passion is working with educators to enable a teaching for Thinking focus across all year levels and subject areas.

Peter's research profile

Project partners

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Shelley Waldon

Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS)

Shelley Waldon has experience working with industry, government, cultural and educational organisations. As a Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) school representative on steering committees for cross-sectoral STEM-education, Shelley is recognised as a leader in the field of STEM education and an enabler, advancing STEM education in Catholic schools utilising the trusting relationship she has established with teachers and schools. In her present role as the MACS Science & STEM Lead, Shelley Waldon leads STEM conferences, student showcases, workshops and professional learning for Catholic schools.

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Dr Doug Ashleigh

Brisbane Catholic Education

Dr Doug Ashleigh is currently Deputy Executive Director and Learning Services Executive at Brisbane Catholic Education. In this role, Doug has responsibility for the Directorate of Learning Services with specific responsibility for Learning and Teaching, School Progress and Performance, School Operations and Information Communication and Technology services across 146 schools involving 76,000 students and 12,500 staff. Having worked in education for 39 years, Doug is a highly experienced educational leader. He has led large and complex teams and directorates, including Learning and Teaching, School Improvement, Information Communication Technologies, Finance, School Development and Planning, and Corporate Services. Within these roles, Doug has demonstrated a proven ability to lead strategically, delivering on planned outcomes within budget and resource constraints. Doug has a strong academic background holding a Doctor of Education focused on Educational Change, a Master in Theology and a Master of Education. Most recently, Doug completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors course and holds the accreditation of GAICD.

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Dr Charlotte Pezaro

Brisbane Catholic Education

Dr Charlotte Pezaro is passionate about primary teaching, science education, teaching for thinking, and teacher decision-making. She enjoys working with teachers to become capable and confident teachers of science, mathematics, and technology. Charlotte completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology), a Graduate Bachelor of Education (Primary), and holds a PhD in science education from the University of Queensland. In her research, she examined the claim made in many curriculum documents around the world that “learning science helps people to make good decisions.” (Spoiler alert - it depends on how it’s taught!). She was a primary school teacher with Education Queensland for 6 years, teaching in remote, regional, and city locations. She also developed and coordinated several courses in the Primary initial teacher education programs at the University of Queensland, and volunteered on the executive of the Science Teachers’ Association of Queensland.  Today, Charlotte is proud to be working with schools and teachers across Brisbane Catholic Education, as they build their confidence and capacity to teach mathematics most effectively for their students in their classrooms.

Research assistants

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Tabetha Spiteri

Monash Education

Tabetha Spiteri a former secondary school STEM teacher and STEM coordinator, and a current Research Assistant and Teaching Associate in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. She is also a Convenor of the Monash Education Research Community (MERC) and a member of the Monash Science Education Research Group (SERG). Tabetha is also a Monash Education PhD Candidate researching girls’ experiences of integrated STEM education. She has a keen interest in STEM education, inclusion, gender, and STEM identity development.

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Dr Tanya Stephenson

Monash Education

Tanya Stephenson is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Monash University, passionate about advancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Her doctoral project focused on early childhood teacher practices to encourage girls in STEM, contributing to a larger programmatic study developing a national model for the intentional teaching of STEM in play-based settings. Tanya is a member of the Monash Science Education Research Group (SERG). She has a strong interest in STEM education, equity, diversity, educational psychology, and teacher professional development.

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Dr Timothy Smith

University of Queensland (UQ)

A former physics teacher, Dr Timothy Smith completed his doctoral research into Cognitive Acceleration in 2021.  His study examined the far-transfer effects of Thinking Science (CASE), a program that he has taught, and promoted, for the last 20 years.  Tim continues to advocate for the teaching of thinking as a research assistant and sessional lecturer at the University of Queensland, and as an independent consultant.

Partner organisations

Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools aims to provide children and young people in the Archdiocese of Melbourne with a Catholic education that fosters a formation of the whole person that is deeply and enduringly humanising.

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University of Queensland is one of Australia’s leading research and teaching institutions. We strive for excellence through the creation, preservation, transfer and application of knowledge. For more than a century, we have educated and worked with outstanding people to deliver knowledge leadership for a better world.

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Brisbane Catholic Education is a faith-filled learning community. The first Catholic school began in 1845 in Brisbane’s CBD. Today, in 146 schools, Brisbane Catholic Education provides quality teaching and learning outcomes, creating a better future for Prep to Year 12 students. We cover an area that includes most of south-east Queensland spanning Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Ipswich; the Lockyer and Brisbane valleys, the South Burnett district and the Fraser Coast.

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