Research Programs

    CER Research Programs represent groups of researchers working on multiple projects contributing to a common theme. In 2020 three overarching research themes encapsulated significant work in the areas of social justice and inclusion, the connected STEM curriculum, and planetary health and wellbeing. Working within collaborative groups on related projects allows for new insights to be garnered that might otherwise go undetected. This collective approach helps to build the capacity of CER researchers through the sharing of research methodologies and approaches, enabling the building of new knowledge in these fields.

    2021 Research Programs

    Innovative and Alternative Learning Environments to Foster Engagement, Connectedness and Wellbeing


    Education for Social Justice and Inclusion

    Education for Social Justice and Inclusion  researchers investigate embedded and emergent educational inequalities, towards new ways of understanding, reframing and redressing such inequalities. Program members draw on frames of reference from diverse social, cultural and linguistic knowledges that students, teachers, families and communities bring to educational settings. Our research identifies how education can better meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities; and marginalised young people in uncertain times. We build on our strong foundation of research in low SES contexts, carrying out award-winning research into a wide range of education contexts, including early education, community education, school-based and teacher education.

    The research questions that drive our work are:

    1. How can educational settings better understand and respond to the educational needs of young people and communities in times that are exacerbated by unprecedented local, national and global challenges?

    2. What new research methodologies offer fresh insights into the problem of exclusion of particular groups in conventional measure of success and disengagement of young people and their families?

    3. What kinds of pedagogies and polices will productively engage with the linguistic, cultural and knowledge repertoires of students for educational success?

    4. How do education-related institutions and policies serve the interests of democratic participation, social justice and inclusion for the common good?

    ConnectED: Learning for the future

    The problem of STEM disengagement is an issue of international significance. Under-representation of girls in STEM subjects, for example, is an issue across many countries, particularly in the West. Therefore, while ConnectED focuses on needs within the Western Sydney region, the findings from this research program will be relevant nationally and internationally. WSU’s Centre for Educational Research partners with government, other universities, schools and other educational institutions to achieve a body of research and practice improvement that is evidenced and actionable.

    The ConnectED research program, dedicated to enhancing engagement with STEM subjects, addresses the following broad research questions:

    1. What are the individual, school, and community factors that influence STEM engagement in the Western Sydney context?

    2. How can student engagement and participation in STEM be improved in Western Sydney schools and beyond?

    Planetary Wellbeing and Human Learning

    This collective of CER researchers and doctoral students researches planetary wellbeing and human learning in our local (Darug, Gundungurra, D’harawal and Gadagal countries) and international contexts.

    The research program has been maintained during Covid conditions through developing collective online exchanges; and through sharing our research activities in relation to planetary wellbeing – activities that support our own ongoing wellbeing and creativity as well as the wellbeing of our planet. These include small construction activities and caretaking in our home gardens; walking in bushlands to learn Country through observing all the plants, animals, birds, insects and weather conditions that shape our worlds; and Indigenous notions of Country.

    We have also shared the significance of music-making and singing as part of the very significant contribution of the creative arts to both human and planetary wellbeing. These activities have helped us to maintain our own creative and academic practices.

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