Recent Past Projects

Projects closed in 2018

Enquiries to Lin Brown, Research Officer.

Learning Links: Mitchell High School Action Research Professional Learning Program

Mitchell High School – $21,431



This consultancy involved a whole school approach to action research at Mitchell High School, Blacktown. The project consisted of a series of professional development sessions that explored action research methodology. The entire school staff attended each of the sessions run by Professor Wayne Sawyer and Associate Professor Catherine Attard and were grouped according to aspects of teaching they were interested in investigating rather than grouped by discipline or faculty. With the support of a number of academics from the School of Education each group developed a research question to investigate, undertook action research, collected and analysed evidence, and presented their work in a showcase day held at Western Sydney University, Penrith campus.

Evaluating the Impact of Online Tutoring

Funding Body: Your Tutor - $32,153



As part of the trend towards providing students with on-demand access to instructional assistance, has been the proliferation of online-tutoring services. Tutoring is a well-established, and effective, instructional method (Graesser, D’Mello, & Cade, 2011; King, Staffieri & Adelgais, 1998). However, there is a need for more empirical research to be directed toward investigating users’ experiences with online tutoring services, impacts on academic confidence (self-efficacy), and learning.

This study focussed on evaluating the tutoring service YourTutor, which provides on-demand online-tutoring to university students in domains such as writing, maths, and science. A theoretical model of interrelationships between students’ experiences with YourTutor, their academic confidence, and learning was tested. The theoretical model make reference to three highly influential theoretical frameworks: i) Technology Acceptance Model (TAM); ii) Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB); and iii) Social Cognitive Theory (SCT).

Fostering a Culture of Evaluation to Understand and Increase the Social Benefit of Community First Steps Initiatives

Funding Body: Community First Step - $17,689



Community First Step is a not-for-profit community organisation in Sydney’s South West, established in 1973, working with the local community to promote diversity and encourage unity. Its vision is “to support and empower people to overcome disadvantage and barriers to personal, social and economic growth by delivering inclusive and innovative services.” Its key services can be characterised as Community Services, Disability Services, and Children’s Services. Community First Step is committed to understanding the impact of its programs upon the community to inform its future direction and services.

This 12-month project sought to address two specific research aims:

1. Improve the processes and tools embedded within the organisation to systematically and sustainably evaluate the impact of two nominated programs.

2. Apply the new processes and tools to report on the observed changes for clients as they participated in two nominated programs.

Results of the mixed-method study provided the organisation with evaluation tools and procedures, founded on the construction of program logics, to use into the future in order to evaluate outcomes and therefore shape the direction of services. Additionally, a comparison of pre and post survey responses for clients demonstrated which program outcomes were currently being achieved, and most importantly, which program outcomes remained unchanged and thus required further development.

The Impact of Royal Botanic Gardens’ Community Greening Program on Perceived Health, Wellbeing, and Social Benefits in Social Housing Communities in NSW

Funding Body: Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust - $25,000



This study, funded by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, tracked six new garden sites in 2017 in NSW, in order to investigate the impact of participation in the Community Greening program on intra- and interpersonal outcomes, as well as community members’ perspectives of participation with community gardening. A mixed-method design with six new Community Greening gardens underpinned the study. Data collection included a pre and post questionnaire over a period of seven months, conducting post focus group interviews with community garden participants, and open-ended questionnaires with staff working at the community sites.

This research contributes towards advancing understanding about the impact of community gardening, particularly for enhancing the wellbeing of Australians living in social housing communities. Trends towards urbanisation and loss of green space have sparked concerns regarding population health and wellbeing, leading to a growing body of research on the impact of community gardens on adults and children. This is the first time a formal study has been conducted on the impact of the Community Greening program. The results from this study contribute to the growing body of scholarly literature supporting the benefits of participation in community gardening to health and wellbeing. The findings revealed participants’ self-reported impact on health and wellbeing was wide-ranging. While benefits varied within and across each community and are based on a small sample size, the findings suggest that community gardens contribute towards the provision of good quality housing and enhance social cohesion and sense of community. The significance of the study is also demonstrated through the recommendations stemming from the analysis, which provide directions for the future development of the program.

EUCLID: Improving Student Engagement in the Middle Years

Funding Body: NSW Department of Education, Queanbeyan - $53,404



The Euclid Project was conducted in the Queanbeyan Network of NSW Department of Education schools. This project was initiated by the Network Director, Matthew Brown, against a backdrop of falling standards in mathematics at local, state and national levels (Dinham, 2013; Masters, 2016). The project was the result of the Director’s vision and a series of conversations and meetings with colleagues and the lead researcher, a specialist in student engagement with mathematics. The philosophy underpinning the project was the shared belief that improved student engagement leading to long term academic improvement is ultimately driven by changes in teacher practice. Although the duration of the formal project activities was planned to span one school year, this was considered as a way to develop a culture of action research that would be ongoing, rather than simply the implementation of a finite project. In other words, promoting action research within the network as a ‘practice changing practice’ (Kemmis, McTaggart, & Nixon, 2014).

This research project also included an evaluation component which was commissioned to document and explore the implementation of the Euclid Project within and amongst the participating primary and secondary schools aimed at improving the students’ experiences of mathematics teaching and learning during the middle years with the view of improving the transition from secondary to primary school and, in time, overall mathematics achievement.

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