Conference Papers

The Progress of Grade 1 Students who Participated in an Extending Mathematical Understanding Intervention Program, 2012


The Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) Program is a specialised mathematics program that aims to accelerate the learning of Grade 1 students who struggle with learning school mathematics. Forty-two students participated in an EMU Program in 2010 as part of the
Bridging the Numeracy Gap (BTNG) project.

Analysis of students’ mathematics knowledge at the beginning of the EMU Program highlighted how diverse was this group of students. The students’ mathematics knowledge was assessed again at the beginning of the following year in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the program for accelerating learning. Overall the students made very good progress and their learning was maintained.

Insights about Children's Understanding of 2-Digit and 3-Digit Numbers, 2011

Teresa Hadden, Kathie Turkenburg, Kate Bevan, Carole Livesey, Melissa Croswell and Julie Southwell (Ballarat, Sandhurst, Sale and Western Australia Catholic Education Offices)


Five interpretive place value tasks were added to the Early Numeracy Interview (ENI) to gain further insight about students’ construction of conceptual knowledge associated with 2-digit and 3-digit numbers. The researchers hypothesised that even though some students were successful at reading, writing and ordering numbers, interpreting multi-digit numbers for problem solving remained a struggle for them. 

Analyses of students’ responses showed that the new tasks distinguished students who previously were assessed as understanding 2-digit or 3-digit numbers, but who could not identify 50 or 150 on a number line or state the total of collections reduced or increased by ten. The new tasks assist teachers to identify students who need further instruction to fully understand 2-digit and 3-digit numbers.

Insights from Aboriginal Teaching Assistants about the Impact of the Bridging the Numeracy Gap Program in a Kimberley Catholic School, 2011

As part of the Bridging the Numeracy Gap Project, four Catholic schools in the Kimberley appointed Key Aboriginal Teaching Assistants in Numeracy who, along with a classroom teacher from the school, participated in a 6-day professional learning program aimed at developing their mathematics teaching and leadership.

At the end of 2010, audio-taped conversations took place to gain insight about the impact of the Project on learning and teaching mathematics at the school. Analysis of these data demonstrated that Aboriginal Teaching Assistants had clear views about the positive impact of project and of how to improve Aboriginal students' opportunities to learn mathematics at school.

Bridging the Numeracy Gap for Students in Low SES Communities: The Power of a Whole School Approach, 2010

Kathie Turkenburg, Kate Bevan, Carole Livesey, Deirdre Thompson, Melissa Croswell and Julie Southwell (Ballarat, Sandhurst, Sale and Western Australia Catholic Education Offices)


This paper explores the impact of the Bridging the Numeracy Gap Project on the whole - number learning of Prep and Grade 1 students living in a low SES community. 

The findings suggest that an approach that includes a specialist mathematics teacher who provides specialised programs for mathematically vulnerable students, and who works in partnership with classroom teachers to design individual learning plans, and classroom mathematics programs that cater for the diverse range of students’ learning needs, has a positive effect on mathematics learning and instruction.

Homework: Its forms and functions revisited, 2010


Homework is seen by many teachers and parents as a useful strategy to promote student learning. However, there are persistent voices claiming that homework is ineffective and should not be used as a teaching and learning strategy. Using data visualisation techniques, the paper introduces a taxonomy of homework. In its examination of current debates about the various forms and functions of homework, this paper draws on the recently completed comprehensive review of the homework literature by the Canadian Council of Learning (2009).

A key finding of the Canadian review is that the positive effect of homework on academic performance can be attributed to two interrelated factors: (a) highly developed learning-to-learn skills and (b) intrinsic motivation. In the absence of these personal attributes, homework is unlikely to be successful in fulfilling its desired outcomes.

Hence, this paper concludes that investing in the teaching and learning of ‘soft’ skills in formal and informal learning situations is what is most urgently needed.

Unlocking the potential of multimodal representation (MMR) to foster dialogue that promotes learning in science, 2010


Science employs multimodal representation as a set of cultural tools that facilitate the ‘doing’, knowing and understanding of science. The use of MMRs in science has evolved over time to reflect the nature of science. Research has highlighted the need to ‘unlock the potential’ of effective language use to support enhanced student learning.

How do we approach this challenge? Multimodal representation requires far more than control over the conventions of language, it requires the ability to combine and use MMRs appropriately and flexibly in a variety of contexts. This is the first chapter in the story of how students use MMRs. The story begins towards the end of school life for a group of students, but generates questions that point to the need for dialogue between teachers at all levels of students’ schooling. It provides some tentative suggestions for the kinds of things that teachers could do to enhance learning through MMR.

Research at CEWA

The L.E.A.D. Project - Leading Educational Achievement through Dialogue, 2010


The Australian Government Quality Teacher Program L.E.A.D. Project (2010-2013) is an initiative of the Learning and Teaching Team at Catholic Education Western Australia that explores processes for leading and managing system-wide change in education. As part of the first phase of project activities, the University of Notre Dame Australia was funded to undertake research that would inform a systematic process for building and sustaining cross-system collaboration. 


The L.E.A.D. Project (The Report of the Research Team, School of Education, University of Notre Dame Australia) is the report of the research team from the University of Notre Dame Australia funded by the Australian Government Quality Teacher Program. It is a multi-site case study which gathered data on high performing secondary schools in the Catholic system of Western Australia.

In mid 2010 the School of Education at the University of Notre Dame was approached by the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia, to partner them in an Australian Government Quality Teacher Program to investigate the characteristics of schools achieving high results in the Tertiary Entrance Examinations (TEE) in the Catholic school system. Using systemic data from Catholic Education WA (CEWA) the research aimed to:
  • Identify characteristics of successful teaching in the tertiary entrance exam context
  • Identify cultural characteristics of successful schools

  • Identify characteristics of leaders in successful schools

  • Gain evidence and use findings to inform whole school improvement plans in other Catholic schools

  • Build on the literature in the field.

The data was gathered from 9 secondary schools in the Catholic system. All Principals and Deputy Pricipals (Curriculum) were interviewed for the study. Focus groups of Heads of Learning were interviewed, in total 32 Heads of Learning participated.

Focus groups of teachers were interviewed, in total 38 teachers participated in the interviews. Focus groups of recent past students were interviewed, in total 26 past students participated in the interviews. Focus groups of parents were interviewed and 28 parents participated.