PCK Symposium

Click here to learn about the symposium and public session on Pedagogical Content Knowledge in Science Education.

Current Doctoral Research Students


Louise-frameLouise Milne

About her research: The LEOTC milieu as a setting for junior primary students learning in technology education.

This is an investigation into how best to structure the learning experiences of young children learning outside the classroom, and, how this relates to teaching and learning in technology education. By observing and analysing student behaviour I hope to identify aspects of planning that will impact on the effectiveness of working within the LEOTC genre. What and how young children learn in environments other than their usual classroom, and the degree to which novel experiences can detract or enhance the value of learning, may have implications for other educators working in this field.

John-frameJohn Lockley

Dissertation: Curriculum and pedagogy development in education for sustainability in New Zealand schools.

John’s research is into the way teachers develop local curriculum and develop classroom practice to address national curriculum policy in the area of education for sustainability.

Franco-frameFranco Rodie

Dissertation: Solomon Islands Year Nine Science Teachers’ Summative Assessment Practices

The purpose of this exploratory study is to investigate the perceptions, experiences and practices of six secondary science teachers concerning school-based assessments that serve a summative purpose. The study is divided into two parts. The first part involves a baseline study which explores the teachers’ existing summative assessment practices with the intent to identify their professional development needs. The second part involves an intervention study, which aims to build the science teachers’ summative assessment practices, so that they can play a significant part in all summative assessments of their students.

Irene-frameIrene Barnett

Dissertation: Improving the Teaching and Learning in Undergraduate Physics Laboratories

Many factors impact the success of laboratory learning. My thesis investigates a factor seldom discussed; the impact demonstrators have on possible student learning and how this is affected by their work environment. Using a first year laboratory course, I compare an environment dominated by reification to one similar in character to a professional learning community.

Fauziah-frameFauziah Sulaiman

Dissertation: Tertiary Physics Education

My research revolves on a new approach of teaching and learning especially in physics course. I am using constructivist epistemology which is teaching and learning using problem-based learning (PBL) approach. It is being hoping that it will integrate students’ creativity and critical thinking especially amongst undergraduate in Malaysia. The teaching and learning process delivered via e-learning as an alternative ways rather than using conventional approach using face-to-face instruction.

Claudio-frameClaudio Aguayo

Dissertation: Education for Sustainability (EfS) and Information and Communication Technology (ICT): Use of EfS websites for community education in Chile

Within a systems thinking and complexity theory approach, the purpose of my research is to address some of the current sustainability issues affecting Chile using ICT tools. The topic of my research is to investigate the use of education for sustainability (EfS) websites for community education at the non-formal level in Chile. The main goal of such websites is to promote both understanding and action towards sustainable living amongst community members.

NHong-frameNhung Hong

Dissertation: Enhancing flexible and constructivist learning by integrating information and communication technology

In recent years, the School of Education (SOE) of Can Tho University has had a very strong innovation in teaching methods. Learning and teaching processes are being changed from the teacher-centered to the students-centered approach. As one of the departments of SOE, the Physics Department follows the innovative stream of SOE. A large number of Physics courses are taught via new teaching methods. However, many other Physics courses are still being taught in the traditional ways. In those courses, instructors are the center of teaching and learning processes. They teach through traditional methods. In class, students sit in one place, listen to the teachers and write in their notebooks. They rarely have group discussion, group-work, and so on. The interaction between instructors – students and between students – students is missing. This thesis will explore and implement alternatives to traditional physics teaching.

Vincent-frameVicent Naano Anney

Dissertation: Professional Development Approaches for Supporting Licensed Science and Mathematics Teachers (LSMT) in Tanzanian Community Secondary Schools: A Qualitative Investigation.

Secondary Education Development Plan (SEDP) reforms in Tanzania caused shortage science and mathematics teachers in community secondary schools. Local communities in rural and peri-urban areas constructed many secondary schools than the available teaching resource and the capacity that teacher education institutions system can train. Government intervene the shortage of teachers by licensing high school graduate trained induction course for four weeks to teach in community schools in rural areas. Moreover, because of severe shortage the local community school boards through head of schools also employed unlicensed high school graduates to teach and parents pay their salaries.

This study will try to investigate the professional development interventions that are relevant at ward-based level to help the untrained licensed science and mathematics teachers in community secondary schools to acquire skills, knowledge and attitudes for teaching science and mathematics.

Alcuin-frameAlcuin Ivor Mwalongo

Dissertation: Student teachers’ perceptions about learning management systems as tools for promoting critical thinking.

The study uses a pragmatist paradigm to examine student teachers’ perceptions about Moodle tools such as online asynchronous discussion forums, quizzes and wikis for promoting critical thinking.

Since previous research studies have measured the cognitive skills and dispositional components of critical thinking separately, and using different instruments; this study will develop an instrument to measure both components of critical thinking at the same time as the two components are inseparable. Finally, to give a balanced picture of an individual’s thinking, the study will measure both critical thinking and uncritical thinking as the latter has received less attention in studies related to online learning environments.

Dilani-frameDilani Pahala Gedera

Dissertation: An Activity Theory analysis of mediational engagement with e-learning activities in tertiary level education in New Zealand.

Many universities and institutions are incorporating components of e-learning into their programs with the intention of offering distant learning courses or improving traditional mode of course delivery. In the integration of e-learning activities, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration. Some of these factors are the type of technology, the instructors’ competencies with technology, students’ motivation and their willingness to use the implemented technology, collaborative learning environment, and most importantly the ways that students engage with e-learning activities are significant. As such, this research aims to explore and examine the factors that affect mediational engagement with e-learning activities in tertiary level education in New Zealand.

Sangion-frameSangion Appiee Tiu

My proposed study aims to explore indigenous perceptions of sustainability principles and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), and examine the relationship between them. It also aims to find out how decisions on such issues are made in different communities in Papua New Guinea in order to inform the development of a policy framework on sustainability. Furthermore, the study aims to find out how this policy framework for sustainability can be translated into education practices.

Lorraine-frameLorraine Lia Evening

Dissertation: Enhancing the experiences of Māori and Pacific students in science at university.

The purpose of my PhD study is two-fold – (i) to gain a deeper understanding of the first year experiences of Māori and Pacific students in science at university and (ii) to investigate how these experiences can be enhanced by way of an intervention.

The questions to be explored in my study are:

  • What are the experiences of Māori and Pacific students in science at university that lead them to succeed?
  • How can the experiences of Māori and Pacific students be enhanced in their first year of science at university?

Unlike previous studies which tend to construct Māori and Pacific students as the “problem”, this study will reject deficit approaches and explore enabling factors, particularly institutional /structural and socio-cultural factors within universities that can enhance learning and outcomes for Māori and Pacific students.

Underpinning this research is the assumption that it will aim to make a positive difference for Māori and Pacific peoples. This is consistent with the values of Kaupapa Māori and Pacific research protocols.

Susan-frameSusan Pudin


My research aims to develop an environmental education programme together with local communities and independent oil palm smallholders in Sabah, Malaysia focusing on sustainable waste management practices. Solid waste disposal is one of the major environmental problems in both cities and rural areas in Sabah. I am also looking at agricultural wastes because agriculture is one of the main economic activities besides tourism and manufacturing. The research focuses on community and adult environmental education as adults play a major role in decision-making and creating impacts in communities.

Nelson-frameNelson Cyril

Dissertation:An Investigation of Malaysian Secondary School Students’ Mental Models of Acid-Base Chemistry
Previous research on the learning of acid-base chemistry learning focused on learning a single acid-base chemistry model. Each of these models has limitations but scientists often still use them, resulting in confusion among secondary school students. This study aims to explore Malaysian secondary students’ mental models for three acid-base models, and students’ modeling ability in acquiring acid-base chemistry knowledge.



Research: The Development of a Model for the Integration of Science, Mathematics and Technology in a Technological Design Context

This research will be observing how students actually integrate science, mathematics and technology in a technology classroom and the practices introduced by the teacher to integrate these subjects. This long research study will provide a detailed insight into students’ perceptions about integration and any categorisation of knowledge (science, mathematics and technology) they bring in a technology classroom providing a rich experience for learning. It is the intent of this research that a process model will be developed for technology teachers, practitioners, STEM educators who wish to enact this model in a technology classroom to effectively integrate science, mathematics and technology to enrich individual knowledge in an effective manner.

FarshadFarshad Hashemzadeh

Research: Environmental Awareness, Attitudes and Behaviour of Secondary School Students and Teachers in Tehran/Iran

Environmental issues such as air pollution, water contamination and depletion of natural resources are increasing in Iran. One of the best ways to address these issues is through Environmental Education (EE) in secondary schools. By doing so, students are equipped to make good decisions about how to address these challenges. EE attempts to develop students’ and teachers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards environmental problems. Therefore, this research will investigate the existing state of EE in secondary schools in Tehran, Iran.