2020 Contemporary Approaches to Research in Mathematics, Science, Health and Environmental Education Symposium


Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and Environmental Education Research Group

Re-imagining futures in STEME

2020 Contemporary Approaches to Research in Mathematics, Science, Health and Environmental Education Symposium

Monday 23 – Wednesday 25 November 2020

9am – 1pm each day

ONLINE presentations and discussions via Zoom

Register online at  CAR Symposium.

Download the CAR Symposium flier to share with your colleagues.

Each year the ‘Contemporary approaches to research (CAR) in mathematics, science, health and environmental education’ symposium focuses on practical and theoretical aspects of a range of research methodologies – such as cross-cultural perspectives, activity theory, capturing complexity, classroom video analysis, quantitative methods, and interviewing – which are discussed in a lively, informal setting.
The symposium in 2020 will focus on practical and theoretical aspects of research methodology (as usual) and this year we are broadening our methodological focus to include the (new) materialists.

The program will include two keynote speakers and the themed sessions. The program starts at 9am and concludes at 1pm each of the three days.

Pre-recorded presentations at the symposium will be grouped into sessions of two to four with similar methodological foci, designed to promote substantive discussion of a methodological issue. Presentations might focus on a) details and settings of the application of a methodology in ways that unpack how the methodology can operate in different contexts, or b) a particular methodological issue, problem, or strategic decision that explores or extends a methodology. The methodological issues should be broadly related to mathematics, science, health, or environmental education. The presentations should provide a grounded practitioner’s perspective.

Following each group of presentations, there will be the opportunity for extended discussion of the focus methodological issue, which may explore different approaches within the methodology (in research design, instruments, theoretical framing, or approaches to analysis), or different methodological approaches to a problem (for instance making sense of teacher practice, or tracking change in learners).

Pre-recorded presentations will be 10-12 minutes in duration and should briefly outline the research question being addressed and may include the findings or likely outcomes of the research, but should focus mainly on the research methodology. Reports on work in progress are welcome.

We will host an informal book launch at the end of the first day – 1pm Monday. All are welcome.

We will also offer an opportunity to evaluate your participation in this symposium. The link to the online survey will be emailed during the third day of the symposium.

We will feature two keynote speakers introducing a methodological perspective. This year we have invited Michael Tan from National Institute of Education, Singapore as well as Dr. Jill Brown from Deakin University.

Keynote Speakers


Michael Tan from National Institute of Education, Singapore

Michael Tan is a Lecturer (Research Scientist) at the Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Never feeling grounded while growing up in the shadow of post-colonial Singapore’s confused identity, he visited Toronto, Canada as a graduate student only to become more bewildered about his place in the world. Now embracing doubt and porosity across boundaries as a lens to view the world, Michael is researching how the weak form of makerspaces can contribute to the learning of interdisciplinary innovativeness. Michael is the author of Makerspaces, Innovation, and Science Education: How, why, and what for? published by Routledge.

Title: Trust me, I am an expert: Researching contingent contexts for ecological validity

Abstract: Tracking shifts in epistemological thinking in the past century, we seem to have vacillated between an uncritical optimism about the possibility of scientific certainty, through to a radical scepticism about the separability of power and knowledge. In STEM education research contexts that we find ourselves now, we still desire some semblance of scientism, the result of which are findings which are correct, but not necessarily true. The research community has shifted its emphasis on studying what is in the mind, to what the mind is in, but such research still finds difficulty being accepted by decision makers desiring mechanistic control of schooling. While I will not offer any specific solutions (oh, the irony!), this talk seeks to open up a discussion on more or less productive means of thinking about contingency and ecological validity. 

Dr. Jill Brown from Deakin University

Jill Brown is a senior lecturer in mathematics education at Deakin University. Her research focuses on mathematics education with primary and secondary school students, and their teachers and future teachers. Jill’s research covers the overlapping sub-fields of mathematical functions, mathematical thinking (including mathematical modelling, reasoning, and proof), and teaching and learning mathematics in environments that include digital technologies. One of her most recent, of over 55, publications is a co-edited book, entitled Lines of Inquiry in Mathematical Modelling Research in Education published by Springer in 2019.

Title: Bridging the gap between evidence-based research, policy, and its implementation in classrooms

Abstract: Academics and policy makers often act as if initiatives – if evidence-based – are easily implemented. However, in reality, for many policy initiatives, there tends to be a big gap between the policy and what happens in the classroom. How do we synthesis the realities of classrooms and evidence-based research initiatives in a way that these will be successful, not only on a local scale but on a broader scale? This keynote, drawing on methodologies used in various research projects, will take an ecological perspective look at classrooms and teaching and learning, acknowledging the ‘fit between the mind and environment’. Analysis will focus at multiple levels, the macro (e.g., state initiative), the mesa (e.g., initiative by Department of Education), the micro (e.g., the school, but also the classroom) level taking a funnelling down and building up approach.



Due to shifting to an online conferencing this symposium is now free. Registration is essential to access the programming.

Register online at CAR Symposium. 


Expression of Interest

The closing date for expressions of interest is Friday 2nd October 2020.

If you are interested in presenting at this symposium please submit your expression of interest using the form below.  All submissions will be acknowledged upon receipt and reviewed mid October.  The draft program will be released by the end of October.

Presentation Expressions of Interest form


Presentations (pre-recorded)

All presentations must be recorded and uploaded to a platform of your choice (eg: youtube, vimeo, etc).  Send the presentation title, authors name/s, and abstract with the url by the 13th November and ensure that the video plays on a variety of browsers (email to peta.white@deakin.edu.au).  The presentation link will be embedded into the program.

Presentations are to be a maximum of 12 minutes long (please be respectful by keeping to time). A feature of the CAR Symposium program is the rich and collegial discussion.


Symposium Publication

All presenters are invited to submit a proposal for a written chapter of 5000 – 7000 words for consideration for publication in the Cambridge Scholars Publishing book series Contemporary Approaches to Research in STEM Education. Proposal are due 30th November 2020. Accepted chapters are due 15th February 2021.

The 2019 book titled: Methodological Approaches to STEM Education Research – Volume 1 will be showcased at the 2020 CAR Symposium.

CAR Coordinators: Alfred Deakin Professor Russell Tytler, Dr. Peta White, Dr. John Cripps Clark, and Dr. Joe Ferguson

Enquiries: please email Peta White (peta.white@deakin.edu.au)

Organised by the STEME Education Research Group in conjunction with the Research for Educational Impact (REDI) Centre

Posted Nov 7, 2019

23 November 2020, 9:00am to 25 November 2020