Associate Researchers


Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and Environmental Education Research Group

Re-imagining futures in STEME

Associate Researchers

Associate Professor Peter Hubber

Peter was Associate Professor of Science Education at Deakin University. He spent 22 years in the classroom as a science (Physics) and mathematics teacher before coming to Deakin University in 2000. He has researched and written extensively on student learning in science particularly around the role of representation in reasoning and learning, and pedagogy and teacher and school change. He has a strong record in professional development, working with teachers and schools in local, state and federal initiatives. He has led major professional learning initiatives for the Victorian Government, such as the Switched on Secondary Science Professional Learning (SOSSPL) program and Secondary STEM Catalyst Professional Learning Program. He has had experience in the role of VCE Physics Examiner and Assessor for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA).

    Professor Vaughan Prain

    Vaughan has a strong international record in science education research including the role of writing for learning in science, and more recently in how this mode relates to other modes, such as visual, mathematical and embodied modes in constructing understanding of scientific concepts and processes. His current research focus includes the development of STEM education, and how constitutive subjects in this multi-disciplinary approach to curricular renewal can support quality applied learning within and across these disciplines. He is also researching how learning in science can be enhanced by incorporating strategies and approaches used in other subjects, including visual arts. He currently participates in ARC-funded research to reform science education in primary and secondary schools, with a particular focus on schools with low SES profiles.

    Dr. Brian Doig

    Brian has worked for many years in the field of teacher education, mainly with Primary and Pre-school aspirants. He has also worked as a psychometrician, particularly in large-scale international assessment programmes such as TIMSS and PISA. More recently he, along with Professor Julian Williams of the University of Manchester, completed the edited book Interdisciplinary Mathematics Education: The state of the art and beyond which canvassed an international range of STEM research and practices. Currently he is writing up research results from the Modelling Motion: Developing mathematics concepts through STEM activities, an Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers and Australian Academy of Science-funded research project.


    Recent publications:

    • Doig, B., Williams, J., Swanson, D., Borromeo, R., & Drake, P. (Eds.). (2019). Interdisciplinary Mathematics Education. Cham: Springer.
    • Ompok, C., Doig, B., & Tambagas, M. (2018). Patterns of Young Children’s Number Sense Development as Assessed by How Many Hidden Game. Journal of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development, 4(2).
    • Widjaja, W., Vale, C., & Doig, B. (2019). Nothing like planning and reflecting together to build trust. In G. Lloyd (Ed.), International Handbook on Mathematics Teacher Education 2019 (Vol. 3).

    Dr. Joe Ferguson

    Joe is a STEME post doctoral and an educational researcher interested in investigating the various manifestations of reasoning in the science classroom, particularly reasoning of a creative kind. Through video-based methodologies and in-depth exploration of the philosophies and theories that underpin inquiry practices, Joseph seeks to add to efforts to clarify what it means for teachers and students to enact inquiry in the classroom. As an environmental educator often working beyond the confines of the traditional classroom, Joseph strives in his daily living and teaching to enact the types of relationships with the natural and human worlds that he supports his students to work towards in this challenging age of the Anthropocene.


    Recent publications:

    • Aranda G., & Ferguson, J. (2018). Unplugged programming; The future of teaching computational thinking. Pedagogika, 68(3), 279-292.
    • Ferguson, J. P., Aranda, G., Tytler, R., & Gorur, R. (2018). Video research – Purposeful selection from rich data sets. In Xu, L., Aranda, G., & Clarke, D. (Eds.), Video-based research in education – Cross-disciplinary perspectives (pp. 124-139). Rotterdam: Routledge.
    • Ferguson, J. P. (2018). Students are not inferential-misfits: Naturalising logic in the science classroom. Educational Philosophy & Theory. doi:10.1080/00131857.2018.1516141.
    • Xu, L., Widjaja, W., & Ferguson, J. P. (2018). Seeing through the eyes of the teacher? Investigating primary school teachers’ professional noticing through a video-based research methodology. International Journal of Research and Method in Education. doi:10.1080/1743727X.2018.1499016.

    Jorja McKinnon

    Jorja joined Deakin University as a lecturer in 2008 and has occupied a variety of teaching roles primarily within the Science Education field with a special focus on Environmental Education. Jorja is current completing her PhD titled “Student Ethical Inquiry into Human Induced Climate Change Using Film”. This project looks specifically at VCE Environmental Science curriculum objectives and considers the development of new methodologies to assist students. Jorja’s supervisory panel includes Dr Peta White, Associate Professor Mary Dixon and Dr Robin Bellingham. In addition to Jorja’s teaching roles she is currently an Associate Research on the Girls as Leader is Stem (GALS) program and was the Project Manager on the highly success STEM Catalyst joint DET/Deakin project. ​

    Nathan Nguyen

    Nathan is currently a technical officer working in science education laboratory at School of Education. Nathan’s background is a physics lecturer and his research interest is in improving teaching and learning science education at secondary school and tertiary levels.

    Christopher Speldewinde

    Chris is a primary school teacher, anthropologist, doctoral candidate and teacher educator at Deakin University. His doctoral research examines teacher pedagogy and creativity in the Australian bush kinder movement. He is currently involved with multi-university research teams investigating issues in early childhood, primary and secondary school education, particularly outdoor education, digital literacy, STEM and Humanities education. He also has research interests in transitions between early childhood services and primary schools; the use of robotic devices in early childhood education; the implications of teachers teaching out of field; and the role of educators in early childhood and primary school education. He has recently published in the emerging context of Australian bush kinders and early childhood STEM education.


    Recent publications:

    • Campbell, C., Speldewinde, C., Howitt, C. and MacDonald, A. 2018, STEM Practice in the Early Years. Creative Education, 9, 11-25.
    • Campbell, C & Speldewinde, C., 2018, Bush kinder in Australia: a new learning ‘place’ and its effect on local policy, Policy futures in education, 0(0) Published online DOI. 10.1 177/1478210317753028.
    • Campbell, C & Speldewinde, C. 2018, Teaching science in Australian bush kindergartens: Understanding what teachers need. Journal of Emergent Science Vol.15.  37-45.
    • Vale, C., Campbell, C., Speldewinde, C. and White, P. 2019. Teaching across Subject Boundaries in STEM: Continuities in beliefs about learning and teaching, International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education Accepted for publication.​

    Professor David Symington

    David taught science and mathematics in secondary schools for 13 years before moving into teacher education where he worked primarily in science education. He has conducted research and published over a range of areas in science education. In recent times his interests have been shaped by his experience working in a science research and development organisation (CSIRO). Rather than the details of classroom activity he is interested in what understandings of, and attitudes to, science we want students to take from their school experience. His most recent work has been exploring a range of ways in which schools have drawn on the expertise of STEM professionals.

    Maria Vamvakas

    Maria began her career teaching Science and Biology, having completed a Bachelor of Science and Graduate Diploma of Education at Monash University. Progressing to the position of Head of Science from 2007, her primary responsibilities included staff and curriculum leadership. Her roles have enabled her to act as a facilitator in developing students’ scientific literacy, critical thinking and passion for science.

    From 2017 Maria has been working at Deakin University as a Teaching Associate and Research Assistant and recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Education Research at Deakin University, culminating in a Research Paper investigating “Contemporary Science practice in the Classroom”. She is currently enrolled to undertake PhD candidature in the Degree program, Doctor of Philosophy – Education investigating how scientists’ practices can be best represented in the classroom

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