2013 Funding decisions announced

The Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) has allocated funding to eight projects in its 2013 funding round.

Summer reading to overcome the summer effect: A partnership between a school, a library and the school community
Principal Investigators: Ms Marilyn Gwilliam & Dr Libby Limbrick
Partnerships: Papatoetoe Central School, Papatoetoe Library and University of Auckland

This project was initiated by the principal and staff of a school, concerned that children’s achievement in reading dropped after the summer break. It is a collaboration between the school, a local library and a research consultant. The term ‘summer effect’ refers to the documented drop in reading achievement for many students over the long summer breaks. The team will look for ways to align school, whānau, library, and personal literacy development activities during 2014-2015. The outcomes of the 2014 summer component will inform teaching and learning programmes in reading in 2015, as will the emerging findings of the research project throughout 2015 and beyond.
Funding allocation: $114,615 over two years

Beyond play: Learning through science investigation
Principal Investigator: Dr Azra Moeed
Partnerships: Victoria University of Wellington, four schools and a wharekura

The New Zealand Curriculum requires students to learn about features of scientific knowledge and the processes for developing scientific knowledge, and to carry out science investigations using a variety of approaches. However, evidence suggests that students receive limited experience of science investigations. This project examines how participating primary and secondary school teachers and their students conceptualise science investigations and how these conceptualisations develop following a negotiated intervention. The intervention will support focused teaching to extend the range of approaches to science investigation with a view to developing students’ understandings about the nature of science.
Funding allocation: $200,000 over two years

Riariakina ō Rongo Hirikapo
Principal Investigator: Margie Hohepa
Partnerships: Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Faculty of Education, University of Waikato; Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Kuaka and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tōku Māpihi Maurea

This collaborative cross-sector research project will examine the development of an ‘akoranga whakawhiti’, a transition programme that will be based at Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngā Kuaka in Hamilton. The research will provide important new insights into learning and teaching in Māori-medium settings and into ways of enhancing children’s transitions from Māori-medium early childhood education to Māori-medium classrooms. It will make a significant contribution to the goals of the Ministry of Education’s plan for Māori educational success, Ka Hikitia, by adding to the very limited research literature regarding the transition to school for Māori tamariki, and providing much-needed insights into how to support learning effectively so that the goals of Ka Hikitia can be attained.
Funding allocation: $129,912 over two years

Visualising chance: Learning probability through modelling
Principal Investigators: Dr Stephanie Budgett & Associate Professor Maxine Pfannkuch
Partnerships: University of Auckland; researchers, software developers, and practitioners/lecturers

We need probabilistic reasoning to help us operate sensibly and optimally in the face of uncertainty. However, current teaching of probability is mainly based on a mathematical approach, paying insufficient attention to modelling and simulating realistic problems. The modelling approach promises to make transparent concepts of the nature and effects of randomness, which are often inaccessible within the formal framework of mathematical probability. This exploratory study aims to learn how to build conceptual understanding of probability and how to orientate thinking towards an approach more closely aligned with practice.
Funding allocation: $130,000 over two years

Work of teacher educators, NZ: Teaching and learning in university-based initial teacher education
Principal Investigator: Dr Alex Gunn
Partnerships: University of Otago and University of Auckland; researchers and practitioners/lecturers

This project will explore the work of teacher educators so as to more fully understand teaching and learning within university-based initial teacher education (ITE) in Aotearoa New Zealand. It will build on research in the UK and Australia regarding the discursive construction and material conditions of teacher educators’ work and contribute to an international picture of the historical evolutions and future directions of teacher education. The first phase takes a national perspective, investigating how New Zealand universities construct teacher education, using advertisements for ITE staff, related documents, and the interpretations of those responsible for these advertisements. The second phase zooms in on two ITE institutions to focus on the actual work of teacher educators and how ITE students understand these work activities as productive of their learning.
Funding allocation: $130,000 over two years

Strengthening and embedding mathematical thinking and reasoning proficiency in primary teacher education programmes: Leveraging the potential of a system innovation
Principal Investigators: Beverley Cooper & Bronwen Cowie
Partnerships: Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Faculty of Education, University of Waikato; schools, through the Collaborative University-School Partnership (CUSP) project, and other ITE providers

The researchers will investigate the development of the Mathematical Thinking and Reasoning Proficiency (MTRP) of student-teachers enrolled in primary initial teacher education programmes. The project follows a sub-group of these student-teachers into the classroom as beginning teachers. The focus is on how they utilise and benefit from activities embedded across their courses and from resources specifically designed to support their independent self-regulated learning. The project will contribute to understanding what is required to help teachers in their mathematics teaching, student data analysis and administration.
Funding allocation: $449,688 over three years

Moving beyond the threshold: Investigating digital literacies and historical thinking in New Zealand universities
Principal Investigator: Dr Sydney Shep
Partnerships: Victoria University of Wellington and established, as well as new and early, career teacher-researchers across a range of history-informed disciplines

The aim of this project is to understand how university students and teachers use digital media to support the acquisition and retention of disciplinary threshold concepts for transformative learning and improved student outcomes in history-informed subjects. A New Zealand-wide environmental survey, a massive online open course (MOOC)-enabled workshop series, and the development, implementation and evaluation of digitally-mediated coursework will provide research evidence to enhance teaching practice and benefit future-oriented student learning. Innovative features include the creation of a digital history portal for communication, project management, and dissemination, plus the use of self-reflective e-portfolios. Mentoring junior teacher-researchers who are at the forefront of digital adoption and e-pedagogy is a priority.
Funding allocation: $200,000 over two years

Literacy and narrative in the early years: Zooming in and zooming out
Principal Investigator: Dr Amanda Bateman
Partnerships: Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Faculty of Education, University of Waikato; and early childhood centres and schools in South Auckland and Timaru

The focus of this project is exploring and strengthening young children’s story-telling expertise. Building on research that shows that children’s narrative competence is linked to later literacy learning at school, the research team want to understand more fully how these conditions for literacy learning are, and could be, supported within early education settings. The project will use a design-based methodology and a multi-layered approach to analyse story-telling episodes within early childhood centres and school classrooms to research the contributions of story-partners and other supports for developing early narrative competence. The aim is to contribute to the international literature and to develop storying strategies with and for teachers.
Funding allocation: $449,580 over three years