Research projects to improve outcomes for learners share $1.7 million in funding

The Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) supports partnerships between researchers and educators by funding projects expected to improve outcomes for learners.

This year’s funding of over $1.7 million has been allocated to eight projects. All eight are briefly summarised below.
The TLRI has been operating since 2003, and this allocation means a total of 159 projects have been funded. Projects may run from 1 to 3 years.

The TLRI is funded by the New Zealand government and administered by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research | Rangahau Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

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Te whakapūmautia te mana: Enhancing mana through kaitiakitanga
Investigator: Dr Lesley Rameka
Partnership: University of Waikato; Te Rito Maioha ECNZ; Tautāwhi Ltd; Te Puna Reo o Te Kōhao; Te Puna Reo o Pukehinahina; Te Puna Reo o Raparapaririki; Turangi Kindergarten; Hazelmere Kindergarten; West End Kindergarten.
The basis of this kaupapa Māori project is that mana is a fundamental element of wellbeing. This project aims to explore ways that early childhood education gives mokopuna opportunities to recognise mana and understand ways to attain mana through being kaitiaki (guardians) of themselves, others and their environment, therefore contributing to a collective sense of wellbeing. The research will take place in Māori medium and English medium early childhood education centres. Researchers will work with teachers to develop understandings and practices that reflect mana and kaitiakitanga.
Funding: $197,662 over 2 years

Mana Ūkaipō: Enhancing Māori engagement through pedagogies of connection and belonging
Investigators: Dr Camilla Highfield and Dr Melinda Webber
Partnership: University of Auckland; Te Maru o Ngongotaha Kāhui Ako.
This project focuses on the extent to which interventions within a Kāhui Ako can make a positive difference for Māori students’ attitudes, motivation, and engagement in learning. The project will involve teachers as practitioner researchers, working alongside academic researchers, to identify the specific interventions and teacher and leadership practices that Māori students and their whānau identify will support them to be successful on their own terms. Particular attention will be paid to iwi-initiated projects and localised curriculum.
Funding: $135,440 over 1 year

Using home languages as a resource to enhance statistical thinking in a multicultural classroom
Investigator: Dr Sashi Sharma
Partnership: University of Waikato; De La Salle College.
The language of statistics can be challenging. All the more so in English medium classrooms for English Second Language learners, who must simultaneously learn English and statistical English, and be able to negotiate between the two. This collaborative project will research the use of home languages as a resource for multilingual students in learning statistical probability in two multicultural Year-9 classes. A teaching sequence for probability thinking that incorporates culturally responsive resources will be developed and refined over the two cycles. Findings will illustrate the potential of translanguaging to support diverse learners of statistics.
Funding: $178,431 over 2 years

Weaving our knowledge together: Uncovering Pāsifika learners’ mathematical funds of knowledge
Investigator: Dr Jodie Hunter
Partnership: Massey University; Mangere Bridge School; Ferguson Intermediate School.
This project will highlight the ways in which teachers can work with their students and parents/whānau to recognise and record the mathematical learning experiences of Pāsifika learners outside of school in home and community settings. The project will then explore how educators can develop mathematically challenging group-worthy tasks which draw on Pāsifika mathematical funds of knowledge, and the impact of these tasks on Pāsifika learners’ mathematical learning, engagement, and disposition.
Funding: $200,000 over 2 years

Experiences and reflections of teachers on the use of mixed reality technologies to foster cross-curricular learning opportunities
Investigator: Dr Kathryn MacCallum
Partnership: Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT); Napier Girls’ High School; Tamatea High School.
This pilot action research project will explore teachers’ experiences of how mixed reality can be incorporated across STEAM domains to drive diverse learning outcomes. The project is a teacher-driven investigation into how innovative technologies can be incorporated into the curriculum to support cross-curriculum teaching.
Funding: $111,900 over 1 year

On2Science: Multiple affordances for learning through participation in online citizen science
Investigators: Dr Cathal Doyle and Dr Cathy Buntting
Partnership: Victoria University of Wellington; University of Waikato; Thorndon School.
This 3-year study builds on a 2018 pilot project that demonstrated the benefits of embedding Online Citizen Science (OCS) projects in primary school science. It will map progressions in students’ science capabilities, explore how engaging in OCS develops students’ learning in digital technologies, and investigate the impacts of teacher practices. The project outcomes have potential to contribute significantly to both the science and technology education research landscape, and to primary and junior secondary teacher practice, both in science and in digital technologies.
Funding: $446,848 over 3 years

Refugee-background students in Aotearoa: Supporting successful secondary to tertiary education transitions
Investigator: Dr Vivienne Anderson
Partnership: University of Otago; Otago Polytechnic; New Zealand Red Cross; Carisbrook School; Ministry of Education.
In this project researchers will work in partnership with refugee-background students in Otago/Southland to examine how refugee-background students imagine, experience, navigate and negotiate the border between secondary and tertiary education. The project will examine strategies students use to successfully navigate that change, and will lead to the development of student-centred transition resources for refugee-background students and educational institutions.
Funding: $338,747 over 3 years

ACT: Advanced Computational Thinking in the New Zealand Digital Curriculum
Investigators: Dr Andrew Gibbons and Dr Ricardo Sosa
Partnership: Auckland University of Technology (AUT); Te Kura Tuarua o Manurewa; The Southern Initiative (Te Haa o Manukau).
Students and teachers who demonstrate advanced reasoning with digital technologies are able to ethically use, creatively apply, and critically question the values and impacts of technology in society. This understanding of the digital curriculum requires more of teachers and learners than the New Zealand Curriculum currently recognises within its conceptualisation of computational thinking. This research project will systematically, collaboratively, and creatively explore a curriculum of Advanced Computational Thinking (ACT) within secondary school learning environments in order to recognise and develop the potential contribution of ACT and the digital curriculum to the broader educational aims of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Funding: $144,937 over 2 years