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Underwood Centre projects

Research Projects

Beacon Foundation

Impact Evaluation of Outcomes for Students from the Collective Education Project

Research project start: January 2018
Expected finish: December 2022

The Collective Education Project (CEP) is an initiative to identify and test practices aimed at improving Year 12 attainment (or equivalent) and post-school pathways for students in six Tasmanian schools between 2017-2021.It is coordinated by the Beacon Foundation and funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation and the Tasmanian state government. The CEP builds on and further develops a collaborative education model that brings together communities, business and schools to identify and test innovative and effective practices.

The Peter Underwood Centre has been engaged by the Beacon Foundation to conduct an independent evaluation of the contribution the CEP makes to outcomes for students. Such outcomes may include completing upper secondary education (Year 12 or equivalent), meaningful post-school pathways, connections and social capital, engagement with learning, and 21st century capabilities. The project team collaborates closely with the Education Performance and Review unit in the Department of Education, which will conduct complementary analyses, and with CEP partner organisations and schools.

Project team: Professor Kitty te Riele and Dr Becky Shelley

Department of Education, Tasmania

Review of Literacy Teaching, Training and Practice in Government Schools

Research project start: April 2017
Expected finish: December 2019

Literacy is widely recognised as a foundational capability for participation in modern society. In Tasmania, there is a state-wide groundswell of support for efforts to improve literacy outcomes for all students. As part of such efforts, in 2016 the Tasmanian Government announced a suite of initiatives to support literacy and numeracy. In this context, the Peter Underwood Centre has been commissioned to undertake a ‘Review of Literacy Teaching, Training, and Practice in Government Schools’. The review uses the nationally-agreed definition provided by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), which includes comprehending and composing written, oral, and visual texts. The review will identify current literacy practices used in schools and in pre-service teacher education in Tasmania, and inform decisions about strategies for improving literacy outcomes for school students.

The project has produced two comprehensive literature review reports, prepared by personnel from the Peter Underwood Centre and Institute for the Study of Social Change with input from the Department of Education members of the Project Reference Group.

The first report reviews literature about the teaching of literacy, relevant to the Tasmanian government school context. The report paints a picture of the relevant national and state context; examines a range of approaches to literacy teaching; and discusses useful pedagogies and enablers to support the teaching of literacy.

Download the first report here (PDF 824KB)

The second report reviews literature about preparing pre service teachers in initial teacher education courses for teaching literacy. The report outlines relevant policy context across Australia and in Tasmania, before examining literature in relation to four relevant contexts for preparing pre-service teachers for teaching literacy: the personal, university, practicum/field experience, and first employment.

Download the second report here

Project team: Professor Kitty te Riele, Professor Elaine Stratford, Dr Sarah Stewart

Department of Education, Tasmania

Launceston Big Picture School Evaluation

Research project start: October 2016
Expected finish: June 2020

The Big Picture Education model aims to support students, many of whom have been previously disengaged at school, with a personalised curriculum and real world workplace experiences based on individual interests. In 2016 the Tasmanian Government Department of Education established the Launceston Big Picture School (LBPS) as a stand-alone Big Picture Demonstration School with a dedicated principal, as part of a five-year pilot.

The Peter Underwood Centre is undertaking an evaluation of the LBPS with a focus on the implementation of distinguishing characteristics of the Big Picture Education model and on outcomes for students. The findings will be used to inform practice at the school level and policy development in the Tasmanian Government Department of Education.

Project team: Dr Becky Shelley, Professor Elaine Stratford, Professor Kitty te Riele, Oliver Grant

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation (Melbourne)

Improving Education for Students on Remand: Forging a Prison to School Pipeline

Research project start: January 2017
Expected finish: April 2019

The concept of the ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ highlights the role adverse and disengaging educational experiences play in young people’s participation in crime. In contrast, engagement in structured education – including schooling inside prison – has the transformative potential to act as a powerful circuit breaker not only to reduce recidivism but also to enhance the wellbeing of both young people and their communities. In other words, a ‘prison-to-school pipeline’.

The purpose of this study is to examine how education how education could work more effectively as an enabler for young people in custody, particularly for those on remand, and how schooling is currently provided, accessed and experienced by young people at the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct in Melbourne. The findings will provide insight in education’s potential to act as a circuit breaker during and after incarceration, with implications for informing policy and practice nationally. The project is led by Victoria University (VU).

Project team: Associate Professor Julie White (VU), Professor Kitty te Riele (UTAS), Dr Tim Corcoran (Deakin) and Dr Alison Baker (VU)

Ian Potter Foundation

Facilitating School-Parent-Community Partnerships Throughout Tasmania to Help Children Realise Their Educational Potential

Project start: July 2016
Expected finish: June 2018

This project will deliver workshops around Tasmania for school leaders, community and families to help school-parent- community partnerships, which increase parental engagement, realising children's educational potential.

Following the workshops, 12 schools will be identified in which the project team will then build mentoring relationships with school leaders, parents and community members to refine and implement strategies and school-parent- community engagement plans.

The emphasis on capacity building will help to ensure that the outcomes are more sustainable. Insights from the project will be shared with others by means of the Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment website, its biennial symposium, and planned activities in workforce development, community engagement and outreach.

For further information visit the project page

Project team: Professor Sue Kilpatrick, Dr Robin Barnes, Professor Elaine Stratford

Tasmanian Community Fund

Parents Matter: Raising Children's Post-Year 10 Educational Aspiration

Project start: March 2016
Expected finish: August 2017

A partnership with The Smith Family, Dorset Council and Colony 47, Parents Matter is funded by the Tasmanian Community Fund to connect parents and carers to networks of expert knowledge and quality resources. The project is providing to those with children in Years 5 to 8 a range of tools to better support their children's aspirations and educational attainment. Parent-led, community-based learning groups have been established in George Town and Scottsdale and they meet every school term to share resources and engage in structured training to support discussions at home about post-Year 10 studies.

For further information visit the project page

Project team: Professor Sue Kilpatrick, Dr Robin Barnes and Ms Marcel Kerrison

Tasmanian Government Department of Education and Department of State Growth

Understanding Education and Career Pathways for Young Tasmanians

Project start: January 2016
Project finish: June 2016

What challenges face young Tasmanians aged 15 to 25 transitioning from education to employment in this State? This study used a comprehensive literature review and a two-round Delphi process to engage over 50 key thought leaders from the Tasmanian community in this topic of increasing importance for young Tasmanians' futures. The question addressed one of 50 action items highlighted in the Tasmanian Government's State Population Growth Strategy, which aims to increase Tasmania's population to 650,000 people by the year 2050. The findings will inform future education-to- employment initiatives aimed at attracting and retaining young people and improving their post-qualification outcomes.

Project team: Professor Elaine Stratford, Ms Marisa Field

Commonwealth Department of Education and Training

Equipping Parents to Support Their Children's Aspirations: What Works?

Project start: January 2016
Expected finish: December 2016

Regardless of their socio-economic status, most parents report that they want 'the best' for their children's futures. Parents from backgrounds of relative socio-economic advantage usually have 'educational cultural capital' to support their children's educational aspiration. Less is known about what resources might be drawn on to support such aspirations in families experiencing relative socio-economic disadvantage. This project addresses that evidence gap. A comprehensive international literature review will help identify features of parent engagement and information programs and resources that are cost efficient and effective in informing and supporting those experiencing such disadvantage. The insights gained will be used to create a web resource for use by various organisations to inform the design of parent engagement and information programs and tools.

Project team: Professor Sue Kilpatrick and Dr Robin Barnes

Commonwealth Department of Education and Training (with University of Wollongong and University of Adelaide)

Informing Aspirations in Rural Regions

Project start: March 2014
Expected finish: August 2016

Participation in both tertiary and post-Year 10 education has remained stubbornly low among rural people, particularly from remote areas. The dispersed nature of rural settlement in Australia makes it logistically difficult and costly to provide face-to- face activities that inform aspiration for higher education in people's locales. There is limited evidence about the effectiveness of online interventions in raising educational aspiration or increasing participation in education among rural residents. This project has identified features of outreach programs that are cost efficient and effective; modified and evaluated a number of outreach programs to include the features of effective rural outreach programs; and produced a web resource for use in design of outreach programs that are effective in informing aspiration and increasing access and participation for people living in rural regions.

Tasmanian project team: Professor Sue Kilpatrick and Dr Robin Barnes

Kentish Council

Kentish Community Learning Strategy and Plan

Project start: January 2016
Project finish: June 2016

The Kentish Community Learning Plan is a collaborative project between the Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment, the Centre for Rural Health and the Kentish Council and community.  Adopting a community development approach, the project resulted in a community development plan for the municipality.  Adopting the Australian Centre for Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) learning community framework model, the project engaged local stakeholders in the development of strategies aimed at creating greater learning opportunities across the lifespan for residents in the municipality. The plan has the potential to benefit other Tasmanian rural communities seeking to enhance opportunities for life- long learning within their region.

Project team: Professor Sue Kilpatrick, Dr Jess Woodroffe, Ms Erin Jackson, Mr Stuart Auckland, Ms Karen Eyles, Professor Elaine Stratford