CEO Research Roundup

CEO Research Roundup: 17 September 2018

I am delighted to be sharing this fortnightly news and insight blog, offering short summaries of the latest news and studies, reports, and opinions across the education arena. If there is a topic, report or event you would like QELi to explore, please email your thoughts to

Neil McDonald
Chief Executive Officer, QELi

Research in Education

The New South Wales Government recently announced a policy to improve teacher quality, which includes psychometric assessment and behavioural interviews as part of the hiring process for graduate teachers in public schools. Citing a boom in teaching graduates since 2012, the Premier and Education Minister have said that their ‘Teacher Success Profile’ will augment their existing initial teacher education standards and will set five criteria that new graduates must satisfy before being considered for employment.

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The greatest influence on student performance is teaching practice, and evidence-based classroom strategies are a topic of great interest, particularly in light of recent recommendations from Gonski 2.0 around learning progressions. This podcast conversation between Professor John Hattie and Professor Geoff Masters (facilitated by Tony Mackay AM) at a recent ACER research conference provides some interesting and challenging perspectives around teaching practices, assessment (summative and formative), and the maturation of our national approach to gathering and applying evidence.

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Also on the topic of teacher quality, this recent article by Monash University’s Dean of Education, published in The Australian, confronts public narratives about teaching as telling and learning as listening. Quality teaching, Professor John Loughran argues, is the primary influence on learning and requires that teachers understand learning theories and apply their knowledge, skills, and ability to develop ‘meaning pedagogical experiences’ for students.

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A new professional learning program for math teachers has been shown to advance primary students by two months compared to their peers. The South Australian Thinking Maths program was designed to build teachers’ capability to improve students’ engagement and create deeper learning in maths, and has been evaluated in an independent randomised trial by ACER and Evidence for Learning (via the Learning Impact find). The Learning Impact Fund identifies, funds, and evaluates trials of programs that are targeted towards lifting academic outcomes for disadvantaged students. Their approach is based on the modelled on the highly successful UK Education Endowment Foundation model.

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Student motivation is significantly affected by disadvantage, according to a new report released by ACER. Drawing on data from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the report found that cultural and geographic factors – such being of Aboriginal and Torres Islander background, of low socio economic status, or residing in a rural or remote area – were associated with lower motivation levels. The study also found that Australian students were more motivated to achieve than their peers in 26 of the 35 countries surveyed.

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School funding comprises a substantial part of national and state budgets so it is critically important that spending is targeted to achieve better educational outcomes. This recent paper (also summarised here) by Professor John Hattie and Dr Arran Hamilton argues that a rational, data-driven approach is required to overcome biases and make better choices about investing educational dollars.

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The use of mobile technologies in schools presents great opportunities but also challenges, and in New South Wales a recently-announced review will consider the benefits and risks associated with smart phone use in schools. This review, the first of its kind in Australia, will be conducted by psychologist and bullying expert Dr Michael Carr-Gregg and will examine policies, practices and views of government and non-government schools.

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