2015 Academy Photography Fellowship

Awarded to Stacey Quince – Principal
Campbelltown Performing Arts High School

The Academy Photography Fellowship provides funding to the amount of $4000 annually to be used for the purpose of educational research.

The aim of Stacey’s research is to seek to address the following questions:

  • To what extent do learning spaces support quality pedagogical practices?
  • How can NSW DEC Secondary Schools draw on current research and examples to maximise the use of space for improved learning experiences for students?
  • What processes can be employed in NSW DEC Secondary Schools to build the capacity of teachers to utilise learning spaces more effectively?
  • How can NSW DEC Secondary Schools evaluate the impact of flexible learning spaces on teacher practice and student engagement?

She writes …

Research in the area of learning environments is a rapidly developing field, with educators and academics alike recognising the importance that space plays in the role of learning (Dumont and Istance, 2010; Blackmore, 2011; Heppell, 2013). Whilst the need to shift the “old paradigm” though new and emerging pedagogies to more effectively meet the needs C21st learners is well documented, there is a need to reconceptualise the role that space plays in this shift and, more fundamentally, provide school leaders with strategies and tools to be able to transform space and how it is used. This requires a process that can both build the capacity of teachers to implement new pedagogies, as well as enable leadership teams to transform existing learning environments to maximise the impact of these new pedagogies.

The proposed research would seek to address the following questions:

  • To what extent do learning spaces support quality pedagogical practices?
  • How can NSW DEC Secondary Schools draw on current research and examples to maximise the use of space for improved learning experiences for students?
  • What processes can be employed in NSW DEC Secondary Schools to build the capacity of teachers to utilise learning spaces more effectively?
  • How can NSW DEC Secondary Schools evaluate the impact of flexible learning spaces on teacher practice and student engagement?

The proposal is aligned with the NSW DEC policy and strategic directions including:

  • The recent DEC investment in an upgrade to nearly 60 NSW secondary schools, “rethinking how schools work, how teachers teach and how students will learn in the future” (Minister Piccoli, Feb 2015);
  • The School Excellence Framework, specifically “teaching staff demonstrate and share expertise, high levels of knowledge and teaching practices and rely on evidence-based teaching strategies”;
  • Great Teaching, Inspired Learning, including a focus on “strengthening school leadership” and “sharing and using evidence and good practice”.

A focus on C21st learning spaces to support strong pedagogical practice also aligns closely with the SPC’s current work on “Repositioning Public Education”. This research will seek to inform and shape practices in NSW secondary schools in two key areas of focus for the group, namely pedagogy and school image.

The challenge of transforming pedagogies and spaces in schools is that the smooth running of everyday practices must occur simultaneously with the innovation (Foray and Hargreaves, 2003). Additionally, there is often a broadly held expectation that schools will maintain traditional practices by parents, the broader community and governments, with key stakeholders, including teachers, often needing to be convinced of the need for, and nature of, the innovation (Blackmore, 2011). School leaders looking to transform pedagogical practices and space within their schools need to be supported to develop a research-informed case for change, as well as through processes that allow for the innovation to be implemented and measured through the capture of qualitative and quantitative evidence.

The proposed research would support school leaders to understand how to use the principles of Design Thinking to reconfigure learning spaces to more effectively accommodate new pedagogies, build the capacity of teachers to utilise these spaces effectively, and support teams to evaluate the impact of these spaces. Design Thinking processes have been used very successfully outside the realm of education for some time, including in health, social services and corporate organisations. They are also being used increasingly within education to identify new solutions to existing issues, including through AITSL’s Learning Frontiers initiative. Of particular note is the work currently being undertaken by Education Changemakers who have delivered professional learning on the use of Design Thinking to educators from across Australia to drive and evaluate the impact of innovation in educational settings. Notably, Simon Breakspear is also currently collaborating with the Learning, Leadership of Learning and Student Engagement SPC reference group to develop professional learning for principals and school leaders, using design thinking, to re-shape and better utilise flexible learning spaces for new pedagogies.

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