Education research at UQ focuses on international and national policy and school reform; inclusive and socially just education; curriculum and pedagogy; languages and language policy in education; music and human movement education; and the impact of education on social outcomes. The School of Education is one of the most productive centres for education research in Australia. Internationally renowned education research is also conducted within the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR), and the Schools of Music and of Human Movement Studies.

These research programs and community engagements are underpinned by outstanding academic recognition, including two Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and two Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellows. Researchers in the School are managing editors of eight internationally recognised, peer-reviewed journals. UQ’s education research is globally competitive, ranked 10th in the world in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2014.

UQ leads a consortium of institutions in the highly innovative ARC-funded Science of Learning Research Centre, the only centre of its kind in Australia. The consortium unites leading researchers at seven Australian universities, as well as the Australian Council for Educational Research, Questacon, State Education Departments, and institutions in the USA and UK. It brings together education research and cognitive neurosciences to understand learning and drive next-generation educational outcomes in Australia.

Education research at UQ is concentrated in the School of Education.  Other areas undertaking education research include:

  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, within the:
    • School of Music
    • School of Languages and Cultures
    • Institute for Social Science Research
    • ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course
  • Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, within the:
    • School of Human Movement and Nutrition Studies

UQ has particular expertise in the areas of:

  • Education Systems
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Specialist Studies in Education

Education research in brief

  • More than 40 full-time equivalent researchers
  • More than 120 PhD and MPhil students in 2014
  • More than 670 publications since 2008
  • More than $16.5 million in research funding since 2008
  • There are currently 120 research higher degree students in the School of Education, which hosts 11 active ARC research grants worth $2.5 million.
  • Education Systems, Curriculum and Pedagogy, and Specialist Studies in Education all rated at the highest level awarded in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia exercise, with Specialist Studies in Education unequalled nationally with a rating of well above world standard.

Highlights of UQ Education research

Policy, social justice and inclusion in education 

UQ’s education research concentrates on policies and practices of social justice and inclusion in education. This includes research on socioeconomic disadvantage, gender, race/ethnicity, disability, special educational needs, inclusive education, health and sexuality. World leading research is also conducted on globalisation and educational policy and reform, and school reform and accountabilities. Professor Bob Lingard’s research on the OECD, education systems, and school reform and policy making is recognised internationally, as are Professor Martin Mills’ extensive research and publications on gender and schooling, social justice in education, and alternative schooling. 

Curriculum and pedagogy informing educational practices 

UQ’s School of Education is internationally regarded for its cutting-edge classroom research, focusing on pedagogy and curriculum. Classroom research is concerned with inquiry-based teaching and learning, collaborative learning processes in classrooms, and enhancing students’ competencies in the key curriculum domains of mathematics, science, literacy and languages. Important research is also conducted on learning communities and the professions in higher education. Professor Merrilyn Goos’ work on mathematics curriculum and teaching is recognised internationally, as is Professor Robyn Gillies’ work on cooperative learning in classrooms. Professor Peter Renshaw’s research on socio-cultural theory and pedagogy is globally acknowledged. Senior researchers at UQ are leading curriculum change at the national and state levels in such areas as Mathematics Education, Literacy and Languages Education, Health and Physical Education, and Music and Arts Education.

The strength of education research at UQ is also demonstrated through impact on policy, programs and professional practices. For example, UQ Latch-on is a post-secondary school literacy program based on Down Syndrome research that supports on-going learning of individuals with an intellectual disability. Mindfields is a program that empowers young people to create positive changes to the challenging situations they face. 

Impacts and outcomes of education and labour market success 

UQ researchers focus on understanding the life-long impacts of education for individuals, and education’s influences on wider social capacities. Leading research concerns the relationships between people’s educational achievement, their labour market success and experiences, their family life, their well-being and other vital outcomes. Professor Mark Western from UQ’s Institute for Social Science Research is an Australian leader and world-recognised expert in this area.  He is currently leading important research to investigate educational outcomes for Australian children from extremely disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and fragile family environments. The research aims to identify what works to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged young people and help address problems such as unemployment and homelessness, arising when a large number of young Australians are denied an effective education.

Professor Western's work also forms a key component of the multi-disciplinary research to be conducted by the recently awarded $27 million ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (hosted at ISSR) which aims to further the understanding of how disadvantage is transmitted within families and across generations and help translate research findings into practical solutions.