Valuing, measuring and tracking the development of learning dispositions within a K-12 school

Each year AISNSW calls for applications for schools to undertake research over a two-year period, with support from AISNSW, academic mentors and critical friends. After completing a rigorous selection process, Roseville College was awarded a School Based Research Project in 2017 for their project Valuing, measuring and tracking the development of learning dispositions within a K-12 school.

Roseville College is a non-selective, Anglican day school for girls from Kindergarten to Year 12. The school has a vision to prepare each girl with an education that will serve them for life and support them into the future. Educators across all years and subject areas design their learning to assist girls in realising their potential. Their aim is to provide excellence in education, personalisation of learning and build dispositions for effective learning that will serve girls for life.

Project Overview

The Roseville College research project explores the learning dispositions most valued by students, teachers and parents. Its focus is aligned to the school’s Strategic Direction, to equip each girl with a progressive, robust attitude to learning through responsibility, challenge and curiosity. The challenge faced was how to practically bring the school community on this journey and build this vision into the daily life of the school.

The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a school wide measure to assess the learning dispositions valued by the Roseville College community. It is hoped this measure can be used by students across Primary and Secondary years to facilitate the development of learning dispositions from an early age. The research team are also interested in understanding how these learning dispositions might change over time.

The team are taking a multi-stage, mixed methods approach to the research, using surveys, online tools and focus group interviews to gather data. The evidence gathered aims to build a deeper understanding of the identified dispositions most valued, and the advantages and disadvantages of students actively engaging with their own data.

The research team

The research team is led by Amy Van Arkkels (Director of Teaching and Learning) and involves educators from across year groups and subject areas. The team is supported by academic mentor Dr Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn from the University of Technology Sydney.

Progress to date

The first year of the research project focused on an exploration of the learning dispositions most valued by students, teachers and parents at Roseville College.

The research team began by reviewing the literature about the learning dispositions required for students’ success in school, tertiary study and work. Students, teachers and parents were surveyed for their perspectives, with the top five dispositions identified as creativity, critical thinking, perseverance, problem solving and responsibility. In consultation with Year 5 and 10 students, these five areas were more clearly defined and embedded into an online tool that allowed them to self-assess their personal learner dispositions. It also provided them with immediate feedback of results. The tool was first administered with students in August 2019, and the same groups will re-assess their learning dispositions in Terms 1 and 3, 2020. To gain deeper insight into the lived experience of engaging with data based on their learning dispositions, the research team conducted focus group interviews with small groups of students from Years 5 and 10. Analysis of data is still underway.

Some changes were made to the research design during the first year of the project, primarily through adjustments to the research questions. A decision was also made to move away from a rubric to a sliding scale within the online tool to respect the ambiguity in measurement of personal attributes. The research team are providing regular updates to the school community through the Roseville Staff Portal and during regular professional learning days. The project was also shared through participation on a panel, and presentation of a poster at the AISNSW Education Research Symposium.

Where to next?

The second year of the project will provide two additional opportunities for students to complete the online tool and participate in subsequent focus group interviews. Analysis of all remaining data will be finalised, and a system to track and visualise the learning dispositions information will be completed. The team will continue to explore ways to share their findings across the school community and beyond.

Contact details

Project lead: Amy Van Arkkels

School website:

Contact number: (02) 9884 1100


Twitter: @RosevilleRC