Research Opportunities for Independent Schools


Working with researchers can be a powerful way to access relevant, context-specific, up to date evidence about a variety of educational topics of importance to your school. This can range from pedagogical frameworks and approaches to opportunities to meaningfully engage with industry. It can also provide opportunities for tailored educator professional learning.

The Evidence Institute assists external researchers when they seek to engage independent schools in their projects, as well as supporting independent schools that are interested in engaging with external research.

More than half of Australian young people with mental health disorders do not get treatment. This study aims to transform the management of mental (or emotional) health in young people by identifying youth who are struggling with emotional distress and getting them to appropriate help early. First, we will develop a valid screening tool to allow schools to identify young people with emotional health issues, who may otherwise “slip through the cracks”. Second, we will help schools to identify the best local pathways to care that are evidence-based and accessible.

What are the benefits for my school community?

  • Access to free and easy-to-deliver emotional health screening for students from Year 4 to Year 11, that will identify students who score high on symptoms of emotional distress and who may otherwise “slip through the cracks”
  • Recommendations tailored to your school and community on local, evidence-based referral services, provided by expert researchers and clinicians
  • Increased knowledge for your school mental health staff in methods of screening and identification of emotionally distressed youth
  • Development of guides and templates for your school to use for ongoing screening and referral, if your school would like to continue screening after the study

Participation will involve the sharing of information, participation in screening, provision of feedback. Skills development will be provided, along with detailed findings and supports. More information can be found in the linked Information Sheet.

When will the study take place?

  • Schools will be randomly allocated to either be screened in March 2021 or March 2022
  • The research team will provide feedback about any students who showed up on the survey with symptoms of emotional distress as quickly as possible and you will then be responsible for providing that feedback to the student and/or their parent/guardian.

I’m interested – what are the next steps?

  • To register your interest or for further information, please email the project coordinator, Dr Rebecca Kuhnert: rebecca.kuhnert@mq.edu.au

The Evidence Institute is proud to partner with the Gonski Institute for Education (UNSW) in their ground-breaking research project Growing Up Digital Australia.  This research project is designed to change the status quo and understand how the widespread use of technology is impacting Australian children. Growing Up Digital Australia builds on the research methodology that has been developed by Harvard Medical School and the University of Alberta. In this Australian study, we seek to answer questions around how digital technologies are being used, the benefits and distractions they pose to students and whether they are bridging the divide of equity, or widening it.

To find out more about this project visit the Growing Up Digital Australia website.

The purpose of this research project is to explore teachers’ perspectives about the best ways to teach enterprise and entrepreneurial education in Australian schools, and to understand challenges and current practices.

You are invited to participate in this research project because you are an Australian teacher who may be teaching enterprise education or some aspects of enterprise education in the form of 21st Century skills or the Australian Curriculum’s General Capabilities.

What does participation involve?

Participation will involve completing a short online survey including Likert scale type questions (Not needed – Essential) and short responses that will take approximately 20 minutes of your time.

Questions will include:

a. In your personal view, what learning outcomes should we be focused on within enterprise education to give all Australian youth the best education possible:
- Growth Mindset (Not Needed <<<->>> Essential)
- Self-awareness & Reflection (Not Needed <<<->>> Essential)

b. What categories best describe your school (multiple answers possible)
- Early childhood
- Primary
- Secondary

c. What would you say are the main challenges for enterprise education in Australian schools?

Your participation in this research project is entirely voluntary. If you agree to participate you do not have to complete any question(s) you are uncomfortable answering. All comments and responses are anonymous i.e. it will not be possible to identify you at any stage of the research, because personal identifying information is not sought in any of the responses. 

This research will explore whether custom made mobile apps can improve their enjoyment of learning science and help students better understand scientific topics. This research is in partnership with an Australian education company – Arludo – created by Associate Professor Michael Kasumovic.

Arludo creates mobile apps that are gamified experiments – as students use the apps to explore scientific concepts, they are collecting scientific data that are automatically displayed as figures. This way, teachers can spend more time helping students understand data. We are exploring whether this improves students’ critical and analytical thinking. 

The mobile apps are free to download and the 8-week program comes with digital worksheets containing videos and questions that students answer online. These worksheets scaffold student learning and assess their understanding using  Bloom’s Taxonomy. Teachers will be able to see student answers in the teacher dashboard to more easily assess understanding and performance.

This project will explore how teachers and administrators across regional schools in NSW responded to family and student needs, rapid shifts to online learning environments, and social distancing mandates during a global pandemic. It will also consider how resources in regional areas were delegated, accessed, and used during the crisis, with a focus on administrator and teacher support.

What does participation involve?

The project has two parts:

  • Teaching staff participation in an online anonymous Qualtrics survey.  The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete and will involve short answer and Likert responses. 
  • Principal participation in a follow up virtual Skype or WebEx interview. This interview will be conducted by members of the research team.  You will be provided with the interview questions prior to the interview, but there may be follow-up questions during the interview.  The interview will take approximately 30 minutes.

The research team will share the results of the survey with you and your staff and will ask for you to approve your interview transcript prior to sharing results with a wider audience. 

Participation is completely voluntary and participants can withdraw at any time.  An information sheet is provided on the right side of this webpage with more details about data storage and the research process.

What happens next?

If you wish to participate, please contact Sally Lamping to confirm your participation. This will also provide an opportunity to clarify any final questions. As Principal, you will then be asked to read and sign the information and consent form (found on the right side of this page). Signing the consent indicates that you agree for your school to participate in the research project.

Once you have confirmed participation, the researchers will send the survey link to the school’s nominated administrative support specialist to distribute to teaching staff, along with an information sheet. 

The project aims to enhance the coding and computational thinking of year six and seven students. The project will link coding and computational thinking in the Digital Technologies Curriculum with Multimodal Authoring of Animations in the English Curriculum by creating animated micro-narratives using Scratch. The project has been operating in schools for one year and has Catholic Schools in Melbourne and Government Schools in Sydney participating.

The research team would like to invite at least one High School and Primary School in Sydney to participate in the project in 2022. The research team is looking for one year six class, along with their primary school teacher and one year seven class and their secondary English teacher and, if possible, the secondary Digital Technologies teacher of that class.

Participation in this research involves the teachers attending online Scratch coding tutorials, during term four in 2021, if possible. Support to teachers will be provided by a member of the research team. In term one of 2022, the research team will meet weekly to extend the teachers’ Scratch coding confidence and competence. The classroom program for teaching the students to code an animated micro-narrative will be developed by the school teachers with assistance from the research team, and delivered during term two and four in 2022.  

Please contact the researchers directly if you are interested in participating in this research.

This project is open for submissions until the end of the 2021 school year.

As teachers know, students can be creative in all subjects, but measuring creativity can be a challenge. Researchers at The University of South Australia have developed a measure of student creativity in adolescents. This ten-minute online survey uses self-report measures and creative tasks in verbal creativity, divergent thinking and maths creativity to examine student creativity. Schools will receive a report analysing their student responses. We can then discuss teaching strategies to build students’ creative capacities in a range of subjects.

For further information please contact Dr Tim Patston at UniSA Education Futures Tim.Patston@unisa.edu.au

Researchers at the Black Dog Institute have developed an Online Mental Health Check to identify anxiety and depression symptoms in Australian primary school children. They would like to invite independent primary schools to be involved in a clinical trial evaluating the impact of the Mental Health Check on mental health stigma.

Through this research, they are aiming to answer the question: Does the mental health check significantly impact stigma for children aged 6 to 12 years and their parents, compared to children who do not complete regular mental health checks and their parents?

What does participation involve?

A school is eligible to participate if they are ‘an independent primary school in Australia’ who has the capacity to provide children with a device (i.e. laptop, desktop, tablet) to complete the assessments. If a school chooses to be involved, they will be asked to:

  • Attend an information session (30 mins) with the research team via video-conferencing
  • Distribute a link to an information pack with details about the study to parents/carers of children at the school.

The study will use an ‘opt-out’ consent process.

Teachers of participating years 3-6 classes will be asked to allocate approximately 3×15 minute sessions for children to complete the assessment on a school device on commencement, at six weeks and again at twelve weeks.

Your school will be provided with:

  • all materials needed to advertise the study to the school
  • a report to your school with a grade breakdown of anxiety and depression levels
  • an opportunity to sign up to future school mental health studies at Black Dog Institute.

What happens next?

Interest schools can visit the study website A Primary School Mental Health Check - Black Dog Institute to register interest and for more information regarding your school’s eligibility requirements and role in this research project.

The school principal is also invited to attend an online information session with the research team to hear more details about the study.

This research aims to explore how Year Four teachers use both assessment data and non-academic data to solve teaching and learning problems they may face daily in their classrooms. The team hope to gain insights into how these different types of data are utilised in the classroom to enhance every student’s learning, including a focus on the pedagogical strategies and specialised teaching methods being used to help students in their learning journey.

This study aims to answer the following research questions:

  • What types of data do teachers use to gauge the level of their students’ understanding? 
  • How do teachers describe their levels of expertise regarding data-use knowledge and skills? 
  • To what extent do teachers engage in data-driven decision-making practices? 
  • How do teachers use the data from their local assessments to inform their practice and enhance their students learning opportunities? 


What does participation involve?

The research adopts a mixed methods approach involving a survey, semi-structured interviews and review of classroom artefacts. If you are interested in participation, you can opt to only complete the 5-10 minute survey, or both the survey and the 20 minutes interview. Pseudonyms will be used when findings are reported. Artefacts will be used to enrich the interviews and demonstrate how student assessment data is incorporated into your planning.

Participation is completely voluntary and participants can withdraw at any time. An information sheet is provided under Associated Resources with further information.


What happens next?

If you wish to participate, please contact Professor Jim Tognolini (jim.tognolini@sydney.edu.au) and Mrs Rayanne Shakra (rsha6505@uni.sydney.edu.au). This will also provide an opportunity to clarify any final questions.

This survey is part of a doctoral research project into the prevalence and correlates of compassion fatigue among Year Coordinators in Australian secondary schools.

Compassion fatigue (also known as Secondary Traumatic Stress or Vicarious Traumatisation) is a combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with caring for people in significant emotional pain and physical distress. It is a risk associated with the stress resulting from helping, or wanting to help, a traumatized or suffering person.

The research is seeking to understand:

  • What is the prevalence and extent of compassion fatigue among Year Coordinators in Australian secondary schools?
  • What are the risk factors (e.g., personal characteristics, school characteristics, training, experiences) associated with compassion fatigue among Year Coordinators?
  • What are the mitigating factors (e.g., personal characteristics, work-related strategies) associated with compassion fatigue among Year Coordinators?
  • RQ4. What are the perceived needs and challenges of Year Coordinators in mitigating the risk of compassion fatigue?

What does participation involve?

There are two phases to the research:

  • Phase 1: is aiming to collate quantitative data from a national sample of 200 year Coordinators via an online survey
  • Phase 2: will gather qualitative information via interviews with a subset of 15 participants selected from respondents to the Phase 1 survey.

The term Year Coordinator is used broadly in this study to refer to a secondary school role in which a staff member is responsible for overseeing the wellbeing of a cohort of students. This may include roles such as Head of Year, Year Advisor or Head of House.

What happens next?

Interested participants can access the survey using this link. It should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

The survey will commence with four pre-screening questions to determine eligibility for and interest in the study. The research is looking specifically at staff who have been in a student wellbeing role for a minimum of 6 months in an Australian secondary school. The screening questions will be followed by a Participant Information Sheet and Consent Form before the survey begins.

Associated resources

This research aims to work with individual teachers either in Stages 4, 5 and 6 to design and implement collaborative assessments in their classrooms and explore the potential impact these may have on student learning.

What does participation involve?

  • For teachers, participation in this study may support knowledge and confidence in aligning more collaborative-based pedagogies with collaborative assessment forms.
  • For students, engaging in forms of collaborative assessment may better support their understanding of content and concepts, provide them with immediate feedback on their learning, and promote positive peer relationships.

The timing of the study is flexible and anticipated to occur during Term 3 and Term 4 in 2022.

The study will take place within teachers’ regular classes and involve three in-class collaborative assessments. A semi-structured interview of 45 minutes to ascertain teacher viewpoints on collaborative testing will be followed by a 45-minute professional learning workshop to discuss the logistics of implementing collaborative testing. The researcher will help write the tests, organise the groups and provide any other help the teacher may require. This interview and professional learning workshop will take no longer than 90 minutes. The students will complete the assessments during class, like a 'normal' assessment. The assessment will be based on the learning cycle and written with the teacher and researcher's input. Additionally, the teacher will participate in a reflective interview at the end of the study and may, if they choose, participate in an optional focus group.

What happens next?

If your school is interested in participating, please contact Helen at hbre8322@uni.sydney.edu.au  or by phone 0490313963. She would be happy to visit your school to discuss the processes and benefits of the study.

Associated resources

Guidelines for Collaboration

Key Hints for Independent Schools

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Key Hints for Researchers

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Ethics Considerations


Two key resources have been developed to assist researchers and schools in understanding ethics.