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.

We hope this research helps principals and teachers like you.

We all want our children to be more active, sit less, study more, eat better, sleep more, or be more social. As parents and schools we get told all of these things are important, but research struggles to definitively say why. We want to make this clearer: what is really important for children’s physical and mental health? What should parents and schools be focusing on? Where can they relax?

What does participation involve?

We are looking for teachers and students in Years 2-4 (in 2023) from schools in the Sydney, Wollongong and Central Coast areas, to help us answer these questions. Participation is easy and we aim to take up as little school time as possible.

  • Parent/Caregiver Information letters (either online or paper copies) will be provided for distribution to all students in Years 2 to 4
  • Schools will then pick a date and time for us to come to the school to distribute equipment to the consenting students and run them through a questionnaire. We will invite the teachers of participating students only, to also participate in a short questionnaire
  • We will return the following week to collect the equipment.
  • As a token of appreciation for your time, teachers will be given free access to our award-winning, evidence-based online teacher professional learning program, iPLAY.

Associated documents

Associated media

You can learn more about KidVision in the introductory video below.

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?

Interested 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 ( and Mrs Rayanne Shakra ( This will also provide an opportunity to clarify any final questions.

This project aims to build teacher competence and enhance student learning in online environments. With a participatory action research design, it involves the collaboration of university researchers and ‘teacher-researchers’ from primary schools in Sydney. Connecting the quality of learning and the quality of classroom talk, the project guides teachers in designing for educationally productive learning interactions using online learning environments available to them and provides a case-based analysis of the evolving practices. 

The qualitative analysis draws on data self-collected by the teachers (classroom observations, students’ work, lesson plans, etc.), teachers’ reflections, university researchers’ meeting notes, and teacher-interviews. To communicate the project findings to a wider professional audience, an open-source knowledge centre – Dialogic Teaching Hub – is developed with best practice illustrative examples. Ultimately, the project strengthens the convergence of educational theory and practice, with fresh understandings of the benefits of talk-oriented (dialogic) teaching in online learning environments.

What does participation involve?

It is hoped that six primary school teachers from three schools will participate for a duration of two terms but if this is not practicable, alternative arrangements can be made.

Participation will involve the following activities:

  • a full day professional development workshop
  • conducting a needs analysis and developing action plans for improving and evaluating practices
  • co-designing and implementing 1-2 units of work
  • collaborating with critical friends in the ongoing review and action research of practices
  • contributing to the development of a new repository (the Dialogic Teaching Hub).

Please see Detailed Overview of Project for further information.

What happens next?

Interested schools should contact Eva Vass and Lynde Tan

This project is about the role of educational leaders in supporting online learning initiatives, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is seeking to learn from the experiences of leaders and their vision for the future of education, particularly in relation to online learning.

What does participation involve?

The research involves two phases:

  • A voluntary 20-minute online survey by people who have a leadership role in an Australian secondary school.  Examples of people who are eligible to participate include Principals, Deputy Principals, Heads of School, Faculty or KLA Coordinators, ICT Directors or Coordinators, ICT Integrators or Digital Learning Leaders.
  • An optional series of three interviews with two short email surveys conducted between the interviews over a period of 18 months.

Recruitment is currently occurring for Phase 1.

What happens next?

To participate in the Phase 1 Survey, please click here:

For further information, please contact Megan on

Additional Resources

The contribution of food and nutrition to health and wellbeing among schoolteachers is an emerging area of interest. Identifying ways to support secondary school teachers to achieve optimal health and wellbeing is important.

This University of Newcastle led research study aims to collect data on the food and nutrition-related factors that contribute to, and influence teachers’ overall health and wellbeing.

What does participation involve?

The study needs individuals over 18 years old, currently employed as a secondary (high school) teacher in Australia to complete an online questionnaire at four different time points from September 2023 through to June 2024, approximately 3 months apart. Each questionnaire is estimated to take 20 minutes to complete.

In appreciation of participants’ time and assistance, all participants who complete questionnaires will be placed in a draw to potentially receive one of ten $150 GiftPay vouchers at the end of each questionnaire round.

This study is voluntary, participants may opt out of the research study at any time, with no consequence. For more information, please read the Participant Information Statement.

What happens next?

To participate in this study, please go directly to the recruitment survey.

This research seeks to determine how senior mathematics teachers interpret and implement NESA’s alternative assessment (assignment) requirements in Years 11 and 12, explore what types of tasks teachers design to satisfy NESA’s requirement, and what factors/issues impact teachers’ decisions whilst creating such alternative tasks. 

Teachers’ beliefs impact their practice. Therefore, this research will also look at teachers’ beliefs about mathematics learning and teaching and investigate whether their beliefs influence the types of tasks that teachers design and use to assess their senior students learning. It will particularly focus on the validity and effectiveness of using these alternative tasks to assess students’ problem-solving skills.

This study aims to answer the following research questions:

  • How do secondary mathematics teachers interpret NESA’s requirement to develop ‘assignments or investigation-style tasks’?
  • What types of tasks do secondary mathematics teachers design in response to NESA’s requirement to develop ‘assignments or investigation-style tasks’?
  • How valid are the tasks for assessing problem-solving that secondary mathematics teachers design in response to NESA’s requirement?
  • What factors/dilemmas influence teachers’ designs of ‘assignments or investigation-style tasks’?
  • What relationship (if any) is there between secondary mathematics teachers’ beliefs about mathematics learning and teaching, and the type of ‘assignments or investigation-style tasks’ that they design?

What does participation involve?

We are looking for senior mathematics teachers from schools in NSW to help us answer these questions. Participation is easy and we aim to take up as little school time as possible.

The survey is approximately 8-10 minutes and can be accessed here.

If you are interested in participation, you can opt to only complete the 8-10 minute online survey, or both the survey and the 60 minute interview. Pseudonyms will be used when findings are reported.

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 ( and Miss Kelly Padayachee ( This will also provide an opportunity to clarify any final questions.

Primary school teachers are invited to participate in a demonstration of an online arts learning activity which will occur between 16-31 October Term 4 2023.

The aim of this research is to see if arts learning online improves primary-aged students’ well-being and self-esteem, can reduce stress and anxiety, and develops students’ socialization skills. As children return to school after COVID lockdowns arts learning may contribute to students’ and families’ re-engagement with school education. 

This research is in 3 stages:

  • Stage 1 was a survey for primary teachers, parents and students to tell the researchers about their online arts learning during the 2020-2021 COVID lockdown periods in Australia. You can access our Stage 1 Initial Findings Report here.
  • Stage 2 was the comparison of the systemic literature review with the survey findings.
  • Stage 3 is the demonstration of arts learning online activities.

The findings will inform the development of digital resources for arts learning and teaching in primary schools.

What does participation involve?

The research team is seeking primary school teachers to: 

  • Demonstrate an online learning activity with a small group of students; OR 
  • Observe a replay of the arts learning activity and provide their feedback via an online form. 

The researchers aim to recruit a minimum of two schools from your state. They hope each demonstration will include one demonstrating teacher and five observing teachers. Demonstrating teachers will invite some students to participate in the 30-minute demonstration (permission/consent form will be provided). Teachers nominating to demonstrate a learning activity are asked to indicate in our nomination form if their school may require RFF funding.

The demonstrating teacher will have their video camera turned on and the participating students will have their video cameras turned off. The demonstrating teacher and participating students will interact in the live online class. The session will be recorded. The recording will be provided by a secure link to the teachers who are nominated to observe. The feedback will be collected by a survey tool.

Primary school teachers are invited to become a demonstrating and/or observing teacher in Stage 3. Register your interest via the online registration form

The University of Newcastle is conducting research to develop a well-being program to improve teenage girls' physical and mental health, as well as support fathers to nurture their bond with their daughters.

There is an urgent need to address the high rates of sport-drop out and exceedingly low rates of physical activity among teenage girls (especially when compared to their male counterparts), and to reverse the acceleration of these problems due to the impact of COVID-19. Moreover, mental health issues in the teenage years and the detrimental impact of social media are a major public health concern.

We are hopeful this program will achieve similar success to our multi-award winning Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered program which targets primary school aged girls and their fathers for improved wellbeing, sports skills and physical activity.

What does participation involve?

We have developed a short survey for high school aged girls to complete and another one for father/father figures of high school aged girls. The surveys ask questions about well-being, sport, physical activity and family relationships.

The information obtained will help the research team to understand this population’s key concerns related to health and social-emotional wellbeing and help inform the development of a Daughters & Dads Teens program that could best meet their needs.

Participants who complete the survey will go in the draw to win one of 6 x $50 vouchers.

It would be much appreciated if schools could share the promotions for these surveys in their newsletters, across their social media platforms and amongst staff. Suggested text to accompany the images:

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.