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.



Current Research Opportunities

Current research opportunities are listed below.

**Please note that approval from the Principal or Head of School is required for all research conducted in independent schools. Research initiatives listed here are not formally endorsed by AISNSW. 


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 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 (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 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 E.Vass@westernsydney.edu.au and Lynde Tan L.Tan@westernsydney.edu.au

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: https://bit.ly/3C2Mioi

For further information, please contact Megan on megan.e.bennett@uon.edu.au

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 (jim.tognolini@sydney.edu.au) and Miss Kelly Padayachee (kpad5991@uni.sydney.edu). 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.

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:

This research aims to explore the challenges of EAL/D teachers when trying to identify and support EAL/D students with additional learning disabilities. The research aims to gain insights into the needs of students who are not meeting expected language development outcomes, as well as teacher access to support and resources. This could support EAL/D students and their teachers.

What does participation involve?

The research involves a 15-minute anonymous survey and the option for a further Zoom interview. Participants in the interview will receive a $50 gift voucher as a thank you for their time.  All identifiable data will be removed from the survey and interview data.

Participation is completely voluntary, and participants can withdraw at any time.

What happens next?

If you wish to participate, please click on the link below to taken to the LimeSurvey site.

https://limesurvey.mq.edu.au/index.php/964919?lang=en

If you have any questions please contact Nicola Hoffman (Nicola.hoffman@hdr.mq.edu.au) or Dr Sue Ollerhead (sue.ollerhead@mq.ed.au).

This study aims to explore the evaluation practices of gifted programs in Australian independent schools. Furthermore, it seeks to identify the methodologies used, factors affecting these evaluations, and how the experiences and perceptions of involved stakeholders influence the evaluation processes.

The researchers are looking to recruit senior executive leaders and gifted education leaders in schools that have an existing gifted education program since these schools are more likely to have engaged in program evaluation. An existing gifted program, in this instance, is a program that has been present in the school for 12 months and one day or more.

What does participation involve?

If you decide to take part in the research study, we will ask you to participate in an online interview, and you will be asked questions about gifted program evaluation in your school. Principals (or senior leader representatives) will also be asked to provide anonymised documents relevant to gifted program evaluation practices at your school. The documents may include, but are not limited to curriculum documents, program outlines, evaluation reports, and other related printed communications. Participants may participate in the interview without principals submitting documents to the research team.

Participants will receive anonymised copies of these documents via email from the research team a week prior to the scheduled interview, to allow them to review the documents. In the interview, we will discuss the documents relevant to gifted program evaluation that your principal has provided to the research team.

The interview will take place using Microsoft Teams and will take approximately 45 minutes. With your permission, the research team would like to video record the interview. Since Microsoft Teams will automatically record audio and video, if you do not wish to be video recorded, you may turn your camera off. The research team will only use and retain audio and visual recordings for transcription. It will not publish recordings that can identify individuals (i.e., identifiable information) when reporting the research results or within the publication. If you do not wish to be recorded but you would like to participate you advise the research team and written notes will be taken.

There are no costs associated with participating in this research project, nor will you be paid.  However, you will receive an Amazon gift card of $25 to reimburse you for your time while completing the online interview.

What happens next?

For further information about participating, please see the PISCFs in the Additional Resources list or email: h.stephenson@student.unsw.edu.au  with the subject line ‘Gifted Program Evaluation Study”.

Amidst the release of numerous ethical AI frameworks and guidelines by governing entities worldwide, this project collaborates with education stakeholders at both local and global levels to supports AI’s safe, ethical, and sustainable introduction and implementation in schools.

This global project is conducted across three study sites – Australia, Finland, and France. It emphasises the important role of education stakeholders (students, educators) in collaboratively creating co-envisioned education futures through the shared values that are the cornerstone of our educational endeavour.

This project aims to collaborate with global education stakeholders to explore two broad questions:

  • How can AI policy (e.g., ethical framework) in education contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?
  • What values are important to education stakeholders in relation to AI technologies? How can these be integrated into the global and local school AI policy frameworks and pedagogical practices to achieve education excellence and create our co-envisioned education futures?

This global project also invites education stakeholders, particularly schools and educators, to co-develop research questions that matter to specific educational contexts.

The project aims to:

  • collaborate with local and global education institutions in aligning with current ethical, and social expectations for the use of AI in education, and in preparing for future changes.
  • collaborate with local education communities to develop AI digital literacy and global AI citizenship education.
  • partner with key local and global institutions and stakeholders to co-curate resources for local and global AI policy development in education, curriculum design, and innovative learning and teaching practices.
  • experiment with participatory methodologies to support the inclusive and democratic development of AI policy in education in both local and global contexts.


What does participation involve?

Participatory AI Policy Prototyping Workshop and Interview
This involves multi-staged workshops and interviews aimed at co-developing AI policies and ideas with diverse educational stakeholders at both local and global levels.

Stage 1: Co-designing Workshop with School Teachers (One Hour)
Based on self-expressed interests, school teachers will be invited to attend an initial one-hour participatory orientation meeting at their school. During this meeting, teachers will be invited to co-design the workshop involving students.

Stage 2: Students-Only Workshop (60 minutes workshop x 3 Year Groups x 20-30 students from each year group)
These workshops engage students (Years 7-9) in co-designing AI policies, ideas at schools.

Stage 3: Interviews (10-15 minutes per participant)
Post-workshop interviews with student participants will provide further opportunities for them to articulate their co-envisioned educational futures and their empowered roles in shaping these.
With schools’ willingness, the participating pilot schools in Australia and Finland might have opportunities to establish long-term educational partnerships beyond this project.


What happens next?

For further information about participating in the project or enquire further information, please email: annie.webster@sydney.edu.au with the subject line ‘AI, Policy Futures and Schooling”.

What happens in your brain when you use metacognition?

This project aims to explore and reappraise the notion of metacognition using the learning sciences and apply its findings to enhance the design of teacher professional learning.

A common and simple description of metacognition is ‘thinking about thinking.’ However, the processes, functions, and features of metacognition are more complex. For instance, error detection and feedback are key components of the metacognitive learner. These two features enable learners to be aware of and fine-tune their learning and thinking processes and to be critical thinkers. This is essential for any learner, especially in the age of AI.

What does participation involve?

There are two parts to the study,

Part 1 - Survey: We invite all teachers at any school in Australia to participate in a 20-minute survey about teachers’ perceptions of metacognition. Responses are anonymous and confidential. Use this link https://sydney.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6ill9EZzUk3dSM6 to access the survey. You can read more about the study here or here or contact us for further details.

Part 2 - Electroencephalography (EEG): In the second part of the study, we will be recruiting 50 Primary school teachers to participate in an electroencephalography (EEG) based study. EEG is a safe and non-invasive method to measure the tiny electrical signals from our brains as we engage in cognitive tasks. The EEG will record your brain signals as you use your metacognition. It enables us to ‘look inside’ the brain. All the data that is gathered is anonymous and is used for the purpose of this study only.

University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC Approval No. 2023/899).

What happens next?

Complete the survey here https://sydney.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6ill9EZzUk3dSM6.

Interested schools should contact Associate Professor Minkang Kim, minkang.kim@sydney.edu.au and Stanley Yip (PhD candidate), syip9239@uni.sydney.edu.au

This research seeks to explore the factors that enable and demonstrate growing, leading and sustaining evidence-informed practice in schools. By collecting examples from whole-school sites that demonstrate and lead evidence-informed practice, the aim is to learn about what teachers and leaders in schools are doing; the structures, cultures and strategies being developed; and the extent to which individual and organisational factors influence changes in practice. This knowledge will be used to help schools lead evidence-informed practice well in the future.

The research aims to answer the following questions:

  • What factors enable and demonstrate growing, leading and sustaining evidence-informed practice in schools?
  • What are teachers and leaders in schools doing to influence changes to evidence-informed practice?
  • What indicators and actions suggest the impact will be sustainable in the future.

What does participation involve?

Participation in this study will involve a 45-60 minute semi-structured interview at a time convenient for you. If there is only one participant from your school, it will be an individual interview. All interviews will be conducted online via Teams and will be recorded.

Participants may provide examples of artefacts such as whole-school programs that demonstrate the use of evidence-informed practice. All shared documents will be de-identified. Participants may also be asked to take part in a 45-60 minute observation. This will occur in a professional setting at a time convenient for you. For example, a staff meeting. No students will be observed throughout this study.

Participation is voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. Participant Information Statements and Participant Consent Forms are provided under the Associated documents heading.

What happens next?

If you are interested in participating in this study, please read the associated documents relevant to you and email Dr Christine Grice (christine.grice@sydney.edu.au) and Isaac Dargan (idar8852@uni.sydney.edu.au).

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.