Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Professor Amie Albrecht

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
29 Jan 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$29,863 p.a. available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Make a difference to how mathematics is taught 

Seeking to make a difference in the field of education and interested in addressing modern teaching challenges? The University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering an innovative and contemporary project-based PhD in our Centre for Research in Educational and Social Inclusion (CRESI).

Research has described the climate of a typical primary mathematics classroom as one in which students feel negative about mathematics and resistant to productive struggle and challenge. Traditionally, intervention approaches address underperformance in mathematics by boosting student confidence in their mathematical ability before presenting them with rich problem-solving experiences. We hypothesise that responding to this issue in the other direction may be of more benefit – that is, early success with problem solving may contribute to overall confidence and self-efficacy in mathematics.  

This project investigates the problem-solving experiences of primary school students and the relationship between problem solving and confidence in mathematics. We want to determine primary teachers’ understandings of mathematical problem solving, understand how mathematical problem solving is intended and enacted in the Australian primary curriculum and in classrooms, and understand the relationship between primary students’ confidence to problem solve and their confidence in their mathematical ability.
We also want to understand how primary students’ confidence and/or anxiety in their overall mathematics ability and their mathematical problem-solving ability change over time, and what kinds of mathematical experiences create and maintain a classroom climate of thinking that is conducive to problem solving, both when working individually and collaboratively.

You will become part of the Centre for Research in Education and Social Inclusion (CRESI) within the UniSA Education Futures Unit. CRESI is committed to creating a society that fosters educational and social inclusion and addresses barriers of understanding and respect for children and young people’s diversity. This project aligns with the Centre’s priority to challenge educators to support learners as divergent thinkers and creators of knowledge for changing futures. 

The supervision team brings together members from two research centres – CRESI and the Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L) – so you will benefit from a broad range of expertise and guidance. C3L pursues research that directly impacts education and society, including investigations into the learning skills, mindsets and developmental aspects of education that are necessary for a digitally rich and complex age.

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will undertake both quantitative and qualitative research methods for education. You will engage in classroom-based observations and reflective practice, with some travel to different school sites required.

The project will help you to develop a full understanding of how to conduct a research project centred on partnering with schools, teachers and students. You will learn about gaining ethics approval for research in educational sites/contexts, and how to review literature and theory specifically focused on improving the mathematical experiences of children. 

As well as learning how to engage in research, you will be supported to present your research findings nationally and to engage in the process of translating research into meaningful practice.

As a team member, you will gain access to research and teaching development opportunities, including reading group discussions, presenting at conferences and a range of other forums, including professional development for teachers. Being a member of CRESI enables you to access internal research training and capacity building programs.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based in the Centre for Research in Educational and Social Inclusion (CRESI). It is one of the largest research concentrations in the world that is focused on contributing to new knowledge about issues related to educational and social inclusion.

Like many countries, Australia is experiencing widening economic and educational inequality which is undermining the social cohesion, national productivity, and the wellbeing of the population. In fact, Australia is now one of the least equitable educational systems in the OECD.

CRESI researchers have a range of interdisciplinary expertise to undertake a broad scope of research that contribute to and mitigate educational and social inequalities.

Our mission is to generate research-based knowledge to inform inclusive educational and social policy and practices across the lifespan. We conduct interdisciplinary research to generate knowledge of systemic forms of exclusion? policy analysis and critique focusing on policies' effects? theory building to understand complex phenomena? and case studies of hopeful sites of educational and social inclusion. Our research contributes to greater education equity to enhance social cohesion and wellbeing.

Supervisory Team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $29,863 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from Australian or New Zealand citizens, and Australian permanent residents or permanent humanitarian visa holders. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate. 

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and be based at our Mawson Lakes campus in the north of Adelaide.

Essential Dates

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Sunday 29 January 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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