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Personal profile


Dr Kathleen (Kathy) Smith is an Associate Professor at Monash University with specialisations in primary science education and teacher professional learning. Kathy’s  professional experiences as primary teacher, education consultant  and academic science educator have shaped not only her  research interests but a strong personal  belief that research design must elevate and amplify teacher voice in educational discourse. This emphasis has been a distinguishing feature of her research and project work to date. Her work  has impacted  education sectors across Australia and internationally (e.g. Ireland) by  advancing  knowledge of teacher  professional learning, science and STEM education, scientific literacy, whole school change, teacher values and beliefs in science teaching and  the conditions which promote quality student  learning. Her 2017 publication Teachers as Self-directed Learners- Active positioning through Professional Learning, was  among the top 50% most downloaded eBooks in its respective eBook collection (Springerlink 2019).

In 2014 Kathy was the recipient of the  Jeff Northfiled Memorial Award for Excellence in Teacher Research. In 2020 she received the Dean's Award for for Early Career Research. Later that same year she was awarded the Monash University Vice Chancellor’s Early Career Research Award (HASS) -rewarding continued, high quality research performance by researchers who, “demonstrate that they have achieved the highest levels of sustained research excellence in research.

Kathy is presently  leading an ARC Linkage project investigating Problem Based Learning in school based STEM education. This project involves Chief Investigators from Monash University and University of Queensland with expertise in Education, Engineering and Philiosophy. Partner investigators include Melbourne Archdiocese of Catholic Schools (MACS) and Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE). This project  empowers  teacher ownership of personal professional growth and practice in STEM education and  aims to ensure teacher expertise is accessible to enrich the professional perspectives of other educators. 

Research & Supervision Interests

◦                     The conditions that promote student engagement in science and STEM education

◦                     scientific literacy and classroom practice

◦                     teacher professional learning and the conditions that enhance teacher decision making and recognition of professional expertise

◦                     effective pedagogy in science education

Research area keywords

  • Teacher Professional Learning
  • primary science education
  • scientific
  • scientific literacy
  • teacher thinking
  • STEM education


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