1987 …2024

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Personal profile


Marilyn Fleer holds the Foundation Chair in Early Childhood Education and Development at Monash University where she is also a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellow

She researches in the areas of early childhood science, engineering and technologies with particular attention on digital visual methodology framed through cultural-historical theory. Her Laureate Fellowship on the theme ‘Imagination in play and imagination in STEM’ investigates how families and teachers create conditions for children’s conceptual thinking in play-based settings. 

In 2021, in recognition of her lifetime contribution, Marilyn was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. In 2022, Marilyn was selected for the Victorian Honour Roll of Women for her outstanding work in significantly shifting understanding of how young children think and learn, particularly girls.
She holds honorary positions at the University of Oxford, Western Norway University and Aarhus University in Denmark.

She has published widely in international journals including Mind, Culture and Activity, Research in Science Education, Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, and Cultural Studies of Science Education. She founded the International Journal of Research in Early Childhood, which is an open access journal designed to support scholarship in early childhood education research. Some of her recent publications include:

  • Fleer, M. and van Oers, B (Eds.) International handbook on early childhood education, Volume 1, (pp. 1-31), and Volume 2, (pp. 955-967), The Netherlands:Springer;
  • Fleer, M (2018). Examining the psychological content of digital play through Hedegaard’s model of child development, Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, /doi.org/10.1016/j.lcsi.2018.04.006
  • Fleer, M. (2017). Digital role-play: Creating new conditions for children’s play. Mind, Culture and Activity. 24 (1), 3-17, DOI: 10.1080/10749039.2016.1247456;

She was the President of the International Society of Cultural-historical, Activity, Research, held numerous Government appointed advisory positions related to the development of quality early childhood education provision, and led key research projects value at over ten million dollars (including 5 Australian Research Council Discovery Projects).

The Laureate project expects to:

  • Build world class research into early childhood Science, Engineering and Technologies concept formation
  • Generate scholarly knowledge about the nature of conceptual play for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers across broad range of early childhood settings and family homes
  • Build research capacity and innovations in early childhood Science, Engineering and Technologies, leading to an International Centre of Excellence in play-based SET learning

 For further information, please see Fleer's Conceptual Playworld.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research area keywords

  • Cross-Cultural Research
  • Family studies
  • Early childhood science education
  • Technology education
  • Building of new theoretical tools to support early childhood development and education

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or