David H McKinnon

Professor David H McKinnon

Director, Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research



Why should you consider coming to this university, this capital city, this country? I chose to come to Edith Cowan University in 2014 for a number of reasons.

First, it seemed at my interview that ECU was an organisation that wished to be on the move and was positioning itself to grow. That has proved to be true and more so since the arrival of our new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Steve Chapman.

The University is undertaking a change process to grow its operations both nationally and internationally.

With an already highly positive evaluation by its graduates of the teaching enterprise, there is now an opportunity to grow ECU’s research impact.

This will allow it to track much higher in the international rankings.

Second, there is a growing commitment to collaborative and interdisciplinary research. Since arriving in the middle of 2014, a number of opportunities have presented that will allow the Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research to work with Science Faculty – both at ECU and other universities in Western Australia – as we undertake investigations into the rehabilitation of land damaged by mining.

This will involve scientists working with high-school students and educational researchers to collect valid data from both damaged and undamaged land. We are working with Aboriginal language groups to engage pupils in doing real science as part of their in-school studies.

Third, the Institute has a primary focus on STEM education. This aspect attracted me strongly and the chance to collect and analyse data flowing from one of its methodological tools using a variety of video technologies presents an opportunity to generate insights into making an impact on student and teacher learning. Other centres within the Institute focus on different but complementary areas: technology use; higher education learning and teaching; early childhood education; special education; and, transformational games.

Fourth, one area of personal major interest is astronomy education in which, by virtue of the fact that there are so few full time research astronomers, there are major opportunities to undertake educational and scientific investigations on a truly global scale. That is to say, high school students have the opportunity to be mentored by real scientists while they undertake cutting edge research themselves.

To this end, we have access to the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope network to acquire high-quality research-level imagery that can become the subject of in-school investigations. Already, three scientific papers have been published with students as co-authors, plus a number of educational papers that publish the outcomes of doing real science in the classroom.

Fifth, in helping to build a Research Institute that will have a global impact on science education that employs methodological tools in innovative ways, you will be positioning yourself to acquire a truly international reputation.

Finally, the location of the University in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Perth, means you will enjoy a lifestyle that is unparalleled.

Consider, on the eastern outskirts of the city no more than 25km from the CBD, there are vineyards. The natural environment contains the Darling Ranges, 50km to the west, that are outcrops of some of the oldest rocks on our planet, and we have beaches that you would not believe.

To our north the low-frequency Square Kilometre Array radio telescope is being built. The flora and fauna of WA is unique and I would hypothesise that many plants and animals are, as yet, undescribed by science.

Opportunities exist for the educational researcher with expansive views of how STEM education can be conceptualised and investigated to produce results that impact how it should be taught. All this will take place in the wonderful setting we call Western Australia.