Designing Effective Learning Experiences

Quality teaching leads to quality learning outcomes for students. Importantly, we also recognise that primary school teachers design in an increasingly complex environment.

Our project aims to:

  • characterise and identify differences in how teachers approach design;
  • capture best-practice in design in a way that can be shared with others; and,
  • investigate how those best-practice examples can stimulate other teachers’ design process.

Ultimately we hope this understanding of teachers’ design processes will enhance initial teacher preparation and ongoing teacher professional learning.

Project update – February 2017

In 2014-2015:

In the first two years  of the project we worked with 37 early career and experienced teachers to understand how they design learning experiences for their students. These teachers have let us investigate their design thinking process as they developed units of work for Stage 3 NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum. We have conducted interviews, observed the design process, and collected their units of work.

We analysed the data we collected from teachers to capture and represent their design practices in a way that we think will help other teachers to design. As part of this, we polished the units of work produced. These are available here.

In 2016:

We tested our ideas from our analysis with early career teachers located in the Sydney and Illawarra regions of New South Wales. This, again, involved teachers designing a unit work. In school-based Terms 1 and 2, we recruited early career teachers who hadn’t yet participated in our project. Our early career teacher participants were:

  • in their first five years of teaching since graduating from their initial teacher education program
  • currently teaching or have some experience teaching NSW Stage 3 students (upper Primary)
  • located in the Sydney or Illawarra areas
  • willing to spend a day designing a unit of work for  NSW syllabus for the Australian Curriculum – English, Mathematics, Science or History

In 2017-2018:

We completed data collection and are analysing data and reporting our findings.

Lauren Knussen is undertaking her PhD studies looking at how early career teachers design, particularly for technology-integrated learning.

If you wish to know more about our project, please email the project lead, Lori Lockyer, at


Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project Award (DP140100970)

Chief Investigators:

  • Lori Lockyer, University of Technology Sydney
  • Sue Bennett, University of Wollongong
  • Shirley Agostinho, University of Wollongong
  • Senior Research Assistants: Lauren Knussen, Angel Mok