Amanda Berry, Class of 1978
Professor of STEM Education, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Education Monash University
What did you do after you left Kilvington?
I completed a Bachelor of Education at Melbourne CAE (now Melbourne University) in 1982, then went on to teach biology, science and English in different secondary schools across Melbourne. Through my experiences in schools I became particularly interested in the relationship between teaching and learning (what are students learning in my classroom? and how is my teaching influencing their learning?) that led me to embark on a Masters in Education at Monash University (completed in 1997). Through this study, my fascination for how teachers learn and develop was further sparked, leading to a PhD (completed 2005) that was a detailed study of my own university science teaching practices. My PhD won the Faculty of Education award for best thesis and led to the publication of a book based on my thesis, “Tensions in Teaching about Teaching”. I have continued to develop my research into teachers’ learning and development in STEM education, working with researchers from around the world, as an invited scholar and presenting at conferences and giving seminars. My collaborative work with these colleagues has led to significant developments in how we understand and try to capture and communicate teachers professional knowledge and growth. An important reason for this work is to build a strong and effective teaching profession.
Can you share a career highlight ?
I took up a position in the Graduate School of Education at Leiden University 2012-2016, as an Associate Professor in Education. There, I led the World Teacher Program, a bilingual teacher education program preparing teachers for international and bilingual schools in the Netherlands and world wide, as well as conducting research into teacher learning and development. This was a fantastic experience (albeit challenging!) to learn to live and work in a completely different culture and without any Dutch language background before I arrived. I learned a great deal about my assumptions about schooling and education and built my resilience to adapt – and thrive – in a new and foreign environment.
A recent career highlight is my appointment as head of Research for the Faculty of Education at Monash. In this role I am leading the development of our research strategy and supporting academics across the Faculty to build their research programs, and to connect our research with the pressing challenges of education.
What are you future plans?
I have just been awarded with colleagues from Monash and Catholic Education Office, an Australian Research Council Linkage grant, to study the use of problem based learning in STEM Education with schools in Victoria and Queensland. I am very much looking forward to this work , over the next 3 years that can help us better understand problem based learning and how it can support improved STEM education.
What memories do you have from your time at Kilvington?
Even though it is now over 40 years ago, I still have very vivid and happy memories of my years at Kilvington. What stays with me most strongly is the breadth of educational experiences that I enjoyed – a well-rounded curriculum that included everything from music appreciation to cookery to classical civilisation to sciences and even mothercraft!! I maintained my interests across diverse fields sparked by these beginnings at Kilvington, along with life-long friendships with my former classmates.