Play-based learning research pioneer receives top honour at BHERT Awards
Professor Marilyn Fleer, the Foundation Chair in Early Childhood Education and Development at Monash University’s Faculty of Education and a pioneer in the understanding of play-based learning, has been awarded the Business Higher Education Round Table (BHERT) Ashley Goldsworthy Award for ‘Leadership in Collaboration’ for sustained collaboration with the early childhood education sector and teacher upskilling.
Professor Fleer, who began her career in early education in 1981 as a pre-primary teacher with the Department of Education in Frankland Western Australia, has been actively engaged in the sector ever since having held positions in centres before progressing to advisory and research roles.
Professor Fleer’s research focus has been on the early stages of concept formation, in particular how play can promote children’s imagination, creativity and “rational” thinking, and has helped reveal how imagination and curiosity support learning in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
As well as being the Foundation Chair in Early Childhood Education and Development Professor Fleer is also a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellow in which she investigated how families and teachers create conditions for childrens conceptual thinking in play-based settings.
Professor Fleer has published widely in international journals including but not limited to Research in Science Education, Learning, Cultural and Social Interaction and Cultural Studies of Science Education. She was also the founder of the International Journal of Research in Early Childhood.
BHERT Ashley Goldsworthy Award commemorates leadership and collaboration
The receipt of the BHERT Ashley Goldsworthy Award commemorates Professor Fleer’s track record of creating the highest impact and most innovative university partnerships in Australia with a focus on deepening knowledge around early childhood education research.
Partnerships include those with the Australian Government, Victorian Government, peak body Early Childhood Australia, and many schools.
More recently Professor Fleer has launched Australia’s largest ever study into play-based learning with the creation of a play based intentional teaching model for young children to form concepts in STEM called the “conceptual playworld”.
The “conceptual playworld” is an imaginary scenario created by an educator where young children are invited to on imaginary journeys, meet and solve challenges that are created to help introduce STEM concepts all while playing.
The aim is for young children to experience and live through concepts that would otherwise be difficult to articulate from an educators perspective.
The BHERT Awards were presented in Brisbane on 29 August. The Awards were established in 1998 and seek to recognise the best – the highest impact and most innovative – university partnerships in Australia.