Conceptual PlayLab head, Laureate Professor Marilyn Fleer, named as Fellow of ASSA
The Sector > Workforce > Leadership > Conceptual PlayLab head, Laureate Professor Marilyn Fleer, named as Fellow of ASSA

Conceptual PlayLab head, Laureate Professor Marilyn Fleer, named as Fellow of ASSA

by Freya Lucas

November 15, 2021

Director of the Conceptual PlayLab at Monash University, Laureate Professor Marilyn Fleer has been named amongst a select group of Australia’s leading economists, lawyers, psychologists, philosophers and other social scientists as a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA).


Laureate Professor Fleer is well known in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector for her work leading Australia’s first programmatic study of STEM in the early childhood years.


As Director of the Conceptual PlayLab she is working on research that seeks to change Australia’s current STEM engagement through three pillars of research: 

1) a longitudinal study of infants, toddlers and preschoolers learning of STEM; 

2) how families create motivating conditions to support their children’s play and learning of STEM concepts at home; and, 

3) a model of teaching to support teachers’ confidence and competence in STEM teaching for play-based settings.

Her research team is seeking to understand the motivating conditions for STEM learning, identify existing or potential barriers to participation, and to build a model of practice that can amplify opportunities for STEM in childcare, playgroups, preschools and early years classrooms in schools.


Core to the research is studying how imagination in play supports imagination in STEM for children from infancy through to eight years of age. Many concepts in science, such as the position of the Earth in the solar system, microbial action in the compost bin, and Force in the playground have to be imagined. How to create the conditions in homes and preschools to develop children’s imagination in play and imagination in STEM is a fundamental problem that is being tackled in the Conceptual PlayLab.


The outcomes of the research by Laureate Professor Fleer are on track to contribute to building new knowledge about infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers STEM concept formation in homes and play-based settings and to pioneer methodological innovations for researching concept formation, including a digital imagination in STEM scale to support future research. It is envisaged that the results will build capacity in researching STEM early learning, positioning Australia as a research leader in early childhood STEM.


President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia Professor Jane Hall congratulated the new Fellows on their election.


“These new Fellows are at the forefront of social research and policy, and they have made enormous contributions to our society as a whole,” she said. “It is an honour to have these individuals as new Fellows of the Academy.”


To review full profiles of each of the new members please see here


An online event featuring brief presentations from each of the new Fellows will be held on 24 November, 4:30-7:00 pm AEDT. This event is open to the public via the Academy’s website.

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