Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Dr Amy MacDonald

Dr Amy MacDonald

BEd (Prim)(Hons, Class 1), CSU; PhD, CSU

Amy is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Mathematics Education in the School of Education on the Albury-Wodonga campus. She has a Bachelor of Education (Primary)(Honours Class 1) degree and a PhD in early childhood mathematics education, both from Charles Sturt University. She worked at the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE) and as a sessional academic with the School of Education on the CSU Wagga Wagga campus while completing her PhD, before relocating to the Albury-Wodonga campus at the start of 2011. Amy has previously worked as a Kindergarten teacher, transition teacher and special needs teacher in primary schools in NSW.

Amy's current research focuses on the mathematics experiences and education of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and children in the early years of primary school including: transitions in mathematics education; noticing children's mathematics; and contexts for the development of mathematical understanding. Amy is currently leading the evaluation of the federally-funded Little Scientists preschool science program. Amy is working on a number of numeracy-focused research projects utilising data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), and is also involved in developing and evaluating Let's Count, a program to support young children's numeracy development prior to school. Amy is a member of the Pedagogies of Educational Transitions (POET) global alliance, working with researchers from Australia, Iceland, Scotland, Sweden, and New Zealand.

Amy currently teaches students in the Bachelor of Education (Birth to Five Years) course, in the areas of early childhood mathematics, science and technology education. Amy has a particular commitment to the delivery of high-quality and enjoyable distance education in this course.

Amy is a dedicated early childhood mathematics education lecturer and researcher, and has received a number of awards for her work in this area, including an Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

Awards/Honours

  • 2016: RIPPLE Research Fellowship
  • 2014: Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for: Approaches to mathematics education at a distance which inspire early childhood educators to engage with mathematics
  • 2014: RIPPLE Research Fellowship
  • 2013: Faculty of Education Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning for: Approaches to mathematics education at a distance which inspire early childhood educators to engage with mathematics
  • 2012: Faculty of Education Paper of the Year Award
  • 2012: NSW Institute for Educational Research Beth Southwell Award for an Outstanding Thesis
  • 2012: Invitee, Science Meets Parliament 2012
  • 2012: Nominee, Early Childhood Australia Doctoral Thesis Award
  • 2012: Nominee, Australian Association for Research in Education Award for Doctoral Research in Education
  • 2012: Nominee, Faculty of Education Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
  • 2011: Faculty of Education Outstanding Thesis Prize
  • 2011: Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA) Early Career Award
  • 2011: RIPPLE/CRN Research Fellowship
  • 2008: RIPPLE PhD Scholarship

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Current Research

Amy's current research focuses on the mathematics experiences and education of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and children in the early years of primary school including: transitions in mathematics education; noticing children's mathematics; and contexts for the development of mathematical understanding. More recently, Amy has been expanding the focus of her work to include young children's engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) more broadly. Amy is currently leading the evaluation of the federally-funded Little Scientists preschool STEM program. She is also working with colleagues from Deakin University and University of Western Australia to examine preschool STEM education in NSW, VIC and WA.

Amy is currently a member of a CSU team who is co-researching with a local primary school to examine trajectories for children identified as "working above standard" in literacy and/or numeracy. Amy is also working on a number of numeracy-focused research projects utilising data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). Since 2011, she has been involved in developing and evaluating Let's Count, a program to support young children's numeracy development prior to school. 

PhD Research

Amy's PhD research looked at children's understandings of measurement as they commenced school, and how these understandings were shaped by the experiences with measurement that children have in prior-to-school and out-of-school contexts. Her doctoral studies were supervised by Prof. Tom Lowrie and Dr Jane Wilkinson. 

Honours Research

Amy's Honours research explored the transition to school experience for a cohort of children in a small rural community, and examined children's representations of their lived experiences of starting school. Her Honours studies were supervised by Dr Tracey Smith.

RIPPLE Membership

Amy was a member of the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE) from 2008 until its closure in 2016. RIPPLE was a multi-disciplinary research centre that conducted high-quality applied research and consultation in the field of professional practice and implications for professional learning and education. Amy was awarded RIPPLE research fellowships in 2014 and 2016.

CRN Membership

Amy was a member of the Excellence in Research in Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network (CRN), a collaboration between Charles Sturt University, Queensland University of Technology and Monash University. Amy served as the Early/Mid-Career Researcher Representative on the CRN Planning Committee for the duration of the CRN. Amy was awarded a RIPPLE/CRN Research Fellowship in 2011. 

POET Membership

Amy is a member of the Pedagogies of Educational Transitions (POET) global alliance, working with researchers from Australia, Iceland, Scotland, Sweden, and New Zealand. POET has been funded internationally by the Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme, in addition to other supplementary funding sources at the country level. POET brings together researchers from five institutions to strengthen international partnerships in researching young children's educational transitions.

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Undergraduate Teaching

Amy currently teaches students in the Bachelor of Education (Birth to Five Years) course, in the areas of early childhood mathematics, science and technology education. Amy has a particular commitment to the delivery of high-quality and enjoyable distance education in this course. Amy's contribution to distance early childhood mathematics education at CSU was recognised in 2014 with her receipt of an Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning for approaches to mathematics education at a distance which inspire early childhood educators to engage with mathematics.

Amy is the Subject Coordinator for the following subjects:

  • EMC101: Let's Count
  • EMC305: Investigation: Mathematics, Science and Technology

Amy is the author of the following subjects:

  • EMC101: Let's Count
  • EMC305: Investigation: Mathematics, Science and Technology
  • EMM106: Learning Mathematics and Science in Early Years Settings
  • EMM411: Numeracy in the Early Years
  • EEP421: Educational Transitions in Multiple Contexts

Higher Degree Research (HDR) Student Supervision

StudentDegreeTitleRoleStatus
S. MurphyPhDWhat factors are contributing to higher than expected STEM educational outcomes in provincial and remote Australian schools?Co-SupervisorIn progress
A. Blitz-RaithPhDMultimodal semiotic analysis of educational software applications using an extended frameworkCo-SupervisorIn progress
L. BrownlowHons.Frame of mind: How the framing effect impacts maths self-beliefs and task confidence in word-based problemsPrincipal SupervisorIn progress
M. CoreyHons.Limited risk; limited development: An investigation into regulations involving risk-taking and the beliefs and practices of Australian early childhood educators Principal SupervisorCompleted 2016

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CSU Committees/Leadership 

  • Level C/D Representative, CSU Research Committee
  • School of Education Higher Degree Research Coordinator
  • Chair, School of Education Research Committee
  • Elected Academic Member, Arts and Education Faculty Board
  • Faculty of Arts and Education Research and Graduate Studies Committee
  • School of Education Learning and Teaching Committee
  • School of Education Staffing Committee

Community Engagement

  • Chair, 'Building Bridges' Early Years Conference Committee
  • Conference contributor, Early Childhood Australia (ECA) national conference
  • Conference contributor, Mobile Children's Services Association of NSW (MCSA)
  • Contributor, Centre Support monthly newsletter
  • Contributor, Family Day Care Australia 'JiGSAW' magazine

Professional Associations

  • Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA)
  • Early Childhood Australia (ECA)
  • Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT)
  • Mathematical Association of New South Wales (MANSW)

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Books

  • MacDonald, A. (Due 2018). Mathematics in early childhood education. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.
  • Dockett, S., & MacDonald, A. (Eds.). (2016). Just do good research: Commentary on the work and influence of Bob Perry. Albury, NSW: Peridot Education.
  • MacDonald, A. (2015). Investigating mathematics, science and technology in early childhood. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.
  • Perry, B., MacDonald, A., & Gervasoni, A. (Eds.)(2015). Mathematics and transition to school: International perspectives. Singapore: Springer.
  • Perry, B., Lowrie, T., Logan, T., MacDonald, A., & Greenlees, J. (Eds.). (2012). Research in mathematics education in Australasia 2008-2011. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers. 

Book Chapters

  • MacDonald, A., Goff, W., Dockett, S., & Perry, B. (2016). Mathematics education in the early years. In K. Makar, S. Dole, J. Visnovska, M. Goos, A. Bennison, & K. Fry (Eds.), Research in mathematics education in Australasia: 2012-2015 (pp. 165-186). Singapore: Springer.
  • Perry, B., Lowrie, T., Logan, T., MacDonald, A., & Greenlees, J. (2016). Reflections on the MERGA Research Review 2008-2011. In K. Makar, S. Dole, J. Visnovska, M. Goos, A. Bennison, & K. Fry (Eds.), Research in mathematics education in Australasia: 2012-2015 (pp. 13-27). Singapore: Springer.
  • Fenton, A., Walsh, K., & MacDonald, A. (2016). Capacity building of early career researchers through cross-institutional mentoring. In B.G.G. Johannessen (Ed.), Global co-mentoring networks in higher education: Politics, policies, and practices (pp. 203-227). Switzerland: Springer.
  • MacDonald, A. (2016). Transitioning early childhood mathematics education. In S. Dockett & A. MacDonald (Eds.), Just do good research: Commentary on the work and influence of Bob Perry. Albury, NSW: Peridot Education.
  • MacDonald, A. (2015). Let's Count: Early childhood educators and families working in partnership to support young children's transitions in mathematics education. In B. Perry, A. MacDonald, & A. Gervasoni (Eds.), Mathematics and transition to school: International perspectives (85-102). Singapore: Springer.
  • Perry, B., MacDonald, A., & Gervasoni, A. (2015). Mathematics and transition to school: Theoretical frameworks and practical implications. In B. Perry, A. MacDonald, & A. Gervasoni (Eds.), Mathematics and transition to school: International perspectives (1-12). Singapore: Springer.
  • MacDonald, A., Goff, W., Hopps, K., Kaplun, C., & Rogers, S. (2014). Starting school: Synthesis and analysis. In B. Perry, S. Dockett, & A. Petriwskyj (Eds.), Transitions to school: International research, policy and practice (pp. 219-228). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.
  • MacDonald, A., Davies, N., Dockett, S., & Perry, B. (2012). Early childhood mathematics education. In B. Perry, T. Lowrie, T. Logan, A. MacDonald, & J. Greenlees (Eds.), Research in mathematics education in Australasia 2008-2011 (pp. 169-193). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
  • Perry, B., Lowrie, T., Logan, T., MacDonald, A., & Greenlees, J. (2012). Introduction. In B. Perry, T. Lowrie, T. Logan, A. MacDonald, & J. Greenlees (Eds.), Research in mathematics education in Australasia 2008-2011 (pp. 1-11). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense. 

Journal Articles

  • Williams, K.E., White, S.J., & MacDonald, A. (2016). Early mathematics achievement of boys and girls: Do differences in early self-regulation pathways explain later achievement? Learning and Individual Differences, 51, 199-209.
  • Carmichael, C., & MacDonald, A. (2016). Parental influences on primary school children's mathematics achievement: Insights from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 44(2), 197-211.
  • Fenton, A., MacDonald, A., & McFarland-Piazza, L. (2016). A Strengths Approach to supporting early mathematics learning in family contexts. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 41(1), 45-53.
  • Perry, B., & MacDonald, A. (2015). Educators' expectations and aspirations around young children's mathematical knowledge. Professional Development in Education, 41(2), 366-381.
  • Carmichael, C., MacDonald, A., & McFarland-Piazza, L. (2014). Predictors of numeracy performance in national testing programs: Insights from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. British Educational Research Journal, 40(4), 637-659.
  • MacDonald, A. (2013). Researching with young children: Considering issues of ethics and engagement. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 14 (3), 255-269.
  • MacDonald, A. (2013). Using children's representations to investigate meaning-making in mathematics. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 38 (2), 65-73.
  • MacDonald, A. (2013). Young children's ideas about measurement: What does a Kindergarten student consider "measuring" to be? Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 18 (1), 3-7.
  • MacDonald, A. (2012). Young children's photographs of measurement in the home. Early Years, 32 (1), 71-85.
  • MacDonald, A., & Lowrie, T. (2011). Developing measurement concepts within context: Children's representations of length. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 23 (1), 27-42.
  • MacDonald, A. (2010). Heavy thinking: Young children's theorising about mass. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 15 (4), 4-8.
  • MacDonald, A. (2009). Drawing stories: The power of children's drawings to communicate the lived experience of starting school. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 34 (3), 40-49.
  • Smith, T., & MacDonald, A. (2009). Time for talk: The drawing-telling process. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 14 (3), 21-26.
  • MacDonald, A. (2008). "But what about the oneths?" A Year Seven student's misconception about decimal place value. The Australian Mathematics Teacher, 64 (1), 12-15.
  • MacDonald, A. (2008). Kindergarten transition in a small rural school: From planning to implementation. Education in Rural Australia, 18 (1), 13-21.

Conference Papers and Posters:

  • MacDonald, A., Fenton, A., & Davidson, C. (Under review; submitted 16/03/2017). Numeracy in action in family shopping experiences: A view from the trolley. Abstract submitted for the 40th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Melbourne, 2-6 July.
  • Campbell, C., Speldewinde, C., Howitt, C., & MacDonald, A. (Under review; submitted 31/01/2017). A glimpse of early childhood teachers' STEM pedagogy and practices. Abstract submitted for the 12th conference of the European Science Education Research Association, Dublin, 21-25 Aug.
  • Huser, C., & MacDonald, A. (Accepted 20/10/2016). Children's demonstration of their competencies and agency in research participation. Paper to be presented at the European Network for Social and Emotional Competence conference, Stockholm, 7-9 June 2017.
  • Dockett, S., Perry, B., Marcus, A., & MacDonald, A. (2016). Young children noticing their own mathematics in play. Paper presented at the 26th annual conference of the European Early Childhood Education Research Association, Dublin, 31 Aug–3 Sep.
  • MacDonald, A. (2016). Family Gatherings: Inspiring educators to engage with families in new ways to support children's mathematics. Poster presented at the Early Childhood Australia conference, Darwin, 4-8 Oct.
  • MacDonald, A., & Carmichael, C. (2016). Early mathematical competencies and later outcomes: Insights from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. In B. White, M. Chinnappan, & S. Trenholm (Eds.), Opening up mathematics education research: Proceedings of the 39th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 413-420). Adelaide: MERGA.
  • Marcus, A., Perry, B., Dockett, S., & MacDonald, A. (2016). Children noticing their own and others' mathematics in play. In B. White, M. Chinnappan, & S. Trenholm (Eds.), Opening up mathematics education research: Proceedings of the 39th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 437-444). Adelaide: MERGA.
  • Muller, M., MacDonald, A., Fenton, A., & McFarland, L. (2016). Strengths approach resource kits for supporting vulnerable children and families. Poster presented at the Early Childhood Australia conference, Darwin, 4-8 Oct.
  • MacDonald, A., & Carmichael, C. (2015). A snapshot of young children's mathematical competencies: Results from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. In M. Marshman, V. Geiger, & A. Bennison (Eds.), Mathematics education in the margins. Proceedings of the 38th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 381-388). Sunshine Coast, QLD: MERGA.
  • Fenton, A., MacDonald, A., & Walsh, K. (2014). Capacity building of early career researchers through cross-institutional mentoring. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education conference, Brisbane, 30 Nov – 4 Dec.
  • Perry, B., & MacDonald, A. (2014). Educators' expectations and aspirations around young children's mathematical knowledge. Paper presented at the 24th annual conference of the European Early Childhood Education Research Association, Crete, 7-10 Sep.
  • Williams, K., MacDonald, A., & White, S. (2014). The role of early self-regulation in children's math achievement. Poster presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education conference, Brisbane, 30 Nov – 4 Dec.
  • Williams, K., White, S., & MacDonald, A. (2014). When ECR meets ECR and self-regulation meets mathematicsPaper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education conference, Brisbane, 30 Nov – 4 Dec.
  • MacDonald, A., & Cheeseman, J. (2013). Visual stimuli that prompt young children to notice their mathematical thinking: Two researchers' experiences. In V. Steinle, L. Ball, & C. Bardini (Eds.), Mathematics education: Yesterday, today and tomorrow. Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (vol. 2, pp. 779-782). Melbourne: MERGA.
  • MacDonald, A. (2011). Using children's representations to explore changes in mathematical understanding. Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education conference, Hobart, 27 Nov – 1 Dec.
  • MacDonald, A. (2011). Young children's representations of their developing measurement understandings. In J. Clark, B. Kissane, J. Mousley, T. Spencer, & S. Thornton (Eds.), Mathematics: Traditions and [new] practices. Proceedings of the AAMT-MERGA conference, incorporating the 23rd biennial conference of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers and the 34th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (vol.1, pp. 482-490). Alice Springs, NT: AAMT & MERGA.
  • MacDonald, A. (2010). Young children's measurement knowledge: Understandings about comparison at the commencement of schooling. In L. Sparrow, B. Kissane, & C. Hurst (Eds.), Shaping the future of mathematics education. Proceedings of the 33rd annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp.375-382). Fremantle: MERGA.

Others:

  • MacDonald, A., & Perry, B. (Eds.). (Due December 2017). Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 19(3). Special Issue: 'Mathematics teacher education and professional development for early childhood education and care'.
  • MacDonald, A. (2017). Using children's photography in early childhood mathematics education research. SAGE Research Methods Cases. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526401144
  • MacDonald, A. (2016). Children's understanding of measurement. In D.L. Couchenour & K. Chrisman (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopaedia of contemporary early childhood education (vol.2, pp. 832-834). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
  • MacDonald, A. (2016). Mathematics in family day care… as easy as 1,2,3! JiGSAW: The Magazine of Family Day Care Australia, 77(Autumn), 23-24.
  • Educational Transitions and Change (ETC) Research Group. (2011). Transition to school: Position statement. Albury-Wodonga: Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education, Charles Sturt University.

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