NSW Education Waratah Scholarship winner Davina Robson

UOW students secure first NSW Education Waratah scholarships

UOW students secure first NSW Education Waratah scholarships

Scholarships are for early career researchers whose projects will lead to improvements in social and educational outcomes

Two University of Wollongong PhD candidates, Davina Robson and Marg Turnbull, have been awarded NSW Department of Education Waratah Scholarships worth $10,000 per annum each.

The two-year scholarships are awarded to projects that will lead to improvements in social and educational outcomes for people in New South Wales, and are designed to support early career academics produce high-quality research. 

Davina Robson

Davina Robson (pictured above) was awarded her scholarship for research that will focus on prevalence and predictors of test anxiety in primary school children. High test anxiety is related to lower performance and to increased depression and low self-regulation.

While there is considerable evidence that test anxiety is associated with difficulties in adapting in the high school and tertiary education environments, less is known about the role of test anxiety in primary school students.

Ms Robson is a school teacher and is undertaking a PhD in UOW’s School of Psychology. She recently completed her first research project which established that test anxiety starts in primary aged children, and so the next step is to find out what affects test anxiety.

“I want to find out what makes it better or worse, for example, depression, general anxiety, COVID-19 lockdown, academic confidence and school wellbeing and belonging,” she said.

She would also like to measure test anxiety with objective physiological measures such as brain and sweat gland activity to quantify and verify the effects that test anxiety can have on performance.

The end goal of this research is help schools develop methodologies that support current and future generations of children.

“Hopefully my research will highlight the need to invest in interventions for test anxiety earlier in schooling to give children the tools to cope better in their future academic life,” she said.

Follow Davina Robson on Twitter @davinarobson7

Learn more about School of Psychology research.

Marg Turnbull

Marg Turnbull is a Principal Policy Analyst in the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation within the NSW Department of Education.

Her PhD, which she is working on in UOW’s School of Education, is titled, ‘They write like they talk: Building argumentative competence in spoken and written text for EAL/students in secondary History’.

NSW Education Waratah Scholarship winner Marg Turnball  

Waratah Scholarship winner Marg Turnbull.

It will provide insights into the education needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Ms Turnbull’s research will aim to identify inclusive pedagogical practices that improve learning outcomes for English as an additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) learners.

“Through analysis of EAL/D student spoken interactions and written work samples over the duration of the project, I will investigate the effectiveness of pedagogy that explicitly develops argumentation skills and language for this cohort,” she said.

She also plans to investigate ways for greater engagement and participation of EAL/D learners in classroom discussion which is critical for learning and literacy development.

When asked why she chose to pursue research in this area she said: “I am passionate about EAL/D education, I want to find out more about the pedagogy that provides intellectual push for these students, so that all students equitably develop critical reasoning skills to contribute to our future.”

Learn more about School of Education research.

Find out more about UOW’s Graduate Research, including PhD scholarships.