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2018 Laureate Profile: Professor Marilyn Fleer

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Professor Marilyn Fleer—2018 ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship recipient

Professor Marilyn

2018 ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship recipient

Administering Organisation: Monash University

Discipline Area: Social, Behavioural and Economic Sciences

Fellowship project summary:


This project aims to research concept formation in infants, toddlers and preschoolers by examining imagination in play-based settings and homes. Quality early childhood experiences can impact positively on life choices and career pathways. The outcomes of this project will provide baseline evidence, build on teachers’ strengths in play-based settings, and test a new early childhood model of teaching science, engineering and technologies, while monitoring uptake and adoption to build Australia's early childhood research capacity. It is expected that the results will build capacity in research in early childhood science, engineering and technologies, positioning Australia as a research leader.

With her supplementary ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship funding, Professor Fleer will support the mentoring of women academics who are part of the broader network of early childhood science, engineering and technologies researchers in Australia.

Australian Research Council funding: $3,279,122

About Professor Fleer

Professor Marilyn Fleer is a Professor of Early Childhood Education and Development at Monash University.

Her research is focussed on the early stages of concept formation—and how play can promote children's imagination, creativity and ‘rational' thinking. Marilyn’s work has helped reveal how imagination and curiosity support learning in science, engineering and technology in early childhood. Captured in the model of teaching called conceptual play, her work contributes to supporting learning experiences of children in preschool and childcare settings.

One of the practical tools that Marilyn has also helped develop is a series of postcard-size ‘Clever Cards’ designed for day carers and parents. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations placed these materials into all early childhood centres in Australia. Professor Fleer is the recipient of the Vygotsky Institute Medal (2009) and was elected as the President of the International Society for Cultural-historical Activity Research for 2008–2014. She holds the positions of an honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Education, University of Oxford.

Find out more about Professor Fleer’s research by visiting her profile page on the Monash University website.

For further information about this funding scheme, please visit the Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme page on the ARC website.

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