An outstanding postgraduate student at the University of New England has won a national award for research that will help school students who have difficulty with basic mathematics.
Anne Bellert has won the Learning Difficulties Australia (LDA) Tertiary Student Award for 2008. This is an occasional award through which LDA recognises significant research in the field of learning difficulties.
In a carefully-designed trial, Ms Bellert implemented and assessed an intervention program called QuickSmart that gives students confidence in the automatic application of basic skills in mathematics. Her research report, after documenting the successful outcome of the trial, emphasises the importance of helping students struggling with basic mathematics to develop the use of these automatic procedures.
The judges commended Ms Bellert’s research for its applicability to students with learning difficulties in a wide range of classroom situations.
Anne Bellert, who works for the Catholic Education Office of the Lismore Diocese, is a PhD student in the UNE-based National Centre of Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR). Her academic supervisors, Associate Professor Lorraine Graham and Professor John Pegg (the Director of SiMERR) have led the development of the QuickSmart program over the past eight years.
Dr Graham said Ms Bellert’s work provided thoroughly documented evidence of the effectiveness of the QuickSmart program in “making a difference to students’ school performance”. “This is important and useful work, given the impact of school failure on individuals’ aspirations and society,” Dr Graham added.
The President of LDA, Dr Ruth Fielding-Barnsley, presented Ms Bellert with the award during a ceremony in Brisbane at the end of August. In accepting the award, Ms Bellert presented a brief overview of her research, acknowledging the support of her family and her supervisors. She thanked LDA for providing “motivation and encouragement” through the Tertiary Student Award.
Her award-winning research paper will be published in the LDA journal, the Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities.
THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows the President of Learning Difficulties Australia, Dr Ruth Fielding-Barnsley (right), presenting the Tertiary Student Award to Anne Bellert.