Spiral staircase


Research to develop methodology and practice
The Centre for Educational Measurement and Assessment’s (CEMA) research focus is on developing teaching and learning through the work of our academic staff and doctoral students.
  • Developing theories and models of educational assessment to improve formative and summative assessment in different educational settings

  • Evaluating how the different types of assessment influence the effectiveness of learning processes and systems
  • Exploring the impacts and opportunities offered by new assessment technologies in test design, test distribution, test administration and delivering results
  • Constructing and validating measurement scales for cognitive and non-cognitive constructs
  • Researching notions of validity and reliability in different educational assessment contexts

  • Exploring the use of modern measurement theory to build scales to accommodate the measurement of 21st Century skills and to measure the impact of learning on these skills
  • Exploring how psychometrics is changing education and assessment and how it is impacting on lifelong learning
  • Building expertise through institutional research

What’s the Evidence: Developing indicators of teacher quality to investigate the predictive validity of teaching performance assessments - A joint research project with the Sydney School of Education and Social Work.

Developing rubrics to assess students across the University’s Graduate Qualities  - A joint research project with the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education).

Teacher efficacy in reading: K-6 teachers in Catholic Primary Schools in NSW.

Sydney School of Education & Social Work (SSESW) NSW Department of Education (DoE): Mid Career changers program DoE Grant (Professor Jim Tognolini)

With staff from SSESW, UTS and Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL): Measuring Quality Teachers: ARC Linkage (Professor Jim Tognolini, Ms Anne Lawson-Jones)

With industry partners: NSW Department of Education (DoE), Janison, Education Services Australia (ESA), Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO): ARC Industry Laureate Fellowship (Professor Jim Tognolini, Associate Professor Sofia Kesidou, Mr Tom Alegounarias, Ms Anne Lawson-Jones)

With staff from SSESW: Closing the (research) Gap: First Peoples’ review of education databases: (Professor Jim Tognolini)

Our expertise in research extends to helping partners develop research capacity and scholarly inquiry in a range of areas related to the methodology and practice of measurement, assessment, and psychometrics.

Examples of our research-informed Professional Services in Australia and around the world:

  • I.DAT: item based review and analysis
  • VCAA: International literature review of school student credentialling
  • CSNSW: supporting a research inquiry into teacher efficacy in teaching reading
  • The AIS’ Evidence Institute: supporting evaluation of the project: Growing Evidence Informed Practice
  • In schools: developed a methodology for measuring creativity; measuring 21st Century Skills; developing school-wide practice in formative assessment
  • Produced a report for CSNSW on Equity and Excellence in Catholic Schools
  • Built scales to measure graduate qualities such as cultural competence, critical thinking, and influence throughout the University of Sydney
  • Created projects related to establishing comparability across assessments of teacher effectiveness against professional standards through the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and the Schools Curriculum and Standards Authority (WA)
  • Unpacking of the assessment standards of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers into elaborations that need to be known and understood before they can be demonstrated
  • Validating of the Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment conducted in Western Australia to enable students to demonstrate that they have met the minimum literacy and numeracy standards required for graduation
  • Participated in international capacity-building workshops and conferences in China, India, Lao, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, the United States and the Pacific
  • Reviewing and validating items for use in selection of entrants into programs at national and international schools.
  • Evaluation of impact of leadership learning programs for the NSW Department of Education
  • Consultancy for AITSL

Examples of our applied research professional learning consultancy work in Australia with education bodies:

  • Primary Principals’ programs (NSWPPA)
  • Secondary Principals’ programs (NSWSPC)
  • Courses for Teachers delivered through sectors and unions (CSNSW, AIS, CPL, IEU)
  • Courses for Schools (eg Wenona, Cherrybrook HS, Cheltenham Girls)
  • Supporting CSNSW schools through a Covid intensive program

The CEMA Research Seminar Series is a new initiative in 2023. In this inaugural year we will hear experienced education researchers from various faculties at the University of Sydney give short talks about their recent work in educational assessment and/or measurement. The purpose is to get to know one another’s work, and one another.

Anyone with a research interest in assessment or measurement is welcome to attend, from any university or education-related organisation.

Meetings are held approximately monthly on a Thursday from 12-1pm in the Education Building (with the option to attend in person or via Zoom). This is followed by the opportunity to interact more casually over lunch afterwards at a café on campus.

If you would like to be included in the calendar invites for the research seminars, please email CEMA@sydney.edu.au.

2023 Seminar Schedule


Presenter 1

Presenter 2

18 May

A/Prof Aek Phakiti

Assessing integrated academic writing of ESL international students: Issues and challenges

A/Prof Rachael Hains-Wesson

Measuring international education impact to improve students’ employability skills


15 June

Prof Peter Reimann

Getting real in assessment theory: From constructs to mechanisms

A/Prof Elaine Huber

Quality online assessment in business education: A framework to support best practice

Mid-year break

24 August

Prof Bandana Saini


21 September

A/Prof Jen Scott Curwood & A/Prof Amani Bell

A/Prof Ilektra Spandagou

19 October

Prof Annette Burgess

Prof Alyson Simpson, A/Prof Wayne Cotton,  & Dr Rachel White

16 November

A/Prof Dean Dudley

Prof Jennifer Rowley

Postgraduate Research Study

The postgraduate research student community of CEMA is a vibrant one. We currently have 25 students – a mix of international and domestic - with a range of research interests, work experience, prior study areas, and cultures. We are fortunate to have researchers and experts from both inside and outside the University of Sydney involved in the supervision of our students. Students support one another, and CEMA staff also actively support students including via fortnightly lunchtime development sessions.

Information on the full range of research degrees is available here. Specific information on how to apply for the PhD is available at this link. There are two intakes per year: 1 March and 1 July.

If you are interested in undertaking postgraduate research study with us, please email CEMA@sydney.edu.au.

Salem Alazazi – Topic TBC

Penny Lu 

Quality assurance measures

Rahma Al-Alawi

Developing a comprehensive framework to enhance technology-based formative assessment practice in higher education courses.

Abdullah Alzhrany

An inquiry into teacher assessment literacy: The development of an assessment framework and instrument to measure the assessment literacy of teachers in Saudi Arabia.

Li Liang

Realigning tertiary education and 21st century skills for the millennial generations: Evaluating university teachers’ formative assessment with digital technologies and the effects on students’ learning of 21st century skills.

Kuliga Tanasavate

Framework for validating and measuring English proficiency for Thai tour guides.

Weiping Xu

Assessment on student’s innovation ability in an online environment.

Shafiza Binti Mohamed - COMPLETED

Developing a procedure to align the national assessment of curriculum-based high-stake, national examination to the policy requirement for digital literacy.

Keith Lin 

Usefulness of translanguaging pedagogy on improving English speaking performance of Chinese EFL university students A mixed methods approach.

Helen Bremert - Topic TBC

Ali Babaeian

A validation framework for pronunciation assessment.

Kelly Padayachee 

Secondary mathematics teachers’ alternative designs for assessing problem-solving in grades 11 and 12 mathematics.

Katherine Olston 

Preparing for situated action in professional contexts: Designing learning environments to support the development of the graduate qualities

Amanda Gorham

Teacher education preparation and assessment: A fresh perspective.

Sara Ratner

Australian schools on the world stage: How well are we performing and how do we really know?

Nicholas Reynolds

Health outcomes measurement: a comparison of classical and Rasch measurement theories.

Rayanne Shakra

Perceptions of assessment knowledge and understanding required to demonstrate graduate and proficient career level standards in NSW.

Jay Lim

Exploring the Theory of Formative Assessment and its Implementation in the Classroom.

Read more about Sara Ratner's and Rayanne Shakra's research.

Kathleen Walker

Measuring and Demonstrating the Social Impact and Value of The Sydney Peace Foundation

Banner image: Photo by Junar Eliang on Unsplash.