Associate Professor Kevin Larkin is an inspiring and dedicated educator and researcher, who’s been working in the field of education his entire life. After 15 years as a primary school teacher and 14 years as a Deputy Principal, Kevin completed his Doctoral studies at Griffith in 2010, and has been working here since 2012, specifically with pre-service teachers in mathematics. He has been a long standing and valued member of GIER.
On the change from school to academia, Kevin says:
“it was a refreshing change to work with the next generation of teachers after becoming increasingly frustrated with the reluctance of many teachers I worked with to accept the realities of the world. It is also nice to have the opportunity to research and develop my own ideas.”
Kevin has a long list of accomplishments, including as editor of the Mathematics Education Research Journal (MERJ), a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Senior Fellow of the Griffith Learning and Teaching Academy. He was the inaugural Chapter Chair for the Arts Education and Law Group Learning and Teaching Academy. Kevin has received numerous awards for his teaching including Australian University Teacher of the Year Award in 2018.
Associate Professor Larkin is currently kept busy on two long-term research projects. The first is the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) project, where he collaborates with University of Canberra researchers as a digital and pedagogical expert. From 2016 to 2021, the focus was on preschool, but since 2022, the research focus has been developing a STEM Program for children in the F –2 years of schooling.
Another key interest is mathematics education. Kevin collaborates on a Universities Australia-DAAD (Deutsch Australia Exchange Program) grant, which is investigating children’s understanding of place value, supported by a custom designed application. The program was due to be finished in 2020, but due to COVID 19 restrictions, is ongoing and Kevin has plans to visit Germany in September to complete the project. He will also deliver lectures at the Potsdam University Summer school. Potsdam University is a large player in significant European grants, so this represents exciting potential future opportunities for Griffith.
In relation to the place value project, Kevin says:
“We are concerned that the way we teach mathematics is piecemeal. For example, in Place Value learning up to 100 in grade 1, 1000 in grade 2 and so on. If this happens, kids don’t make the connection that mathematics topics are inter-related.”
The German academics involved in the DAAD project have designed a digital app that can be used in place value education. The researchers want to see if the digital affordances of that app can help children with their place value understanding.
“If we can get place value sorted, it goes a long way to helping children with their numeracy. There are implications here in terms of whether we use digital tools, as opposed to concrete materials. What is the place for digital technologies in mathematics?”
“The second implication is perhaps we shouldn’t be chunking up ideas into little bits each year, and instead doing them together, as holistic concepts. In that way, children get to see how components in one area of mathematics, i.e., measurement, can be used in other areas, like probability.”
GIER will continue to follow Kevin’s research and travel to Germany later this year. To read more about Kevin’s important work and research, please see his Griffith experts page and the articles below:
Developing student understanding of place value and supporting teachers’ confidence in teaching place value via a digital tool
Using the ACAT Framework to Evaluate the Design of Two Geometry Apps: an Exploratory Study
Mathematics in the Digital Age – 2020 Conference Proceedings
MERGA 2017 Conference – ELSA Symposium