QUT Research Project


Year 9 and 10 – Improving outcomes through accessible assessment and inclusive practices

Benowa State High School has agreed to be a partner in an innovative research project funded by the Australian Research Council (LP180100830). The project team includes experienced researchers and education specialists from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Macquarie University, Queen’s University in Canada, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA), the Queensland Secondary Principal’s Association (QSPA), and Speech Pathology Australia.

This research project places a special focus on assessment task sheets and activities or learning experiences to make them easier to understand and more helpful for students, especially as we adjust to the new Queensland Certificate of Education senior system. 

It is an important topic for us to investigate for all students, and especially for students who have difficulty with language or attention, and regularly miss out on some important assessment task information. This is an issue that we now believe can affect up to 30% of students, sometimes without them even knowing.

Students in Year 9 and 10 and a group of teachers are going to work with an experienced team of researchers to gather some data that will influence our decision making on assessment task design and teaching practices. For more information, please read the FAQ below.

We plan to apply the research findings so that we can further enhance our assessment practices to make them more accessible for all students. This is just one of our commitments to supporting our students to learn. 

You will hear more about this project as it unfolds. If you are a parent of a student in Year 9 or 10 this year, we will be sending home a survey asking you to consent to your student being involved in this project.

As the information is updated, should you have any questions you can direct them to our HOD of English - Mr Matthew Pickersgill ( or to Associate Professor Jill Willis at QUT (

A flyer for students that explains the research project can be found here.

Research Project FAQ

Who should participate?

We are encouraging every Year 9 and 10 parent to give their consent to participate. If all students participate we will receive more detailed and important research data that will help inform and improve our assessment practices and teaching. Part 2 of the project only occurs during Year 10. 

What will be the benefits of this research?

This research will provide us with specific data about how students interpret assessment tasks and questions. Not only will this help us have more targeted teaching and refined assessment task sheets, it will also inform the way we prepare students for external assessment, where students face unseen questions they have not prepared for. More benefits are detailed in the Parent/Carer Information Sheet.

What are the stages of the research project?

Part 1 involves analysis of English Student Achievement Data, NAPLAN data, and parent and student questionnaires.

Part 2 involves research with two student subgroups – one group of students who may experience language or attentional difficulties, and a matched group who do not. These groups are administrative only – allocation to groups will not be discussed with students and students will not be singled out in any way. Each subgroup will complete additional measures (as described below) and will have the opportunity to share their experiences and views on teaching and assessment practice. Their insights are extremely important to us.

What does the participation involve?

For full details, please see the Parent/Carer Information Sheet provided by QUT here. In summary, participation in Part 1 involves:

  • Giving consent for the research team to access Student Achievement and NAPLAN data.
  • Completing student and parent questionnaires.

Participation in Part 2 involves:

  • Eye tracking task: A researcher will work with your child on a computer activity. Students will read an assessment task sheet while having their eye movements recorded using a photographic eye-tracking system. This will take approximately 10-15 minutes. We are using eye-tracker technology because it will help us identify redundant or confusing information.
  • 5-minute checklist interview: Following the eye-tracking task, your child will be invited to participate in a 5-minute checklist interview about the material they have just read.
  • Providing work samples: If you and your child consent to them being involved, the research team would like to access some of their assessment work samples. Your child will choose the work that they wish to share with the researchers.
  • Marked assessment pieces: If you and your child consent to them being involved, researchers would like to access some of their marked English assessments pieces. Your child’s teacher will provide these, but your consent will be sought.

Are there any risks?

Students who are involved in this research will only benefit for future studies as this is about a group rather than an individual. It is not expected that students will experience any negative or adverse effect as a consequence of this study. For the most part they will only be involved in normal everyday class activities. If students are involved in Part 2, there may be minor alterations to routine to participate in the eye tracking task and interview, but these will be minimal. These activities will be conducted by trained researchers, who have experience working with young people. The eye tracking task and interview will be scheduled in consultation with teachers so as to ensure minimal disruption to your child’s learning. This project has the full support of the Executive Principal and participating teachers at Benowa State High School. For more detail, see the Parent/Carer Information Sheet provided by QUT.

Last reviewed 02 March 2020
Last updated 02 March 2020