Since commencing operation in February 2017, MCERA has rapidly established itself as an important conduit between leading education research and Australia's mainstream media, facilitating evidenced-informed stories across all states, and across print, broadcast, and online outlets.
We have assisted journalists with research-informed reporting at such outlets as The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Adelaide Advertiser, The Courier Mail, The Australian Financial Review, the West Australian, ABC Radio National, Triple J, Channel 9, Channel 10, Seven News, ABC News, and numerous others.
In less than 3 years of operation, we have facilitated researcher input into coverage with a reach* of nearly 33 million. This figure does not include all of our regional or international coverage, and likely does not account for our full reach online.
By making the best research in education more accessible to millions of Australians, we empower the public to make more informed judgements on education issues.
Cumulative reach* by state as of 01 December 2019:
*Reach refers to the combined circulation, audience, and average page views of print, broadcast, and online coverage respectively.
Awards and Recognition
In October 2017, in light of her work with MCERA, the organisation's Chair and co-founder Dr Anna Sullivan was recognised as one of the "movers and shakers of education" in Australia in The Educator Magazine's Hot List.
In May 2019, MCERA won the ACEL SA Media Award, which is given in recognition of "a significant contribution by an individual or media organisation towards creating or facilitating depth and balance in public debate or profiling on educational matters in the media."
In July 2019, MCERA was selected as a state finalist for the Telstra Business Awards in the Social Change Maker category. MCERA was one of 170 such finalists nationally after a process in which 21,000 small-to-medium businesses were nominated.
Kids' Financial Literacy
In September 2017, MCERA wrote a release on ‘Lessons in financial literacy task design: Authentic imaginable useful’, an article by a researcher then based at Monash University in Springer’s Mathematics Education Research Journal. The release was initially pitched to a print journalist, who indicated interest.
Given signs of media interest in financial literacy in early October, and uncertainty from the journalist as to whether they would publish, with the journalist’s consent MCERA sent the release for wider distribution on 9 October. The release was first picked up by two regional ABC radio stations and a regional print outlet; on 13 October, it led to widely syndicated interview with the researcher on ABC Radio’s Business PM, and another interview on ABC News (an article on these interviews featured on the ABC website). At this point total reach of coverage was 503,489.
On October 24 The Conversation published an articleby the researcher (after an editor had reached out to her in September, she had shown him the release written by MCERA). This article was syndicated to several news sites (including ABC Online), and sparked the interest for further ABC Radio interviews broadcast in regional NSW and Victoria. The article contained direct links to the researcher's paper.
By the end of November, total coverage had a reach of 583,461. As of 27 November, the Springer article had been downloaded 1.1 thousand times, and had an Altmetric of 51, placing it in the top 5% of Altmetric-scored research.
Importance of Physical Education
In early September 2017, in the lead-up to National Health and Physical Education Day, MCERA released comments by Associate Professor Shane Pill, of Flinders University, on the importance of “physical literacy” in schools, based on his extensive research history in physical education. On the same day, MCERA distributed a release putting forward Dr Pill as an expert available for general comment on sport and physical education in schools on National Health and Physical Education Day. MCERA also issued a release on research by Dr Brendon Hyndman, of Southern Cross University, on “invigorating” playgrounds to encourage physical activity in schools.
The two academics’ input formed the basis of articles in Melbourne's Herald Sun and The Advertiser in Adelaide released in print on 6 September. The following day, Dr Pill’s comments appeared in the Cairns Post. He was interviewed for another article in the Sun Herald and the Sunday Canberra Times that weekend, which was syndicated across at least 29 Fairfax Media websites. Dr Hyndman’s research also featured in an article in the Courier Mail.
Later that month, Dr Pill was interviewed about physical literacy on Adelaide’s Nine News. Coverage continued through to early December, with one article in the magazine Education Review and another in Sunshine Coast Daily, both of which closely followed MCERA’s original release.
Misdiagnosis of Language Disorders in Multilingual Children
In October 2017, Taylor & Francis informed MCERA of an upcoming article to be published in an Australia-based journal, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. The article concerned the misdiagnosis of multilingual children with speech-language disorders, harming their learning outcomes and wasting resources that might otherwise be used by children who needed them.
MCERA was cautious in assessing whether to use the research, since the author was not working at any Australian university, being an independent scholar based in Portugal. However, the scholar had a substantial research history, and the article itself was of significant interest. MCERA identified an expert at Flinders University as a scholar who had highly pertinent expertise, and it emerged that she had worked with the researcher in the past.
MCERA based a release on the international researcher's article and an interview with her, and incorporated comments from the Australian expert. The release put the latter forward as an expert on speech-language pathology for multilingual children, able to speak to the research’s application in the Australian context.
The release was distributed under embargo just prior to the publication of the article on 12 December (ACDT). In consequence, interviews on the research with the Australian expert were broadcast that day by 3 radio stations: 2SM in Sydney, 2TM in Tamworth, and ABC Radio National nationwide. The interviews had a total reach of 189,900. The interview on Radio National was 3m 40s long.
The researcher's article now has an Altmetric score of 25. The Australian expert was very positive about her experience, thanking MCERA for the opportunity, and the international researchersaid that “MCERA provides an invaluable service in disseminating current research, knowledgeably, quickly and effectively."
NAPLAN, Research, and Public Policy
In early 2018, MCERA identified that the media regularly reported on NAPLAN testing in Australia, yet the coverage relied heavily on opinion and was lacking authoritative insight from education research. MCERA prepared an ‘issue-based campaign' to help provide a greater understanding of this complex education issue.
Prior to the testing period, MCERA held two media briefings on May 3 and May 10 to assist journalists to understand the research that informs the complexity around NAPLAN, so they could separate fact from opinion and refer to fundamental research when needed. Leading education experts were asked to present and explain the latest research directly to the media and answer questions. Experts provided briefings on related topics such as literacy teaching, mathematical reasoning, teacher professional learning, NAPLAN’s uses and limitations as an effective assessment, and its implications for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
The goal was to support the media to develop a deeper understanding on the complexity of NAPLAN and related issues so that they could provide better informed media reporting. The briefings also introduced journalists to leading educational researchers who could provide expert comments in the future.
A variety of media personnel attended the online briefings. Attendees included journalists from News Corp Australia, Fairfax, education press journalists, and observers from the Queensland Independent Education Union and the Queensland Department of Education.
In addition to these media briefings, MCERA issued media releases, expert comments and expert referrals from February to May. For example, one media release outlined Dr Angelique Howell’s research on students’ experiences of NAPLAN. It included advice to parents and educators on ways to reduce NAPLAN stress for students. This research was covered by The Advertiser and Nine News Adelaide.
In four months, this ‘issue-based campaign’ on raising the understanding of NAPLAN resulted in 45 media reports and generated a reach of 565,100 and an ASR of $124,900.
MCERA will continue to provide content and expertise to the media and thus contribute to a greater public understanding of NAPLAN and related issues.
Teacher Training on Students' Problematic Sexual Behaviours
In late July 2017, the journal Sex Education published the paper ‘Educators’ understanding of young children’s typical and problematic sexual behaviour and their training in this area’, co-authored by Dr Lesley-anne Ey, of UniSA. MCERA arranged an exclusive with the Sydney Morning Herald on the paper in early August.
The exclusive was printed in the SMH after being published online and syndicated across more than 120 Fairfax websites, which linked directly to the research. The same day, Dr Ey was contacted for an interview on ABC Radio. Content from this interview was syndicated nationwide across Radio National, Triple J and ABC metropolitan and regional stations. Dr Ey was also interviewed by Kidspot.com, resulting in another piece that linked directly to Dr Ey’s paper. The next day, the SMH published a separate piece online referring to the research. The following week, Dr Ey was interviewed for another article in The Advertiser in South Australia.
This coverage had a total reach of 758,007, and an ASR of $234,973. At the time of writing, Dr Ey’s article had received 1,782 views, and an Altmetric Attention Score of 147, placing it in the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric (and the top 2% of papers of the same age). Based on the attention the article received, Routledge asked Dr Ey to submit a book proposal on the same topic.