Primary research interest

Students' awareness of their own conceptual models in chemistry and their motivation to apply formative feedback in their learning

Additional role

  • Director, First Year Chemistry Curriculum & Assessment: my principal responsibility is to lead the implementation of curriculum and assessment quality control and reform. I am the principle interface between the first-year teaching team and all of the relevant stakeholders for students enrolled in first-year chemistry courses. I monitor horizontal alignment of content across the five courses and vertical alignment with both high school and second-level chemistry. 

About me

I gained a BSc (Applied Chemistry, Hons) from Sheffield Hallam University (UK) in 1986 and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Cranfield University (UK) in 1990. I have held several postdoctoral and senior research appointments between 1991 and 2005, serving as a CI on multiple ARC grants and supervising numerous RHD and undergraduate research students.

In 2006, I decided to pursue her growing interest in how students acquired and applied their conceptual understanding (after supervising many research students who held basic misconceptions). I held an Honorary Research Consultant appointment during 2006/7 while I completed a Graduate Diploma in Education (UQ) and then taught in high schools. I commenced a teaching-focused appointment in the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences in 2008.

After successfully transferring from bench chemistry research into chemistry education and discipline-based education research, my projects to date have addressed diversity and engagement of students through collaborative inquiry tasks, the implementation of undergraduate research experiences, and mechanisms for provision of formative feedback to support self-regulated learning (all funded by Category 1 national teaching & learning funding grants).

Current projects

  • Development of formative feedback mechanisms to enhance self-regulated construction/correction of student missing- and misconceptions in chemistry.
  • Learning design of technology-enhanced collaborative learning environments.
  • Investigation of relationships between undergraduate research experiences, student engagement and deeper thinking.


  • SCMB: A/Prof Lisbeth Grondahl, A/Prof Susan Rowland, Dr Effie Kartsonaki, Dr Jack Wang, A/Prof Joanne Blanchfield
  • UQ: Dr Tony Wright (Education), Dr Kelly Matthews (ITaLI), Dr Michael Jennings (School of Mathematics), A/Prof Lydia Kavanagh (Engineering)
  • National: A/Prof Glennys O’Brien & Dr Simon Bedford (University of Wollongong), Dr Madeleine Schultz (QUT), A/Prof Siegbert Schmid (Sydney University)
  • International: Prof Gabriela Weaver (University of Massachussetts, Amherst), Prof Roy Tasker (Purdue University) and Prof Joanne Stewart (Hope College).

Funded projects

  • 2013 Office of Learning and Teaching Seed Grant ($50k). Supporting a new generation: Development and transfer of pedagogical content knowledge in tertiary chemistry. Project Leader: Madeleine Schultz (QUT); Team: Gwen Lawrie (UQ).
  • 2012 Office of Learning and Teaching, Innovation & Development Grant ($200k). Enhancing the secondary-tertiary transition in chemistry through formative assessment and self-regulated learning environments. Project Leader: Gwen Lawrie; Team: Madeleine Schultz (QUT), Tony Wright (UQ), Glennys O’Brien (UoW), Simon Bedford (UoW) and Roy Tasker (UWS).
  • 2012 Office of Learning and Teaching, Leadership for Excellence in Learning and Teaching Program ($220k). Developing and resourcing academics to help students conduct and communicate undergraduate research on a large scale. Project Leader: Susan Rowland; Team: Gwen Lawrie (UQ), Kirsten Zimbardi (UQ), Jack Wang (UQ) and Paula Myatt (UQ).
  • 2012 UQ Teaching & Learning Strategic Grant (19k). Development and implementation of a pilot chemistry preparatory program to improve success and retention of Indigenous students in UQ’s MBBS program. Project Leader: Emma Bartle (Medicine), Team: Toombs (Health Sciences), Lawrie (SCMB) and Corporal (Medicine)
  • 2011 UQ Faculty of Science Teaching & Learning Grant ((11k). The SoTL writers group: supporting scholarship and publication for T&L academics at UQ. Project Leaders: Gwen Lawrie & Susan Rowland. Team: Merrilyn Goos, Clair Hughes & Kelly Matthews (TEDI), Robyn Evans (FoS).
  • 2011 UQ Faculty of Science Teaching & Learning Grant (7.5k). Demonstrating the applicability of elab assessment Wiki environments in wider laboratory assessment contexts. Project Leaders: Gwen Lawrie & Lisbeth Grøndahl. Team: Kirsten Zimbardi (SBMS) and Ian Gentle (SCMB).
  • 2010 UQ Teaching & Learning Strategic Grant (33k). Addressing undergraduate student diversity and engagement in science courses through the introduction of laboratory UREs. Project Leaders: Gwen Lawrie & Susan Rowland. Team: Denise Adams, Joanne Blanchfield & Paula Myatt (TEDI).
  • 2010 UQ Faculty of Science Teaching & Learning Grant (12k). Virtual Lab Reports: Authentic Assessment for Learning. Project Leaders: Gwen Lawrie. Team: Lisbeth Grøndahl (SCMB) & Trish Andrews (TEDI).
  • 2009 ALTC Competitive Project (215k). IS-IT learning?  Online Interdisciplinary Scenario-Inquiry Tasks for active learning in large, first year STEM courses. Project Leaders: Lawrence Gahan & Gwen Lawrie. Team: PeterAdams (FoS), Kelly Matthews (TEDI), Lydia Kavanagh (EAIT), Phillip Long (CEIT) & Gabriela Weaver (Purdue University, US).

Teaching interests

  • CHEM1100 Chemistry 1 (Course coordinator)
  • SCIE3260/1 Introduction to Research (Summer semester) (Course coordinator)
  • CHEM2056 Physical Chemistry for Engineers
  • CHEM3013 Nanoscience: Self-assembly

Awards and achievements

  • 2016 UQ Award for Programs that Enhance Learning (Chemistry First Year Teaching Team)
  • 2013 Pearson/Royal Australian Chemical Institute Chemistry Educator of the Year
  • 2013 OLT, Australian Award for University Teaching (AAUT) Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2012 UQ Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2012 UQ Teaching Fellowship
  • 2011 Faculty of Science Teaching Excellence Award
  • Chair (2011-15) Chemical Education Group, Queensland Branch of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.
  • Member of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, MRACI, CChem
  • T&L project websites

Featured publications