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Personal profile

Personal profile

Kay Owens chose a lecturing position at Charles Sturt University in Dubbo in the School of Teacher Education in 2003 after serving for 15 years at the University of Western Sydney where she was a Senior Lecturer. During that period she gained her PhD in mathematics education on young children engaged in spatial problem solving. She continues her research in visuospatial reasoning especially with an emphasis on culture, context, attention and responsiveness. She recently reported on a study with local school children at an international conference on Spatial Reasoning held in Canberra.

Kay has a long career internationally with 15 years in Papua New Guinea where she held a lectureship in mathematics at the PNG University of Technology and a Head of Department position at Balob Teachers College. She was also selected for a Swedish lecturer exchange to Gothenburg University for the enhancement of tertiary education in that country and for a Masters Course at the Inter-University Institute in Macau. Kay has continued her research working with colleagues in Papua New Guinea and Sweden with a focus on ethnomathematics (mathematics, language and culture) and space, geometry and measurement education. Her international projects have been funded by USA National Science Foundation, AusAid and her universities competitive grants while her local and state projects have had funding from state and federal governments and non-government agencies and her universities.

She has worked recently with local regional schools especially on quality teaching projects and with the Indigenous community. She has undertaken several studies evaluating education initiatives and held a number of professional positions as President, Vice-President, Editor and Executive member for Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, The Mathematics Association of NSW, Australian College of Educators (Orana Regional Group).

Her university teaching interests are early childhood and primary mathematics education, literacy education, and sustainability (HSIE) education, and schools, communities, children and social justice in a global world. She also teaches educational research subjects. She has organised a number of regional conferences in Dubbo.

Research Interests

Dr Kay Owens' major areas of interest include:

  • Primary and secondary mathematics education
  • Visuospatial reasoning, geometry and measurement mathematics
  • Students' responsiveness to learning experiences that engage them
  • Ethnomathematics, particularly in Papua New Guinea
  • Assessing spatial knowledge
  • Teacher education evaluation
  • Working with Indigenous communities
  • Sustainability education


  • Kay teaches investigating in early childhood in mathematics and science, primary and secondary mathematics education with an emphasis on inclusion, formerly taught social science and sustainability education, and Masters research subjects and undertakes postgraduate research student supervision
  • Incorporation of ICTs, social justice, Indigenous and global perspectives in mathematics education.
  • On-line materials provide the essence of the topic, linked to further reading, learning tasks, and illustrative videos in classrooms (often involved in the making), and recorded lectures, and alignment of learning and assessment with clear standards.

Professional Information

  • Participates in activities of the Mathematical Association of NSW
  • Facilitator of Workshops in village areas of Papua New Guinea on improving teaching in early school Cultural Mathematics
  • Formerly Vice President Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia and editor of two books on Mathematics Education Research in Australasia
  • Former President and Secretary, currently Committee Member of Australian College of Education Orana Regional Group
  • Former President and Web Manager of Dubbo Field Naturalists and Conservation Society
  • Organiser of local three day forum: Discontinuities and Continuities in Literacy and Numeracy Education for Young Indigenous Children: Global perspectives on the influence of historical and contemporary contexts with representatives from four nations
  • Organiser for two mini-conferences on Education for Cultural and Environmental Sustainability with representatives from across the local community
  • Former Executive member of Primary Association of Mathematics of the Mathematics Association of NSW, former editor of PAMphlets and tertiary representative
  • Evaluation Case Study Writer for Glenroi Heights (Orange) Schools in Smarter Stronger Learning Communities;
  • Critical friend to HOTIQ (Higher Order Thinking Intellectual Quality) and Outback Maths ASISTM projects and AQTIP project, Cowra;
  • Evaluator of Bidialectal approach to teaching Standard Australian English, Dubbo region
  • Supports local children and youth groups

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

Education, PhD, Young children's spatial thinking during mathematical problem solving, Deakin University

Award Date: 11 Dec 1993

Education, MEd, Health education curriculum in a teachers' community college in Papua New Guinea, The University of Sydney


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