Department of Education

Professor Marilyn Fleer

Honorary Research Fellow

Marilyn Fleer holds the Foundation Chair of Early Childhood Education and Development at Monash University, Australia, where she has been the research leader since 2001 for Child and Community Development.

The group is now made up of 15 faculty staff and averaged 21 ongoing PhD students, who together primarily draw upon cultural-historical theory to frame and study young children’s play, learning and development across contexts of community, early childhood settings, and families.
As former President of the International Society of Cultural-historical Activity Research (ISCAR) and recipient of the Vygotsky Institute medal for contributions to advancing cultural-historical research, she is passionate about engaging with scholars of this tradition to progress concepts and develop different forms of knowledge (empirical, narrative and theoretical) and methodologies, in the pursuit of greater understandings of how young children learn and develop.
She has been a visiting research fellow for the Ministry of Education, Singaporean Government, and at Beijing University, University of Garvle Sweden, University of Copenhagen Denmark, Bergen University College Norway, and was the Erskine Fellow, Canterbury-Cambridge, New Zealand.
Awarded a total of six Australian Research Council Discovery grants, and a broad range of nationally competitive grants from Government and Industry, she has undertaken research and led teams to engage in research worth many millions of dollars.

Research interests

Informed by cultural-historical theory, Marilyn’s current research focuses on a programmatic study of conceptual play by examining imagination in play and imagination in science, engineering and technologies – named as STEAM playworlds. The research seeks to generate new knowledge about concept formation of infants, toddlers and preschoolers in play-based settings and homes. The projected outcomes include understandings about how concepts can be intentionally taught in play settings and learned at home for particular age periods. Significant benefits include increased exposure to these concepts in the formative years, a validated model of intentional teaching of concepts suitable for early childhood teachers (STEAM Playworld), and the building of world class research program and research capacity in early childhood science, engineering and technologies. The development of an app to measure imagination in science is also expected. Marilyn is keen to build her network for furthering this agenda and anticipates that the collaborations with OSAT will strengthen this work through harnessing strengths in cultural-historical theory.


Authored books

1. Fleer, M., & Pramling, N. (2015). A cultural-historical study of children learning science. Amsterdam: Springer. 213 pages.
2. Fleer, M. (2014). Theorising play in the early years. New York: Cambridge University Press. 177 pages.
3. Hedegaard, M., & Fleer, M. (2013). Play, Leaning and Children’s Development: Everyday life in families and transition to school. New York: Cambridge University Press. 231 pages
4. Fleer, M. (2010). Early learning and development: Cultural-historical concepts in play. New York: Cambridge University Press. 229 pages.
5. Hedegaard, M., & Fleer, M. (2008). Studying children: A Cultural-Historical Approach. United Kingdom: Open University Press (with contributions from Jytte Bang & Pernille Hviid). 221 pages.

Edited books (examples only)

6. Danby, S., Fleer, M., Davidson, C., & Hatzigianni, M. (Eds.). (in press, 2017; accepted, July 2016) Digital Childhood: Amsterdam: Springer
7. Fleer, M., & van Oers, B. (Eds.). (2017). International handbook on early childhood education (Volumes 1 & 2). The Netherlands: Springer. 1,630 pages.
8. Fleer, M., Gonzalez Rey, F., & Veresov, N. (Eds.). (2017). Perezhivanie, emotions and subjectivity: Advancing Vygotsky’s legacy. Amsterdam: Springer. Pages 263
9. Fleer, M., & Ridgway, A. (2014). (Eds.). Digital visual methodologies: Theorising researching with children. Amsterdam: Springer. 238 pages
10. Fleer, M., Hedegaard, M., & Tudge, J., (2009). (Eds.) Constructing childhood: Global-local policies and practices – World Year Book Series. New York: Routledge. 327 pages.

Book chapters (recent and examples thereafter)

11. Fleer, M. (In Press, accepted May 2017). Play and learning in the family context. In P. Smith & J. Roopnarine (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Play: Developmental and Disciplinary Perspectives. UK: Cambridge.
12. Fleer, M. (In Press, accepted April 2016). Digital playworlds in an Australia context. In T. Bruce, M. Bredikyte & P. Hakkarainen (Eds.), Routledge handbook of play in early childhood. UK: Routledge Press, Taylor and Francis Group.
13. Fleer, M., & van Oers, B. (2017). International trends in research: Redressing the north-south balance in what matters for early childhood education research, In M. Fleer & B. van Oers (Eds.) International handbook on early childhood education, Volume 1, (pp. 1-31). The Netherlands: Springer.
14. Fleer, M. (accepted, July 2016). Digital bridges between home and preschool and between traditional and digital meaning making: Theorising conceptually inclusive practice in digital environments. In S. Danby, M. Fleer, C. Davidson, & M. Hatzigianni (Eds.). Digital Childhoods. The Netherlands: Springer.
15. Fleer, M., Chen, F. & van Oers, B. (2017). New directions in early childhood education practice: International developments and practice gaps, In M. Fleer & B. van Oers (Eds.) International handbook on early childhood education, Volume 1, (pp. 955-697), The Netherlands: Springer.
16. Fleer, M., & Kamaralli, A. (2017). Cultural development of the child in role-play: Drama pedagogy and its potential contribution to early childhood education. In D. Pike, S. Lynch & C. a’Beckett (Eds.) Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Play from Birth
 and Beyond, International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education
and Development 18, (pp. 111-128): The Netherlands: Springer.
17. Fleer, M., & Gonzalez Rey, F. (2017). Beyond pathologizing education: Advancing a cultural Historical methodology for the re-positioning of children as successful learners, In M. Fleer, F. Gonzalez Rey, & N. Veresov, (Eds.). Perezhivanie, emotions and subjectivity: Perspectives in cultural-historical research, (pp. 145-169), Amsterdam: Springer.
18. Fleer, M. (2017). Foregrounding emotional imagination in everyday preschool practices to support emotion regulation, In M. Fleer, F. Gonzalez Rey, & N. Veresov, (Eds.). Perezhivanie, emotions and subjectivity: Perspectives in cultural-historical research, (pp. 85-103). Amsterdam: Springer.
19. March, S., & Fleer, M. (2017). The role of imagination and anticipation in children’s emotional development, In M. Fleer, F. Gonzalez Rey, & N. Veresov, (Eds.). Perezhivanie, emotions and subjectivity: Perspectives in cultural-historical research, (pp. 105-127). Amsterdam: Springer.
20. Fleer, M. (2017). Digital pedagogy: A cultural-historical study of how teachers support digital play in the early years. In L. Arnott (Ed.), Digital technologies and learning in the early years (pp. 114-126). UK: Sage ISBN 978-1-41296-242-1
21. Fleer, M., Duhn, I., & Harrison, L. (2017). The relational agency Framework as a tool for supporting the establishment, maintenance and development of multidisciplinary networks of professionals. In A. Edwards (Ed.), Collaborating on complex problems: cultural-historical accounts of relational work, (pp. 191-208). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
22. Fleer, M., Gonzalez Rey, F., & Veresov, N. (2017). Perezhivanie, Emotions and Subjectivity: Setting the Stage. In M. Fleer, F. Gonzalez Rey, & N. Veresov, (Eds.). Perezhivanie, emotions and subjectivity: Perspectives in cultural-historical research, (pp. 1-15), Amsterdam: Springer.
23. Fleer, M. Gonzalez Rey, F., & Veresov, N. (2017). Continuing the Dialogue: Advancing Conceptions of Emotions, Perezhivanie and Subjectivity for the Study of Human Development. In M. Fleer, F. Gonzalez Rey, & N. Veresov, (Eds.). Perezhivanie, emotions and subjectivity: Perspectives in cultural-historical research, (pp. 247-261), Amsterdam: Springer.
24. Fleer, M. & Veresov, N. (2017). Cultural-historical and Activity theories informing early childhood education, In M. Fleer & B. van Oers (Eds.) International handbook on early childhood education, Volume 1, (pp. 47-76), The Netherlands: Springer.
25. Fleer, M. & Veresov, N. (2017). A cultural-historical methodology for researching early childhood education, In M. Fleer & B. van Oers (Eds.) International handbook on early childhood education, Volume 1, (pp. 255-250), The Netherlands: Springer.
26. Fleer, M. (2017) Theorising Digital play: Conceptualising the relation between real, augmented and virtual realities. In N. Kucirkova and G. Falloon (Eds.), Apps, Technology and Younger Learners: International evidence for teaching (pp. 211-221). UK: Routledge Press, Taylor and Francis Group.
27. Fleer, M. (2016). The legacy of Vygotsky’s cultural-historical methodology and its impact on contemporary early childhood research. In T. David, K. Goouch, & S. Powel (Eds.), Cultural-historical theories of child development, Routledge Handbook of Philosophies and Theories of Early Childhood Education and Care (pp. 209-218). UK: Routledge
28. Fleer, M. (2016). The Vygotsky project in education – The theoretical foundations for analyzing the relations between the personal, institutional and societal conditions for studying development. In D. Gedera & J. Williams (Eds.), Activity theory in education: Research and practice (pp. 1-15). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
29. Fleer, M. (2015). Early childhood science teacher education. In R. Gunstone (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Science Education. Dordrect: Springer.
30. Fleer, M. (2015). Theorising technology education from a cultural-historical perspective: Foundations and future imaginings. In J. Williams (Ed), The future of technology education (pp. 35-56). The Netherlands: Springer.
31. Fleer, M. (2014). Beyond developmental geology: A cultural-historical theorization of digital technologies for studying young children’s development, In M. Fleer & A Ridgway, (Eds.). (pp. 3-13) Visual methodologies for researching with children: Transforming Visuality. Amsterdam: Springer.
32. Fleer, M. (2013). Examining the relations between a play motive and a learning motive for enhancing school achievement. In S. Phillipson, K. Ku & S. Phillipson (Eds.) Constructing Achievement: A sociocultural perspective, (pp. 105-117), UK: Routledge.
33. Fleer, M. (2013). Collective imagining in play. In I. Schousboe & D. Winther-Lindqvist (Eds.). Children’s play and development. Cultural-historical perspectives, (pp. 73-88), Amsterdam: Springer.
34. Fleer, M. (2013). Making room for diverse cultural expressions of play in the retheorisation of play activities. In O. Fredrik Lillemyr, S. Dockett & B. Perry (Eds.), Varied Perspectives on Play and Learning: Theory and Research on Early Years Education, (pp. 175-192). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
35. Fleer, M. (2012). The development of motives in children’s play, In M. Hedegaard, M., A. Edward, & M. Fleer, (Eds.) Motives, emotions and values in children’s and youth’s development: Advances from a cultural-historical approach, (pp. 79-96). New York: Cambridge University Press.
36. Fleer, M. (2012). Early childhood education as an evolving ‘community of practice’ or as lived ‘social reproduction’: Researching the ‘taken-for-granted’, In J. Soler, C., Walsh, A., Craft, J., Rix, & K., Simmons (Eds.). Transforming Practice. Critical issues in equity, diversity and education, (pp. 205-216). Stoke on Trent, UK: The Open University and Trenthum Books.
37. Fleer, M. (2011). Motives as a central concept for learning, In D. McInerney, R. Walker, & G. A. Liem (Eds.) Sociocultural theories of learning and motivation: Looking back, looking forward (Vol. 10) (pp. 65-86) North Carolina: Information Age Publishing Inc.
38. Fleer, M. (2011). Shared sustained imaginary conversations: Teachers and children consciously engaging in concepts during play. In S, Sheridan & P. Williams, “livslångt lärande”(Eds.) (pp. 134-148), Liber: Sweden (Invited piece for special issue).
39. Fleer, M. (2010). Cultural-Historical Activity Theory and social practice in design and technology education: Methodological directions. In A. Jones & M. de Vries (Eds.). International Handbook of Research and Development in Technology Education, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
40. Fleer, M. (2010). The significance of teacher conceptual and contextual intersubjectivity for affording concept formation in children’s play. In S. Edwards & L. Wood, (pp. 67-79). Engaging Play. UK: Open University Press.
41. Fleer, M. (2009). A cultural-historical perspective on play: Play as a leading activity across cultural communities. In I. Pramling Samuelsson & M. Fleer (Eds.) Play and learning in early childhood settings. International perspectives (pp. 1-18). The Netherlands: Springer
42. Hedegaard, M. & Fleer, M. (2009). Family practices and how children are positioned as active agents. In M. Fleer, M. Hedegaard, & J. Tudge, (Eds.). Constructing childhood: Global-local policies and practices, World Year Book Series, (pp. 254-278). New York: Routledge.
43. Fleer, M., Hedegaard, M., & Tudge, J., (2009). The global construction of childhood development and learning. In M. Fleer, M. Hedegaard, & J. Tudge, (Eds.). Constructing childhood: Global-local policies and practices, World Year Book Series, (pp. 1- 20). New York: Routledge.
44. Fleer, M. (2008). A cultural-historical perspective on research in design and technology education, In H.E. Middleton (Ed.). Researching Technology Education: Methods and techniques (pp.89-98). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
45. Farquhar, S & Fleer, M., (2007). Developmental colonisation of early childhood education in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia. In L. Keesing-Styles & H, Hedges, Theorising early childhood practice. Merging dialogues, (pp.27-50). New South Wales: Pademelon Press.
46. Fleer, M., (2006). ‘Meaning-making science’: Exploring the sociocultural dimensions of early childhood teacher education. In K. Appleton (Ed.). Elementary science teacher education: International perspectives on contemporary issues and practice (pp. 107-126). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum in association with AETS.

Refereed journal articles (examples only)

47. Fleer, M., Harrison, L., Veresov, N., & Walker, S. (Accepted, May 2017). A case study of how teachers develop executive functions activities through imaginary play and playworlds, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood,
48. Fleer, M. (2017). Digital role-play: Creating new conditions for children’s play. Mind, Culture and Activity, 24 (1), 3-17. Doi: 10.1080/10749039.2016.1247456.
49. Sulaymani, O., & Fleer, M. (2017). Perezhivanie as a phenomenon and a unit of analysis for studying children’s interactions with iPads in the early years of school in Saudi Arabia, Early Child Development and Care, 1-15 Doi: 10.1080/03004430.2017.1316267
50. Fleer, M., Veresov, N., & Walker, S. (2017). Re-conceptualizing executive functions as social practices in children’s playworlds, Learning Culture and Social Interaction, 14(1), 1-11. Doi: 10.1016/j.lcsi.2017.04.003
51. Fleer, M. (2017). Scientific playworlds: A model of teaching science in play-based settings Research in Science Education, 1-22. Doi: 10.1007/s11165-017-9653-z
52. Gomes, J., & Fleer, M. (2017). The development of a scientific play motive: How preschool science and home play reciprocally contribute to scientific learning. Research in Science Education, 1-22. Doi: 10.1007/s11165-017-9631-5
53. Adams, M., & Fleer, M. (2017). International transitions: Generating subjective sense and subjective configuration in relation to the development of identity. Mind, Culture, and Activity. Doi 10.1080/10749039.2017.1346686
54. White, A., More, D.W., Fleer, M., & Anderson, A. (2017). A thematic and content analysis of instructional and rehearsal procedures of preschool social emotional learning programs, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 42(3), 82-91, Doi:10.2396/AJEC.42.3.10
55. Fragkiadaki, G., Ravanis, K., & Fleer, M. (2017). Detecting factors and processes towards concept formation in Early Childhood Science Education: A cultural-historical study. Research in Science Education. Doi: 10.1007/s11165-017-9665-8
56. Chen, F., & Fleer, M. (2016). A cultural-historical reading of how play is used in families as a tool for supporting children’s emotional development in everyday life, European Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 24(2), 305-319. Doi: 10.1080/1350293X.2016.1143268
57. Fleer, M., Hedges, H., Fleer-Stout, F. & Thi Bich, H. (2016). Researcher intersubjectivity: A methodology for jointly building an interactive electronic early childhood quality involvement/rating scale. International Journal of Research in Methods Education. 1-20. Doi: 10.1080/1743727X.2016.1219982
58. Veresov, N., & Fleer, M. (2016). Perezhivanie as a theoretical concept for researching young children’s development, Special Issue on the concept of perezhivanie, Mind, Culture, Activity, 23(4), 325-335. Doi: 10.1080/10749039.2016.1186198
59. Adams, M., & Fleer, M. (2016). Social inclusion and exclusion of a young child: A cultural-historical perspective of an international mid-semester transition into an international school in Malaysia, Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 41(3), 86-94.
60. Duhn, D., Fleer, M. & Harrison, L. (2016). Supporting multidisciplinary networks through relationality and a critical sense of belonging: three ‘gardening tools’ and the Relational, International Journal of Early Years Education, 24(3), 378-391. Doi: 10.1080/09669760.2016.1196578
61. Adams, M. & Fleer, M. (2016). The relations between a “push down” and “push up curriculum”: A cultural historical study of home play pedagogy in the context of structured learning in international schools in Malaysia. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 17(3), 328-342 doi:10.1177/1463949116660955
62. Fleer, M. (2016). Theorising digital play – a cultural-historical conceptualisation of children’s engagement in imaginary digital situations. Special Issue on play, Journal of International Research in Early Childhood Education, 7(2), 75–90.
63. Hao, Y. & Fleer, M. (2016). Pretend sign created during collective family play: A cultural-historical study of a child’s scientific learning through everyday family play practices. International Research of Early Childhood Education, 7(2), 38–58
64. Hedges, H., Fleer, M., Fleer-Stout, F., & Le Thi Bich, H. (2016). Aspiring to quality teacher-family partnerships in Vietnam: Building localised funds of knowledge. Journal of International Research in Early Childhood Education, 7(3), 49–68. DOI:10.4225/03/584fa401170c2
65. Hatzigianni, M., Gregoriadis, A. & Fleer, M. (2016). Computer use at schools and associations with socio-emotional outcomes – a holistic approach. Findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Computers & Education, 95(1), 134-150. Doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2016.01.003
66. Fleer, M., Adams, M., Gunstone, R., & Hao, Y. (2016). Studying the landscape of families and children’s emotional engagement in science across cultural contexts, Special Issue on the concept of perezhivanie, International Research in Early Childhood Education, 7(1), 122-141.
67. Fleer, M. (2016). An everyday and theoretical reading of perezhivanie for informing research in early childhood education. Special Issue on the concept of perezhivanie, International Research in Early Childhood Education, 7(1), 34-49.
68. March, S., & Fleer, M. (2016). Soperezhivanie: Dramatic events in fairy tales and play. Special Issue on the concept of perezhivanie, International Research in Early Childhood Education, 7 (1), 68-84.
69. Fleer, M., & Li, L. (2016). A child-centered evaluation model: Gaining the children’s perspective in evaluation studies in China. European Early Childhood Research Journal, 24(3). 342-356.
70. Fleer, M. (2015). A Cultural-historical view of child development: Key concepts for contemporary and localised cultural contexts. Asia-Pacific Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education, 9(1), 45-64.
71. Fleer, M. (2015). Developing an assessment pedagogy: The tensions and struggles in re-theorising assessment from a cultural-historical perspective. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 22(2), 224-246. doi: 10.1080/0969594X.2015.1015403.
72. Fleer, M. (2015). Pedagogical positioning in play – teachers being inside and outside of children’s imaginary play. Early Child Development and Care, 184(11-12), 1801-1814 (special issue). doi: 10.1080/03004430.2015.1028393.
73. Fleer, M. & March, S. (2015). Conceptualising science learning as a collective social practice: changing the social pedagogical compass for a child with visual impairment. Cultural Studies in Science Education (Special themed issue), 10(3), 803-831. doi 10.1007/s11422-014-9616-x.
74. Chen, F., & Fleer, M. (2015). Re-signing: A cultural-historical study of signs for supporting young children’s development of emotion regulation. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 22(3), 233-250. doi: 10.1080/10749039.2015.1048370.
75. Adams, M. & Fleer, M. (2015). Moving countries: Belongings as central for realizing the affective relation between international shifts and localized micro movements. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction 6, 56-66. Doi: 10.1016/j.lcsi.2015.03.003
76. Sikder, S., & Fleer, M. (2015). Small science: Infant and toddlers experiencing science in everyday family life. Research in Science Education, 45(3), 445-464. doi:10.1007/s11165-014-9431-0
77. Fleer, M., March, S. & Gomes, J. (2014). A cultural-historical reading of scientific concept formation: Affordances for science learning in preschools, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 39 (1), 38-49
78. Fleer, M. (2014). The demands and motives afforded through digital play in early childhood activity settings, Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, (Special themed issue). Doi: 10.1016/j.lcsi.2014.02.012
79. Fleer, M., Hammer, M., & March, S. (2014). A cultural-historical reading of the emotional development of young children. Asia-Pacific Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education, 8(2), 47-67.
80. Peers, C., & Fleer, M. (2014). The theory of ‘belonging’: Defining concepts used with belonging, being and becoming – The Australian Early Years Learning Framework. Educational Philosophy and Theory [E], 46(8), 914-928. Doi: 10.1080/00131857.2013.781495 [Invited to the special Issue: Philosophy and Pedagogy of Early Childhood]
81. Fleer, M. & Hammer M. (2013). Perezhivanie in group settings: A cultural-historical reading of emotion regulation, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 38(3). 127-134.
82. Fleer, M., & Hammer, M. (2013). Emotions in imaginative situations: The valued place of fairytales for supporting emotion regulation, Mind Culture and Activity, 20(3), 240-259
83. Fleer, M. (2013). Affective imagination in science education: Determining the emotional nature of scientific and technological learning of young children, Research in Science Education, 43(5). Doi: 10.1007/s11165-012-9344-8.
84. Fleer, M., & Peers, C. (2012). Beyond cognitivisation: creating collectively constructed imaginary situations for supporting learning and development. The Australian Educational Researcher, 39(4), 413-430. Doi: 10.1007/s13384-012-0073-9.
85. Wong, P. & Fleer, M. (2012). A cultural-historical conception of child development: Understanding Hong Kong immigrant children’s development within everyday family practices in Australia. Mind Culture and Activity, 19 (2), 107-126.
86. Fleer, M., & Hoban, G. (2012). Using slowmation for intentional teaching in early childhood centres: Possibilities and imaginings, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(3), 137-146.
87. Fleer, M. (2012). Imagination, emotions and scientific thinking: What matters in the being and becoming of a teacher of elementary science? Invited paper for Cultural Studies in Science Education, 7(1), 31-39. Doi: 10.1007/s11422-011-9339-1
88. Fleer, M. (2011). “Conceptual Play”: Foregrounding imagination and cognition during concept formation in early years education. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. 12(3), 224-240.
89. Fleer, M. (2011). Kindergartens in cognitive times: Imagination as a dialectical relation between play and learning, International Journal of Early Childhood, (invited article for special themed issue), 43(3), 245-259.
90. Fleer, M. & Hedegaard, M. (2010). Children’s development as participation in everyday practices across different institutions: A child’s changing relations to reality. Mind, Culture and Activity, 17(2), 49-168. Doi: 10.1080/10749030903222760
91. Fleer, M. (2009). Understanding the dialectical relations between everyday concepts and scientific concepts within play-based programs, Research in Science Education, 39(1), 281-306.
92. Fleer, M., & March, S. (2009). Engagement in science, engineering and technology in the early years: A cultural-historical reading, Review of Science, Mathematics and ICT Education (Invited; themed issue on early childhood science and technology education).3(1), 23-47

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