PAC staff members gain their Doctorates

Author: Ross Scrymgeour, Director of Advancement Prince Alfred College.

We congratulate two staff members, Daniel Kerrigan and John Kinniburgh, who have recently successfully completed their PhD studies. The focus of their research work is outlined below.

Daniel Kerrigan

Daniel’s thesis generalised a theory of gravitation that offers a possible resolution to the dark matter and dark energy problems. The theory, dubbed Dynamical 3-Space Theory, models gravity as being the result of acceleration arising from a flowing fluid, as opposed to curvature of spacetime as in Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The theory was generalised in two key areas, firstly in expanding on the behaviour of certain solutions for the velocity field, which lead to `dark matter-like’ effects. This tended towards similar behaviour to a different theory of gravitation, known as Modified Newtonian Dynamics, and hence further comparisons between the theories could made. This resulted in a form of the theory that was consistent with dark matter observations and offered predictive capabilities. The second area was in regard to the relativistic behaviour of the theory, that is, how it behaved in high speed situations. This involved a comparison with something known as Painlevé-Gullstrand or raindrop coordinates, first noting the behaviour of these, before deriving a number of key results seen in Dynamical 3-Space Theory from a specialised version of these coordinates alone. This in turn allowed further comparison between the theory of the General Theory of Relativity, and hence allowed a discussion of where the agreement between these theories breaks down.

John Kinniburgh

For teachers and students of geography, Geographic Information Systems (or GIS) have emerged as a unique and innovative tool with the potential to enhance the quality of learning in geographical education. As a computer application, a GIS can capture, store, manage, analyse and display geographic information that is spatially referenced to the Earth’s surface. When processed appropriately, the data in a GIS can be used in diverse ways to make decisions, solve problems and enhance educational outcomes.

John’s PhD research completed recently examined the extent to which Geographical Information Systems (GIS)-based pedagogies and practices enhance the higher-order thinking skills of middle-school geography students. In doing so, it sought to investigate the influence of pedagogical orientation, ability level and specific instructional design approaches on GIS-based learning. The findings outline how to understand, document and interpret GIS-based pedagogical approaches that are most effective in improving student thinking and learning outcomes. The key design principles identified seek to change and improve the educational practice in this area and contribute to the body of research around GIS-based instructional frameworks. The study was conducted within the context of secondary geography education in New South Wales, Australia. The sample for the study consisted of students commencing Year 9 (9th Grade) at an independent boys’ school in Sydney.