STEMM PROFILE: Dr Claire Campbell | Lecturer and Early Career Researcher | College of Arts, Society and Education | James Cook University | Townsville | QLD

Dr Claire Campbell

“Don’t be afraid to ask for ‘what you need to succeed’ and surround yourself with positive people who support you”

Dr Claire Campbell is Lecturer – Early Years Specialist and Early Career Researcher with the College of Arts, Society and Education at the Townsville campus of James Cook University (JCU). Dr Campbell was awarded an Australian Post-graduate Award to complete her PhD, which investigated young children’s cognitive development. Prior to completing her doctorate, Dr Campbell taught Pre-school and Prep for many years with the Townsville Catholic Education Office. As a well-respected early childhood education teacher, Dr Campbell planned, taught, assessed and reported upon the innovative Science, Technology and Maths learning experiences that her young learners experienced.

In her current role at JCU, Dr Campbell researches Piagetian approaches to early learning, young children’s cognitive development, leadership in ECEC, and family-school partnerships. She is particularly interested in how young children’s experiences with mathematical activities can promote the development of various schemata (such as classification, seriation and causality) that, consequently, increase their level of cognitive development as well as their level of school achievement. Dr Campbell is currently researching the effects of a Piagetian approach to learning with the Prep classes of a regional state school with a high percentage of Indigenous Australian learners. She is employing implementation methodology to research the effects of children’s participation, and non-participation, in a program of mathematical activities designed to accelerate cognitive development and boost school achievement.

Dr Campbell is passionate about all things related to young children and women in leadership, and she uses this passion as a conduit to achieve the JCU strategic intent of ‘creating a brighter future for life in the Tropics worldwide’.

What would you say is your most valuable personal attribute that has helped you succeed? 

My most valuable personal attribute that has helped me to succeed is not being afraid to humbly ask for what I want and/or need to succeed. Whether I need a short break from various work or home responsibilities to complete a challenging task, space at home or the office to make a mess and ‘get stuck into’ things, or advice and support from a mentor/critical friend, I think that I have gotten quite skilled at tactfully, politely, respectfully and successfully ‘getting what I need to succeed’ (without any detriment to anyone or anything else, of course!).

Who and/or what inspires you to achieve?

My Mum inspires me to achieve. Tragically, she passed away when I was 10 years old and my 10 precious years with her inspired my passion for the early years of life. Also, her absence is definitely linked to my need to reach out and connect with women of achievement who I admire and respect, and it has also brought about my interest in women in leadership. I always try to make my Mum proud.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful leader?

Successful leaders have a clear vision that they can communicate 100% effectively. They are inspiring, passionate, enthusiastic, positive, knowledgeable, warm and approachable. Successful leaders lead by example and they build others up. Others do not intimidate them; instead they willingly share the spotlight and bring out the best in others.

If at times your confidence is a little shaky, where do you turn?

I have a range of mentors, critical friends, and ‘significant women’ in my life that I approach when I am uncertain. These people come from a range of backgrounds, possess a variety of skills and knowledge, and all have difference strengths. I use my response to the first question (above) together with the people mentioned here to turn negatives into positives.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to women just starting their careers in science? 

Don’t be afraid to ask for ‘what you need to succeed’ and surround yourself with positive people who support you.

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