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School of Education

Dr Penny Van Bergen

Penny Van Bergen Title: Senior Lecturer in Education
Qualifications: B.Psych (Hons I) (UNSW); Ph.D (UNSW); PGCert Higher Education (Macq)
Phone: 02 9850 8662
Office: X5B 278


Penny graduated with a PhD in Psychology from the University of New South Wales in 2008, and is now a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, Macquarie University. She has a background in educational and developmental psychology, with a focus on children's development of cognitive and socio-emotional skills. She teaches educational psychology to second-year pre-service teachers.

Research Interests

Penny's research focuses on the influence of social interactions on children's cognitive and emotional development. For example, she has considered (i) the ways in which parent-child reminiscing about the past facilitates young children's autobiographical memory and emotion knowledge, (ii) the way in which school children collaborate in the classroom, and the influence of this collaboration on learning, (iii) the way in which older children and adolescents remember schoolyard conflicts with their friends and the influence of individual perspective-taking, and (iv) the way in which teachers form strong and emotionally positive relationships with disruptive students. In her most recent research she is conducting a series of studies from the lab to the classroom to determine the individual factors predicting group learning, memory, and critical thinking.  


In 2010 Penny was ranked as one of the Top 20 lecturers Australia-wide in the Campus Daily Lecturer of the Year competition. In 2011 she was awarded both a Faculty of Human Sciences Dean's Citation and a university-level Vice Chancellor's Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. In 2012 she was awarded a national Australian Government Office of Learning and Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, and in 2014 she was awarded the Australian Psychological Society Early Career Teaching Award


Penny has supervised a number of Masters and PhD projects focused on memory in children and adults, perspective-taking and empathy in children and adults, and student-teacher relationships. She is currently taking applications for new students. If you are interested in commencing a Masters or PhD project and would like to find out more, please email

Selected Recent Publications

2017   McGrath, K. F., Van Bergen, P., & Sweller, N. (accepted). Adding colour to conflict: Disruptive students' drawings of themselves with their teachers. Elementary School Journal.
2016   Graham, L. J., Van Bergen, P., & Sweller, N. (2016). Caught between a rock and a hard place: Disruptive boys' views on mainstream and special schools in New South Wales, Australia. Critical Studies in Education. DOI: 10.1080/17508487.2016.1108209
2016   Guilbert, D., Lane, R., &Van Bergen, P. (2016). Understanding student engagement with research: A study of pre-service teachers' research perceptions, research experience, and motivation. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education. DOI: 10.1080/1359866X.2015.1070118
2015   Van Bergen, P., Wall, J., & Salmon, K. (2015). The good, the bad, and the neutral: The influence of emotion and its valence on young children's recall. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4, 25-29. DOI:       10.1016/j.jarmac.2014.11.001
2015   Nile, E., & Van Bergen, P. (2015). Not all semantics: Similarities and differences in reminiscing function and autobiographical memory content between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Memory, 23, 83-98. DOI: 10.1080/09658211.2014.931973
2015   Van Bergen, P., Graham, L., J., Sweller, N., & Dodds, H. (2015). The psychology of containment: Mis/representing emotional and behavioural difficulties in Australian schools. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 20, 64-81. DOI: 10.1080/13632752.2014.947101.
2015   Nichols, M., Van Bergen, P., & Richards, D. (2015). Enhancing learning in a virtual world using highly elaborative reminiscing as a reflective tool. Learning and Instruction, 36, 66-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2014.12.002
2015   McGrath, K. F., & Van Bergen, P. (2015). Who, when, why, and to what end? Students at risk of negative student-teacher relationships and their outcomes. Educational Research Review, 14, 1-17. DOI:       10.1016/j.edurev.2014.12.001
2015   Graham, L. J., Van Bergen, P., & Sweller, N. (2015). "To educate you to be smart": Disaffected students and the purpose of school in the (not so clever) lucky country. Journal of Education Policy, 30, 237-257. DOI: 10.1080/02680939.2014.953596
2013   Van Bergen, P. (2013). Uses and misuses of podcasting technology to replace lecture content in the educational psychology classroom. In M. Gosper and D. Ifanthaler (Eds.), Curriculum Models in the 21st Century (pp.259-277). Springer, NY.
2013   Nichols, M., Richards, D., & Van Bergen, P. (2013). A highly elaborative reminiscing virtual agent to enhance student memory of virtual world events. In Proceedings of the Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS).
2013   Van Bergen, P. (2013, June). 'But why was he mean to you?': A school-based intervention to enhance children's emotional perspective-taking during recall. Invited symposium presented at the Society for Research in Memory and Cognition Biennial Conference, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
2013   McIlwain, D., Van Bergen, P., Barnier, A., Reese, E., Savage, G., & Sutton, J. (2013, June). The span of scaffolding: Intergenerational remembering as a form of reciprocal enhancement. Invited symposium presented at the Society for Research in Memory and Cognition Biennial Conference, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
2013   Nile, E., & Van Bergen, P. (2013, June). Remembering and reminiscing: Investigating similarities and differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Memory and Cognition Biennial Conference, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
2013   Van Bergen, P., Nile, E., Nothman, T., & Rusten, N. (2013, June). Emotional perspective taking during children's recall of conflict: evidence for gender and individual differences. Poster presented at Con Amore, Aarhus, Denmark.
2013   Van Bergen, P., Wall, J.H., & Salmon, K. (2013, April). The good, the bad and the neutral: The influence of emotional valence on children's event memory. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Conference, Seattle, USA.

Sweller, N., Graham, L. J., & Van Bergen, P. (2012). The minority report: Disproportionate representation in Australia's largest education system. Exceptional Children, 79: 107-125.

2011   Van Bergen, P., Graham, L. J., & Sweller, N. (2011, August). The psychology of containment: Schools and the (mis)use of diagnostic categories. Paper presented at the European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction Biennial Conference, Exeter, UK.
2011   Van Bergen, P., & Salmon, K. (2011). Attachment and emotion knowledge in development. In J. Low and P. Jose (Eds.), Lifespan Development: New Zealand Perspectives. Pearson.
2011   Van Bergen, P., Salmon, K., Mackay, K. & McIvor, J. (2011, April). Children's recall of positive, negative, and neutral stimuli following a staged 'visit to the pretend zoo' event. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Conference, Montreal.
2010   Graham, L. J., Sweller, N., & Van Bergen, P. (2010). Detaining the usual suspects: charting the use of segregated settings in New South Wales government schools. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood,11: 234-248.
2010   Van Bergen, P., & Salmon, K. (2010). The association between parent-child reminiscing and children's emotion knowledge. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 39: 51-56.
2009   Van Bergen, P., & Salmon, K. (2009). Emotion-oriented reminiscing and children's recall of a novel event. Cognition and Emotion, 24: 991-1007.
2009   Van Bergen, P., Salmon, K., Dadds, M. R., & Allen, J. (2009). The effect of mother training in emotion-rich, elaborative reminiscing on children's shared recall and emotion knowledge. Journal of Cognition and Development, 10: 162-187.
2009   Wright, T., Freebody, P., Bahr, N., Allender, T., & Van Bergen, P. (2009, July). Exploring the disciplines: Perspectives from physics, biology, history and music in the classroom. Paper presented at the conference of the Australasian Science Education Research Association, Geelong.
2009   Van Bergen, P., Bahr, N., Wright, T., Allender, T., Freebody, P., Barton, G., & Neilson, R. (2009, April). The awareness and explication of disciplinarity across four senior-secondary subject areas. Paper presented at the American Education Research Association annual conference, San Diego.
2009   Van Rooy, W., Freebody, P., Hedberg, J., Nichols, K., Barton, G., Chan, E., & Van Bergen, P. (2009, January). Modalities of learning for the New Life Sciences: Lessons from NSW (Australia). Paper presented at The Association for Science Education Annual Conference, Reading, UK
2008   Hedberg, J., Van Bergen, P., Freebody, P., Nichols, K., van Rooy, W., Barton, G., & Chan, E. (2008). Transforming through technologies the modalities of learning: New Life Sciences in secondary schooling. In Proceedings of the World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications. Chesapeake, VA: AACE, pp. 6322-6330.
2008   Neilson, R., Freebody, P., Bahr, N., Wright, T., Barton, G., Van Bergen, P., et al. (2008, November). Knowledge communication and disciplinarity in senior schooling: An exploration. Poster presented at the 3rd Practice-based and Practitioner Research Conference, Bergen, Norway.
2008   Van Bergen, P., Chan, E., Freebody, P., Hedberg, J., Nichols, K., van Rooy, W., & Barton, G. (2008, June). Digital and multimodal representations of 'New Life Science' concepts in Australian Science classrooms. Paper presented at the IoE's International Conference on Multimodality and Learning, London.
2008   Barton, G., Nichols, K., Freebody, P., Hedberg, J., Van Rooy, W., Van Bergen, P., et al. (2008, July). Transforming the technologies and modalities of learning: Investigating practical settings in Senior Biology. Paper presented at the Australian Science Education Research Association conference, Brisbane.
2008   Allen, J. L., Salmon, K., Dadds, M., Wareham, P. (now Van Bergen), & Hawes, D. (2008). The influence of child temperament on mother-child reminiscing about shared past events: A comparison of children with conduct problems and community controls. Paper presented at the 20th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, W├╝rzburg, Germany.
2007   Salmon, K., Wareham, P. (now Van Bergen), Dadds. M., Allen, J., & Hawes, D. (2007, December). Training parents of young children in emotion-rich discussion of shared past experiences: Implications for clinical interventions. Paper presented at The British Psychological Society Division of Clinical Psychology Annual Conference, UK.
2007   Wareham, P. (now Van Bergen), Salmon, K., Dadds, M., & Allen, J. (2007, April). Training mothers in emotion-oriented reminiscing: Facilitating children's autobiographical memory and emotion understanding. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development's Biennial Conference, Boston.
2007   Wareham, P. (now Van Bergen), & Salmon, K. (2007, April). The Influence of emotion-oriented reminiscing on children's event recall. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development's Biennial Conference, Boston.
2006   Wareham (now Van Bergen), P., & Salmon, K. (2006). Mother-child reminiscing about everyday experiences: Implications for psychological interventions in the preschool years. Clinical Psychology Review, 26: 535-554.
2006   Salmon, K., & Wareham, P. (now Van Bergen) (2006, July). Training parents in emotionally rich reminiscing: Implications for children's socio-emotional development. Paper presented at the International Conference on Memory - 4 (ICOM-4), Sydney.






2016-2017 MQ Research Development Grant More than the sum of their parts: How do individual skills and attributes influence group remembering? (Harris, Van Bergen, Barnier, and Sutton) $49,220
2016 MQ Restart Grant Thinking together, remembering alone: Does the effectiveness of peer collaboration in schools depend on the task? (Van Bergen) $10,000
2015 MQ Strategic Infrastructure Scheme Development of Mobile Labs in X5B (Wyver, Van Bergen, Locker, Little, Degotardi, Whiteman, and Colliver) $109,994
2013 Faculty of Human Sciences Equipment Scheme Multi-line recorders (Barnier, Harris, Van Bergen, McIlwain, Sutton, Congleton, and Meade) $6,360
2012 Macquarie Research Development Grant Memory scaffolding across the lifespan: Does remembering together across generations protect memory? (Van Bergen, Barnier, McIlwain, Savage, and Reese) $49,968
2012 Innovation and Scholarship Scheme Creating a community of undergraduate scholars (Brew, Downie, Van Bergen et al.) $19,866
2011-2013 ARC Discovery Grant Tracking the experiences of students enrolled in segregated settings (Graham, Van Bergen and Sweller) $110,000
2012 MQ Partnership Seeding Grant Training DOCS workers to enhance the emotion understanding and moral reasoning of high-needs adolescents (Van Bergen and Salmon) $6,451
2011 Learning and Teaching Competitive Grants Scheme Enhancing education students' research engagement through a 'Research in Education' website $9041
2011 MQ Linkage Projects Seeding Grant Stage 1 iPadding the transition to high school: using smart technology to support students' memory and organisation (Graham, Bower and Van Bergen) $9,683
2012-2011 MQ Faculty of HS Publication Grant Self, social and directive functions of autobiographical memory (Van Bergen) $1,680
2010 Learning and Teaching Emerging Technologies Scheme Developing a self-help podcasting process to be implemented department-wide $5000
2009-2011 MQ New Staff Grant The impact of emotion understanding and perspective-taking on children's memory (Van Bergen) $17,000