Vale Darrell Fisher

2.7.1940 - 12.12.2021

Darrell Fisher passed away on 12 December 2021 after a long illness. His funeral at St George’s Cathedral in St George’s Terrace Perth on 21 December 2021 was attended by his family, friends and former colleagues and students. The large attendance was testament to how he was held in high regard for his calm and personable nature, friendship, and scholarship. A year before, on Saturday 4 July 2020, several of his close colleagues celebrated Darrell’s 80th birthday with his family at his home in Bull Creek.

Darrell’s career began in Devonport in north-west Tasmania as a secondary school science teacher. He was chosen as an exemplary teacher to be sent to Melbourne for several years as a curriculum writer for Australia’s first national curriculum, the Australian Science Education Project (ASEP). Next, he was appointed to what now is the Launceston campus of the University of Tasmania, where he rose through the ranks to become Head of Education.

Darrell completed his doctoral studies with Barry Fraser who was then in the School of Education at Macquarie University in Sydney. As a part-time student, Darrell spent most of his time in Tasmania where he researched the learning environment in local ASEP classrooms.

By the early 1990s, Darrell was invited to an appointment as Associate Professor at the Science and Mathematics Education Centre (SMEC) and the National Key Centre for School Science and Mathematics in the School of Science at Curtin University, where he taught masters and doctoral students and conducted research. Later he was promoted to Professor.

When SMEC developed innovative part-time off-campus doctoral programs in Thailand and South Africa, Darrell was closely involved in their teaching and leadership and was a regular visitor to those countries when students were back teaching in their universities and collecting their research data. He played a significant leadership role in establishing very large off-campus doctoral programs in New Zealand and Tasmania, as well as traveling regularly to several NZ cities to supervise and support these students. This design, involving research students making short visits to Curtin for classes and research consultancy, was familiar to Darrell from his own research studies at Macquarie.

Darrell was a very effective and efficient researcher and supervisor who has 105 publications in ResearchGate, primarily on learning environment research, and has successfully supervised over 100 doctoral students from most states in Australia and the overseas countries listed above.

Darrell was very active in the National Association for Research in Science Teaching and American Educational Research Association, two of the major research organisations in education. Darrell was a NARST strand leader with responsibility for managing proposals for the forthcoming conferences. He initiated the International Conference on Science, Mathematics and Technology Education and organised many of its successful conferences in numerous countries.  Darrell was a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators (ACE) and national President of the National Council of Independent Schools (NCIS).

In 2014, Darrell was awarded an honorary doctorate from the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden, in recognition of his collaboration during 21 years as a Visiting Professor.                                                                                             

Darrell is survived by his wife Gail, daughter Marianne and sons Mark, Ian, Gavin and Ross.

Barry Fraser, Rekha Koul and David Treagust

School of Education Curtin University

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