Penny Van Bergen

Associate Professor

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Personal profile


I am an Associate Professor in Educational Psychology in the School of Education at Macquarie University. I am passionate about ensuring that students of all ages have opportunities for belonging, engagement, and transformational learning.


For media comment in the areas of memory development, child development, or student-teacher relationships, or if you are interested in conducting higher degree research in these areas, please reach out to me at


Leadership and governance

I have strong leadership experience in the higher education sector. I was Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Human Sciences at Macquarie (2019-2020), with responsibility for strategic learning and teaching initiatives across four departments. I am currently a representative on faculty board  (2019-2020, 2021-2023) and a member of the university-level academic appeals committee (2019 - ). I am Director of the Centre for Children’s Learning in a Social World (2017 - ) and I have experience as Director of Research in the School of Education (2013-2016). 


Research focus

I have two related research areas.

  • In the first, I focus on how children and adolescents develop memory and emotion skills. My current research focuses on how famiy, teachers, and older community members reminisce with young people, and how young people use emotion and perspective-taking skills in their own remembering.
  • In the second, I consider the importance of student-teacher relationships in childhood, adolescence, and higher education. I particularly interested in mapping the relationship factors that best facilitate learning and development.


Teaching and teaching scholarship

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and have been awarded nine teaching awards between 2011 and 2018 (including from the Office of Learning and Teaching, Macquarie University, Unijobs, and the Australian Psychological Society). I am experienced in curriculum mapping, having developed curricula for seven classes in educational psychology, child development, general educational studies, and educational research, and have also contributed numerous guest lectures in education, cognitive science, and for faculty level-units. Underpinning my teaching is a strong commitment to creating undergraduate research opportunities for education students.


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