Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

Research Forum 1993

Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle
Sunday, 21 November 1993
Programme and Paper abstracts
This page is WAIER's official archival copy of the text of a printed document issued by WAIER in 1993.

Forum Program

10.30 - 11.00 amRegistration and Morning Tea
11.00 am.-12.30 pmConcurrent sessions 1, 2 & 3
12.30 - 2.00 pmLunch
2.00 - 3.00 pmConcurrent sessions 4 & 5
3.00-3.30 pmAfternoon Tea
3.30 - 4.30 pmConcurrent sessions 6 & 7.
5.00 - 6.00 pmHappy Hour at a local hotel

6.30 - 9.00 pm

Annual Dinner

Welcome: Andrew Taggart, President, WAIER
Invited Forum Address:
Ric Lowe: WAIER 1992 Early Career Award Winner
Presentation: Research techniques for investigating the mental representation of diagrams
Presentation of Awards:
WAIER Prizewinners:
Early Career Award
Institution Post Graduate Research Awards

WAIER 1992 Early Career Award Winner

Ric Lowe - Curtin University of Technology

Ric Lowe is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Curtin University of Technology. He completed his Ph.D. at Murdoch University in 1991, and has subsequently been a productive scholar in a variety of research areas. Ric's research and publication centres on expository illustrations of the type increasingly used in instructional materials. His investigations focus on both the capacities people need in order to process diagrams successfully and how diagrams may be used more effectively top support learning.

About the Award

The aim of the WAIER Early Career Award is to recognise excellence early in a career and to encourage continuing contributions to research. The award is an incentive as well as an acknowledgment of early success, and it is hoped that the person receiving the award would proceed to complete further research of excellent quality.

The award is open to all presently enrolled postgraduate students, and anybody who has yet to complete three years following a Master's or Doctoral degree, and/or who would not be considered an established researcher.

A select committee of the executive of WAIER reviews nominations and selects a short list. The short list of nominees is then invited to submit evidence of their educational research.

List of presentations

[ See Program ]

Presentations by time

Session 1: 11.00 am
Corporate managerialism: Here to stayWayne MacGowan1
Relationships between verbal and nonverbal interactions in a year five classroomGary Partington2
Measuring student perceptions about cheatingRussell Waugh and John Godfrey3
Latent trait theory and the validity of graded response formatsAlan Honeyman4
Session 2: 11.30 am
Risk management in Australian chemical education: A health and safety perspectivePeter Forlin1
Teachers of the gifted and talented: Are they competent?Gary G. Pears2
Redressing discrimination in a primary school: Research as review and developmentSusan H. Hall3
Qualitative research: Clearing the path of unneeded obstaclesStephen Thorpe4
Session 3: 12.00
An evaluation of the current relief teaching system in Western Australia's government primary schoolsAnn Crittenden1
Integration: How do teachers expect to cope?Chris Forlin2
Differences in attitude towards mathematics between regular class children and children with learning problems in mathematicsJennifer Poller3
A methodology for studying the influence of home and school on Chinese Australian and Anglo Australian high school studentsRanbir Malik4
Session 4: 2.00 pm
Restructuring and the devolution of decision-making: A single secondary school studyGraham Dellar1
Interaction between person-environment fit, teacher stress and teacher efficacyW. Hutchinson2
Teaching for understanding: Whose agenda is being served?Helen Wildy and John Wallace3
Adolescent decision making styles: Have we got it right?Stephen Johnson4
Session 5: 2.30 pm
Leadership and the creation of shared meaningsChris Elliott1
Teacher backgrounds, resources, facilities, personnel and time allocation: A survey of music education in metropolitan pre-primary schoolsAnne-Therese Kania2
Reflections on foreign language acquisition: A workshopKukubo Barasa3
Session 6: 3.30 pm
Resolving the dilemma of sharing leadership: A case study of principal practiceHelen Wildy and John Wallace1
The performance body: in search of stage presencePatricia Marks2
Students perceptions of 3D shapes in geometryDavid Court and Anthony Main3
The origins of Bantu education in South AfricaThemba Mhlambo4
Session 7: 4.00 p.m
The adequacy of Fullan's framework in implementing inquiry learningGoru Hane-Nou1
The use of telecommunications to enhance equity and access in educationRon Oliver2
Some implications of a constructivist learning approachTony Fetherstonhaugh3
Factors contributing to gender and socioeconomic equity in science achievement: A study of ten countriesDeidra Young and Barry J. Fraser4

Paper abstracts

Reflections on foreign language acquisition: A workshop

Kukubo Barasa
Edith Cowan University

The process of foreign language acquisition is bound to remain an important educational issue for as long as cultures will coexist and interact through shared language. Applied Linguists recognise the importance of the language development process in the educational setting to the curriculum development process. They are preoccupied with formulating models upon which the most effective foreign language teaching may be based. The result has been that the teacher is confronted with numerous conceptions of how language is acquired or learned, and by extension, how it should be taught.

Contact with a foreign language is such a complex and overchanging phenomenon that planning to teach to teach it. It is probable that some of the failure experienced in the teaching and learning of a foreign language are to do with the failure to take into account the changes occurring in the way language serves society, and the interface between cultures. Perhaps successful foreign language teaching calls for constant review.

The workshop has two objectives. The first objective is to demonstrate the application of a language teaching model in a cross-cultural context. The participants will be taken through an interactive simple learning context simulation involving a foreign language. The simulation is designed to sensitise the participants to the role of the learner's native language to their learning of a foreign language, and to bring to focus what constitutes "difficulty" when talking about foreign language learning.

The second purpose is to explore, in a simple activity, a tentative conception of the process of foreign language learning. In order to focus on the activity and the possible underlying concept participants will be expected to reflect on their personal experiences as language learners and/or teachers. The activity is based on a personal experience in learning and teaching English in Kenya where the language remains the principal medium of education, but also where the native varieties of language have limited influence.

Developing alternative educational techniques using cognitive load theory

Paul Chandler
University of New South Wales

Modem cognitive research suggests that many traditional teaching techniques may be inadequate as they overload the limited working memory of students and interfere with the learning process. Alternatively, cognitively based instructional packages designed to reduce the burden on working memory are demonstrating their superiority over traditional techniques used by educators for generations. This paper explores the conditions under which these alternative instructional techniques are likely to be most beneficial. It asserts that when information has a high intellectual component, then the instructional format becomes critical and cognitively based instruction is highly effective. Where the intrinsic nature of the information imposes fewer intellectual demands, then the format of instruction is inconsequential. The implications of these findings for teaching is discussed.

Students' perceptions of 3D shapes in geometry

David Court and Anthony Main

The seminar focuses on the findings of a small study into students perceptions of 31) shapes and crosssections. Students were questioned in an informal, interview atmosphere about their understanding of various common 3D shapes eg. pyramid, prism. They were asked to verbally describe these shapes and to determine the number of faces, edges and vertices. Students were also questioned about their understanding of cross-sections, and their ability to describe and illustrate them. Discussion focuses on common themes in the students responses and attempts to determine possible reasons for them.

An evaluation of the current relief teaching system in Western Australia's government primary schools

Ann Crittenden
Edith Cowan University

This evaluation focused on obtaining an overall picture of the relief teaching situation, from the point of view of three major groups: principals, teachers and relief teachers. The important input of the students themselves has not been covered.

The purpose of the evaluation was to answer the research questions: are there any aspects of the relief teaching program which could be improved, and if so, in what ways? A qualitative research process has been used, incorporating aspects of Parlett and Hamilton's (1972) Illuminative Model with ethnographic survey research. Qualitative data collection was followed by quantitative and qualitative analysis. Three questionnaires were constructed and administered to six primary schools, five in the Perth Metropolitan region and one in the country.

The analysis of the data indicated that there are five key issues:

Current employment statistics indicate that the combined primary and secondary relief teachers represent approximately 13.7% of WA's total teaching population, while primary relief teachers represent approximately 15% of the primary teachers workforce. As such they constitute a considerable proportion of the teaching population, with the inferred implication that primary school students may spend a considerable amount of their actual class time with relief teachers.

The research undertaken concludes with a set of recommendations to be implemented at the school level, which, in the opinion of the researcher, could improve specific aspects of the current relief teaching system in primary schools.

Restructuring and the devolution of decision-making: A single secondary school study

Graham Dellar
Curtin University of Technology

The purpose of this paper is to present a detailed account of the response of one secondary school to the mandated establishment of school decision-making groups and school development planning. By so doing, it is hoped the portrayal will illuminate the dynamics of policy implementation and promote a better understanding of complexities of change. Such insights into the realities of restructuring and reform might and led to more sensitive and informed actions by both policy makers and implementors alike.

The unique nature of a school's organisational characteristics appear to influence not only receptiveness to restructuring and reform but the type change strategies adopted, the range of information and assistance used, and must importantly, the degree to which members of the organisation will persevere with the implementation process. To gain an understanding of the dynamics and complexities of the implementation process, it seems essential to view change as context dependent. Central Office and school level, close attention needs to be given to the nature of the school as an organisation as well as the characteristics of its environment. Through such an approach to change, appropriate support and strategies might be developed that better facilitate the type of organisational transformation that is intended to promote school development and create "Better Schools".

Leadership and the creation of shared meanings

Chris Elliott
Ardross Primary School

A study into the leadership that occurred in the planning of a health network was conducted in 1992 following the announcement by the Minister of Health that health administration in a province of western Canada would be regionalized. The creation of health planning networks required a conceptualisation of health administration different from the bureaucratic thinking that had traditionally occurred in the administration of health agencies.

Common understandings about the nature and purpose of the proposed network needed to be developed and the differing values, beliefs and assumptions held by participants had to be taken into account. The conceptual framework for the study, developed from the analogy of leadership as language proposed by Pondy (1978), assisted in understanding how the values, beliefs, conceptions of organisations and the various worldviews of the participants and their respective conception of their places in the world were taken into account in the creation of a shared vision for the health network.

The creation of this shared vision was facilitated by the development of an environment of honesty, collegiality and trust. The leadership in the study emerged as a shared phenomenon and participants displayed leadership that reflected the sense of reality that each held.

Some implications of a constructivist learning approach

Tony Fetherstonhaugh
Edith Cowan University

Constructivist learning approaches are receiving more and more attention, particularly in science education. What are. the implications arising from the implementation of approaches which recognise that the learner actively constructs their reality? This paper presents some implications for curriculum, assessment and learning which arose from the implementation of a constructivist learning approach in two year nine science classrooms.

Integration: How do teachers expect to cope?

Chris Forlin
University of Western Australia

Teaching is becoming increasingly more complex and according to many reports considerably more stressful. In addition, the current trend in education is towards greater integration of children with special needs into regular classrooms. This research considers how teachers expect to cope with an increased range of student abilities in their classroom. In particular it investigates the coping strategies teacher attribute to dealing effectively with the stress of integration. These are examined from a transactional perspective related to a persons' appraisal of integration relevant to their own well-being. Teachers from all Educational Support Centres and associated primary schools in Western Australia gave their attributions of coping strategies for reducing teacher stress during the integration of children with a disability into regular classrooms. Gender differences emerged in predicting the usefulness of coping strategies. In addition, different strategies were proposed for coping with the special child and the regular class child depending upon teachers' perceptions of the severity and controllability of integration. The most useful coping strategies suggested by teachers where those involving social support in the form of collaboration, followed by the development of a specific plan of action. Implications of the usefulness of specific coping strategies are discussed from the perspective of adequate planning for effective inclusive education.

Risk management in Australian chemical education: A health and safety perspective

Peter Forlin
University of Western Australia

In order to make appropriate decisions about risk, educators need information and frameworks for management. It is the provision of an integrated framework for risk management in Australian chemical education that is the primary purpose of this paper. The integrated framework is developed on nine dimensions, namely: commitment; self-regulation and consultation; risk identification and risk assessment; risk control; education, training and promotion; accident reporting and accident investigation; emergency anticipation; occupational rehabilitation; and equity (non-discrimination). The paper provides an analysis of the relevant legislation with respect to risk management in Western Australia. The concept of national consensus and national standards within a network of varying state systems is posed. Reference is made to effective risk management systems in the international arena. This research provides a contribution towards a theory of health and safety risk management in Australian chemical education. It develops and examines the proposition that decision-making and planning are assisted when the theory and philosophy underlying the judgements involved in the risk management process is understood and made explicit. This research examines the integrated framework as a setting which will greatly enhance policy analysis in the field of occupational health and safety risk management.

Redressing discrimination in a primary school: Research as review and development

Susan H. Hall
Murdoch University

This presentation is derived from a set of case studies about six teachers' attempts to redress discrimination with the context of their teaching in a Perth suburban primary school.

The teachers' procedures for conducting action research are described along with the author's dual role as facilitator of the action research and case study researcher.

The way in which discrimination was redressed by the teachers is presented at outcomes of their review and development projects. By way of concluding, the benefits and pitfalls of conducting case studies of teachers' review and development projects are discussed.

The adequacy of Fullan's framework in implementing inquiry learning

Goru Hane-Nou
Murdoch University

The framework of implementing curriculum change developed by Fullan (1982, 1991) suggests that an intricate and complex array of interactive factors and associated themes are likely to enhance success in the implementation of curriculum change. Researchers (Marsh 1986,1988; Schiller 1985a; Poole and Okeafar, 1989) using Fullan's framework have shown that the degree to which these factors and themes interact tend to impact implementation at different levels. This is embedded firstly, in the context in which the curriculum is being implemented, and secondly in the nature of curriculum change itself. This paper examines Fullan's framework in detail and explores how it might be applied to the implementation of inquiry learning in Papua New Guinea secondary schools.

Latent trait theory and the validity of graded response formats

Alan Honeyman
Murdoch University

This research utilises recent theoretical developments in the modelling of test data to problematise the common understanding of the working of a very commonly occurring type of test question. The questions of concern are those whose maximum score is greater than one, so that the quality of an incomplete or partially correct response is represented by the proportion of the maximum score awarded. Wide-spread use of this kind of question has resulted in the development of an informal appreciation of how the scoring of the question should work and where the working of the question may reduce its validity. Specifically, it is understood that a problem can arise if the credited components of the response are very dependent. One of the developments in latent trait theory has revealed that there is a second related problem when the ordered components of the graded performance are disordered in their difficulties. Analysis of responses to a set of year 10 algebra questions will demonstrate the use of the model in making explicit the presence of disorder of the difficulties of the response components. The effect of this disorder on reducing the validity of inferences is considered. Suggestions for overcoming the problem are presented.

Interaction between person environment fit, teacher stress and teacher efficacy

W. Hutchinson
Hale School

The presentation will be a review of work in progress. The study investigates the interaction between levels of person-environment (P-E) fit, teachers' work-related stress and teacher efficacy. The study uses a methodology involving the investigation of regression surfaces. This methodology allows for the investigation of linear, curvilinear and interactional relationships among the three variables, stress, teacher efficacy and P-E fit. Results are plotted using a 3D surface. While the results supported, in general, the importance of P-E fit to the achievement of reduced stress, they also indicated the importance of different levels of efficacy as a mediator of these relationships. There were differences between the levels of stress teachers reported according to the level of P-E fit, the type of climate dimension under consideration and the placement of the individual into high, moderate and low levels of efficacy. Implications for future research and professional development programmes for teachers will be considered.

Adolescent decision making styles: Have we got it right?

Stephen Johnson
University of Western Australia

The transition from school to work is an important period of decision making. The decision as to which vocation to enter is often assumed to be based on an individual's interests and aptitudes. Vocational counselling and curricula are based on developing an awareness of interests and aptitudes and the matching of such to vocations where successful individuals show similar abilities, interests and aptitudes. In today's economic climate of unemployment and rapid workplace change, is this concentration on interest potentially damaging? Rapid change would suggest that our interests can not always be met within the workplace, while government policy emphasises workforce flexibility.

Changes in schooling, the economy, family structures, and perhaps in the adolescent subculture itself, have raised many questions as to the relevance of current decision making models often developed within a framework of economic rationalism or based on outdated research from the 1960s and 1970s. Many such models are based on the decision making processes of managers and individuals who have already made the transition from school to work. An urgent reappraisal of decision making for the important transition between Year 12 and post-secondary vocation is required. Rather than assume that family, the education "system" and peers are used to make decisions, and that the decisions are rational, we must ask if there are other factors which we ignore at our peril, if the relationships are more complex than previously assumed, and if our counselling and information provision helps or hinders students.

My research examines the process of decision rnaking about post-secondary vocation and the role of parents, peers, and educational and work experiences for students facing a point of transition, exploration and uncertainty. The preliminary research reported suggest processes by which post-secondary options are generated and considered by year 12 students and is based on interviews with students themselves. The influence of peers, parents and work and educational experience (eg. Part-time work and teacher-student relationships) cannot be based on a simple model. For example, previous models suggest that parents are very important in vocational decisions but this is often based on the post-hoc analysis of a decision (and samples of convenience). My research indicates that the strength and form of relationships alter depending on the stage of decision making (ie. a general, partial, set or flexible decision). The "things" that influence decisions also go beyond sociological models of cultural or familial explanations. The role of perceptions of access, concept of success and peer intentions cannot be ignored for the majority of individuals.

This is a preliminary study of post-secondary decision making and the model presented is by no means complete or exhaustive yet raises concerns on the current teaching of decision making skills, the provision of information, our assumptions of rationality, and interest matching approaches to vocational counselling.

Teacher backgrounds, resources, facilities, personnel and time allocation: A survey of music education in metropolitan pre-primary schools

Anne-Therese Kania
Edith Cowan University

The pre-primary year of schooling, the first year of formal education for many children in Western Australia, has the potential to capitalise upon young children's rhythmic and auditory responsiveness and can provide a solid foundation upon which further musical understandings may be built. Music educators such as Kodaly and Orff have stressed the advantages of children's early exposure to music.

McMahon (1986a, p.45) comments on the need for professionally trained personnel with knowledge of child development to initiate programmes in music for children. This study examines the musical backgrounds and professional preparation of pre-primary teachers interviewed for the purposes of this project. The personnel responsible for music education in the pre-primary schools are examined and explanations sought regarding the operation of music specialist services in the respective Centres.

This study also investigates the distribution an quality of resources and facilities for music education in pre-primary schools from the perspectives of the surveyed pre-primary teachers. The amount of time allocated for music education and factors which limited children's access to music instruction receive additional attention.

Data from the study was collected using interviews with pre-primary teachers and those music specialists who operated in the pre-primary schools of 21 randomly selected government primary schools from five of the 14 educational regions in the Perth metropolitan area. Grouping procedures and frequency counts facilitated further analysis.

Results found that completion of music education option sequences /specialisations were a favoured undertaking of teachers interviewed, exceeding the number who specialised in areas such as art, special education or psychology. Overall, at least one music education unit was completed by 90% of teachers. Nearly 60% were of the opinion that the music education units in which they participated were inadequate for their needs, which may have implications for university curriculum/ content planners. Reasons for this were cited.

Teachers, irrespective of background, overwhelmingly supported the institution of music specialists which could reveal teacher concern for the possible quality of music education in their pre-primary schools and the desire of some teachers to be supported in their musical endeavours, whilst increasing their awareness of other resource areas from which to acquire assistance.

Instrument number and type were also investigated. Overall there existed lower percentage scores for tuned instrument availability and usage than for non-tuned instruments in the pre-primary schools, reflecting a similar situation encountered by Bartle (1968). Over 40% or teachers had qualms regarding adequacy and condition of instruments in their Centres which highlights that a significant minority of teachers was disturbed about the prevalence of defective musical resources in their Centres.

A majority of teachers ensured that students received a planned musical experience, with musical experiences of 16-20 minutes undertaken by 50% of teachers. It was somewhat disappointing that only 14% of those teachers also provided informal musical interactions.

The importance of musical education in early childhood education asks that further research be coordinated to follow-up investigations already carried out in this project, particularly in those areas related to university music education studies and the role of music specialists in pre-primary music experiences.

Corporate managerialism: Here to stay

Wayne MacGowan
Ministry of Education

The release of Better Schools: A Programme for Improvement (1987) signalled the beginning of decentralisation of administrative structures and the devolution of responsibilities within the Western Australian education system. Devolution as a process - fuelled by economic rationalism, public sector reform and effective schools literature - continues to make its presence felt. Devolution: The Next Phase and the possibility of a new Education Act indicates that the process of devolution is far from complete. A future consisting of more flexible school organisation with even greater localised decision making power looks inevitable.

The capacity to control the direction of education on the one hand while devolving decision making to the school level on the other relies upon the system's organisational structure. Like other public sector agencies, the Ministry of Education has flagged its intention to move from a bureaucratic structure to one of corporate managerialism. This organisational response to devolution' double edged sword demonstrates the desire to manage autonomy through a mix of rational management theory and humanistic psychology. That is, the use of goal setting and accountability to provide a mechanism for control~ ling the organisation while motivating teachers through the freedom and power to exercise their professional discretion at the local level. Therefore as schools move along the devolution continuum towards self-determination so the attitudes and functions of corporate managerialism will increase in value.

This paper outlines a corporate managerial frame-work constructed from a review of organisational and management literature. The need for this framework emerged from research which evaluated a professional development model for primary school principals. The research focused on an evaluation of a particular model for the delivery of professional development to administrators in a changing environment. In addressing the issue several frame-works were used. The most significant was a typology of the corporate managerial functions required of principals managing the school site in a devolved system.

Steady progress towards self-determining schools highlights the need for a greater understanding of corporate managerialism if it is to be effectively applied to education.

A methodology for studying the influence of home and school on Chinese Australian and Anglo-Australian high school students

Ranbir Malik
Edith Cowan University

Voluminous research findings have established that the child's home and school are the most potent socialising forces to influence his/her attitude towards school-related tasks and eventual educational attainment at high school level. The quality of family life, school and classroom experiences have been studied mostly by employing positivistic cross-sectional approaches. Such studies have been successful to show an association between child's socio-cultural background and academic performance, but have not been so successful in identifying the processes in families and classrooms which could show the mechanisms by which these socialising agencies operate to enhance or impede the 'life chances' of children from different 'ethclasses'. The present ethnographic study of children from Chinese-Australian and Anglo-Australian families is an attempt to fill the above gap. The ultimate focus of this study is to provide 'rich' and 'thick' description of the pathways to social mobility which children have adopted.

The performance body: In search of stage presence

Patricia Marks
Edith Cowan University

This paper will explore the concept of the performance body, or what Eugenia Barba terms the "extra-daily" body, in an effort to understand the factors which may influence perceived power in a presentational situation.

Barba has researched Oriental Theatre and, from that analysis, proposes three factors essential in creating "that special quality which makes [actors] vibrate and renders them present" (1991, p.74). These factors are the dilation of the body, precarious balance, and manipulation of energy. This paper will discuss these concepts, drawing parallels with appropriate movement principles emerging from Butoh and professional performance training. The aim will be to explore the relevance of these factors both to Western Theatre and for presentation occasions within our culture.

The origins of Bantu education in South Africa

Themba Mhlambo
Murdoch University

Contrary to held opinion, the policy of separate facilities such as education for African people especially, did not evolve after 1948, the year in which the Afrikaner Nationalist Party came to power. What the new government did, was to legislate, and therefore legalise the policy of apartheid, which had since the previous century been overtly practised in the Afrikaner republics of the Orange Free State and Transvaal.

As one of the strongest pillars of apartheid, Bantu education aims at safeguarding the ideals of the Afrikaner community against what they regard as the 'Kaffir', 'Native' or 'Bantu' threat.

The use of telecommunications to enhance equity and access to education

Ron Oliver
Edith Cowan University

Relationships between verbal and nonverbal interactions in a year five classroom

Gary Partington
Edith Cowan University

This study examined the relationship between the teacher's verbal and nonverbal discourse with a class of 18 year 5 students in a school in a lower socioeconomic status suburb. It was hypothesised that there would be a positive correlation between verbal and nonverbal behaviours, so that students who experience positive verbal interactions will also receive positive nonverbal interactions, and vice versa.

Three different one-hour lessons were videotaped and the tapes analysed for nonverbal interactions between the teacher and the students, including proximity, facial expression and gestures. Data on verbal interactions were available from a previous study and focused on the kind of interaction, such as praise and choice of respondent to questions.

Data were correlated using Statview. Significant results were obtained on a number of correlations, but the lack of consistency of direction of the results demonstrated that the hypothesised relationship does not exist. This particular teacher did not employ nonverbal interactions in ways which may have favoured pupils in whom verbal interactions were positive.

Teachers of the gifted and talented: Are they competent?

Gary G Pears
Curtin University of Technology

This paper reports some preliminary findings of multi-faceted study which examines the relative functional thinking skills development of both teachers and year 7 pupils in Western Australian primary schools. Despite ongoing international calls for demonstrable changes in the educational outcomes for our children, for example, increased emphasis on the Basics-of-tomorrow (Shulman: 1986) critical and creative thinking and independent inquiry skills, there is little evidence beyond rhetoric that anything has changed. Rather, research indicates that many practices adopted by our schools and teachers are antithetical to those desired outcomes (Goodlad: 1984, Kagan: 1990, Clark: 1983, 1988, Shulman: 1986, Shavelson and Stern: 1981, Clark and Peterson: 1986).

This study posits that teacher competence could lie at the heart of the matter, that teachers could be unable to foster thinking skills because they lack them (Lipman: 1985). Further, research indicates that teachers are unable to establish appropriate classroom psychosocial environments which will encourage thinking skills development. Conceptually this study is original in that rather than using the standard pre-test/post-test paradigm, it compares a group of exemplary teachers and students who have, in the first instance, been appointed on the basis of their perceived exceptional thinking and pedagogical skills and in the second, have been identified as being in the top five percent of the primary school population [Primary Extension and Challenge (PEC) with teachers and students from standard classrooms].

The design includes seven cohorts; second year pre-service teacher trainees, in-service teachers (private and public), PEAC teachers, Year 7 students (12 years of age) from private, public and PEAC classes totalling approximately 2,000 cases. Preliminary examination of the data suggests that there is an urgent need in Australia to establish specialist gifted and talented education pre and in-service professional development programs, appropriate selection, induction and formative assessment for teachers of gifted and talented students while highlighting the need for reform in general teacher education with particular reference to the teaching of thinking. Further, there is indeed little difference in the levels of functional cognition between regular classroom teachers and students identified as gifted and talented. Also the general level of cognitive development of the regular Year 7 student population as identified in this study, across inquiry, creativity and critical thinking is poor.

Differences in attitude towards mathematics between regular class children and children with learning problems in mathematics

Jennifer Poller
Edith Cowan University

Possible differences in attitude towards mathematics were studied between year 7 regular class (average performing) children and Year 7 children with learning problems in mathematics. A comparison was also made between the Year 7 children with learning problems and a younger chronological age group (Year 5) who were performing at approximately the same level. Possible gender differences among groups were also studied. A sample of 180 students (30 year 5 males, 30 year 5 females, 30 Year 7 regular class males, 30 Year 7 regular class females, 30 Year 7 learning problems males and 30 year 7 learning problems females) was selected from 302 students in 7 local Primary Schools. Student mathematical achievement was determined by the Progressive Achievement Tests in Mathematics (Level 2a).

Mean differences across the six groups of students were calculated on three attitude subscales. These scales were School-related affect (attitude to school); Subject-related affect (attitude to mathematics) and Academic self-concept (Attitude towards self about mathematical ability).

Qualitative research: Clearing the path of unneeded obstacles

Stephen Thorpe
Edith Cowan University

As a beginning researcher I negotiated many pitfalls along the path to a completed thesis. Many of these 1 was as unavoidable, yet essential to the learning curve. However I encountered certain unnecessary obstacles which may benefit from examination. These obstacles concern qualitative methods and are presented in relation to the naturalistic paradigm, since discussions on method may vary subject to paradigmatic influences.

Much debate has occurred over the perceived need for researchers using the naturalistic paradigm to defend and justify their method. Their mode of defence often entails an argument against positivistic inquiry, rather than the appropriateness of working in the naturalistic paradigm. These paradigmatic and methodological debates have, to a degree, been to the detriment of research in education, because they can divert focus from theoretical problems such as conflicting concepts of curriculum (Eisner & Vallance, 1974; Chapman, 1993).

Rigor and discipline is a fundamental requirement of all research. Although naturalistic inquiry has gradually permeated educational research, there appear to be misunderstandings about terminology, methods and outcomes. As such, this presentation argues that collaboration is required by educational researchers to identify and resolve these issues and to reduce incongruities.

Measuring student perceptions about cheating

Russell Waugh and John Codfrey
Edith Cowan University

Cheating by students has become an important issue to be addressed by teaches because of the increased opportunities to cheat with the introduction of assignments done outside class time. Data from 223 Australian students aged 16 to 18 years old were collected in a study relating to their perceptions about cheating to gain better marks and grades in examinations and assignments. The data covered four dimensions: perceptions of cheating as a problem, perceptions of what constitutes cheating, perceptions of why cheating occurs, and perceptions of how cheating can be discouraged.

The multi-dimensional data were analysed with the Extended Logistic Model of Rasch in order to create separate scales at interval level of measurement for the male and female students. Of the original 109 attitude statements, only 50 fitted the measurement model according to strict criteria for both the male and female students. The measurement model orders the attitude statements in difficulty along the same scale as the student attitudes of cheating and this allows meaningful comparisons of the statements to be made.

Separate scales for males and females consisting of 24 attitude statements marking off equal intervals were constructed from those attitude statements fitting the model and are recommended for use in measuring student perceptions of cheating. These scales are helpful in understanding student beliefs about cheating and methods of discouraging cheating.

The analysis suggested implications for further research in building models of moral behaviour and for teachers in their efforts to overcome cheating.

Resolving the dilemma of sharing leadership: A case study of principal practice

Helen Wildy and John Wallace
Curtin University of Technology

School principals are grappling with new ways of working as leaders in their schools. Former reliance on centralised decision making and resourcing processes coupled with role models of strong authoritarian figures have not prepared principals of today for leadership in a decentralised structure. Principals are expected to introduce into their working environment collaborative methods of school development planning and problem solving. But putting them into practice is not a simple matter. This paper reports some insights, from principal's and teachers' point of view, into how this was achieved by a secondary school principal in Western Australia.

Over a two year period, we worked with the principal and teachers in their school setting as they developed new decision making processes and implemented new teaching strategies. Analysis of field notes and transcribed tapes from our observation and conversations has revealed five key themes that underpin the principal's success in sharing leadership in the school: sharing knowledge, sharing responsibility, integrity, example, and intervention.

Teaching for understanding: Whose agenda is being served?

Helen Wildy and John Wallace
Curtin University of Technology

Much of the commentary on classroom practice in recent years has been critical of teachers who emphasises content coverage over teaching for understanding. Practices such as teaching to the examination and whole class instruction have been criticised for their narrow focus and failure to account for students' prior knowledge. These criticisms have been the driving force behind recent curriculum reforms in physics education, for example, which emphasise more constructivist approaches to teaching.

This paper re-examines some of these new assumptions about "good" teaching by exploring the class-room practices of an experience physics teacher. This teacher did not fit the mould of the constructivist teacher and yet by other definitions there was much to suggest that he was meeting the needs of the students in his class. His methods were almost entirely whole-class with no use of small group work or discussion. He filled the available time with teacher talk and asked very few questions. His use of time was very efficient - physics content, examination technique and algorithms practice being delivered in a lecture style of presentation.

Our close observation of this teacher in his year 11 classroom, together with our conversations with him and with his students throughout the term suggest an alternative interpretation of the validity of the constructivist concept of teaching for understanding. Our view comes from an awareness that, for this teacher and his students, schooling has purposes other than understanding, that students continue to retain their naive understandings of physics concepts in spite of their exposure to school science, that for the teacher the structure of the discipline is important, and that students need to pass examinations trusting that their teacher will "get them through".

Factors contributing to gender and socioeconomic equity in science achievement: A study of ten countries

Deidra J. Young and Barry J. Fraser
Curtin University of Technology

Recently the Australian Education Council released a report into Youth People's Participation in Post-compulsory Education and Training chaired by T. B. Finn (AEC, 1991). The Finn report as it is now commonly called, classified as deeply disadvantaged in relation to their education participation the following groups of young people: Aboriginal youth, some non-English speaking background young people, some young women, the homeless, the long-term unemployed, those in isolated communities, young offenders and disabled young people. In addition, the Finn Report highlighted the imbalance of courses taken by males and females, with young women participating to a lesser extent than men in courses based on physical sciences and advanced mathematics. Similarly, young people from poor socioeconomic backgrounds tended to have lower participation rates than others in the same courses.

In order to address the problems faced by the disadvantaged young people in Australia, highlighted by the Finn report (AEC, 1991) and reiterated by the Mayer report (AEC, 1992, pp. 45-46), this research study focused on some of the barriers which limit the disadvantaged with respect to outcomes in science education and how they may be overcome.

The significance of this study was related to the high quality and dependability of the findings, because the research is based upon a unique data base, and the importance of science education in Australia and internationally today. The implications of research which can identify those factors which enhance participation and achievement in science was highlighted by the Commonwealth Schools Commission (1987) in the National Policy for the Education of Girls in Australian Schools; a supportive school environment was one such aspect requiring further investigation. Further to this, Kahle (1985) and Powles (1987) present convincing evidence that the lack of participation of women in science and mathematics courses in secondary and tertiary courses can be directly attributed to stereotyping of science and mathematics early at school and in the community/ society.

The aim of this research was to investigate those variable associated with gender and socioeconomic inequity in science achievement. Those variables which appeared to act as barriers to female students and students from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds were highlighted to the community of educational researchers, policy makers and educational administrators. It is hoped that this research study will provide positive answers to the problems of equity facing schools today.

This study examined data from the Second International Science Study (SISS), which was conducted in 1983/84 across 22 countries. In this study, ten countries' datasets were compared with reference to class-room processes and school characteristics which impact on student attitudes to science and their science achievement. These countries were selected for comparative analyses because their educational systems required compulsory schooling to the age of 14. In this study, the 14 year old students were investigated. Additionally, gender and socioeconomic differences were analysed using multilevel modelling. These datasets are administered by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), whose principal focus is on cross-national investigations of conditions of learning and educational outcomes. The SISS project produced the largest and most comprehensive set of data currently available to researchers in the field of science education. This research attempted to identify some of those factors influencing student attitudes towards science and their influences on student achievement in science. These attitudes influence the decisions students make in relation to subject choices, as well as their achievement in science. The usefulness of these datasets for the examination of factors influencing gender differences and socio-economic differences is unparalleled. It is only the Third International Mathematics and Science Study which will be able to surpass the credibility of the Second International Science Study.

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