Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

16th Annual Research Forum at Edith Cowan University

Forum 2001 Abstracts

Listed alphabetically by first author [ Forum Invitation ]
[ Schedule ] [ Contents of Proceedings ]

Walking the talk? Articulating early childhood pedagogical differences in the primary school setting

Lennie Barblett
School of Education, Edith Cowan University

In Western Australia, the non-compulsory years of school (K-P) are administered by the compulsory schooling sector. The "one-size fits all" application of school policy has unsettled early childhood teachers who believe such policies do not capture the essence of early childhood pedagogy and practice. This paper draws on qualitative and quantitative data collected over a five year period. The study found that there were differences in early childhood teachers' espoused pedagogy and enacted pedagogy and that pre-primary teachers subverted school policy in order to accommodate early childhood pedagogy. The study suggests that pre-primary teachers need avenues to articulate their pedagogy in the whole school arena. Further, policy pertaining to a K-7 setting needs to include these pedagogical differences if school policy is to be successfully implemented in the pre-primary.

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Pathway to undergraduate study: Academic discourse in Foundation Studies

Thelma Blackford and Janine Rutledge
School of Languages and Intercultural Education, Curtin University of Technology

Pathways or enabling programs are seen as an effective alternative to traditional entry to university, and provide the university with a larger more diverse student body often with global networks to many communities. The majority of these programs tend to be targeted to the international market or to equity initiatives. The programs are geared to assist students to meet matriculation requirements and therefore mainstream entry. Academic writing is a core focus of enabling programs because proficient writers are identified as able students. Often students who have been successful writers in their home country are confronted with failure when they produce their first essays. Our research has shown that when students lack confidence and are confronted by the discourse requirements they tend to use near copying, demonstrate limited paraphrasing, summarising and referencing skills.

For students to be successful in our system they must acquire the competencies to write successfully within a tertiary discourse. The requirements can be seen as diverse and yet subject specific and they include: Information literacy Style/genre Format/structure Referencing Critical responses Understanding the task Language issues Writing as a process/drafting

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Student nurses vision of nursing: Realism versus idealism

Anna Bosco, Catherine Ward
Curtin University of Technology
Irene Styles
Murdoch University

The motivation to select a tertiary study program is influenced by the long and short term career prospects it may offer. Ford's (1986) taxonomy of human goals provides the theoretical framework for this study. Explored are specific motivations/influences that encourage students to undertake a nursing career. The study presented in this paper employed a cross sectional approach. A questionnaire was devised and administered to 126 nursing students enrolled in the first semester of a nursing degree. A major aim was to identity what motivated or influenced the students to embark on a nursing career, and to determine the student's image of being a nurse and their role within nursing. Preliminary findings show three distinct goals/perspectives of self as a nurse emerge: altruism, the therapeutic relationship is focuses on the self rather than the patient, and opportunistic aspirations nursing can provide. The perceived status of nurse's within the healthy care setting and the community differ and that the image of nurses and nursing continues to be influenced by the media. Results have implications for nurse education as the motivators identified by participants to undertake nursing appear to be more complex which is especially significant given the current shortage of nurses.

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Peer mentoring for university students: Is group mentoring as effective as one-on-one mentoring?

Lauren Breen, Lynne Cohen, Lisbeth T. Pike, Neil M. Drew, Alison H. C. Young & Sue Haunold
School of Psychology, Edith Cowan University

Stress and anxiety are associated with the transition to university and the decision to withdraw. The School of Psychology at Edith Cowan University developed a Peer Mentoring Programme (PMP) to aid the transition of first- year psychology students to university. Second and third- year psychology majors mentored first-year psychology students on a one-to-one basis. The pilot programme provided a 'safety net' for new students, benefited them academically, and significantly reduced attrition. As a result of the success of the original programme and the increasing number of students commencing psychology, the PMP piloted group mentoring in 2000. The pilot of group mentoring was deemed successful and group mentoring became the basis of the PMP for 2001. Each mentor was matched with 5 to 8 commencing psychology students. This derivation of the PMP was evaluated using focus groups. The evaluation suggested that group mentoring facilitated the development of study groups and social networks, enabled mentors to develop their burgeoning group facilitation and leadership skills, and reduced attrition. Thus, group mentoring in the School of Psychology is as successful as one-to-one mentoring and therefore is indicated for implementation in Schools and Departments with large student intakes.

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An evaluation of environmental education and environmental attributes in Brunei

Irene Poh-Ai Cheong and David F. Treagust
Curtin University of Technology

The study examined four aspects of environmental education; cultural and institutional structure influences on attitudes towards the environment and environmental education, the perceptions of existing provisions of environmental education, the understanding of the aquatic environment - an important environmental issue, and the status of people's environmental attributes (knowledge, awareness, attitudes, beliefs, action and sources of information). Multiple research approaches involving both qualitative and quantitative methods (case study, semi-qualitative grounded theory and quantitative statistical analyses) with data sources obtained from four groups - teachers, teacher trainees, secondary students and key persons for the environment and environmental education as well as document reviews were utilised. Results of the study provided baseline data to develop guidelines for policy making and curriculum development as well as improving the teaching of environmental education.

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Parental involvement in their child's school: A hermeneutic phenomenological investigation

Graham Daniel
Murdoch University

The benefits of parental involvement for children's educational development are widely acknowledged. This hermeneutic phenomenological investigation into the lived-experience of parents who are involved in their children's school sought to identify essences of this experience in order to illuminate policy and practice. The essences revealed may assist education professionals in working with parents and encouraging parents to become more involved in their children's education. This presentation explores how the methodology chosen is particularly useful in investigating human experience and discusses the results of this particular research and its implications for educators.

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Are you being served? Student expectations of higher education

Dawn Darlaston-Jones, Lisbeth Pike, Lynne Cohen, Neil Drew, Alison Young, & Sue Haunold
Edith Cowan University

The current climate in tertiary education places students as primary consumers. As such students are becoming more conscious of their customer rights and of gaps between their expectations of service delivery and the reality of that service. Not only does this potential service gap present a quality assurance challenge for universities it is also likely to contribute to student withdrawal. A convenience sample of 56 first year psychology students were asked to complete the Servqual (Riddings, Sidhu, & Pokarier, 2000) in the first week of semester to assess their expectations of university in terms of academic and administrative staff. The process was repeated in the final week of semester based on the reality of their experience. Results indicate there is a significant difference between student's expectations and their reality with expectations being higher. In order the locate these results in context a number of qualitative interviews were conducted with second to fourth year psychology students to identify their experience of the School of Psychology. These results indicate a very high level of satisfaction with the School of Psychology but less satisfaction with the wider university experience in terms of logistical issues. Implications from this study are discussed and avenues for further research explored.

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Horses for courses: Profiling student management of the transition from Year 10 to the senior agricultural college

Francis Donohoe
University of Notre Dame

Horses for courses explains the use of the Adolescent Coping Scale (ACER, 1993) to generate coping profiles of adolescents who are coming to grips with the transition from Year 10 to the Senior Agricultural College. The profile of a student considered to have managed the transition well is contrasted with that of one who did not manage the transition at all well. By itself, the Coping Profile is unable to give a full explanation of a person's ability or failure to cope. In order to complete the picture, data from interviews and surveys are required.

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Improving classroom environments in early learning institutions: Linking leadership and professional development to enhance school effectiveness

Jaya Earnest
Science and Mathematics Education Centre, Curtin University of Technology

The present study evaluates and reports findings of a longitudinal study in an early childhood institution to improve the classroom environments that teachers create through positive leadership and professional development. The aim of the study was to evaluate the success of a school improvement program designed to improve the classroom environment created by teachers. The program was designed to develop reflective practice among the teachers in the school, to link practice and research, and to empower the teachers through involvement in the study. This interpretative longitudinal study was carried out over four years at an early learning institution in Uganda and used a qualitative case study approach in which the author, as head teacher was involved in action research. Qualitative information was gathered at each stage of the programme using discussions and in-depth interviews with teachers, classroom observations, and narratives written by the researcher.

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The nature of 'repair'- A conversation analysis of Japanese students speaking in English

Mark Jones
University of Western Australia

Conversations in English between Japanese ELICOS students and students from both Asian and European cultural backgrounds were recorded, transcribed and analysed in relation to the use of repair.

The research found that JSEs (Japanese speakers of English) strongly preferred initiating repair rather than completing it. Repetition played a significant role in JSE repair. JSEs were more likely to carry out repair in conversations with Asians than with Europeans. Word search - a kind of self-initiated /other completed repair occurred regularly.

Conclusions highlighted the specific nature of repair in non-native speaker conversation as opposed to native speaker talk. It was said to involve elements of collaboration, social interaction and language acquisition that were not present in native speaker talk. It also made references to specific conversational practices in Japanese that seemed to affect the way JSEs carried out repair and ultimately affected Japanese students' communicative performance in English. The findings and conclusions were produced as evidence that greater emphasis was needed in the teaching of sociolinguistic knowledge to Japanese students studying English.

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An action learning project for teachers of gifted young children

Libby Lee
School of Education, Murdoch University

Dr Lee is the recipient of WAIER's Early Career Award 2001

This presentation will explore the processes and outcomes of a collaborative action learning project conducted with a group of early childhood teachers (P-2) teaching in a Perth school. The teachers initially felt that their existing provision for gifted young children was limited and inadequate. The teachers undertook to work collaboratively in an action learning project to critically examine their existing practices and to trial a range of strategies to improve children's participation and engagement with learning at school.

The session aims to use the findings of a research project conducted in 2000 to facilitate discussion regarding issues of equity and educational provision for gifted young children.

The session will highlight the process of action learning as a powerful tool for critically reflecting on current practices, refocussing and rethinking programming for individual children who have been identified as gifted. This session will also focus on the means by which early childhood professionals might collaborate with colleagues and parents in developing programs to cater for gifted children. The equity and gender dimensions of identifying gifted children will also be highlighted. Issues regarding the management of data in the research project and the partnership between researcher and participant will also be explored.

Getting into a new research area

Lynn L. K. Lim
University of Notre Dame

Researching in a new area proved to be a challenging mission for educational researchers, especially when the new research area has direct implication to the future development of new studies and courses for a knowledge economy era at Australia educational institutions. The emphasis is the methodology used when dealing with sensitive issues and at the same time involving with the decision-makers representing investment community and public listed companies. This presentation will share the knowledge of the research process encountered when researching in this new area. It will also tackle the issues on how a researcher be able to break into new research area, as well as educating and encouraging participants to contribute. Some methodological and design issues faced in the research will also be discussed. This presentation seeks to provide some indicators and directors to future early researcher when conducting their research, particularly in new areas, through different environments and under different circumstances. When a new research area is planning and proposing to advance, some researchers tend to receive pessimistic comments from the surrounding people and from some prospective interviewees. These comments will also be addressed and discussed. It is also aimed to discuss and swap ideas with other researchers encountering similar issues.

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School science textbooks' use of scientific explanations

Thapelo L. Mamiala
Vista University, South Africa
David F. Treagust
Science and Mathematics Education Centre, Curtin University of Technology

The purpose of this study was to examine the types, nature and extent of the explanations used in school science textbooks. The study is a continuation of a larger study on school science explanations and its focus was on the analysis of the textbooks used by Australian and South African teachers and students in high school chemistry and physical science respectively. Explanations were categorised and analysed using Criteria for Classification of Explanations in School Science (CCESS). There was a total of 220 explanations identified in both Australia (168) and South Africa (52). Model-based based explanations had high frequency and there was limited use of analogical explanations. The study concludes by focusing on the aspects that need to be addressed so that the school science textbooks come up with explanations that may be viewed as being student friendly.

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Evaluating a university program

Clare McBeath
Curtin University of Technology

Renu Sharma and Moira Watson
Research and Development Division, West Coast College of TAFE

This paper examines an evaluation research project into Curtin University's courses in Vocational Education and Training teacher education by an independent research body. The courses were upgraded and rewritten for distance and online delivery just over three years ago and the use of a research body from a TAFE college will provide impartiality towards the material and a more valid assessment of market need.

The evaluation will utilise qualitative and quantitative methods. This includes face-to-face interviews with lecturing staff, a paper based survey of past and present students and the identification of key stakeholders. Stage 1 includes an appraisal of similar courses offered locally and nationally, collection and collation of information about the courses, a study of the course content, and a literature review of relevant evaluations including previous evaluations conducted specifically on these courses. Stage 2 consists of interviews with lecturers, identification of key stakeholders and the preparation, piloting and refinement of the survey instruments. In Stage 3 the survey will be distributed and data collated and analysed. The results and recommendations on ways and means of enhancing course effectiveness and saleability will comprise the final report in Stage 4.

This presentation will report on data collected in Stages 1 and 2.

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Educational choice: A grounded theory study

Angela McCarthy
College of Education, University of Notre Dame Australia

This ongoing grounded theory study is about making choices in education. It seeks to understand the basic social process in which people engage when they make decisions about significant life choices and it holds some surprises! Choices in the area of education are of increasing importance to families, those involved in the field of education, industry leaders and governments. This study focuses on those who have chosen non-government education. The deliberate nature of their choice, and the various costs involved have clearly framed the domain of inquiry. In-depth interviews with parents from country and city locations, and from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and schools, have begun to reveal a process in which parents engage in order to reach their decision. From the data a model of decision making is emerging that may well relate to other significant life choices. This paper will describe the basic social process upon which the grounded theory is being constructed and will be enlivened by revealing glimpses from the transcripts.

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Development of principles for integration of technology education in primary schools curriculum in Botswana

Patrick Tlalelo Mmokele
Edith Cowan University

Design and Technology is being taught in secondary schools in Botswana. It started in junior secondary schools in 1989 and senior secondary schools in 1993. However it has not yet been introduced in primary schools. There are some attainment targets, which are outlined in the primary curriculum but it is proposed that these do not fit well into the curriculum structure. This study seeks to investigate the principles upon which Design and Technology can be integrated properly in primary curriculum in Botswana. Data will be collected through review of related literature and a survey of with people who have knowledge about curriculum design and structure. This study is intended to guide curriculum designers as to how to develop a technology curriculum that will be used into primary schools in Botswana. This study is not only intended to develop technology education in Botswana but it is also expected that the study will contribute to technology education as a whole.

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The poor stay poor and the rich stay rich

Bob Peck
Measurement and Research, Curriculum Council of WA

A recently completed doctoral study (Peck, 2000) looked at ethnicity in education. It also involved several other variables such as socioeconomic status (SES), gender and rurality. These variables were statistically controlled in order to study the effect of ethnicity in particular. This presentation gives a re-working of the data in which the associations between SES and a range of educational indicators is the focus of investigation.

It was found that on average, compared with students from high SES families, those from low SES families leave school earlier, have lower aspirations, tend to have different patterns of subject selection in post-compulsory schooling, achieve at a lower level at school, obtain lower Tertiary Entrance Scores, are less likely to go to university, and are more likely to enter occupations associated with low SES.

While associations between SES and educational indicators are far from new, this presentation will describe the size of the effects in the context of the current Western Australian educational system. It is hoped that the presentation will stimulate some discussion on how to break this cycle of disadvantage.

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How parents manage the home schooling of their children with disabilities

Lucy Reilly
The University of Western Australia

This session reports on an on-going study into how Western Australian parents manage the home schooling of their children with disabilities. This is an era of heightened concern regarding the rights of people with disabilities and many institutions are being challenged to display great sensitivity towards the social justice issues involved. Education is one area responding to this challenge, particularly in regards to the significant amount of exploration into alternatives to traditional approaches. However, little attention has been paid to those parents who have rejected institutionalised schooling for their children with disabilities and who have found alternatives, including home schooling. These parents, and how they manage home schooling, are the focus of the research reported here. The presentation will discuss the rationale for the study and its particular qualitative approach, as well as some of its initial findings. The expected outcomes and contributions of the study will be described, emphasising the importance of further research and detailed studies on the phenomenon of home schooling, not only of children with disabilities but for all children.

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Application of the WIHIC in a study of school racial diversity and socio-economic status

Tony Rickards, Eric Bull
The University of Western Australia
Darrell Fisher
Curtin University of Technology

The first purpose of this study was to validate the What Is Happening In this Class (WIHIC) questionnaire with a large sample of eighth-grade science classes in middle schools in the USA. The second objective was to investigate associations between school socio-economic and racial diversity factors and to students' perceptions of their classroom learning environments. The study involved a sample of 1,720 eighth-grade science students from 65 classes in 11 schools who responded to the 56-items on the WIHIC and an attitude scale. Socio-economic status was determined for each school by examining free and reduced lunch percentages. Racial Diversity for each school was determined through county demographics, which listed ethnicity percentages for all schools within the county's jurisdiction. This is the first large study in the USA using the WIHIC with eighth-grade science classes. While research exists for individual ethnicity and classroom performance, it is not known whether or not research has been done concerning students within schools whose populations are defined as having high, medium, or low diversities of race, and what perceptions those students have of their science classes. The WIHIC questionnaire was proven to be a valid and reliable instrument for use with eighth-grade science classes in the USA. This research has provided further evidence on the validation of the WIHIC, which assesses seven scales of student perceptions of the classroom environment. All students in the sample regardless of school SES or racial diversity perceived the Task Orientation scale most positively and the Investigation scale least positively. Results showed that students from schools with high socio-economic status are more satisfied with collaborative efforts with other students and the amount of attention they receive from the teacher than are the lower SES levels. Data for school racial diversity revealed that the less diverse a school population is, the more positive students perceive their science classes, especially in the WIHIC scales of Teacher Support, Equity, Involvement, Investigations, and Task Orientation.

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Teacher and student perceptions of classroom interactions: A multi-level model

Tony Rickards
The University of Western Australia
Michael Newby
California State University Fullerton, USA
Darrell Fisher
Curtin University of Technology

The purpose of the study was to compare students' perceptions of teacher-student interactions with those of their teachers by administering the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (QTI) to teachers and students in 80 lower secondary classes in schools in Tasmania and Western Australia. There are three possible versions of the QTI. Students completed the student version which assesses the students' perceptions of the teacher-student interactions in a specific class. Their teachers completed the teacher actual version of how they perceived their interactions with their students in those same classes. The teachers also indicated how they thought ideal teachers would interact with students by responding to the teacher ideal version. Previous statistical analysis had confirmed the reliability and validity of the QTI for secondary school students. Two multilevel models were proposed: the teacher ideal interaction influences the teacher actual interaction; and the teacher actual affects the student actual and vice versa. Using structural equation modelling techniques, both models were found to be reasonable fits to the data. The results would seem to confirm the underlying basis of the QTI in that the teachers' actual perceptions of their interactions with students affects the students' perceptions, which in turn affect the teachers' perceptions.

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Rural retreat or outback hell: Pre-service expectations of rural and remote teaching

Elaine Sharplin
The University of Western Australia

Recent research has explored methods for recruiting and retaining high quality teaching staff to rural and remote areas. A range of initiatives including internships and scholarships has been examined. This paper examines the impact of a rural field trip on pre-service teachers' perspectives about appointment to rural and remote areas. Twenty-five students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Education at The University of Western Australia spent 5 days visiting schools in rural and remote areas and regional centres of the Mid-West district of Western Australia. Students completed an open ended qualitative survey at departure and a further qualitative survey on their return. The findings suggest that exposure to the diversity of schools removed the misapprehensions and myths associated with rural and remote appointments. Students felt more confident, informed and ready to accept positions in a diversity of locations.

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Teacher's perception of their knowledge about teaching activity

Etelvina Maria Valente dos Anjos Silva, Victor Brasil N. Ramos & Paulo Luis G. Campelo
University of Vicosa, Brazil

The pedagogic competence of university professor is closely related to the quality of higher education. However, teacher's knowledge of specific subjects within their activity field does not give them a pedagogic-technical competence in the teacher-student classroom-knowledge relation. This study aimed to identify the difficulties faced by teachers of the Agricultural Science Centre in the Federal University of Vicosa, Brazil, in respect to their proper pedagogic education as well as the development of the teaching activity. The Delphi Technique was applied to collect opinions. In relation to pedagogic education, besides teachers' considerations about the lack of resources which would allow their further education, the data show the need for the Federal University of Vicosa to constantly offer courses in the pedagogic area for professional development. It is proposed that such courses should be realised in the departments where they are allocated, so they could satisfy their respective specific needs. Concerning lectures' practice there is evidently a need of the institution to search alternative solutions to questions such as class schedules, inadequacy of classrooms, deficiency of bibliographic material and of didactic support equipment. The institution has to review class valuation in relation to research work used as a criteria for the promotion of professors. The need to obtain better pedagogic instruction and improve lecturer practice can be used as incentive to lecturers.

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In search of effective instructional design principles for online learning in higher education

Lou Siragusa
Faculty of Education, Curtin University of Technology

The assimilation of the Internet into higher education for delivering course materials to students has become commonplace. We have seen how the Internet has been successfully used to deliver courses entirely online as well as supporting traditional face-to-face classes. What is found, however, is that it is often just used as a depositary of information (such as course outlines and tutorial notes) for students to access, download and to print out. Educators are hearing from students dissatisfaction with the use of the Internet for learning as it appears that some costs of the course are being transferred to the students without any apparent benefits. Much of the online course development work being carried out is not informed by the vast body of knowledge of existing instructional design principles. There are ongoing concerns with how online learning can be made more meaningful to students.

This paper will present a research study currently in progress that seeks to identify effective instructional design principles for online learning. The initial phase of this research will be presented with focus on how the survey instruments are being developed. The survey instruments are intended to collect students' and lecturers' perceptions of effective instructional design principles.

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Children with special needs in reading and learning: A sight vocabulary project

Margaret Sutherland
Edith Cowan University

The purpose of this study was to observe how well three students with reading and learning difficulties recognise 100 words in isolation and then in context, following a period of testing, teaching and intervention: It was to determine whether an improvement in reading and learning would be aided by the ABAC method of testing (Wolery, 1988). Also, an additional aim was to determine if parent intervention, testing and teaching phonemic analysis and synthesis, and delayed testing improved word recognition. The background for this project relates to the work that has been done by Margaret Sutherland with three privately tutored students over a number of years. All have known reading or learning difficulties and they range from lower primary to high school level, 9 yrs, 14.5 and 15 yrs. The initial program was implemented consisting of a sight vocabulary book with 22 lists of 10 words. Parents supervised the reading of each list of words 3 times weekly. The tutor then tested the current list and taught unknown words phonetically at tutoring sessions each week. Each word had to be recognised immediately otherwise it would be considered as unknown. Numerous methods of teaching reading were researched. The causes of reading failure were addressed, the level of literacy skills, the literacy curriculum, which students are at risk, the causal factors of the lack of reading achievement, learning difficulties and some solutions and methods that could be used to overcome the anomalies.

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I honestly can't see the point of it: Peer messages regarding Year 12 completion

Anthea Taylor
The University of Western Australia

There is strong research evidence showing that youth who do not complete Year 12 are subsequently disadvantaged and marginalised with regard to access to employment and training, training completion rates, wage levels and the frequency and length of bouts of unemployment experienced during their early careers. Government policy and recent reforms in education are working to encourage all youth to complete Year 12 and are clearly having an impact as more young people are remaining at school in the post compulsory years. While youth are not unaware of the risks, significant numbers do leave prior to Year 12 and little is known about youth attitudes to school completion or the grassroots peer messages they are receiving regarding the wisdom and efficacy of school completion.

This paper draws on an ongoing longitudinal study of a cohort of boys drawn from five metropolitan secondary schools. More than 50% of the cohort left school before Year 12 completion to move into trade-oriented employment and/or training. The attitudes of the early exits and the messages and advice to their peers who chose to complete year 12 are examined here. The data from this study illustrates youth mediation of government policy and rhetoric and school practice.

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Students' concept of models: An epistemological and ontological perspective

David F. Treagust, Gail Chittleborough and Thapelo L. Mamiala
Science and Mathematics Education Centre, Curtin University of Technology

Scientific models are used routinely in science classes to help explain scientific concepts, however it is frequently assumed that students are aware of the role, limitations and purpose of the particular model being used. This paper reports on the results of a pencil and paper questionnaire given to 250 students from Year 8 to Year 11 to gain some insight into students' understanding of the role of models in science. The results have led to the suggestion of a categorisation scheme to be used with models to highlight some of their properties to students. The framework of the schema is the ontological interpretation and understanding of the model concept by students. Epistemological and ontological aspects of the students understanding are discussed.

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Learning genetics with an interactive multimedia: Year 10 students' voices

Chi-Yan Tsui and David F. Treagust
Science and Mathematics Education Centre, Curtin University of Technology

This presentation reports Year 10 students' perceptions about their classroom learning of reasoning in genetics in an ongoing research project. Genetics is a difficult but important topic in school science yet research indicates that students do not understand genetics concepts even after instruction. In this study, the teacher, while teaching genetics, used different multiple external representations (MERs): verbal, gestural, visual-graphical, tabular or actional-operational representations. Students were also engaged in computer activities using BioLogica, an interactive multimedia program with rich MERs of genetics knowledge, which are dynamically linked in the computer micro world. These MERs, as some researchers claim, can support learning by providing complementary ideas and processes, by constraining interpretations or by promoting a deeper understanding but some studies show that learners find translating between representations difficult. Students' interview transcripts and online test responses about their classroom learning of genetics are analysed and interpreted using an affective/social dimension within the conceptual change framework. Learning of reasoning in genetics is also interpreted in terms of the students' status in conceptual change. The authors argue for the importance of emphasising the social/affective dimension in teaching and learning of genetics for conceptual change and of considering students' views about their classroom learning.

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Workshop: Choosing qualitative analysis software

Roger Vallance
College of Education, University of Notre Dame

This afternoon allows students and researchers, [beginning and practised researchers], to investigate how qualitative data analysis (QDA) software might help and enhance their research projects. The usual and pertinent reasons for using QDA software will be critiqued. Along with this critique a presentation will be made that allows each person to explore the different varieties of QSR software (Nudist - N4 & N5 - and NVivo). Each piece of software will be demonstrated, literature on its usefulness discussed and shared and its main benefits explored. A trial CD of a demo version of each QSR software program will be made available to participants.

The emphasis during this presentation will be on seeing, exploring and testing out. Questions will be encouraged throughout. It is suggested that this presentation will be a most useful guide to those deciding whether or what QDA software they might need, want or can employ to the advantage of their research project.

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Teaching swimming: Issues beyond drowning!

Peter Whipp
Edith Cowan University

With the parent belief that all Western Australian children should have the ability to save another person (RLSS, 2001), it is clear from a current assessment of student outcomes/achievement that the secondary school Physical Educator has much to do! Recognising that swimming is a skill that must be acquired to avoid the very real dangers of drowning, it is of concern that many pupils are apparently not making swimming progress during the secondary school years.

With students in Physical Education classes possessing a range of abilities, an individualised programme designed to alleviate pupils' fears and improve all students aquatic skills presents as a major pedagogical challenge.

Western Australian secondary Physical Education teachers rate swimming highly and are concerned with a broad range of issues including staff/student ratios, teacher qualifications, legal liability, water temperature, travel time and varied student ability levels.

This paper presents the results of a small study investigating the current status of swimming and water safety programmes in Western Australian secondary schools. The importance and relative success of swimming activities currently undertaken in schools, issues of concern, and exemplar pedagogies employed to deal with varied ability levels, are addressed. Issues associated with the teaching of swimming and the achievement of student outcomes throughout schools and systems will be presented.

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High stakes testing in a low stakes environment: PIPS Baseline Assessment in Australia

Helen Wildy, William Louden and Caroline Bailey
Institute for the Service Professions, Edith Cowan University

Unlike its international counterparts, Australia has not developed a strong assessment culture among its primary schools. Its current national literacy and numeracy assessment program is requiring significant commonwealth intervention to support the analysis and interpretation of results at the school and community level. In such a culture, there is evidence of support among practitioners for the use of an entry level assessment program in both government and non government primary schools. This paper reports a trial in 2001 of Durham University's PIPS Baseline Assessment program in three Australian states. Cultural differences in assessment items, voices, school level support, professional development requirements, and parental interest and concern are reported.

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Workshop: Working with grounded theory

Helen Wildy
Institute for the Service Professions, Edith Cowan University

Dr Wildy will talk about the process of doing research using Grounded Theory, her meeting with Abselm Strauss, the debate between Strauss and Glaser, as well as her own research experiences of grounded theory.

Participants will learn about different coding paradigms and coding procedures and then have the opportunity to code some data. The session is intended to be quite interactive and lots of fun.

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The moral dimension of school principals' work: Standards, cases and social capital

Helen Wildy and William Louden
Institute for the Service Professions, Edith Cowan University

Neil Dempster and Mark Freakley
Centre for Leadership and Management in Education, Griffith University, Queensland

This paper brings together two concurrent strands of research in Australia, one in Western Australia and one in Queensland, both of which focus on the moral and ethical elements of principals' work. Both argue that liberal-progressive, individual-centred educational philosophies that underpinned educational practices for most of the post war period have been pressured to yield the ideological terrain to powerfully asserted economic-rationalist and utilitarian emphases. However, school principals are increasingly dealing with diverse clients and complex social and ethical issues. In the WA study, how principals deal with moral and ethical dilemmas in their daily work formed the basis of an innovative method of developing performance standards for school principals using short narrative accounts, or cases. In the Queensland study, critical incidents involving ethical decisions formed the basis for interactive case study materials for the professional development of school principals. Both strands of research indicate the important role played by the moral dimension of principals' work. These two studies contribute to an increasing body of research indicating that it is the development of social capital, the capacity to build relationships with people within and external to the school, that matters in efforts to improve the quality of schooling.

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Visitors' perceptions of the communication of science through a science centre and a museum

Gina F.Williams-Pearse and Leonie J.Rennie
Curtin University of Technology

This research compares the profiles of visitors to a traditional natural history museum and an interactive science center and their ideas about how each communicates science to its visitors. An instrument was developed to measure respondents' ideas about how science was represented at the institution, including its exhibits. A sample of over 100 adult visitors to each place completed an exit survey, consisting of the instrument and a section requesting demographic information, and details of their visit and involvement with science. Two-thirds were also interviewed to expand on the information collected from the survey and to obtain their views of science and technology. There were some notable differences between our samples of adults visiting the institutions with regards to the context of their visit, and their ideas of, and involvement with, science. Adult visitors to the science centre came typically as part of a family group, whereas the museum attracted adults visiting for their own purposes. At both institutions, visitors were very positive about its role in communicating science. The science center and museum were perceived to be different, however, in terms of their focus and in the nature of science presented at the exhibits.

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