Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

23rd Annual Research Forum at Edith Cowan University

Forum 2008 Abstracts

Listed alphabetically by first author
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Classroom assessment: A Malaysian mathematics teacher's beliefs

Suzieleez Syrene Abdul Rahim, Anne Chapman, Grady Venville
The University of Western Australia
Email: abduls05@student.uwa.edu.au

Assessment is an important component in the teaching and learning process as it provides teachers with information that is important for decision-making in the classroom. The purpose of this presentation is to share preliminary findings of a pilot study carried out in March 2008. The pilot study is part of my PhD research to develop understandings of Malaysian post-secondary mathematics teachers' beliefs about classroom assessment. The reason for carrying out this research is that the Malaysian National Educational Assessment System is currently undergoing reform. Teachers are seen as key agents of change and past research has indicated that teachers' beliefs influence their behaviour and instructional practices in the classroom. A semi-structured interview was used to elicit one Malaysian mathematics teacher's beliefs and the data were transcribed and analysed. The teacher's beliefs about classroom assessment were identified and a case study was constructed.
Keywords: classroom assessment, teacher beliefs, mathematics

[Scheduling for this presentation]

Civic participation and current educational reform in the Sultanate of Oman

Badar Al Kharusi
Curtin University of Technology
Email: b.alkharusi@postgrad.curtin.edu.au

Civic participation is an important theme in the education reform plan in Oman. This plan started in 1998 in only 17 schools. In 2008, more than 63% of Omani public schools implemented the new form of education. The first cohort graduated in 2007 from grade ten, the end year of basic education. This qualitative study will investigate to what extent the education reform plan achieved its purpose of enabling students to be active members in their society. To achieve this goal, the study will employ three quantitative methods to provide the necessary data. Interviews and focus groups will be used to collect data from students, teachers and principals. However, observation will be employed for selective subjects such as Social Studies, Life Skills, Mathematics and Science.
Key words: civic participation, education reform, active citizen

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Self harm among young Western Australian children: Development and validation of an assessment instrument

Anne Angelkovska
The University of Western Australia
Email: kenko@smartchat.net.au

An instrument measuring the risk of self harm among young school aged children aged between 6-12 years attending mainstream school was developed. One hundred and fifty nine items were generated from the extant knowledge of the risk factors of self harm, from reviews of current instrumentation and interviews with paediatricians, and parents of children who exhibited self harming behaviours. These were subsequently reduced to 42 items. The item affectivity and discrimination of each item was then examined in a pilot study comprising 27 mothers who rated their children on the draft version of the new instrument. Item affectivity and item discriminations were found to be satisfactory with the 42 items. The item affectivity values ranged between .35 and .95 and the item discriminations for each of the Self Harm Risk Assessment for Children (SHRAC) items showed a positive association and ranged from .14 to .85. Overall, the internal consistency of the SHRAC instrument was found to be reliable with a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .93. Principal axis factor analysis of data from 201 young school aged students revealed six factors associated with the risk of self harm. Preliminary reliability and validity measures of the six components of the newly developed instrument were sound. Recommendations for refinements to the scale and for its application for use among larger samples of children across the general and clinical population are discussed.
Keywords: self harm among children, verbalising self harm, self harm ideation

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Role models and identity

Susan Beltman
Curtin University of Technology
Email: S.Beltman@curtin.edu.au

Role models are individuals who are perceived as worthy of imitation (Irvine, 1989). This paper explores how role models shape individual identity. Psychological research relating to role models and identity focuses on how observing others can lead individuals to become inspired or motivated to behave in a similar way. Role models may represent possible selves. Sociological research focuses on the values or benchmarks of a society or culture that are provided or illustrated by role models and whether these are desirable for young people to internalise.

Wertsch (Penuel & Wertsch, 1995) advocates considering individual functioning and sociocultural processes not as opposing poles in identity formation, but as interacting moments in human action. From this perspective, researchers need to examine how mediational means or cultural tools shape human action. This paper suggests that role models are cultural tools, both created by society and also shaping individuals within that society. Data are presented from a study asking high-achieving athletes and musicians about their role models. Some of the participants were well-known and were in a position to act as role models themselves. The relationship between them and their supporters or fans also illustrates their ongoing process of identity formation.
Key words: role models, qualitative, identity

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Promoting alternative thinking strategies in young children

Leonie Borrensen
Curtin University of Technology
Email: leonie.borrensen@student.curtin.edu.au

'Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies' (PATHS) Curriculum is a comprehensive program for promoting emotional and social competencies and reducing aggression and acting-out behaviours in elementary-school-aged children. This action research project focuses on the effects of the PATHS Curriculum on developing social-emotional competence over a short period of time in a pre-primary setting. Social-emotional competence is crucially important for young children in order for progress to be achieved in all developmental domains. Rice, Shortland-Jones and Meney (2006, p. 28) stress the importance of children's social and emotional development and deem them "critical elements in meeting the challenges of learning to respond to the change and growth that we experience throughout life." This statement emphasises the importance of social-emotional competence for teaching and learning. The outcomes of this action research project will benefit early childhood educators as it outlines the benefits of implementing the PATHS Curriculum and highlights the short term effects on young children's social-emotional competence. The results of this action research project provide an awareness of the short term effects and enables educators to assess the effectiveness of the PATHS Curriculum within their own classrooms. The results also enable educators, especially those in the focus group, to make decisions as to whether or not the PATHS Curriculum would be beneficial within their own classrooms.
Keywords: curriculum, thinking strategies, early childhood

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Reflections on transition to science teaching in Lagos state, Nigeria

Durojaiye S Braimoh and Mark W Hackling
Edith Cowan University
Email: dbraimoh@student.ecu.edu.au

This paper reports on preparation for teaching and mentoring provided to support transition to teaching for new junior secondary school (JSS) science teachers in Lagos state, Nigeria. Sixty first year science teachers participated in this research, and the study involved both qualitative and quantitative methods. Quantitative data were gathered by questionnaire and qualitative data were obtained from a focus group meeting with the participants. The teachers were asked to reflect on how well their science teacher education program had prepared them, and about how well they were mentored and supported in various aspects of science teaching. The data revealed that teachers had developed only a narrow range of teaching strategies, they rated their teaching practice as unsatisfactory and had limited support in their first year of teaching. Recommendations are made for greater collaboration between Nigerian Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) and the Colleges of Education to improve teaching practice and support for first year teachers.
Key words: transition to science teaching, mentoring and support, teaching strategies and practices

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Beliefs and their influence: A mathematical perspective

Matthew Davidson
Curtin University of Technology
Email: matthew.davidson@student.curtin.edu.au

Mathematics is fundamental to our way of life and instinctively it has become part of the essence of human nature and is used intuitively everyday with tasks ranging from intricate to mundane. It has also been the key factor in human advancement. Yet it brings to mind thoughts of fear, failure and disdain. It is an area often regarded as complex, an intellectual weapon to be wielded only by those whom are predisposed to understanding it. It is the intention of this paper to identify the effects, if any, of beliefs of year one students in a primary school setting upon the learning of mathematics. In doing so it uncovers underlying factors, discovers solutions and poses further questions as to why "maths class is tough!"

A case study, action learning approach was used to identify student beliefs regarding mathematics. A small sample of primary school students engaged in a semi- structured interview process individually to enable the identification of the beliefs. The identification of the effects, both positive and negative, will allow for the understanding of how to adjust or formulate teaching approaches in an attempt to improve student learning in mathematics as well as students' enjoyment and application of mathematics.

Quintessentially the project concentrates on students' beliefs about and towards mathematics and their effects upon students' learning of mathematics. The findings provide suggestions for educators to help develop positive beliefs and hinder the formation of negative ones in an attempt to remove the stigma associated with mathematics.
Keywords: mathematics education, primary education, beliefs

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Needs analysis of university students on humanitarian visas: A case study from Curtin University

Gabriella De Mori and Clancy Read
Curtin University of Technology
Email: gabriellademori@hotmail.com, C.Read@curtin.edu.au

With the rising proportion of university students from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, some arriving in Australia on humanitarian visas, it is evident that new teaching and learning resources and tailored approaches are needed to accommodate the learning needs of these students. Currently, there is a lack of research and literature on the learning styles and academic needs of African and Middle Eastern refugee students in tertiary institutions. It is this gap that this Australian Teaching and Learning Council funded project undertaken at Curtin University hopes to meet. A 'Needs Analysis' was undertaken and completed with a small cohort of refugee students through the use of in depth interviews. The subsequent analysis has revealed the multiple challenges students on humanitarian visas face. Some of these challenges are being academically ill-prepared; balancing work, study, family and community commitments; learning new teaching and learning systems; struggling with English proficiency and computer literacy; and negotiating traditional cultural and gender roles. The research outcomes clearly support the assertion that universities need to develop new methods to impart the necessary skills to improve learning outcomes for students from diverse groups.
Keywords: learning needs, refugees, universities

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Digital pedagogy revisited: Who pays the price for flexible access to lectures?

Eva Dobozy
Edith Cowan University
Email: e.dobozy@ecu.edu.au

In this presentation, I report on the results of a pilot study of first year teacher education students and their diverse responses to ECU's slogan: "Plan your study around your life, not the other way round". Although tentative at this point, the results show that although 'flexible access' may be desired by many students, it has an adverse effect on academic performance levels of some students. Based on these findings, I conclude that ECU needs to show leadership in the development of innovative ways to assist poor performing students improve their commitment to university study, especially in first year.

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A sustainable future in education? A study of the experiences of four preservice teachers

Christine Glass
Murdoch University
Email: c.glass@murdoch.edu.au

Pre service teachers select teaching as their chosen career for a number of reasons. They bring to their education program a variety of experiences of education, and knowledge of what teachers do and what teaching is. The focus of this presentation is to outline the experiences of four Graduate Diploma of Education Primary students as they navigate their way through the year long program and to place this experience within the context of the larger cohort of students. The study aims to develop understandings about the process of becoming a teacher. More particularly why did these pre service teachers choose teaching as their career, and what understandings, knowledge of and about teaching and teachers do they have? What are their experiences of education, and how does this mediate the process of becoming a teacher and sustain them during difficult times? How can we prepare pre service teachers for a sustainable future in education?
Key words: teacher education

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Year 7 student perceptions of the Lillico homework model

Jamie-Lee Growdon
Curtin University of Technology
Email: jamie-lee.growdon@student.curtin.edu.au

This research focused on the perceptions of six Year 7 students' towards Ian Lillico's Homework Model. Specifically the research interrogated students as to what they liked and disliked about it, and how it challenged them. A search of the current literature related to homework, which prompted the research, uncovered a failure to acknowledge how students felt when completing homework. The research found that in general, students enjoyed completing the Lillico homework grid as an all encompassing process that addressed a wide set of skills. However it also found that most students had trouble completing the homework on time. One unexpected finding uncovered benefits to a non-English speaking family in that it helped develop their language skills. Another unexpected finding was that the meditation activity which underpins the homework model was perceived by the boys as more beneficial to them than the girls.
Keywords: homework, student perceptions, Lillico Homework Grid

[Scheduling for this presentation]

Structured morning fitness programs and students' cognitive performance in primary schools

Adam Hayton and Hiep Nguyen
Curtin University of Technology
Email: adam.hayton@student.curtin.edu.au, hiep.nguyen@student.curtin.edu.au

Structured morning fitness programs have recently been a topic of debate regarding their inclusion in the school curriculum. Arguments have been put forward suggesting that the allocation of time spent on physical education could be more efficiently utilised in areas such as literacy and numeracy. However, research involving the 'time of day effect' (a psychological phenomenon) implies a well-implemented exercise program can have a positive effect on cognitive performance through increasing the blood flow to the brain. This research aims to show that, rather than simply increasing the quantity of time allocated to literacy and numeracy, a well-planned and structured morning fitness program is needed in order to increase the quality of student learning.

Previous literature on this topic has been predominantly separated into two areas: time of day effects on cognitive functioning, and the effects of exercise on cognitive functioning. The current research combines these two areas and aims to provide evidence that exercise reduces the time of day effects in primary school students.
Keywords: student learning, structured fitness programs, time of day effects

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Early childhood designs for multiliterate techno tikes

Sandra Hesterman
Murdoch University
Email: shesterman@git.com.au

In 1996, the New London Group presented their manifesto, Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures, advocating change in literacy teaching for the 21st century. The authors claimed that if students are to be equipped with skills necessary to meet the challenging and diverse demands of different forms of communication brought about by the introduction of new technologies, then a broader definition of literacy was required. As debate on information and communication technology integration and literacy definition intensifies, a more hotly contested topic engaging early childhood teachers is how they will accommodate these changes. How will early childhood education facilitate young children's use of ICT to support Multiliteracies learning? What will new literacies look like in their teaching programs? How will young students use ICT to learn in different ways?

This study investigated how, a decade after the published manifesto, six West Australian teachers integrated ICT in ECE to support Multiliteracies learning. Six case studies, constructed over a nine-month period and employing ethnographic methodology with postmodern perspective, illustrated how different ECE curricular, pedagogical and classroom designs impact on the quality of students' learning. A cross case analysis of five themes common to all cases: definition, resources, support, pedagogy and program, provided insight to the challenges, considerations, and conditions teachers experience when supporting students' use of ICT and Multiliteracies learning. This study concluded that Early Childhood Designs for Multiliterate Techno Tikes are intrinsically entwined with teacher pedagogy and school culture. Ten Principles of Actions underpinning classroom exemplars were identified.
Keywords: multiliteracies, information and communication technology, pedagogy

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Challenging pre-service early childhood teachers' views of science and science teaching

Christine Howitt
Curtin University of Technology
Email: c.howitt@curtin.edu.au

This paper reports the results from the second year of a trial where pre-service early childhood teachers' views of science were deliberately challenged through weekly confrontational statements and associated readings within a science methods course. This explicit reflective approach to nature of science aimed to encourage the pre-service teachers to critically examine their prior beliefs, values and practices of teaching and learning science. The theoretical basis of this research was based upon a framework of facilitated reflection that included opportunity for reflection, expectations regarding the quality of reflection, and scaffolding to support the development of reflection as a skill. As a consequence of the explicit reflections, 81% of the pre-service teachers believed their views of science had been challenged, 78% of the pre-service teachers believed their views of science teaching and learning had been challenged, and 78% of the pre-service teachers believed the reflections assisted them in making the connection between their beliefs and actions. The pre-service teachers believed that the explicit reflections were a worthwhile form of assessment as they allowed the teachers to understand themselves better, made them think, and challenged their current views of science and science teaching. Examples of the confrontational statements will be presented. Implications of this explicit reflective approach for other disciplines will be discussed.
Key words: early childhood science teacher education, explicit reflective practice, nature of science

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Psychopathic-like traits and aggression in children and adolescents

Stephen Houghton, Robin Cordin and Sarah Hopkins
The University of Western Australia
Email: rcordin@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

The overall aim of the research reported in this paper was to explore the viability and utility of the construct of psychopathy and aggression in children and adolescents. Specifically, by taking a developmentally informed approach it sought to develop new instrumentation which measured psychopathic-like-traits, and verbal proactive and reactive aggression in non-referred mainstream school children and adolescents. One hundred and seventeen psychopathy related items and 63 aggression items were generated from reviews of current instrumentation and interviews with school personnel, psychologists, and detention centre officers. These were subsequently reduced to 56 and 20, respectively. Data from two pilot studies analysed using item affectivity and discrimination resulted in 43 psychopathy items and 20 aggression items being retained. Maximum likelihood factor analyses of data from 137 suspended mainstream school students revealed four factors for psychopathy and three for aggression. Cronbach's alpha revealed high internal consistency. Keywords: Juvenile psychopathy, proactive and reactive aggression.

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FLOTE-ing and sinking: Issues in teacher uptake of online professional development

Tracey Jones
Murdoch University
Email: insomnimac@hotmail.com

Are you Mrs Howell or Gilligan?

In 2002 and 2003, two groups of Western Australian teachers took part in an online languages methodology programme called FLOTE (Facilitating the Learning of Languages Other Than English) that had been developed at Murdoch University through the NALSAS (National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools) strategy. The programme consists of 12 online modules which are completed over a 6 month period. Data were collected from synchronous and asynchronous participant interactions as well as from online Content Management and Technology Needs Assessment tools.

An archetypal grouping of the research participants based on Gilligan's Island characters allowed the data to be easily categorised and compared. In addition, potential reasons impacting on the level of participant interaction with the online medium were identified. This paper presents some background to the research as well as results obtained and their potential application for future study in this and related areas.

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The effects of kindergarten scheduling and instructional styles on children's development

Gillian Kirk
Murdoch University
Email: kirk.image@westnet.com.au

This paper investigates the effect that different combinations of kindergarten scheduling and pedagogical styles may have on the development of children's social and emotional skills. Kindergarten scheduling in Western Australia are either two full days or four half days and the three main pedagogical styles that have been identified through other studies are: child-centred, teacher-centred and a combination of both child-centred and teacher-centred. Currently there is some contention as to which has the most influence on children's social and emotional development -kindergarten scheduling or pedagogical styles. Consequently, this study will help inform the debate.

The social and emotional domain has been chosen as the focus of this investigation as research has stated that social skills developed in kindergarten are requisite if children are to adapt to formalised schooling and experience academic success. Previous studies have identified that children's social and emotional development is influenced by kindergarten scheduling and/or instructional styles; however, with the absence of pre- and post-testing it is difficult to determine how, if at all, each kindergarten context attributes to the development in children's social and emotional development.

Preliminary investigations conducted in survey form will help discern the different pedagogical styles. The presence of pre-testing children's social and emotional skills will act to distinguish this study from previous studies of a similar nature. Pre-testing will take place toward the beginning of the year and come from the following perspectives: the teachers', the children's and the researcher's. Respectively, the research instruments will be: teachers' rating scale, peer nominated sociometrics and observations. Post-testing will take place toward the end of the year with multiple observations and informal interviews taken in between to note any changes and to monitor the children's development.
Keywords: kindergarten, social and emotional development, scheduling and pedagogical styles

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Using causal layer analysis and morphological analysis to develop a digital education for teachers

Jenny Lane
Edith Cowan University
Email: j.lane@ecu.edu.au

This paper is written in reaction to promises made by the newly elected Labor government in Australia to deliver a digital education revolution. These are noble claims yet the current reality is that there is a crisis in education in Western Australia with a severe shortage of qualified teachers. The concern of the author is that for the digital education revolution to happen it will take more than putting computers into classrooms. Computers cannot teach therefore we need to begin the process by producing a future workforce of highly skilled teachers able to use the new technologies to deliver a world-class education system. To make this happen we need to engage in careful future planning in the tertiary teacher education sector. This paper utilises future planning techniques, such as causal layer analysis and morphological analysis to develop visionary scenarios of the nature and structure of tertiary teacher education in Western Australia in the future. Although the subject of this paper is planning for the future in tertiary teacher education, the techniques used may be useful for planning in other fields of higher education.

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Between the Lines: Exploring a love of reading

Kit Lawson
Murdoch University
Email: kit.lawson@bigpond.com

My PhD research has its roots in my work as a literacy teacher in TAFE and, more recently, as a tutor in the BEd program. More significantly, it is embedded in my absorption in language and how it works, and my anxiety over students' difficulties in writing coherent, cohesive essays. As speakers of the language, they can convey meaning through the use of semantically coherent utterances. However, so many students seem unable to judge whether their utterances are grammatically well-formed and semantically coherent when they write in the Standard English that is expected of them. In a chance encounter with a fourth year student whose written work I knew well and admired, I commented that she had a feel for language and wondered where she supposed that may have come from. Her response was, "I love reading." The notion of 'a feel for language' being a corollary of 'a love of reading' seemed to me to be very powerful. Both phrases, while problematic, suggest an affective connection to the written word. By examining their meanings and the origins of their connection, I hope to discover what experiential factors might influence where an individual stands on the 'literate' continuum.
Keywords: Literacy, aesthetics, reading

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Getting down and dirty: Values in education for sustainability

Elaine Lewis, Caroline Mansfield and Catherine Baudains
Murdoch University
Email: e.lewis@bigpond.com

Values education and environmental education for sustainability are both spheres of education research that have manifested rapid and overlapping development in recent years. An independent primary school located in the Perth metropolitan area of Western Australia participated in research on both values education and environmental education for sustainability. The school contributed to a Values Education Good Practice Schools (Stage 2) project that involved a tri-state school cluster. Six schools worked together to explore an explicit values education agenda from an environmental education for sustainability perspective. Three values education and environmental education mini-projects at the school are examined: planting native reeds at the local lake, conducting a trial for a turtle nesting site and creating a community permaculture garden. The values embedded in these environmental projects were: social and civic responsibility and environmental responsibility. Preliminary evidence suggested that conducting environmental education projects, with an education for sustainability perspective was an effective, meaningful approach to the teaching of values. The relationship between values education and environmental education for sustainability was illustrated in potent, hands-on, real-life contexts.
Keywords: values education; education for sustainability; environmental science

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Building teaching capacity of academics through overseas study

Yuying Lou
Murdoch University
Email: l.lou@murdoch.edu.au

This study attempts to examine the effectiveness of academics' overseas study experiences in improving their teaching capacity in the newly established undergraduate universities (NEUUs) in China. Through an analysis of related literature, some of the challenges NEUUs face in teaching quality and strategic plans of staff development are identified. In the context of internationalisation, academics' overseas study is considered as an innovative approach. A pragmatic paradigm is put in place to examine the academics' achievements through overseas study and the benefit to teaching quality improvement in NEUUs.
Keywords: academics, overseas study, teaching capacity

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Teachers' learning journeys with interactive whiteboard technology

Susan McKenzie
Murdoch University
Email: s.mckenzie@murdoch.edu.au

Karen Murcia
Edith Cowan University

This presentation is based on the process and outcomes of an action research project conducted in collaboration with classroom teachers who developed strategies that utilised Interactive Whiteboard technology for improving children's literacy and numeracy. Critical incident stories will be shared that demonstrate significant signposts in the teachers' development of interactive pedagogies.

Recommendations will be made for future professional learning initiatives that support effective use of interactive whiteboard technology.

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Teaching for scientific literacy with an interactive whiteboard

Karen Murcia
Edith Cowan University
Email: k.murcia@ecu.edu.au

Developing scientific literacy drove the teaching and learning experiences provided to pre-service primary education teachers. Interactive whiteboard (IWB) pedagogy was used to engage and motivate these students' to explore science's role in making sense of our world and to understand key scientific concepts. Active science learning connected to social contexts was facilitated in workshops by the use of the technology. Using the IWB as a convergence tool facilitated the development of creative teaching resources that linked internet sites and on-line activities with hands on science investigations. It enabled fluid access to real life science contexts, supported a range of learning styles and when used appropriately placed students at the centre of the learning. A sample of the IWB science activities used will be demonstrated in this presentation and feedback from students will be used as evidence of interactive whiteboard technology's potential for developing scientific literacy.
Key words: interactive whiteboard, scientific literacy, pedagogy

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Are teachers to blame? National standards testing and accountability of schools in UK

Lesley Newhouse-Maiden
Edith Cowan University
Email: l.newhouse_maiden@ecu.edu.au

Over the past decade, assessment and accountability have emerged as areas of significance in educational policy and practice. On the one hand, there is considerable investment in strengthening the role of externally mandated and reported assessment for accountability purposes. On the other hand, against this backdrop, educators are focusing on improving student learning across the whole curriculum through policies and programs designed to improve practical knowledge and assessment expertise of teachers. Recently, at the Curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre (CEM), University of Durham, I focused on evaluative assessment and accountability measures of pupils from kindergarten to upper school. In parallel, I investigated how "promotion and permanence" of UK state school teachers is affected by such standards when their students have made no apparent "add on value" to their learning.

My findings suggest that the British Government's pre-occupation with frequent national testing is problematic for learners and the quality of curriculum offerings. A media watch and personal communication with professional evaluators at CEM affirmed that teacher promotion in state schools in the UK is simplistically linked to accountability testing results in literacy and numeracy standards.

CEM, as a centre of excellence, provides tests and support for teachers that are valid and reliable benchmarks to assess "add on" value to pupil learning, and empower teachers in demonstrating sound "evaluative assessment" to improve curriculum offerings. The increasing numbers of UK schools adopting this approach to "evaluative" assessment are able to demonstrate accountability to the wider community.

At the conclusion of my three weeks of research at CEM, I was left with the disturbing question as to why this empirical research is seemingly ignored by government.
Keywords: national testing, teacher accountability, add-on value learning

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The teaching of reading to language disordered children: An investigation into beliefs and practices

Sheena O'Hare
The University of Western Australia
Email: ohares03@student.uwa.edu.au

As many as 10% of all children will have a communication disability that may cause persistent and long-term problems with producing or comprehending spoken language, with using or processing speech sounds, or with understanding and using language in social contexts.

There is a strong relationship between early spoken language skills and subsequent reading and writing skills.

In Western Australia there are five specialist early intervention units for children aged K-3 who have been identified with a language impairment. In these Language Development Centres (LDCs) a specialised language intervention program is provided on an intensive basis. The classroom program follows an adapted mainstream curriculum with a major emphasis on oral language and literacy development. Specific language sessions are presented by speech pathologists, language support teachers or classroom teachers several times each week to promote and develop particular language areas that may be disordered or delayed.

This study investigates the literacy learning beliefs and practices of teachers who work in three LDCs. The research investigates: teachers' personal theories about the teaching of literacy; teachers' knowledge about literacy learning; and how teachers' theories and knowledge are demonstrated in classroom practice.

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Star cross'd lovers: The (troubled) relationship between peer review and student evaluations of teaching

Lee Partridge
The University of Western Australia
Email: lee.partridge@uwa.edu.au

Peer review and student evaluations of teaching have long been acknowledged, as valuable road maps to improved teaching practice and, consequently, quality learning in students. The causal relationship between what is seen, as good teaching and the consequence of good learning is problematic. Notwithstanding this, the potential of peer review and student evaluations, of teaching as valuable tools to improved practice is considerable. While, freely available to all teachers, these guides are rarely used to their best, advantage. The reasons for their unhappy relationship are partly due to, their inherited characteristics and partly due to the attitudes of those who, engage with the processes.

This paper outlines two small scale individual projects, one which involved the implementation of a peer review process across a faculty, and the other, which questioned the validity of an existing student evaluation of teaching, process. The problems inherent in each process are examined and suggestions, as to ways they might better work in harmony are discussed. While these, studies were conducted in the tertiary environment, the implications are, valid not only for university teachers but also for teaching practitioners, and administrators from K-12 who wish to seriously examine processes to, enhance quality teaching.
Key words: enhancing quality teaching, reflective practice, communities of practice

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Leading for sustainability: Is surface understanding enough?

Coral Pepper
The University of Western Australia
Email: cpepper@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

This presentation reports an investigation of how education for sustainability is conceptualised, incorporated across the curriculum and led in three Western Australian government secondary schools. It also reports on processes to enable education for sustainability to become embedded into these schools. Data for the research were gathered through semi-structured interviews with teachers who were reputedly leading education for sustainability.

With the exception of one participant, the concept of education for sustainability is not widely embraced in the schools of this study. Instead participants focus only on the environmental aspect of sustainability. Again, with the exception of one participant, education for sustainability remains fragmented and vulnerable to changing school conditions. Leadership of education for sustainability occurs whimsically, and with little vision for the future across this study, with little evidence of alliance building or collaboration among colleagues.

I propose that leading for sustainability requires a combination of: a deep knowledge of sustainability; forward thinking and the ability to imagine a different future; the interpersonal and networking skills to build strong relationships; and the energy and capability of taking action to achieve the imagined different future.
Keywords: leadership, education for sustainability

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Utilising metacognitive skills and green chemistry for self reflection: An autoethnographic research

Yuli Rahmawati
Curtin University of Technology
Email: yuli.chem@gmail.com

This autoethographic research represents my reflections on applying metacognitive skills and Green Chemistry approaches in the teaching laboratory. It also includes my reflections within my education journey as a learner and educator. Metacognitive skills and Green Chemistry approaches are powerful for creating meaningful learning experiences for students and sustainability in education, thereby empowering my students to participate actively in society. Through self-reflection, I comprehend that the subjectivity of my voice is shaping my writing. Therefore, the quality standards for this research - representation, trustworthiness and authenticity, critical reflexivity and praxis - guide my narrative reflections. For writing criteria, orientation, strength, depth and richness are helping me to write in a way that engages my readers and empowers myself. I have used impressionistic writing, such as poems, stories, and dialogues, to represent my reflections as well as the voices of students and colleagues which help me to reflect on my teaching practice. This research gives me the opportunity to learn to become a critical and reflective educator and to re-envision my pedagogical practice.
Key words: auto-ethnography, metacognitive, green chemistry

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Stuck in the middle

Lennon Rego
Curtin University of Technology
Email: lennon.rego@student.curtin.edu.au

Students make many transitions during their years of schooling; from home to school, primary to middle school, middle to high school, and high school to university or the workforce. These transitions are usually major events in the lives of students as it can be chaotic and stressful, as well as exciting, challenging and full of new hope.

The middle school environment essentially provides a 'stepping stone' for students to transition between primary school and high school. However, studies have reported that the transition to a middle school environment coincides with declines in academic achievement, self-esteem, interest in school and increases in psychological distress. Similarly, studies have also reported on successful transition programs and strategies allowing students to succeed in middle school.

The purpose of this action research study is to determine the perceptions of teachers and students directly involved in the 'transition program' from primary school to middle school. In determining the perceptions of students and teachers, the study has provided students with an opportunity to suggest how the transition program may be more effective in assisting students' transition to middle school.
Keywords: middle school; transition program; student perceptions

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What is the main variable that affects boys' academic achievement?

Megan Rhodes and Gleneice Coventry
Curtin University of Technology
Email: Lothrienne67@live.com.au, gleneice@telstra.com

The focus of this Action Learning report is to explore the different variables that affect boys' academic achievement in the educational environment. This research is derived from an Action Research Unit, ED 417, at Curtin University of Technology. The purpose of this study is to define the main variable that influences boys' aspirations to learn and to determine different teaching and learning strategies that may assist in breaking down the barriers that impede boys' willingness to attain knowledge at school level. The action learning approach that was used utilised an informal interview schedule with a small sample of male school students from differing age groups and socio-economic backgrounds and teachers in a Western Australian primary school. The research also involved a comprehensive literature review of the most recent research concerning boys' education.

An action research methodology was chosen with the expectation of gaining an insight into the boys' attitudes towards their schooling, their teachers, subject learning and how this learning is presented.

The conclusion of this study indicates that the main variable impeding boys' academic success is the core curriculum. However, other influencing factors are also apparent. The findings of this research are important due to the prevailing academic trends within boys' educational outcomes and the teaching implications that need to be addressed both the level of student teacher training and professional development.
Keywords: action research, boys' education

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Behaviour management and discipline policy: A genealogical approach

Janean Robinson
Murdoch University
Email: J.Robinson@murdoch.edu.au

"... there is no truth but truths, no reason but rationalities, no knowledge but knowledges of the ways people have come to understand themselves and the world" (Tamboukou, 1999, pp. 210-211).
This presentation will chart the development of discipline and behaviour management policy within West Australian secondary schooling. A genealogical approach is implemented to analyse the discourse constructed when establishing school behaviour management plans. This paper traces historical power struggles and relations because "a history of the present is, however, more interested in the future" (Tamboukou, 1999, p. 210). Auditing of micro-political practices implemented within schools today is adopted, as further questions begin to emerge regarding the practicalities, ambiguities and benefits of such policy in public education which I argue could and should still be a place of speech and action in learning (Green, 1982, p. 8) for the future.
Key words: behaviour management, genealogy, policy

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It's a bit harsh, isn't it! Judgemental teaching practice corrupts instinctive musicality

Eve Ruddock
Murdoch University
Email: ruddock@iinet.net.au

A recent study of self-perceived non-musicians demonstrates powerful negative perceptions of musicality. Current literature shows that this phenomenon is widespread in Western culture, despite increasing evidence to support an understanding that humans are instinctively musical beings. This paper traces reflective qualitative research methods that led to an exposé of lived experiences to reveal a judgemental society in which music is perceived as a performance by the talented.
Keywords: judgemental culture, reflective qualitative research method, musical non-musical divide

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Fat, black, and that's all right: Encouraging female Thai students to challenge destructive beauty ideals

Ed Rush
Mahidol University International College, Thailand
Email: elwrush@gmail.com, icedward@mahidol.ac.th

Mass culture in Thailand creates idealisations about female beauty which cause many women to engage in destructive behaviour such as starvation dieting and forced vomiting. In this presentation I describe efforts to develop awareness among a group of predominately female students at a rural Thai university about the ideological purposes of these idealisations. Using a CD based multimedia research template, the students reported the "common sense" beliefs which help create the beauty ideal and the effects of these beliefs on their own lives and the lives of other women. The major finding of their research was that mass culture creates beauty ideologies to maintain social stratification, in that those women who are made to feel "ugly" because they do not resemble the white skinned underweight ideal tend not to be members of the elite social class which has the resources and time to achieve these ideals. The significance of the project lies in the emancipatory effects that it produced; although a Critical Discourse Analysis showed that the students continued to assimilate some of the values and interests which they had identified as "oppressive", they also demonstrated to varying degrees that they had ceased to think and behave in ways which had caused them mental and physical damage in the past.
Keywords: critical pedagogy, Thai body idealisation, ideological hegemony

[Scheduling for this presentation]

The challenge of change: The impact of a professional development initiative for TAFE lecturers

Rebecca Saunders
Murdoch University
Email: r.saunders@murdoch.edu.au

The professional development of teachers is increasingly viewed as an integral part of improving teacher quality and effectiveness.

Models of professional development are wide and varied and much debate surrounds the power of different models in terms of transforming individual practice and ultimately having a positive impact on student learning. Designing and implementing teacher professional development programs based on research and theory is often a complex and demanding process but measuring the impact of such programs can present even greater challenges.

This paper will outline a mixed methods approach taken to examine the impact of a four year systemic change professional development initiative, designed to extend the instructional practices of forty TAFEWA lecturers. The methods were adopted in an attempt to recognise and examine the complex nature of the change process as a personal, emotional, behavioural, systemic and dynamic process which occurs over a period of time.

The paper will focus on

Key words: Research methodology, professional development, systemic change

[Scheduling for this presentation]

How does disciplinary style effect classroom management in elementary schools?

David Seggie
Curtin University of Technology
Email: david.seggie@student.curtin.edu.au

This research was undertaken at a boys' school located in a high socio-economic area of Perth, Western Australia. The research investigates classroom management processes, methods of dealing with disruptive students, approaches to communication, role modelling and parental support through the utilisation of an action learning paradigm. The school which is the focus of the study has two streams from grades one to four and three streams from grades five to six. A selected sample of students was chosen along with teaching staff and school administrators. All three groups participated in an interview to determine the effects particular approaches to classroom discipline were having on the student groups. The major findings of the research indicated that students that were commonly known as "bad" or "naughty students" was not specifically the fault of the student but the result of the classroom management, teacher attitude and school policy. When the students were interviewed for their behaviour the vast majority of the students that were perceived as troublesome had a greater sense of responsibility for their behaviour than those that were considered well behaved. It was the teacher's attitude of "tough love", routine and consistency that developed a sense of classroom responsibility. Through comparisons of data and questions asked of the teacher it was apparent that the students felt it was more their job to be good in class because it is what would make them a "good student" instead of what other teachers would describe as a "naughty" or "bad student".

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Nurturing faith within the home: A perspective from Catholic parents who do not access Catholic schools

Carmel Suart
Catholic Education Office of WA
Email: suart.carmel@cathednet.wa.edu.au

Irrespective of years of genuine effort by the Catholic Church in Australia to support parents in their task of nurturing the faith of their children, the area of family catechesis still remains inadequately addressed. This study is the first major Australian qualitative study conducted with parents who do not access Catholic schools for the education of their children. In the Australian context, most studies in the area of faith development and religious education have been conducted with the parents of children who access the Catholic school system. The purpose of this study was to give Catholic parents who do not access Catholic Schools a voice in sharing their experiences and concerns of the task of nurturing the faith of their children within the context of family life. This group of parents consider themselves a marginalised group within the Catholic Church. The study sought to make a contribution to remedying this marginalisation.
Key words: faith education within the home, family catechesis

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Observations of a poor reader

Margaret Sutherland
Edith Cowan University
Email: peggy@wn.com.au

This observation of reading problems was conducted on a 14 years old male student, who lives on a farm with his older brother and his parents and buses to school each day. He has had a history of poor reading, writing and learning skills. His Primary School years were spent in an Educational Support Unit at the local school. This unit was closed down in 1995 and all the students were mainstreamed into normal classrooms. This student was placed in a Year 8 class and is about to go into the second term of Year 9. This study will show how he is not able to cope with a normal curriculum. I had been tutoring him for 4 years, working with him on his homework, which he finds very difficult. His self-esteem has become very low and he is displaying a negative attitude towards school and teachers, including myself. The school is having difficulty in modifying his program from the normal curriculum, as even modified work appears to be beyond his capabilities. His level on a Weschler Intelligence scale test shows that he is in the 2.2% quartile and -2% SD so therefore is classed as intellectually disabled on the learning curve. His parents and I are hoping to arrange a special program for him at his level through the Education Department of Western Australia.

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Appropriate structures for teachers to implement in the high school classroom for at risk students

Margaret Sutherland
Edith Cowan University
Email: peggy@wn.com.au

The following study examined how general education teachers in a country high school accommodated Year 8/9 at risk students for educational failure. In exploring the accommodations the study addressed whether schools supply appropriate structures and program modifications to create positive experiences for this student group.

The examination reviewed current literature examining effective strategies for this student group, particularly in-class strategies such as curriculum differentiation, rather than traditional pull-out methods. In doing so it posed the question could these be implemented successfully within the observed classrooms?

A small-scale survey was conducted with classroom teachers at this country school to investigate whether they agreed with the practicalities of curriculum diversification for at-risk students. The survey determined the extent of their awareness of strategies highlighted in the research as effective for students at-risk and explored strategies that the teachers in this country secondary school were most likely to employ.
Keywords: at risk students, educational failure, positive experiences.

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The relationship between metacognition and social metacognition: The intersubjectivity connection

Pina Tarricone and Alison F. Garton
Curriculum Council of WA, WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Email: pina.tarricone@curriculum.wa.edu.au, agarton@iinet.net.au

Vygotsky's zone of proximal development, language and the social aspects of metacognition, such as knowledge of intra- and inter-individual functioning, are discussed as important facilitators of the learning process as it moves from a predominately social cognitive process to a metacognitive process. The terms social metacognition, intersubjectivity and the co-construction of meaning describe this process within the context of collaborative problem solving. Intersubjectivity provides the vehicle for the shift from inter- to intra-individual functioning through the establishment and co-construction of context and task knowledge to meet task demands. This process also relies on and leads to cognitive flexibility. This presentation provides a theoretical framework for describing social metacognition as an existing sub-construct of metacognition.
Keywords: social metacognition, intersubjectivity, cognitive flexibility

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Measuring the development of curriculum and pedagogical knowledge in the creation of teaching documentation

Pina Tarricone
Curriculum Council of WA
Email: pina.tarricone@curriculum.wa.edu.au

The process of pairwise comparison was used to measure the quality of teaching documentation, specifically assessment plans, prepared by pre-service secondary teachers enrolled in a Diploma of Education course. Criteria were used to assess the quality of each of the assessment plans. Referring to the criteria, the pairwise comparison process also relied upon qualitative judgments to compare assessment plans with the assessment plans that were identified as referents. Labeling and ordering of the assessment plans helped to classify them in terms of quality, but also keeping in mind that educational measurement comparisons are probabilistic and not deterministic. RummCC was used to analyse the comparisons and rank them to form an interval scale. The logits, which formed the scale, classified and ordered the quality of the assessment tasks from low to high. This ordering and classification process facilitated the comparisons by using specific assessment criteria and qualitative judgments.

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Sexual health promotion in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities: What about the women?

Paul B Watson
Murdoch University
Email: paulyboywatson@hotmail.com

While the number of new HIV diagnoses in Australia remains low by world standards, patterns of HIV transmission in the Australian Indigenous population show some alarming similarities to those in the developing world. This is perhaps not surprising, since poverty and its socio-economic descriptors are often seen as driving HIV epidemics and many Indigenous Australians are familiar with poverty. The similarity is a trend towards higher rates of heterosexual transmission in young women, yet young women are not identified as a target group in any of the national and state Sexual Health Strategies. So are this group getting access to sexual health messages, and if so how?

In Far North Queensland, the AFAO Indigenous Gay Men and Sistergirls Project has taken on responsibility to deliver sexual health messages to people in Indigenous communities, where Gay Men and Sistergirls have developed a unique role in brokering access to various groups for sexual health promotion. Through negotiation with elders, consistent with community protocols, they are able to successfully deliver sexual health messages to community sub-groups, including young women, in a culturally appropriate way.
Key words: HIV prevention, Indigenous

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