Postgraduate Awards 2010


Dr Lois Etzel

The impact of student created Slowmation on the teaching and learning of primary science

Lois EtzelMEd (Research) thesis, Curtin University

Truncated Thesis Abstract

This study used the Technology-Rich Outcomes-Focused Learning Environment Inventory (TROFLEI) in examining differences in the perceptions of students with special needs and general-education students in different biology classroom arrangements in public high schools in New York State. I also investigated student attitudes, as well as student achievement as assessed by a standardized biology examination, among 914 students in 66 biology classes in four public high schools. Noteworthy findings are that students’ learning environment perceptions and attitudes were quite similar for: general-education and students with special needs in the same classes; and students with special needs in inclusive and self-contained settings. This study is unique within the field of learning environments research in that it examined the current trend towards inclusive practices from the learners’ perspectives.


Dr Geoffrey Lowe

A study into Year 8 student motivation to continue class music in Perth, Western Australia

PhD thesis, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

Geoffery LoweThe importance of music in the life and culture of young people is well documented, and engagement with music has immense mental and emotional health benefits. However, retaining students in secondary class music programs is an ongoing issue for most Western Australian music teachers. Class music generally operates as an elective subject, and while numbers can be healthy in Year 8, a large drop-out frequently occurs in Year 9. Eccles (2005) states that the values students attach to the activities undertaken in elective subjects are accurate predictors of future enrolment decisions. This paper reports on the values students attach to class music activities. Specifically, it draws upon a study into the values of over 200 Year 8 music students drawn from eight secondary schools across Perth.

The study found that while students still generally enjoyed music as a subject, the enjoyment and importance they attached to specific learning activities declined significantly over the course of the year. When coupled with a decline in the perceived usefulness of class music activities, the findings suggest that the sorts of activities undertaken in class music may be a direct contributor to low retention rates. The implications are clear. Unless there is a thorough review of the way class music is taught, low retention rates will continue to plague school music programs in Western Australia.


Ms Miriam R. Brooker

Youth mentoring and adult-youth relationships: The importance of context

MEd Thesis, Murdoch University

Truncated Thesis Abstract

Miriam BrookerThis study is about programmes that foster adult-youth relationships and more specifically about the community context necessary for such programmes to flourish. The study is designed to explore a faith-based community context in which a youth mentoring programme is being considered as a strategy to help develop adult-youth relationships and youth participation in the community. The study evaluates whether mentoring would be the most appropriate adult-youth programme intervention to facilitate parish ministry to its young people. Three literatures related to formal adult-youth programmes including youth mentoring, intergenerational and youth-adult partnerships inform the study. The study methodology emphasises wide consultation and elicits the perceptions and expectations of participants regarding youth mentoring and youth participation. Youth participation is identified to be an adult need given the anxiety of many study participants about the future of the parish and their valuing of a community incorporating all age groups. Despite generally positive participant expectations of mentoring as an intervention, study findings indicate that a formal youth-adult activity programme would be more likely to respond to the needs of all young people connected to the parish. The study includes four main recommendations regarding preparatory activities intended to support the design and implementation of an effective parish adult-youth programme: (1) Address barriers to communication between youth and adults; (2) Be aware of power differences between adults and youth; (3) Be open to supporting youth initiated change; and (4) Develop a shared vision for youth participation in the parish.


Dr Richard P. Branson

The role of imagination in the religious conversion of adolescents attending Catholic secondary schools

PhD thesis, The University of Notre Dame

Presentation Abstract

Richard BransonThe purpose of my doctoral studies was to describe the role that the imagination plays in the religious conversion of adolescents who attend Catholic secondary schools. Data was collected from interviews and journals contributed by 15 Year 12 students attending Catholic secondary schools in the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to analyse students’ accounts of their religious lives. The first step, which is common to all forms of data analysis in phenomenological research, was an iterative process: the transcripts of interviews and journals were read and re-read in order to gain an understanding of and appreciation for the richness of the experience of each participant’s relationship with God. Second, through a process of categorising statements in the transcripts, themes were derived which were grouped or clustered into major themes that reflected the presence of statements identifying experiences of relating with God. Conclusions were drawn about religious conversion and about the role of the imagination in these experiences. James Fowler’s theory of faith development, Lewis Rambo’s theory of religious conversion and John Bowlby’s attachment theory were used to guide the interpretation of major themes identified through the use of IPA.


Dr Michele Toner

Students diagnosed with AD/HD and their first year at university: A theory of developing empowerment

PhD thesis, The University of Western Australia

Presentation Abstract

Michelle Toner PGAThe past decade has witnessed students with disabilities attending university in ever-increasing numbers. In particular, students with ‘invisible disabilities’ (such as learning disabilities and mental health disabilities) comprise the vast majority of those seeking support from Disability Services. However, relatively few researchers have investigated the processes involved in the university education of these students, particularly during their crucial first year, when the highest rate of student attrition occurs. In turn, the substantial body of research which has investigated the ‘first year experience’ for university students in Australia and the USA has ignored the issues unique to students with disabilities during this critical period. This qualitative study, undertaken for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Western Australia aimed to address this gap. Specifically, this study aimed to generate theory about how students with ADHD deal with their first year. This presentation will focus on the theory generated, while mentioning the implications of the study for further theory development, policy and practice.


Dr Jaromir Audy

Designing technology enriched pedagogy to enhance thinking and engagement of students in science oriented courses

EdD thesis, The University of Western Australia