WAIER-Fogarty Postgraduate Awards 2007


Brad Gobby

Captured becomings: An assemblage of sexual difference, neoliberal capitalism and bodies in the boys’ education debate

MEd thesis, Murdoch University

Brad GobbyTruncated Thesis Abstract

The ‘boys’ debate’ has lost its centrality in political and media spectacle on educational issues, having peaked in the early half of this decade. At the denouement of this debate I interviewed pre-service teachers on educating boys and girls and argued, using an uneasy tension of philosophical and sociological epistemes, that essentialist discourses of sexuality persisted in delimiting the body’s potential. Underpinning this thesis was the Foucauldian notion of docile bodies, in which the body’s energies and becomings are harnessed through the institutional arrangement of power/knowledge relations and other interconnecting networks of power. The body’s capacities, dispositions, and habitus are assembled from its material constraints and potentials, and made the object and instrument of power. The boys’ education debate was analysed from these conceptual co-ordinates.


Dr Christine Howitt

Confidence and attitudes towards science and science teaching: Preservice primary teachers’ conceptions of an holistic science methods course

PhD thesis, Curtin University

Presentation Abstract

Christine HowittThis research describes the science learning journeys of four preservice primary teachers over a semester science methods unit. Based on critical incidents, which the preservice teachers identified during their weekly workshops, vignettes were co-constructed and co-interpreted to describe the nature of the science learning experiences and how these influenced the preservice teachers’ changing perspectives towards science and science teaching. Dominant characteristics to come through the vignettes of each preservice teacher were used to develop individual descriptors: The Simple Weaver, The Good Shepherd, The Hesitant Explorer and The Inquisitive Pilgrim. Common themes across the four learning journeys are identified and described to illustrate the new perspectives towards science that these teachers developed along their journey: simplicity, inclusivity, open endedness, importance of connections, “disguising” science, and seeing science through the eyes of a child. Implications for primary science teacher education courses are discussed.


Dr Angela McCarthy

A grounded theory: Realising family potential through choice of schooling

Angela McCarthyPhD thesis, The University of Notre Dame

Presentation Abstract

When a family makes a decision to place their child in a particular school, their quest for the fulfillment of family potential has, in an important sense, just begun. This paper explores the results of recent research into school choice and the process of reviewing such decisions so that the efficacy of the choice is maintained. The ultimate efficacy of the original decision will reveal itself only over time and may well be threatened from time to time along the way if conditions or circumstances change or the experience turns out for some reason to be other than expected. This research resulted in a formulation of a theoretical model that was thoroughly grounded in data and offers valuable insight to the process of choice.


Dr Hanapi Mohamad

Promoting creativity in early childhood education in Brunei Darussalam

PhD thesis, The University of Western Australia

Thesis Abstract

Hanapi MohamadThe overall aim of this study was to examine Bruneian preschool teachers’ conceptions about creativity (including factors related to creativity), their beliefs on how to promote children’s creativity in the classroom, how their beliefs may influence their actual practice and whether their practices are consistent with the requirements of the Brunei National Curriculum. It will also try to identify any factors that constrain or influence teachers’ practice. The research employed a grounded theory approach involving semi-structured interviews and classroom observations of preschool teachers.

The findings of this study indicate that the teachers primarily conceptualise creativity as something mainly but not exclusively to do with art work. The teachers believe that providing children enough time to engage with art works, giving children freedom, provide enough materials for children, flexibility in teaching, interactions and open-ended questions, group work and discussion and learning through play are the best ways to promote children’s creativity, but the research reveals inconsistencies between teachers’ beliefs about best way to promote creativity. Teachers’ actual practice mainly consists of teacher control, enforcement of obedience, rote learning, teacher directed and teacher chosen activities and heavy emphasis on whole-class teaching. Other mediating constraints on their promotion of creativity included: pressure from Primary 1 teachers, parents and the officials in Ministry of Educations to complete and adhere to the National Curriculum; teachers’ own pedagogical limitations; large class size; lack of adult help and the presence of special children in the classroom; lack of resources and pressure from other non-teaching commitments.

The implication of the findings are that further research needs to be conducted into Brunei’s preschool teacher training programmes, to identify contradictory messages about the value of creativity and to find a more culturally appropriate way of promoting children’s creativity through the curriculum.


Diane BrownDr Diana Brown

Teachers’ implicit theories of expression in visual art education: A study of Western Australian teachers

PhD thesis, Edith Cowan University