29th Annual Research Forum
Why Do Education Research?
Saturday July 26, 1:00pm-6:00pm
Tannock Hall, The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle (Cnr Cliff and Croke Streets)
Teacher action research on students’ perceptions of learning in high school classrooms
The University of Western Australia
This presentation reports on research investigating how student perceptual data, utilised as part of a targeted professional development activity, could be used to help to guide classroom improvements and contribute to teacher development and growth. The research involved the use of a multi-method design and was comprised of two concurrent and interrelated investigations. The first investigation developed and validated two instruments, one to assess the learning environment and another to assess student attitudes and academic self-efficacy beliefs. Quantitative data collected over a three-year period from a sample of 10,345 secondary students in 684 classes across 29 Western Australian schools were analysed to determine the validity and reliability of the two instruments. The results demonstrated that both instruments have strong construct validity when used with secondary high school students.
The second investigation examined the ways in which teachers used this data from the two instruments to reflect, plan and implement strategies for improvement and whether this was a worthwhile model for teacher professional development. The findings suggest that the data generated has the potential to provide teachers with valuable information which can be used to assess their classrooms and to assist their improvement efforts. The findings also show that when implemented as part of a formalised teacher professional development activity, student feedback contributes to the development of reflective practices, which are considered to be central to good teaching practice.
Why Early Career Teachers in primary schools decide to remain in the profession
The University of Notre Dame
This research project is about early career teacher retention, an issue that is affecting all sectors of education both in Australia and internationally. Some studies have found that as many as 50% of new teachers leave within the first five years of commencing a teaching position. A large body of research has been conducted into the issue; however, there is very little information available that specifically examines Early career teacher retention in Western Australian Catholic primary schools. For this reason, the purpose of this research is to investigate the self-perceptions and experiences of early career teachers in their second, third or fourth years of teaching in Western Australian Catholic primary schools as to why they have remained in the profession. It is hoped that the findings of the research will generate theory which will help Universities, the Catholic Education Office and Catholic primary schools to develop and implement strategies to further support, develop and retain early career teachers.
Service-learning as a way of developing pre-service teachers’ knowledge about Aboriginal education
University of Notre Dame Australia
This research explored service-learning as a way of developing pre-service teachers’ pedagogical literacy skills and cultural perceptions with regard to Aboriginal education through involvement in an Aboriginal educational setting. The purpose was for pre-service teachers to gain a better understanding of Aboriginal education whilst developing their own literacy knowledge and instructional skills. Service-learning was the teaching method chosen as it involves experiential learning with structured opportunities for critical thinking and reflection. A qualitative approach was favoured whereby investigations occurred in a naturalistic setting. The approach was fundamentally phenomenological in nature in that pre-service teachers’ attitude, knowledge and pedagogy of Aboriginal education prior to, during and at the completion of a teaching experience within an Aboriginal educational setting, was explored in an ideographic fashion.
During the teaching session, pre-service teachers assessed, planned and tutored Aboriginal students for two hours per week for ten weeks, and then participated in a service-learning tutorial on site for one hour after each tutoring session. Data were collected using observations, interviews and reflective journals. Analysis of the data enabled the researcher to identify the impact of the service-learning experience on pre-service teachers’ knowledge, perceptions, cultural awareness and pedagogy of Aboriginal education. It is hoped that the research will provide further insight into how service-learning can be used as a pedagogical strategy within a teaching course.
“Go and tell people what you have learned”. Educational messages from Aboriginal ex-prisoners
Roslyn (Rose) Carnes
Feeling powerless I asked, “what can I do that might be helpful, that might help make any kind of difference?” She smiled and said “Finish that PhD and go and tell people what you have learned”. This is the directive from Daisy, one of the participant-teachers in this research. So that is what I am doing.
This presentation relates the lessons I learned and the ultimate story told by participant-teachers in this research. I listened to Aboriginal people who had been incarcerated along with family members and people who had taught in prison education. The lessons and story go beyond prisons and can be applied in many institutional settings. Aspects of the story consider the context of education, challenges for Aboriginal people and those in prison, the ongoing impact of intergenerational trauma and the unquestioned nature of ‘white noise’. The story will be told largely in the voices of the teachers who also identify achievable ways for institutions such as prisons and schools to themselves be transformed. The power of this research is that in the process and the telling I am not the expert; I am a conduit who is myself being transformed by the various messages I have received.
Educational research rattles institutional cages
This paper brings together two research projects. One considered ‘unsettling’ Aboriginal prisoner education and the other ‘troubling’ education in high school. Initially we focused on what we saw as ‘being the same’ – the rigid bars. Moving beyond problems and deficits we learn from those held prisoner by institutional cages. They teach us not only about the problems posed by cage bars but also what answers exist in the apparently blank spaces between them. Though our methodological frameworks and researcher roles differ, we can learn from those we listen to – and there is great rattling power therein. What we learn from the spaces and the participants is that marginalisation of young people who do not conform is exacerbated by both a colonial construction of reality as the ‘norm’ and a neoliberal turn to conservative intellectual policies and institutional practices that focus on the individual rather than the communal. Such conservatism restricts young people in development of pride in their own individual and communal identities, discourages responsibility and inclusivity and punishes difference or diversity. In addition, the sovereignty of Indigenous people remains invisible between the cages’ bars.
International comparison of iPad use by teachers in special education
The University of Notre Dame Australia
This presentation will describe international research conducted in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, which examined an area in which little research has been published; teachers’ use of iPads in the classroom to support students with special needs. A comparison between countries in a range of areas such as: reported skill level of the teachers, inclusion of iPads as part of Individual Education Plans (IEP), ease of use of iPads in the classroom, teacher preference for technology use, and the area in which iPads are commonly used to support students (i.e. communication, functional skills, academic skills, social areas) will be examined. In addition the presentation will explore the support available for teachers using iPads in the classroom, benefits and barriers of this use and common apps used by teachers of children with special needs. The research will inform schools’ planning in relation to the professional development and support required to assist teachers to effectively use the iPad as a tool in the classroom to address the needs of students with special needs.
Using mobile learning technologies as a catalyst for educational change in early childhood education
Serena Davie and Jean Macnish
The University of Notre Dame
mLearning is not widely used in early years of education, although it has been shown to be beneficial to children’s learning (An & Reigeluth, 2012). This presentation reports the initial findings of a three year longitudinal study which is investigating the costs and benefits of implementing mLearning in early childhood education at two case study sites. The research uses a partnership model; between a School of Education within a university and two state primary schools in Western Australia. A mixed method approach was used to collect data in the form of surveys, interviews, focus groups and field observations from pre-service and practising teachers, school leaders and parents and carers. Initial findings indicate that pre-service and practising teachers increased their confidence, technological knowledge and insights into the issues associated with implementing mLearning in the classroom. Six themes are identified and discussed. A model is proposed which could be useful to schools and universities that are considering developing partnerships as a mechanism to institute sustainable educational change.
How can educational research result in sustained and positive change?
The University of Western Australia
The educational research literature is littered with good ideas that have not leapt the barrier from publication in a research journal or PhD thesis to bring about widespread and sustained changes in classroom practice. This presentation will use case studies of successful wide spread and sustained educational innovation to demonstrate the key ingredients necessary. The impact of a holistic approach, clear rationale, effective leadership, flexible curriculum resources, ongoing whole school professional development, assessment materials and mentoring will be discussed. Be prepared to have input to this session.
Children thinking multiplicatively
Lorraine Day and Derek Hurrell
The University of Notre Dame Australia
According to Siemon, Bleckly and Neal (2012), multiplicative thinking is one of the six big mathematical ideas and is fundamental to the development of many important mathematical concepts (Brown & Quinn, 2006, Mulligan & Watson, 1998; Siegler et al., 2012; Siemon, Izard, Breed & Virgona, 2006). Multiplicative thinking is not easy to teach or to learn (Clark & Kamii, 1996; Siemon, Breed, Dole, Izard, & Virgona, 2006). Whereas most students enter school with informal knowledge that supports counting and early additive thinking (Sophian & Madrid, 2003) students need to re-conceptualise their understanding about number to understand multiplicative relationships (Wright, 2011).
Given its importance and its extensive links with other mathematical ideas, such as algebra and proportional reasoning, it is important for teachers and researchers to understand how children’s understanding of multiplicative thinking develops in the primary school setting. It is timely to conduct this research given that there has been considerable comment about the ‘crowded curriculum’ and the need for teachers to focus their teaching on fewer but more significant ‘big ideas’ of mathematics. Multiplicative thinking is indeed one such idea and this research has the potential to inform teacher planning for developing children’s multiplicative thinking.
Pub worker, relief teacher or teacher? Early career casual teachers’ professional identity
Increasing numbers of early career teachers begin their careers as casual teachers, yet little is known about how they begin to develop a professional identity as a ‘teacher’ when working in multiple teaching contexts. Although professional identity has been associated with resilience, retention and motivation, what does the literature actually reveal about how teachers develop a sense of professional identity? This paper presents a review of the literature relevant to development of professional identity of early career teachers, including those specifically related to early career teachers working in a casual context. Three key concepts emerged from the literature and to assist understanding. These will be discussed in the context of Wenger’s (1998) Community of Practice, which highlights participation on the periphery of a community as a legitimate method of developing a sense of professional identity. The role of peripheral participation (Wenger, 1998) resonates with the experiences of casual teachers due to their diverse and multiple teaching contexts. An overview of my research in progress will also be presented.
I am an educational researcher – who am I? Building a researcher identity
More and more do we hear from politicians and higher education representatives about the significance of building a strong research workforce. Research and innovation and with it the Australian higher education sector are often named as key players in helping to secure future national productivity. Educational research is multifaceted and rich. Educational researchers help generate new knowledge through the development of theories, testing of hypothesis or the study of the impact of current practices and interventions. Hence, our work is contributing to Australia’s social, cultural and economic development. As educational researchers, we need to invest in identity formation. Hence, this presentation will provide key ideas, exploring the rather illusive concept of ‘the Australian research workforce’ and pointing to a need to strengthen our individual and collective identities as contemporary educational researchers.
A visual social semiotic analysis of a pre-adolescent focused magazine’s depictions of femininity
The representation of femininity in media is an issue that has received considerable attention in research and in public discourse. The literature reveals that cultural depictions of femininity often fail to reflect the complexity or full humanity of girls and women. This presentation reports on my visual social semiotic analysis of a monthly Australian publication targeted at an audience of pre-adolescent girls. A variety of samples were collected from the magazine, including cover images, feature articles, fashion spreads, advertisements, and posters. I utilised a visual social semiotic framework, which involved engaging theories of visual communication and feminist theory in order to achieve a socially situated understanding of the magazine’s content and intent. After deconstructing the tools utilised by the magazine and their advertisers to engage their audience, I focused on deciphering how femininity was represented and communicated. Girls existed in the magazine as performers, adventurers and creators, but primarily the narratives of femininity centred around female friendship and female beauty. Although they did not exist in isolation, traditional notions of femininity were prevalent throughout the magazine and existed across three intersecting categories: behavioural, symbolic and aesthetic. My presentation will explore the magazine’s attempts to foster viewer engagement, its chosen narratives of femininity, and what this might mean to the young girls accessing its publication.
The impact of higher education policy on university’s most marginalised participants
Murdoch University/ Curtin University
Higher education policy is an often shifting element that universities must deal with. The responses that universities make to external policies and pressures may have a profound impact on those who participate in the day to day work of teaching and learning. Currently, universities are responding to policy pressure by widening student participation, increasing online, open-access delivery, and casualising academic teaching. There is a need for research that brings the impact of these trends into focus by examining the experience of those most affected. While the literature on each of these characteristics is quite extensive, there is little that draws the three elements together to examine the conditions created for teaching and learning as they interact and intersect. My research focuses on a core, online, open-access unit which is situated at the nexus of these three elements. It aims to facilitate the successful transition of online, new-to-university students into academic life. This is a complex task considering that the unit enrols an extremely diverse cohort with a high representation of non-traditional students and is almost exclusively taught by casual tutors. This presentation explores how current literature is drawn together as a starting point for my PhD research which aims to develop a deeper understanding of how these two highly marginalised groups cope with the conditions created by higher education policies.
Strengthening teachers’ mathematical content knowledge
The University of Notre Dame Australia
The tertiary training of pre-service teachers is pivotal in their professional preparation and formation as qualified educators. Multiple authors posit that teachers require a development of pedagogical content knowledge, or knowing a variety of ways to present mathematical content and to assist student to deepen their understanding (Chick, 2012; Shulman, 1987). Emerick, Hirsch and Berry (2003) argue that high quality teachers must possess appropriate content knowledge, and must also possess considerable background in communicating effectively to students. There are two aims of this educational research. The first is to investigate the self-perceptions of pre-service primary and secondary teachers enrolled in a mathematics education unit as they engage with and consolidate their mathematics content. The second aim is to explore how these pre-service teachers understand and perceive their ‘readiness’ to undertake such a task, based on their recent tertiary training. The significance of this research lies in the belief that the unit ED2315: Mathematical Learning for Early Adolescents adequately prepares students’ mathematical content knowledge in conjunction with their pedagogical content knowledge, and that research into this area can strengthen future efforts in preparing pre-service teachers. Specifically, the unit has the potential to influence the way pre-service mathematics teachers are professionally prepared to teach mathematical content in the classroom. This research seeks to build upon the extant literature by describing the self-perceptions of pre-service teachers preparing to teach middle school mathematics.
Determinants of job attainment in recent Bachelor graduates: Evidence from Australia
Edith Cowan University
Favourable graduate employment outcomes are critical for future enrolments in higher education. Enrolments fund higher education providers and ensure a continuous supply of graduates to enhance organisational effectiveness, national productivity and global competitiveness. Recent evidence suggests the global financial crisis has softened graduate labour markets. Stakeholder concerns for graduate career prospects and the adequacy of return on investment from studying at university prompt exploration of those factors which influence graduate employment outcomes. This study tests, using logistic regression, a model of job attainment in recent Bachelor graduates of Australian higher education providers using national data gathered in 2011 (n = 28,246) and 2012 (n = 28,009). Findings indicate employer selection criteria broadly align with our understanding of what constitutes graduate employability, including technical expertise, generic skill mastery and a successfully formed graduate identity. Labour market opportunities, however, are not based on merit alone with employers favouring those graduating from prestigious universities, part-time students and whose study incorporated elements of on-campus learning. There were also noted variations by discipline, age and residency status. This form of education research is important for developing our understanding of which factors influence graduate employment outcomes and the subsequent implications for relevant stakeholders.
Teachers’ perspectives of streaming in the lower secondary school
The University of Western Australia
Research shows that streaming does not result in desirable or equitable outcomes of education, but secondary schools in Australia and around the world continue to use streaming to manage diversity. There is a need for more detailed understanding of how streaming functions and why some schools prefer it. The aim of this study was to understand teachers’ perspectives of streaming in the lower secondary school in order to provide insight into why and how streaming functions. An interpretive approach was used. 18 interviews were conducted with teachers at a single school site ¬ a Western Australian, metropolitan, medium-fee paying independent school. Data were analysed and presented through narratives that capture how streaming is viewed by these teachers.The findings stand at odds with research that paints a negative picture of the effect of streaming on students. Streaming was seen by teachers as a useful aid for addressing different students’ needs. Teachers described how streaming affected their practice as they adapted pedagogy, pace and curriculum for the various streams. These findings emphasise the value of qualitative research in connecting educational research and practice. The study has implications for future research including further case studies and exploration of teachers’ practice and perspectives. There are also implications for how streaming is used by practitioners at the case study school and comparable schools.
Navigating the emotional dimensions of learning to teach in a pre-service year
Studying the emotions is a challenging task as the term ‘emotion’ and the phenomenon it represents have traditionally been difficult to define and describe in much of the relevant literature. This proposed PhD study is shaped by synthesising conceptual frameworks on emotions in teaching which focus on the nature, construction, interpretation and performance of emotional experience, while acknowledging the social, cultural and political contexts in which individuals learn to teach. The research will take the form of a qualitative interpretive case study. The data collection approach is primarily drawn from qualitative methods employed by researchers in the field. These include adapting Hargreaves’ (2000) ‘emotion episodes’, Zembylas’ (2005) ‘meta-emotion’ and Ahonen, Pyhältö, Soini & Pietarinen’s (2014) interview questions to frame interviews at the start and end of a graduate teacher preparation course. Zembylas’ (2005) emotion diary questions will also be adapted to collect a range of emotional responses in the form of an online blog using tumblr.com. Data will be coded and analysed to determine common themes across participants as well as within individual journeys. Both deductive codes based on the extant literature, and inductive codes emerging from the data will be developed. Credibility of data will be assured through, for example, triangulation, data collection at multiple time points, use of multiple methods, member checking and peer review. The goal of such methods is to explore multiple aspects of emotional experience to construct a holistic picture of the lives of pre-service.
Contextual influence on early career teachers’ experiences
Learning to teach involves more than learning the theories and techniques of teaching. It involves talking, speaking, acting and thinking as a teacher. More importantly, it involves understanding the professional and contextual landscape of schools, negotiating and reconstructing teacher identities within these landscapes, and struggling against the discursive practices within the school context (notions of normative discourses of teacher identity that have been culturally scripted in schools). This research examined the discursive practices that early career teachers negotiate, in particular the influence of school culture and the implicit and explicit professional expectations from early career teachers in their first year of teaching. It explored how early career teachers challenge and struggle with some of these practices and expectations, and creatively construct a teacher identity more attuned to their own beliefs and values.
International teachers: Missionaries, mercenaries, misfits or mavericks?
Susan F Ledger
Lesley Vidovich and Tom O’Donoghue
The University of WA
It is difficult to ascertain the numbers and the nature of teachers working in the large international schools network especially given the ambiguity of the term ‘international school’ and the borderless world that exists. The international school system has been characterised as being equivalent in size to education systems in Sweden or Florida. This makes international teachers one of the largest mobile workforces in the world. With an estimated annual growth of international schools of around 8% this number is predicted to increase. But what do we know about these teachers and their motivations for becoming involved in international education? A recent study involving International Baccalaureate teachers in remote Indonesian contexts exposed similarities to Stirrat’s (2008) characterisation of development and aid workers as ‘missionaries, mercenaries, misfits and mavericks’. This paper draws on Stirrat’s typology to explore reasons why teachers enter the international schooling system, with implications for their career trajectory in the field of international education. It also reveals the micro political world in which international school teachers are situated.
Connection to country: Embedding the Australian Curriculum Aboriginal cross curriculum priority
Coolbinia Primary School
Embedding the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross curriculum priority of the Australian Curriculum has been a challenge for some schools. A primary school in Western Australia implemented and evaluated a whole school plan to address this priority in 2013. A case study was conducted to enable in-depth investigation on the impact of this plan. This approach facilitated revelation of the participants’ lived experiences, their perceptions and understandings of engaging with this cross curriculum priority. The research investigated student, staff, parent and community partner perceptions following implementation of the plan. Data were gathered from a range of sources, through surveys, assessment rubrics, observation and anecdotal feedback. The findings provided evidence of deeper awareness and engagement by all stakeholders in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures priority. Benefits arising from evaluation of the whole school approach to the implementation of the priority were also highlighted.
Mentoring research: Making a difference for young people (Keynote)
With the advent of ERA, a focus on ARC grants and publications in high profile journals, it is possible to wonder how education research can make a difference. In this paper I review 15 years of applied research on mentoring and associated concepts such as role modelling and intergenerational exchange that I have carried out with colleagues. Much of this research was commissioned by government through contracts or research schemes, with the specific purpose of contributing to policy and decision making. I trace the development of this research program, the outcomes and outputs, and the ways it has influenced program development and made a difference for young people.
Engaging primary school aged reluctant male readers
Kellie Marangoni and Rachel Sheffield
Research into boys and their relationship with literacy has indicated that many boys are disengaged with reading. It has been suggested that this possibly is due to a lack of availability of texts that interest them. This study looked at incorporating boys’ interests and technology to engage them in reading through a qualitative, interpretivist study using ethnographic methods of data collection. Year 5 students, identified as being disengaged with reading, participated in a book club which allowed them to choose what they wanted to read and also have the opportunity to read electronic books. Research determined that many boys have literacy skills not recognised in the classroom all of which are important for using 21st century communication skills. Boys want to read fiction and non-fiction books, graphic novels and magazines about sports, adventure, humour and murder mystery. The results of this study, however, are mixed. While implementing a book club which allowed the boys to choose their own reading materials had a positive effect on their reading engagement, electronic books did not seem to change reading engagement, in the participants.
Using semiotic resources to develop number sense in an early years classroom
With the introduction of video as a methodological tool, our ability to explore effective teaching and learning has been enriched. Using a socio-cultural lens, the research study investigating the use of semiotic resources, including the ‘ten frame’ and the ‘number line’ when developing number sense with young children. This small scale study involved a single case study of one class teacher and six students in an Australian pre-primary classroom. Using video as the predominant research tool it was possible to describe how the teacher used the semiotic resources of the ‘ten frame’ and the ‘number line’ in conjunction with the rich combination of language, gaze, bodily movement, and gestures to focus on pattern and structure. Through analysing the children’ drawings of these representations, it appeared that the multi-semiotic approach appeared effective in developing number sense with pre-primary children. As a result of conducting this research, it is anticipated that early years teachers’ knowledge of how to develop children’s repertoire of flexible number strategies may be enhanced.
Teacher identity, teacher learning and school change: Intersecting stories
My PhD study uses the stories of teachers and school leaders involved in a school-based professional learning reform as a portal into the interconnected phenomena of teacher identity, teacher learning and school change. Rich narrative data recognise and celebrate the personal, situated and complex nature of teacher learning, as well as the intricacies of teacher and school leader identities. They illuminate how professional learning shapes teachers’ constantly shifting self-constructions, and how school leaders’ professional identities, perceptions of professional learning and strategic intentions shape the culture and enacting of professional learning in a school context. It is the little-explored amalgamation of teacher and school leader voice, through story, which is beginning to paint a multifaceted portrait of teacher learning from both insider (teacher) and strategic leadership (school leader) perspectives.
Sharing and analysing the stories of both the teachers involved in the school-based professional learning model, and the school leaders who are responsible for the strategic direction, management and resourcing of the initiative, hopes to reveal insights that can be applied to knowledge, theory and real-life educational contexts in which teacher growth, transformative professional learning, teacher buy-in and positive change management are the goal. From a personal perspective, this research has shaped my own identity and my own story.
Looking forward: Student educational and career aspirations in an outer-urban setting
Sam Prodonovich, Antoinette Geagea, Laura Perry and Andrew Taggart
This paper provides a cross-sectional snapshot of the career and educational aspirations of a sample (n=540) of high schools students in the outer urban corridor. Tertiary education participation rates for this region are well below the Australia wide average with destination data showing that for some schools in the region, less than 10% of year 12 students go on to university the following year. Currently, there are a range of initiatives operating in schools and supported by universities that are designed to support student aspirations and subsequently, increase participation in higher education within the region. This paper describes the first wave of data from the MTAS survey tool which is designed to measure the influence of initiatives such as outreach programs and engagement strategies. The paper is descriptive in nature and is organised into the following sections: context, aspirations as a cultural capacity, survey development, analysis and discussion. Educational and career aspirations are discussed in light of factors such as gender, year level and first in family status. This paper presents the authors’ current research about the influence of equity initiatives and school reform measures and has been developed as part of the Murdoch University Pathways to University (MAP4U) project.
Education research: Continuing to accommodate the E’s and I’s
In education at all levels, the increase in the use of technology for learning continues to place pressure on educational systems to keep up and ensure the students’ needs are met. Whether it be the increased use of eLearning platforms and ePortfolios in higher education institutions; or the use of iPads, iPods, or interactive whiteboards in primary and secondary classrooms; there is a need to ensure the technology is fit for purpose and utilised effectively rather than being added on to existing teaching and learning structures. Education research is the key to this.
There are a number of strong research models that can be utilised in the systematic examination of the use of technology in the classroom. One key model that is based on design research (Reeves, Herrington, & Oliver, 2005) yet was specifically designed for electronic learning environments was the eLearning Lifecycle (Phillips, McNaught, & Kennedy, 2011). This model provides a strong framework from which to conduct education research in the use of electronic platforms in all levels of education to ensure systematic and theoretical review. Education research can utilise these processes to ensure that best practice is implemented for quality teaching and learning in educational settings.
Are Australian teachers making the grade? An analysis of news coverage of NAPLAN
The standardised testing of school children has been the subject of significant news media attention in many developed countries around the world. This presentation reports on an analysis of recent news coverage of National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests in three major Australian newspapers, with a particular focus on the portrayal of schoolteachers. Research in this area is important because news media coverage is known to influence educational policy and public perceptions of teachers and schools. Teachers themselves have reported concerns about the nature of news media coverage of education and its effect on their relationships with family, friends and the broader community. Overall, this study found that teachers were presented as strongly opposed to NAPLAN and the publication of test results, yet the newspapers themselves supported the tests as an important accountability measure. Teachers were regularly depicted as trying to undermine the testing system through teaching to the test and cheating. They were portrayed as generally inadequate as teachers and were blamed for perceived failings in the education system. These findings point to implications for journalism training, and for teacher recruitment and retention.
Secondary school students’ comments about their most and least favourite school experience
Research indicates that when asked secondary school students will clearly comment on their most favourite and least favourite aspect of their school experience. An investigation of student comments reveal the value of listening to student voices in the context of engaging students in learning that supports their future educational aspirations and participation in higher education. In this paper I argue that the students’ comments reinforce the idea that engaging secondary school education is both relational and participatory. Data is drawn from year 7 to 12 students who took part in Murdoch Tertiary Aspirations Survey online survey in early 2014. The survey sought to measure academic aspirations, attitudes and self efficacy of youth in a low SES community in the South West corridor. Of the 540 students who completed the survey 204 (46%) of students volunteered written responses for questions about their most and least favourite school experience. Students responded that sport, non academic activities and music were their favourite experiences of school. Teachers, homework and people they had to spend class time with were their least favourite. Student experiences are also influenced by the quality of classroom relationships, teacher pedagogy, student choice of curriculum and the opportunity to actively have fun with peers. Research outcomes facilitate authentic responses aiming to support student aspirations and participation in higher education pathways as a matter of social justice.
Questioning the discourse of teacher-leadership
Murdoch University & Darling Range Sports College
Research provides an opportunity to make meaning problematic. This paper explores how critical discourse analysis (CDA) and narrative mapping were employed to interrogate the discourse of teacher leadership and question universal or assumed truths about the teacher-leader. The paper draws on an investigation of the leadership practices of Level Three classroom teachers in West Australian public schools. The study was interpretive and analysed both quantitative and qualitative data in order to understand the nature and scope of the leadership. An examination of policy documents and teacher responses to survey questions identified the binaries or slippage between the rhetoric of policy and the practice of teacher leadership in schools. The study highlighted the significance of labelling in the construction of social identities and the importance of peer recognition in the motivation of teachers to lead. Narrative mapping was used to present the nuanced story of teacher leadership. This mapping revealed how teachers are positioned by particular discourses, including policy documents to embrace or resist teacher leadership. The research has significance in the context of other current initiatives that seek to reward exemplary teachers and in so doing create exclusive categories of teachers.
School attainment in low SES contexts: Reflecting on outcomes for year 11 and 12 students
Andrew Taggart and Lynette Vernon
The demand system has struggled to impact WA with relatively few year 12 students ready, willing and able to apply to university and not surprisingly the proportion of low SES students at university has remained low. The propensity for year 12 students and those aged 20 or less to apply to university in WA was the lowest in the country in 2012. While Kemp and Norton (2014) report that nationally there has been a slow upward trend in low SES enrolments since 2008 (17.1% in 2012, moving from 16.6% in 2003) the ‘new’ students in university are not coming from the low SES quartile, with WA well below comparator state benchmarks. As a result some schools redefined who should ‘get an ATAR’ with aggressive counselling of year 10 students ‘out of’ the ATAR cohort. The alarming trend of fewer students achieving an ATAR became the norm in many low SES public schools, as leaders justified this outcome in light of perceived community reputational risk and system directives. In response Murdoch’s Aspirations and Pathways for University (MAP4U) project was developed with a very different design from previous projects that have aimed to grow low SES numbers at university.
Learning and living in English
This study was born out of reflection on my own journey of English language learning. My knowledge of English has been built through my ‘lived-experiences’ of academic and social discourses that I encountered as a postgraduate student learning and living, in English, in Australia. I decided I wanted to be able to use my experiences almost as a touchstone for an investigation of the experiences of others like me. In order to do this, my PhD study was constructed, and presented, so that the experiences of the researcher – me – run parallel to those of others who are like me. This qualitative case study investigated how the knowledge and experiences of English language learning, impacted academic engagement and second language socialisation. It also examined how the use of explicit instruction in language learning strategies (LLS) influenced continued language development, academic engagement and fuller socialisation within the Australian community. The findings of the study identified areas of difficulty for the participants and evaluated the effectiveness of the strategy program in supporting students to overcome these difficulties. What is different about this study is that, through the utilisation of a range of theoretical perspectives to inform and enact strategy training and use, a new theoretically cohesive model has been developed that can be assistive in addressing issues associated with both academic discourse socialisation and second language (L2) socialisation more generally.
Identifying applications of one to one laptop programs in mathematics teaching and learning
Rebecca Walker and Susan McDonald
Educational reforms in Australia in recent times have continually advocated the integration of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) into schools. Many schools have adopted one-to-one laptop programs as a key strategy to integrate ICTs; often at a substantial financial cost to parents. Our research aimed to investigate the impact of one-to-one laptop programs in two middle schools in which they have been operational for more than five years. Expectations of teachers, implementation of the new Australian Curriculum, and financial expenditure of parents and schools contribute to the necessity for research to be carried out in relation to the value of such sweeping policies. An online survey was developed to measure the nature and frequency of student laptop use as directed by the teachers in their mathematics classes. Six teachers were interviewed to elaborate on the integration of laptop technology in their classes. Findings from the survey indicate that teachers are utilising the laptops for other purposes, rather than learning tools. The teacher interviews revealed generalisations such as laptop use enhancing the students’ technology proficiencies, but not their mathematical learning. The teachers questioned the appropriateness of laptops for mathematics teaching and learning, and reflected on the cycle of technological advancements and consequent impact on teacher practice, and the difficulty in achieving a balance between the two.
Beliefs, values, ethics and moral reasoning in socio-scientific education
Siew Fong Yap
Kingsway Christian College
The need to integrate science, ethics and morality is recognised with growing concern in recent years (as noted with the introduction of the Australian Curriculum ‘Science as a Human Endeavour’ strand). There is a need to develop sophisticated epistemologies of science, which include an appreciation of the social context, including ethical thinking. To fulfil the aim where pedagogy and curriculum enable students to integrate ideas about scientific issues and their own values, beliefs and ethics, educators need to understand how an individual naturally construes these issues. This paper is based on an investigation to address the need, in particular, how students construe genetic engineering issues as ethical issues and/or moral problems and how these values (faith/beliefs) influence their decision making regarding these issues in a ten-week year ten biotechnology program in an evangelical Christian college. Using an interpretative case study approach, a mixed method data collection and action research, analyses of instructional strategies, students’ beliefs/values/ attitudes and achievement outcomes were evaluated. The investigation is unique as it presents one of the few studies that incorporate Christian/faith values in the ethical frameworks to explore the connection between cognitive learning, moral reasoning and moral development, and in the wider sense, between scientific literacy and ethical reasoning. It suggests that allegiance to belief systems and ideologies can sometimes override the influence of one’s own sense of fairness in making decisions of moral rightness, and this has implications in mapping out curriculum for moral education and socio-scientific education.