30th Annual Research Forum
Why Do Education Research?
Saturday August 8, 1:00pm-6:00pm
Tannock Hall, The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle (Cnr Cliff and Croke Streets). Free parking available.
Brief explanation of grounded theory methodology
Omar Khater Alzahrani
Grounded Theory (GT) methodology is a popular choice among educational researchers. This presentation will first introduce four Grounded Theory (GT) approaches in chronological order, shedding light on dynamic aspects of GT methodology, their commonality and also some of their distinguishing characteristics. The first is the original GT approach developed by Glaser and Strauss in 1967. The second is Glaser’s GT approach, which he developed in 1978. The third is commonly referred to as the Straussian GT approach, which was developed by Strauss in 1987 and then later refined by Strauss and Corbin in 1990. The fourth and final GT approach introduced in this presentation is the Constructivist GT approach, developed by Charmaz in 2000. It will then explore why, after studying the various GT approaches, the Glaserian GT approach seemed the most fitting for my PhD study. More specifically, it will provide and explanation of the meaning of Glaser’s dictum “all is data” and a justification for the preference of Glaser’s version of grounded theory.
Graduate midwives turning learning into reality
The University of Notre Dame Australia
Midwifery is a unique profession with a philosophy of care that encompasses a woman-centred approach. To better promote this philosophy, midwifery education continually reviews and improves its curriculum. Midwifery students are taught, and subsequently embrace, this philosophy during the early years of their career. However, during the transition to clinical practice they encounter a predominantly institutionalised and medically focused healthcare model, which presents challenges to applying this woman-centred approach. The study aim was to develop substantive theory about how midwives deal with applying the philosophy of midwifery in their first six months of practice. The study is conceptualised within the social theory of symbolic interactionism. Data were analysed using grounded theory approaches. The central proposition of the substantive theory generated was that a sense of transcending barriers was experienced through addressing personal attributes, developing an understanding of the ‘bigger picture’, evaluating, planning strategies and finally, moving these strategies into action. My paper, presented here, depicts the specific strategies used by newly-graduated midwives to ensure their beliefs, and what they have learnt in the tertiary setting, is applied clinically.
To teach or not to teach: Self-perceptions and experiences of early career teachers
The University of Notre Dame Australia
Throughout the Western World between 30-50% of early career teachers will leave the profession within the first five years. The impact of this is wide-reaching and a substantial amount of research has been done to understand reasons why teachers are leaving. The current research examines the self-perceptions and experiences of 25 second, third or fourth year teachers working in Western Australian Catholic primary schools, to understand why teachers choose to remain in the profession.
Digital andragogy: Reconciling 21st century learners with higher education
This presentation revisits the term ‘andragogy’ that has been historically associated with adult education, and develops a new concept based upon an investigation of the skills and dispositions of 21st century learners. An analysis of survey data, collected from 1924 undergraduate university students, resulted in a profile of 21st century tertiary learners that, when examined through the lens of adult education, led to a new framework for ways of working for both educators and students. This framework seeks to provide a better fit for learners and their lifestyles, and aligns with how knowledge is accessed and constructed in our Web 2.0 world. To encapsulate these ways of working we coin the phrase ‘digital andragogy’ drawing on 21st Century Learning Skills, the profile of 21st century learners, and the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies. We define digital andragogy as “the practice of educators to equip and encourage adult learners to choose and use the affordances of accessible digital technologies to personalise their learning and facilitate their interactions with peers and tutor”. We posit that tertiary learners should be encouraged and supported to transition from pedagogical practices experienced in their school years to higher education contexts that are based upon digital andragogy.
Preparing pre-service secondary teachers for their first teaching practicum: The role of service-learning
The research conducted in this study focused on ways involvement in a service-learning experience could contribute to the preparation of pre-service secondary teachers for their first school practicum. The participants included Bachelor of Education, Master of Teaching and Graduate Diploma of Education pre-service secondary teachers, all of whom completed a service-learning unit prior to a 10-week practicum. There are two components to the service-learning unit: workshops and community placement. The workshops provide a theoretical understanding of social justice. Topics include poverty, third world debt, ecology, Indigenous Australians, and refugees. Community placement involves pre-service teachers undertaking 12 hours of service-learning. Placements accessed by pre-service teachers include learning support centres (Primary and Secondary), aged care, working with the homeless, Blind Association, drug rehabilitation, refugees, prison inmates, pregnancy support (for teenage mothers), horse riding for the disabled, Oxfam community aid, St Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army, Red Cross, soup vans, and hospitals. Data were collected on two occasions: after completion of the service-learning unit but prior to the practicum and following completion of the practicum. The data indicated that the pre-service teachers had benefitted at both a personal and professional level from having completed the service-learning unit prior to their first practicum.
Considerations of pre-service teacher numeracy
From 2016, all graduating pre-service teachers will need to pass numeracy and literacy tests. On face value, this is a reasonable requirement. However, when considering numeracy, a focus on a high-stakes test may have impacts beyond those intended. Numeracy can be viewed as a combination of mathematics skills, mathematics competency, and disposition towards mathematics. Conversely, if the focus on numeracy is in terms of a mark received in a high-stakes test, ‘numeracy’ may be narrowed to a test score. Focusing on a test score could change how mathematics may be considered by pre-service teachers. They may focus on algorithms and procedures, develop anxiety towards mathematics, and shy away from engaging in mathematical activities. These approaches could then impact on their future students, manifesting as teaching algorithms and procedures to the detriment of conceptual understanding, limiting discussions in mathematics classrooms due to increased anxiety and decreased confidence, and spending less time creating mathematical experiences for the classroom. The potential ripples make it imperative that pre-service teacher education programs provide mechanisms within their courses to protect their students from the unintended impact of a high-stakes numeracy test.
The Cambodian experience: Exploring online learning in a developing country
Over the past few years there has been a rapid growth in online learning in higher education institutions in most developed countries around the world. However, many developing countries have not yet embraced this educational approach. In this paper, we discuss some of the issues for providing online learning in a developing country and describe how an online course, based on authentic learning principles (Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2010), was designed and implemented to provide Cambodian university students with the opportunity to experience online learning for the first time. Firstly it describes some of the challenges and benefits for implementing online learning in developing countries. It explains the design-based research approach and how the course was designed and implemented. It then presents the data findings and facilitator reflections for the initial implementation of the course. Finally it provides recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the design approach future implementations of the course.
‘Is my research good?’ Quality assessment of qualitative research
Given the increasing popularity of qualitative research not only in the social sciences, but increasingly also in the health and medical sciences, there is an urgent need to review some discipline-independent quality markers of ‘good’ qualitative research. This presentation explores the contentious issue of quality criteria for assessing the worth of qualitative research. Specifically, it will discuss the need to make explicit ontological and epistemological foundations that ground the qualitative research study and draw specific attention to the strategic alignment between the chosen research paradigm and the language used in the research report.
Evaluating and mapping effective curriculum design using TPACK: Creating consensus with colleagues
Conceptualising, creating and developing a contemporary curriculum that meets the needs of the students, the teaching staff, the university and the accreditation organisation is challenging. There is a demand and necessity to embed learning technologies into the learning and assessment design, which increases the complexity of the task. It is, therefore, helpful to use a framework to focus the curriculum development and evaluation process. The TPACK framework is a powerful tool developed by Koehler and Mishra (2005), which was used as the basis to examine the curriculum designs of all the common first year (CFY) units offered in the Bachelor of Education programs at Curtin University. The aim of the study was to investigate the synergy between pedagogy, curriculum and technology in the newly designed CFY units. A surprising finding was the great difficulty in completing this seemingly simple task. This presentation will explore our experiences with this investigation. Specifically, it will discuss the difficulties encountered as we explored the idiosyncratic views and educational practices of the CFY team and searched for common ground about technology-enhanced learning and teaching (TEL). The confusion about the nature of TEL and effective curriculum design within a small reasonably congruent group of lecturers demonstrates the need for meaningful and open dialogue as to the nature of technology, its role in teacher education and its value-adding features.
Girls versus grown-ups: Exploring the disparities between the perspectives and lived experiences of children and adults with media
The relationships that exist between girls and media are very diverse and rich with complexities. Due to the problematic nature of contemporary media as regards the representation of girls and women, the relationships that are forged can also be deemed controversial. This is an issue which has attracted much attention in academic literature and public discourse. It is evident that perspectives on the bonds between girls and media are many and varied. This presentation will focus on comparing and contrasting the perspectives of young girls and the grown-ups in their lives, including their parents, teachers, and school principal. The findings presented derive from a study which focused on exploring the perspectives and lived experiences of young girls aged 7 to 13 within their own media worlds. A mixed research approach was employed which involved a fusion of phenomenological and social semiotic elements. There were five phases which comprised: 1) interviews with educators; 2) student/parent questionnaires; 3) a media analysis; 4) interviews with students; and 5) home tours and interviews with families. The data generated through the interviews will be reported on, with an emphasis on the scarce similarities and numerous disparities between the girls’ perspectives and the grown-ups’ perspectives. Subsequently, the potential implications of the divisions will be explored.
Creative arts programs support student university aspirations
Antoinette Geagea and Judith MacCallum
University applications from low socioeconomic schools in Perth’s southern region have been significantly lower than state averages for the past decade. The MAP4U project works to increase these rates. One MAP4U strategy to increase higher education (HE) aspiration uses contemporary digital arts programs to engage students academically and help to realise their HE potential.
The Creative Arts Initiative (CAI) draws on the Ecological Systems Theory to underpin the use of positive role models and mentors to deliver digital media programs in high schools. Four schools engaged in the CAI programs in 2014. Using the propensity to apply to university data, as a macro level measure of HE participation, the results show significant increases in CAI schools’ application rates in 2014. These increases may be attributed to program participation associated with increased academic engagement and changes in school culture. This paper highlights the use of innovative and authentic learning programs using industry professionals and university students to provide aspirants with the social and cultural capital to navigate pathways to higher education and careers in the Arts and Creative Industries. Focused and ongoing touch-points, unique to the CAI, facilitated the navigation and access to people and information networks to realise university participation.
Developing tomorrow’s school leaders: The WA Catholic education Aspiring Principals Program: A qualitative, collective case study
Catholic Education Office of Western Australia
Atrophy of the aspirant pool traditionally available to fill principalship vacancies is an emerging issue for the Western Australian Catholic education system. To address this issue, the system convenes a two-year, 23-day principal preparation program: The Aspiring Principals Program. This article reports the outcomes of PhD research, conducted through the University of Notre Dame Australia, which explored the program’s efficacy. The research concluded in 2014 and involved the eight aspirants who commenced the program in January 2011 and graduated in December 2012. Specifically, four aspirant perceptions were explored before, during and upon completion of the program: Catholic principalship role components and the capabilities required for effective performance; factors enhancing and diminishing interest in principalship; and self-efficacy to commence principalship. As a result of the research, an integrated model of principal preparation, designed to enhance aspirant self-efficacy to commence principalship and the breadth and quality of the aspirant pool, is proposed for the consideration of local, national and international program designers.
My School and the calculating parent
The My School website is an important feature of recent neoliberal education policy. The website publishes a range of organisational and educational data of each school in Australia, including national standardised test results (NAPLAN). In the context of educational privatisation, contractualisation and marketisation, the MySchool website is often characterised as a tool that not only facilitates accountability, but also school choice through providing parents with data on school performance. This presentation reports on a ‘thought experiment’ recently conducted on the MySchool website. Utilising the theoretical resources of actor-network theory and Foucauldian scholarship, this presentation complicates assumptions in the literature about MySchool‘s status as a ‘market mechanism’. It argues that the website is constrained in its capacity to broadly perform the role of ‘market device’, but that it nonetheless operates as a calculative device cultivating a calculated form of parental educational agency.
Investigating the declining enrolments in upper secondary mathematics: A Western Australian perspective
The University of Notre Dame Australia
Findings from the Maths? Why not? research project indicate that Australian secondary students enrol in higher level mathematics courses for a variety of reasons (DEEWR, 2008). The key findings were presented as school influences, influences from sources of advice, and ‘self’ influences. However, this research did not provide any reasons why students do not enrol in these courses. Across the secondary school sector in Australia, recent research has shown that over the past 20 years the numbers of students enrolling in upper secondary mathematics courses has declined significantly (Kennedy, Lyons & Quinn, 2014). In Western Australian schools, this declining trend is reflected especially in the number of students who are enrolling in both the units 3C3D Mathematics and 3C3DMAS Mathematics Specialist. This research project examined the perspective of the Heads of Learning Area: Mathematics (HOLAM) within all Western Australian Catholic schools as to why they felt capable students were not enrolling in these two mathematics courses of study, or ‘the 2 top maths courses’. All HOLAMs were invited to participate in a single, anonymous online survey comprised of qualitative and quantitative items. Responses from HOLAMs indicate that the main reasons why students are not enrolling in the 2 top maths courses include: the ‘maths pathway’ is not required for university entrance; the ATAR can be maximised by studying one mathematics course; and timetabling constraints.
Teacher expertise: Exploiting embodied perspectives in teacher education
Edith Cowan University
Teacher education needs to respond to the challenge of developing teachers who can think on their feet and make responsive changes to their instructional practice in-the-moment. Allowing pre-service teachers to reflectively examine classroom scenarios from a situated perspective has the potential for them to exploit first-person visual perspectives to inform their professional vision and ‘notice’ salient elements of practice. Technologies such as manipulable, 360-degree video of classroom contexts viewed through immersive visualisation devices such as the Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR can provide pre-service teachers the opportunity to ‘read’ the environment, examine their own immediate responses to classroom situations and learn to exercise metacognitive control over their own responses in safe contexts. Thus it can enable them to develop a sense of body awareness that complements the more intentional and cognitive aspects of reflection typically experienced by a teacher in a real classroom setting. This paper argues for teacher education programs to explore methods of making tacit knowledge explicit and to inform and openly address perceptual and embodied aspects of teacher expertise. It proposes that these elements are central to the production of emotionally resilient, work-ready teachers. The paper also highlights the comparative advantages of 360-degree video over similar technologies.
How do pre-service teachers feel about images of teachers in the public domain?
Images of schoolteachers abound throughout popular culture in film, television and books. Teachers are also frequently shown in the news media, where education is one of the most commonly covered topics. Research has found popular culture images of teachers tend to present them as either ‘sinners’ ‘saints’ or ‘failures’ An assumption also evident in popular cultural myths about teaching is the idea that the teacher is the ‘expert’ or that the teacher is ‘self-made’. Related studies on teachers in the news have concluded that teachers are often portrayed as struggling to cope with difficult and demanding students, underpaid and undervalued, and to blame for a sub-standard school system. Very little research to date has considered how teachers or pre-teachers themselves feel about images of teachers in the public sphere. The study to be outlined here presents the findings of interviews with a group of postgraduate teaching students about their perceptions of the portrayal of teachers in popular culture and the news, and the effects of those images in terms of public opinion and the status of the profession.
Effective early childhood pedagogy: It is just a matter of balance
Edith Cowan University
Accountability in education has reached an all-time high in Western Australia. Although teacher quality is measured through Australian Institute for Teaching Standards and Leadership (AITSL) and National Quality Standards (NQS), other assessments are driving early childhood pedagogical practice, in particular the National Assessment Plan for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). As the NAPLAN results are published and easily comparable with other schools, these figures have come to be how the general public recognise and define quality. Hence, teaching to this assessment is often encouraged by many school communities.
Given our culture of accountability, and a trend of working toward higher academic outcomes, this study used qualitative methodological approach to investigate how eight teachers supported kindergarten children’s social and emotional development. The case study format that was employed highlighted one teacher, Kyra, who provided a delicate balance between adult and child centred experiences in her classroom and epitomised how effective, sophisticated learning can be enhanced through play and playful interactions. This paper uses both Vygotsky’s (1987) scientific and everyday concepts theory and the notion that there is a synergetic connection between relationships, play and environment to conceptualise how Kyra maximised learning opportunities. In addition, Kyra’s practice is connected with, and explained through, the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) principles and practices.
Classroom ready and ready classrooms: Are schools preservice teacher ready?
Much scrutiny has centred on the quality of pre-service teachers and their readiness for the workforce recently. However, little has been discussed or researched about school readiness for pre-service teachers. There is little debate about the shared responsibility of Schools and Universities to transform pre-service teachers into professional teachers, but there is debate as to the role and responsibilities that schools have in the preparation of preservice teachers (PSTs). This paper explores the issue at a national, state and school policy level. It presents an example of these policies in practice and in so doing presents enablers and barriers to establishing school readiness. WA schools offering a 12-month internship program highlight the importance of leadership, organizational structures and the development of school/university mentoring cultures to enhance practicum experiences for PSTs. The findings present possibilities for a more systemic approach to policy implementation surrounding shared responsibility between schools and universities so as to better prepare our next generation of teachers.
Teacher internships: Past, present and future
In a global environment where Teacher Education is under intense scrutiny, the evaluation of alternative approaches to initial teacher education is imperative. Teacher Internships have been around since the early 1900s yet there is limited research about the approach, particularly here in WA. This presentation will highlight the growing field of Teacher Internships at a global, national and local level. It will highlight trends from the past, present and into the future. More specifically it will introduce the Murdoch Internship Models (MIMs), a collection of 12 month extended practicums that span primary, secondary, metro and rural placements. This review proposes strategies for teacher education providers around future practice and sustainability of a 12 month internship program that targets high calibre pre-service teachers in an economically deprived, high-stakes educational environment.
Community education in Turtle Watch: Past, present and future
Many threats face the freshwater turtle, Chelodina colliei, also known as the oblong turtle. A community education project, Turtle Watch, focused on this species and enabled effective education and conservation action to be implemented. Turtle Watch started ten years ago, based in the Perth Metropolitan Area of Western Australia, as the oblong turtle inhabits the wetlands of Perth. Predation, habitat loss, road deaths and climate change are key threats to the oblong turtle. Outcomes of Turtle Watch are reviewed over time. Nest predation issues arose during stage 1 of Turtle Watch (2005-2008), so Turtle Watch 2 (2010-2012) aimed to identify predators and foster community partnerships, including citizen science, to promote awareness and conservation of turtles. Project results included camera surveillance evidence of fox predation. In addition, numerous partnerships, ranging from research organisations, educational institutions, and input from community citizen scientists, made valuable contributions to the project by working collaboratively on turtle conservation issues. Following completion of Turtle Watch 2 (2013), it was agreed by project stakeholders that the initiative would continue given considerable community momentum to support an ongoing Turtle Watch commitment. This strong community and school engagement continues to contribute to improved knowledge, skills and action in relation to oblong turtle conservation.
Enhancing reading instruction through professional learning
Edith Cowan University
Reading is internationally recognised as a mediating factor in the life outcomes of individuals and the reported poor literacy performance of Australian children on international assessment studies is an ongoing concern. Within the continuum of reading development, there are some children who experience more difficulty than their peers in acquiring reading skills. These children are at even greater risk of poor life outcomes if they do not receive appropriate instruction. Research demonstrates that professional learning is an effective way of enhancing teachers’ knowledge and practice and, therefore, the performance of their students. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the efficacy of a professional learning program designed to improve teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and practices in reading instruction. The study identified the elements necessary to help teachers engage in professional learning including; use of assessment data to make programming decisions; implementation of effective reading instruction; and if necessary, challenging teachers’ beliefs about reading instruction.
Using the past to plan for the future: A BRiTE approach in Teacher Education
Susan Beltman & Tania Broadley
University of Wollongong
Email: Caroline.Mansfield@murdoch.edu.au; S.Beltman@curtin.edu.au; T.Broadley@curtin.edu.au; email@example.com
In recent years, teacher resilience has become an issue of national and international significance, particularly in countries where teaching contexts have become increasingly challenging and high rates of attrition noted. Research has shown that resilient teachers have highly developed social and emotional competencies, as well as adaptive coping strategies for managing challenges. This paper reports a project aimed at assisting pre-service teachers build their awareness of the skills and practices that will help facilitate resilience in their teaching career. The BRiTE program has been designed as a result of an extensive review and analysis of the teacher resilience literature, as well as empirical research. The five interactive online learning modules focus on resilience skills and strategies such as building and maintaining relationships, caring for wellbeing, optimistic thinking, problem solving, ongoing professional learning and awareness and management of emotions. The modules are interactive, personalised, informed by research, and connected to Australian Teaching Standards and professional development materials. This paper presents the findings from the pilot implementation of the modules with a cohort of pre-service teachers in 2014. Future directions for research and teacher education are discussed.
Using Islamic values to transform mathematical contexts in Indonesian Islamic primary schools
Basic principles for designing the national curriculum in Indonesia include increasing faith and piety, and embedding religious values in all subjects, including mathematics. However, in the teacher guide books provided by the Government, mathematical exercises are still dominated by abstract mathematical problems and lack of religious moral values. Moreover, Muslim teachers are struggling to identify a connection between mathematical concepts and appropriate Islamic contexts. In my doctoral research I conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with Muslim teachers to explore their concerns. At their request, I also delivered a workshop designed to discuss these pressing issues, an experience that transformed the teachers, as well as me.
In this paper, I shall outline how transformative ways of knowing – cultural-self knowing, relational knowing, critical knowing, visionary and ethical knowing, and knowing in action (Taylor, 2013) emerged gradually during my interactions with these teachers. A transformative learning perspective enabled me to raise teachers’ consciousness about rich Islamic mathematical contexts that can be used with primary school children. For me, therefore, the important question is: how can transformative learning empower Indonesian Muslim educators to excavate Islamic concepts that have a productive relationship with mathematical problems?
A simple use of Dweck’s mindset theory
Boyup Brook District High School
When trying to move students from non-supportive learning behaviours and fixed mindsets to students with effective learning behaviours and a growth mindset, teachers need to have a clear understanding of their own conceptions of teaching and learning, and generic conceptions are described. The strategies the teacher uses need to align with these conceptions as well as be simple, easy to fit into the busy classroom day and effective. One such strategy is described, along with anecdotal results from classes of Year Nine, Ten and Twelve students. How this strategy can be used in a whole-school setting is suggested, as is where this strategy aligns with growth mindsets, goal-setting and purpose. Finally, the presenter will suggest how this work on growth mindsets with students can help develop this mindset in teachers too.
Thesis by publication in education: Joining the conversation early
Despite its growing popularity, thesis by publication is a less conventional format for doctoral dissertations in the field of education. The author successfully undertook a thesis by publication in Education from 2012, to submission in 2014. This paper draws on both the literature in the field and the personal experiences of the author to explore the strengths and limitations of this approach. Key reasons for adopting the thesis by publication format are outlined, as well as consideration of which types of educational research are most suited to this mode. Institutional support mechanisms and personal attributes that can improve the likelihood of success in this mode are also explored, in addition to the challenges and issues that are particularly significant when producing a thesis by publication. A possible structure and organisation of a thesis by publication in education is also proposed, though this will be primarily dictated by institutional policy. This paper will be of interest to prospective doctoral students and Higher Degree by Research supervisors in education seeking to extend their knowledge and experience in this area.
Teacher time and attention: Realigning student participation to build collaboration through values education
When teacher time and attention is directed to manage student misbehaviour teachers need a clear vision and an understanding of the values being promoted in the classroom. There were thirty one year 4/5 students who participated in the year long qualitative study, many of whom behaved in an antisocial manner. The aim of the study was to realign participation to build the prerequisite skills for collaboration. A manual open coding system of emerging patterns and themes (Yin, 2012) was used to analyse the data. The teaching and research elements were based on the principles of good practice for values education with a collaborative focus. Y charts were used to negotiate five class agreements to make values explicit and develop a shared values language. Other data sources included sociograms, lift ups, students’ reflection logs and interviews, teacher observations, weekly class meetings, parent surveys and feedback from other teachers. The outcomes of the research were that students widened their friendship networks based on mutual respect and trust which realigned participation to work effectively with each other. The challenge for teachers is to understand the values communicated to students through classroom practices and develop expertise and confidence to take risks and realign student participation.
Relationship building in Vietnamese written business communication
English has a long history in Vietnam and in the last two decades, particularly for business communication, it has developed with an unprecedented speed. Despite this ascendancy, there is an absence of research regarding English in Vietnamese business correspondence. The current study is an in-depth investigation of this with a particular focus on the written features of English, reflecting the importance of written documents in this context. This research was framed within the theoretical perspectives of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). 303 business texts from various business sectors composed by Vietnamese writers were collected. They were then analysed with regard to four SFL variables: speech functions, mood, modality and terms of address to establish the nature of the interpersonal written features developing within Vietnam. The findings of the study indicate that the writers employed several linguistic strategies (e.g., using Vietnamese kinship terms and Vietnamese lexis) and non-linguistic strategies (e.g., using emoticons and written giggling) to establish a close relationship with their correspondents. Relationship building was also reflected in the employment of politeness strategies to achieve positive politeness effect. These results suggest that SFL is a useful theoretical framework and analytical tool to uncover how English is employed in different socio-cultural contexts to enact social meaning-making processes.
Understanding vocational teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about technology, pedagogy and content
Murdoch University, C Y O’Connor Institute
This presentation examines the knowledge and beliefs that teachers have about teaching with technology in a regional vocational education and training (VET) institute in Australia. Vocational teachers must demonstrate teaching expertise (pedagogical knowledge) as well as industry expertise (content knowledge) to work with diverse learners in different contexts. Recent surveys have revealed that teachers’ use of technology within the VET sector is not effectively incorporated nor has it been embraced in pedagogically defensible ways. Thus there is a need for teachers to embrace technology knowledge commensurate with industry and workplaces and to integrate it more effectively into their pedagogy.
Through the lens of the TPACK (technological pedagogical content knowledge) framework, this study examined teachers’ beliefs about the nature of knowledge (epistemology) and beliefs about effective ways of teaching and learning (pedagogy). Using a mixed-methods approach, this research sought to understand how VET teachers’ knowledge and beliefs influenced their technology integration practices. The study found that teachers’ beliefs had a significant impact upon their use of technology. In particular, their epistemological beliefs were reflected in their perceptions of students and thus shaped their decisions about integrating technology into their teaching.
Education does matter: Transforming the consciousness of future teachers through dilemma stories
Kashi Raj Pandey
This paper addresses the challenge to devise effective pedagogic techniques which seek to make school education in Nepal more centred on promoting critical, social-ethical consciousness in the students. Although this may appear to be a challenge, the research project described in the paper takes its inspiration from celebrated education reformers like Paolo Freire who was involved in improving education in rural Brazil in the Great Depression. Nepal today shares many similar socio-economic challenges. Freire passionately advocated the role of education in fostering autonomous, critical thinking in school students to enable them to play a more active, constructive part in society building. Dilemma story pedagogy is one way of actively involving students in thinking about ethical-social issues. My project, hence, seeks to investigate the effectiveness of this classroom technique in promoting student involvement in ethical-social issues using the medium of the English language. It involves my presenting dilemma stories to classes of trainee teachers enrolled in a BEd program, and evaluating their responses to the technique. The focus is on whether the experience of discussing ethical dilemmas leads to the group’s conceiving plans for action to improve the situation of social disadvantage in Nepali society.
Why are students failing to answer the question?
Leonie Reynolds & Janet Hunter
Edith Cowan University
Recently, concerns have emerged over secondary students unsatisfactory results in their final Year 12 exams. Examiners noted that many students were failing to read questions properly or simply didn’t understand key words that were used in a question. This was reported across a range of different subject areas. Research, regarding literacy difficulties that adolescents face in secondary education, has revealed that the increasingly complex academic language across all subject areas accounts for much of these difficulties. This study attempts to provide valuable insight into this issue from the perspective of the students themselves. In-depth interviews are conducted with two male and two female students currently studying stage 2 and 3 units. A review of the literature surrounding this topic will provide a clear definition of the focus of the study which will determine the types of questions asked. It is anticipated that the data collected and analysed can be used to design a subsequent quantitative phase of the study. Ultimately, this research aims to identify possible reasons why students fail to answer questions correctly and what educators can do to improve the outcome in the future.
A glimpse of collaboration: Celebrating our past, present and future research experiences
Our collaborative journey began five years ago, when we came together to complete our PhD projects whilst sharing an office, a supervisor and both engaged in ethnographic educational research. This was a casual and often incidental arrangement as we met over coffee or in corridors between our busy teaching and working lives. It was, however, a conscious agreement with the purpose of co-interpreting and critiquing each other’s writing.
Five years later, with dissertations behind us, we find ourselves once again drawn to research together, not only for the collaborative process itself, but also the significance of implementing critical ethnography in education policy and practice. The difference in our partnership this time around is a more explicit and deliberate attempt to track and record the finer nuances of collaboration at each stage of the participatory journey. Over the past nine months we have not only met face-to-face, but also taken advantage of other available modes of communication to track our conversations and our writing.
A glimpse of collaboration is designed to capture and celebrate the knowledge we have gained so far. We plan on sharing our experiences and insights of how we work together and how we channel our collaborative momentum to unravel individual and combined educational research issues. This is an ethnographic work in progress and will therefore continue to evolve.
Zap me and find where I am: QR code-based lesson for upper primary level student engagement
The University of Western Australia
This study explores the use of QR code and mobile technology to engage upper primary students in Society and Environment subject. In Australia, QR code has been used in many consumer products, and increasingly in government sectors, to complement or replace the use of barcode. The use of QR code, however, in teaching and learning has not been widely explored in Western Australia despite its benefits as a tool in teaching and learning.
The purpose of this experiment is to explore whether the use of mobile technology and QR code can stimulate deep, active and social learning among students in a subject that requires a basic level of English language literacy. An iterative design process was done in collaboration with the classroom teachers and students at different stages. Three face-to-face interactive classroom activities consisting of a technology session and two game sessions, and an online reflection session were conducted to explore the topics of geography, economy and tourism in Asia Pacific. While students were generally eloquent and engaged, we found that in addition to technology literacy, the role of instructions was still critical in shaping the learning outcome.
The close reading: The nuts and bolts of high school Literature
University of Western Australia
The close reading of literary texts is of value not only for literature studies, but it also has a role in developing academic literacy skills for secondary students intending to pursue university studies. The close reading of literary texts is a central part of the Western Australian Literature curriculum for years 11 and 12. In the process of closely reading literary texts, students may identify potential meanings, develop rhetorical skills, examine the style and structure of complex texts and apply theoretical lenses such as postcolonialism. My investigation is based on a three tiered approach to the close reading (Scholes, 1985): examination of how literary texts are constructed, interpretation of the themes and ideas suggested in texts and analysis of potential social and cultural meanings. This research demonstrates the potential for rich academic skills development through a close analysis of two literary texts drawn from the new Western Australia Literature curriculum and exemplars of past student examination answers. This presentation will be of interest to researchers of secondary English curriculum, academic literacy and literature.
Student engagement: Student commentary from the MTAS survey 2014
An investigation of secondary students comments reveal the types of learning that engage students in learning. The literature on student engagement suggests that mainstream schooling structures, culture, relationships, curriculum and pedagogies are not working for a large number of students. In addressing this problem there is a need to better understanding the kinds of conditions conducive to engaging young people in learning. This article draws on evidence from online Murdoch Tertiary Aspirations Survey (MTAS) survey to high light what students are saying about their favourite and least favourite aspects of schooling. Five hundred and fifty (550) participants answered two separate questions seeking student perceptions of their school experience. Analyses of the data show that students’ find being with friends, fun subjects and learning about and doing new things are favoured and engaging school experiences. On the other hand students’ identify find boring curriculum, difficult relationships with peers and teachers as major impediments to their engagement in learning. This research reinforces the pivotal importance of developing relational school structures, cultures and pedagogies. Based on these findings we conclude by considering the implications for student’s aspirations and their willingness to participate in higher education.
Insider research: Confronting the reality of researching your profession
The Department of Education
Studying the profession to which you belong brings particular challenges. This paper explores the complexities of insider research with specific reference to the challenges I faced as a doctoral student and novice researcher in an interpretive study of teacher leaders in West Australian government schools. The decision to study teacher leadership is bound up with the context of my own personal experience and the political landscape in which all of us, who teach, find ourselves. My subject matter and my research design were influenced by my extensive experience in schools. In particular, there was a strong desire to insert teachers’ voices. Whilst the insider view presented opportunities for greater insight or sensitivity, there was also a concern that over familiarity could compromise the study. The paper discusses measures taken to address researcher subjectivity and to deconstruct the self in order to demonstrate that the study, although influenced by my context, had a theoretical lens and legitimacy. The paper also highlights issues relating to the dissemination of research findings when your employer is the subject of the study.