33rd Annual Research Forum
Saturday August 4. Registration from 12:30pm. Presentations 1:00pm-6:00pm
Tannock Hall, The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle (Cnr Cliff and Croke Streets) Free parking across the road.
Understanding and challenging the dominant discourse in HPE at Edith Cowan University
Edith Cowan University
This presentation centres on an investigation of the marginalised positioning of health education within the Bachelor of Education (Secondary) course for Health and Physical Education (HPE) at a teacher education institution in Australia. Insights from data collected in a previous study raised questions regarding the limited conceptualisation of HPE within the course and the capacity of the course to respond to the Australian institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) standards for graduating teachers in the context of HPE. More particularly, the research revealed that through unit selection, students could follow a path to graduation that gave limited attention to Health Education, and that privileged Physical Education (PE) and/or Outdoor Education (OE). Based on these findings, this study has explored HPE curriculum leaders’ understandings of the learning area in the context of pre-service teacher preparation and their beliefs regarding the preparedness of graduating HPE teachers. This presentation relates curriculum leaders’ perspectives to the nationally endorsed perspective of HPE articulated in the Australian Curriculum for Health and Physical Education (AC: HPE) (Australian Curriculum, 2015) and the understandings of HPE that are expressed in the state curriculum pertaining to this institution. Discussion pursues the opportunities and challenges associated with efforts to re-position Health Education within tertiary programs that have historically privileged other discourses.
A soldier’s journey: An arts-based exploration of identity
The creation, development and maintenance of various military identities provide an opportunity to study the impacts of education on identity development. Taking an auto-ethnographic approach and based on the developing theory of funds of identity, I applied an arts-based method and a thematic analysis of seven of my military-related self-portrait drawings and accompanying descriptive texts. By identifying the funds of knowledge that I have been exposed to during various educational programs and internalised as part of my identity development, I found there are two forms of military identity work that I have conducted, a more personal ‘warrior/soldier’ identity work and pragmatic or utilitarian ‘community of practice’ identity work. This study has shown that military identity is more complex than any singular notion of ‘a’ military identity. Multiple military identities develop as a result of continual tension and negotiation between a military member and the military organisation in response to the organisation’s education systems. The presentation concludes with discussion on the role of formalised or structured education and training in identity development and the further development of funds of identity theory.
Criticality in Arts Education: Developing connoisseurship in the era of Pinterest
In the era of alternative truths and complex school contexts, online resourcing of arts teaching is growing. Online platforms, such as Pinterest, offer ready-made activities and therefore simple answers for some classroom teachers, who are struggling to plan and implement the arts for their students. However, a lack of criticality can underscore the unexamined ‘advantages’ of such accessible resources. Criticality and connoisseurship are two key issues in understanding why teachers prefer online platforms for the sourcing of arts teaching resources, rather than curriculum documents written for them by ‘curriculum experts’. Critically competent curriculum decisions require informed knowing about value and how the decision impacts on practice and student learning. Combined in an arts context and drawing on interviews with sixteen classroom teachers, criticality and connoisseurship are used to highlight the systemic issues of context, value and pedagogy that impact on teachers practice. Understanding the participatory nature of the internet and the multi-modality of digital texts are two suggestions for increasing teachers’ criticality. These ideas are explored as a means of improving teacher’s connoisseurship and arts learning for young people.
Construct validation of the Motivated Strategies for Learning questionnaire in a Singapore high school sample
Chiu Wai Chow
The University of Western Australia and Hwa Chong Institution, Singapore
University of Western Australia
In this study, the construct validity of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) was assessed. Participants were 441 Year 11 students in Singapore. Three separate confirmatory factor analyses were conducted for each section of the MSLQ (motivation and learning strategies). Results indicated that the original factor structures proposed by the instrument developers produced the best model fit. Cronbach α coefficients were also acceptable for all but one of the individual scales. Correlations with the Revised Learning Process Questionnaire – Two Factor and physics achievement scores also aligned with the theoretical basis of the MSLQ. These results confirmed the potential utility of this instrument for assessing the motivation and learning strategies of secondary students in Singapore.
Letting go of the Middle Years Program: School rationales for discontinuing an International Baccalaureate program
This study examines a localised phenomenon whereby three metropolitan private and public schools in Australia are discontinuing their offering of the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Program (MYP). Previous studies have examined why schools adopt the MYP; however, to our knowledge no other study has examined the reasons why schools decide to give up the MYP. Hence, using a qualitative methodology, our research explores the reasons why schools adopted the MYP and why they eventually discontinued it. Through our interviews with 17 participants (teachers, principals and former MYP Coordinators), we found that schools adopted the MYP for various reasons, such as school-wide reform (accountability, curriculum and identity) and due to their leaders wanting to take on the programme. However, upon adopting the MYP, our findings revealed that these schools faced systematic, school and individual level challenges. These issues were related to integrating the MYP with the Australian Curriculum, assessment and pedagogy and stakeholders’ motivation throughout the process of implementation. Hence, this paper will be instrumental in providing insight into the lived experience of implementing an international curriculum within a national context. In light of these findings, recommendations are also suggested for effective implementation process within schools, based on stakeholders’ feedback.
The power of education research in the “Truthiness”/post-truth era
“Under Trump, fake news has become a weaponized policy for legitimating ignorance and civic illiteracy” (Giroux, 2018). Democracy cannot function optimally without an informed citizenry and trust in the scientific expertise of researchers. A major attribute of expert thinking in any field is the ability to evaluate the reliability and truth-value of information. Education researchers and education researchers in training should not confuse post-truth with post-fact. “Truthiness”, a term coined by Stephen Colbert, a US Comedian, became Merriam-Webster 2006 word-of-the-year. Truthiness is a colourful depiction of truth-claims that do not have any origin in scientific reasoning or evidence base. This presentation will provide an insight into the value of expertise and expert knowledge to counterbalance “truthiness” claims in a number of fields and build credibility of educational research in the post-truth era.
#childhood: Exploring the representation of children and childhood on Instagram
Madeleine Dobson and Jenny Jay
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Early childhood educators hold an image of children which is respectful and appreciative. The “image of the child” is influenced by the multidimensional nature of their identities, competencies, and contexts. The view that children are agentic subjects (Robinson & Jones-Diaz, 2016) with rich potential (Robertson, 2010), who ought to be engaged actively in all matters which influence their lives (DEEWR, 2009) is a key focus of a strong early childhood philosophy. Swist and Collin (2017, p. 677) explain that as “technology diversifies and intensifies communication, it is reconfiguring human expression and interaction at the level of self and society”. The phenomena of “micro-celebrity and influencer parents” (Leaver, 2017) on a variety social media platforms has seen the emergence of a deliberately curated narrative of family life and childhood. When considering the widespread influence a popular online presence can have, Leaver (2017, p. 7) states “micro-celebrity parents can be quite influential in promoting and normalizing certain shifts in parenting practices”. This presentation will examine the ways in which the construct of ‘child’ or ‘children’ is currently represented in photographs and video on Instagram to determine whether the perception of ‘childhood’ can be or is changing at the levels of self and society. Through analysis of social media posts by family influencers with an emphasis on curation of imagery, tags, comments, and language, the represented ‘image of the child’ will be analysed.
“Make sure you look after yourself”: Resilience and wellbeing of educators in Early Learning and Care centres
Madeleine Dobson and Susan Beltman
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Educators in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) play a significant role in the lives of children, families, and communities. The resilience and wellbeing of these educators deserves our careful and compassionate consideration. This presentation will explore the perceptions of a group of Australian early childhood educators about what challenges and what supports their resilience. The study used an ecological and phenomenological approach to gain experiential insight regarding the challenges and resources at the macro-, micro- and personal levels for fourteen ECEC educators, who reflected on these aspects during interviews. Deductive coding identified personal and contextual challenges and resources, and inductive coding then established key themes. The educators experience their macro context as challenging, while their micro contexts feature both challenges and supports. This presentation will explore these challenges and supports, and the centrality of relationships, as well as implications for policy and practice within ECEC.
Inconsistency in the early years: Diverse perspectives of pedagogical practices
Edith Cowan University
Pedagogical practices have been shown to significantly impact children’s outcomes for learning. The Early Years Learning Framework is driven by well researched pedagogical practices however tension exists between two of these, intentional teaching and play-based learning. There are concerns that many early years teachers are misinformed about what constitutes quality pedagogical practices and are divided in their understandings of what these practices mean. This research project aimed to uncover early year teachers’ understandings of intentional teaching and play-based learning and the role they take as they implement these practices in their classrooms. The study also sought to understand the factors that teachers believe influence their implementation of these practices.
Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with five pre-primary teachers and three kindergarten teachers from Perth, Western Australia. The findings confirm that teachers working in the early years hold different understandings about intentional teaching and play-based learning. The role that teachers take to support children’s learning is influenced by their understanding of pedagogy and leads to vastly different implementation of these practices. These findings suggest that there is currently no shared understanding of early childhood pedagogy in the early years of school, meaning that children in the same year level are receiving significantly different opportunities for learning.
Community education: Challenges and triumphs!
Australian Association for Environmental Education, WA
Community science expos at the Canning River Eco Education Centre (CREEC) in Perth, Western Australia, provided a feast for the senses and challenges for environmental educators. Outcomes of ten annual expos are reviewed. The first expo, in 2009, focused on taste (Tastes of Science), followed by new themes each year, such as movement (Dances of Science), the auditory sense (Sounds of Science), innovation (Frontiers of Science) and in 2018 achievements in science (Celebrations of Science). These one-day expos engaged the general public in learning about different aspects of the particular science focus, within an education for sustainability perspective The expos aimed to contribute to the national objective to build a strong relationship between science and society, by showcasing modern science and Indigenous knowledge in an innovative, holistic manner. This involved fostering partnerships between the community, education/research organisations, local, state and federal governments, business and industry, while providing an opportunity for the general public to participate in events that highlighted the benefits of science, technology and innovation. Participants engaged in a wide range of hands-on interactive experiences, including: animal encounters; bush crafts; clay creations; traditional Indigenous storytelling and rock art to pass on knowledge; exploration of microscopic biological specimens; and sustainability actions such as waste education and reduction, and planting native reeds by the river. Many displays and formal talks were also featured. Key challenges included being dependent on funding from grants, with associated direct and indirect political influences, as well as measuring long term participant outcomes in terms of whether attendees’ behaviour changed in other contexts as an outcome of participation in the Expos. Achievements of the community education expos related to the development of an innovative model that addressed national sustainability and science goals, integrated modern and Indigenous science knowledge, demonstrated strategies for waste reduction at community events, enhanced partnerships for sustainability and whole systems thinking in action.
Associations between school absence and academic achievement: Do socioeconomics matter?
Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia
This study examined how the association between increased student absence and lower achievement outcomes varied by student and school-level socioeconomic characteristics. Analyses were based on the enrolment, absence and achievement records of 89,365 Year 5, 7 and 9 students attending government schools in Western Australian between 2008 and 2012. Multi-level modelling methods were used to estimate numeracy, writing and reading outcomes based on school absence, and interactions between levels of absence and school socioeconomic index (SEI), prior achievement, gender, ethnicity, language background, parent education and occupation status. While the effects of absence on achievement were greater for previously high-achieving students, there were few significant interactions between absence and any of the socioeconomic measures on achievement outcomes. While students from disadvantaged schools have, on average, more absences than their advantaged peers, there is very little evidence to suggest that the effects of absence are greater for those attending lower-SEI schools. School attendance should therefore be a priority for all schools, and not just those with high rates of absence or low average achievement.
Amalgamation of institutional economy and academic integrity: Investigation of how Japanese teachers manage conflicting demands from universities
Australian universities are under enormous pressure to operate academic courses with a corporate management mindset. Foreign language courses, unlike other academic subjects that focus primarily on theory and intellectual knowledge, are particularly vulnerable to institutional economies, such as moves to reduce student-teacher contact hours and shift to a more online teaching approach. This is because foreign language learning requires students to improve four interpersonal macro-skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). Further, mastery of some foreign languages requires students to learn a new script and all its nuances. Japanese, for example, involves mastery of three written scripts, including Kanji. Thus, many Japanese unit coordinators must adopt strategies for maintaining the quality of their course whilst also coping with increased administrative demands and pressure.
This presentation will argue that different academic disciplines have different requirements when it comes to learning and teaching strategies, and that these differences are often disregarded when uniform institutional economies are enforced. This presentation will also rationalise the significance of my coming up research, which will identify strategies used by teachers of Japanese when it comes to assessing their students’ tasks in a way that maintaining course quality and the essence of learning and teaching while still conforming to institutional limitations.
Doctoral students and resilience: A beginning
Theresa Jeewa and Susan Beltman
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; S.email@example.com
Resilience is viewed as the process of maintaining wellbeing despite experiencing setbacks and challenges. The topic of resilience in many education contexts has become of increasing importance as, for example, school principals experience increased pressures, working conditions in Early Learning and Care contexts compare unfavourably with school settings and in university settings academics and doctoral students face multiple demands. For example, a large Finnish study is examining doctoral student stress, exhaustion and anxiety. This presentation reports the beginning stages of a doctoral study examining resilience in West Australian doctoral students. This presentation will summarise a section of literature explicitly relating to resilience within the HDR context. The search used the keywords of ‘HDR resilience’, peer reviewed articles published between 2008-2018, and the Informit, Proquest, and Taylor and Francis Online databases. Nine of the articles had ‘resilient’, ‘resiliency’ and/or ‘resilient’ appearing only once or twice in the paper and only two papers featured ‘resilience’ more than 12 times. From this literature review, resilience is seen as a contributing factor towards the successful completion of a doctorate, a transferable skill, affected by external factors such as one’s socio-cultural environment, developed in a variety of ways and beneficial both during the HDR journey as well as post degree.
Investigating the ‘integration of theory and practice’ in examination Physical Education
Edith Cowan University
This paper shares theoretical insights and empirical findings from research in Western Australia (WA) that explored the concept of ‘integrated theory and practice’ in the context of the introduction of a new examination physical education course at senior secondary level. Focusing on the Physical Education Studies course in WA, the research foregrounded the concept of policy enactment and used Arnold’s (1979) framework of learning in, through and about movement as a critical frame to investigate the specific notions of integration that were embedded in the official curriculum text and expressed in pedagogical practices in schools implementing the new course. The paper reports case study findings from investigation of the pedagogic meanings that teachers gave to ‘integrated theory and practice’. Data illustrates the varied meanings teachers gave to ‘integration’ and the differences consequently arising in their curriculum planning, teaching and assessment practices associated with the new PES course. Analysis of data informed identification of opportunistic, structured, and investigative ‘integrated’ pedagogies. Discussion pursues the conditions enabling different pedagogical practices to emerge from the new Physical Education Studies course and explores the implications of the different approaches for the learning opportunities provided to students. The paper presents a case for further engagement with the pedagogical expression of Arnold’s framework by curriculum developers, researchers, teacher educators and teachers.
Nomadic subjectivity, identity and agency: An ethnographic study of veiled Muslim women studying in Western Australian universities
Jyoti Keshwani (Joy)
Cultural racism, discrimination and stereotyping continue to raise debates and controversies across the current social, political and academic spectrum. This research will examine the experiences of veiled Muslim women studying in Western Australian Universities against the backdrop of Islamophobia. The research will investigate how a group of Muslim women understand, experience and respond to contemporary forms of cultural racism and its implications for subjectivity and identity formation. To accomplish this task, the notion of ‘nomadic subjectivity’ (Braidotti, 2011) will provide a lens through which to illuminate the lived experiences of twelve veiled Muslim women.
The research will employ the methodology of critical ethnography drawing on key theoretical ideas from the tradition of post-structuralism and post-colonial theory. It will employ focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews and participant observations to collect data. It will represent these women’s stories with a view to promote an understanding of the cultural, pedagogical and community-related practices required to create a more inclusive society based on the values of cultural diversity, equality, democracy and social justice. It will also help us understand the experiences of these veiled Muslim women who lack a voice in contemporary Australia.
The ‘Trump effect’ on intercultural learning
Liam Lynch and Kara-Jane Lombard
Earlier this year, psychologists Rosemary Sword and Philip Zimbardo updated their findings on the ‘Trump Effect’ – a term they initially used to describe an upsurge in bullying caused by Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric. In their latest work, Sword and Zimbardio found that “the definition of The Trump Effect has expanded to include religious and racial bullying by adults as well as: misogyny, sexual assault, and other socially unacceptable behaviors” (2018). In Australia, there have been concerns that “the dangerous ingredients behind Donald Trump’s rise are creeping up on us as well” (Reynolds, 2016), with the increasing prominence of far-right voices such as Pauline Hanson and Lauren Southern, the movement a pro-white identity, and alarm that multiculturalism and immigration have caused a lack of social cohesion.
In the context of this political and cultural climate, Liam and Kara-Jane consider student responses to intercultural learning in a WA university. Their research focuses on Culture to Cultures, a first year core unit in the BA and Mass Communication courses at Curtin University. The unit asks students to reflect of their engagement with other cultures, cultural background, and identity; explore Indigenous knowleges, perspectives, and values; and critique cultural positionings and colonial forms of knowledge. Liam and Kara-Jane are particularly interested in the polarised student responses to the unit that have emerged in the last couple of years, and hostile reactions to the content and philosophy of the unit.
A failure of ‘grammasive’ proportions: How my hypothesis became an ‘hypothesisn’t’
Frustrated by perpetual media and government attacks on the perceived lack of teacher knowledge with respect to grammar, I decided to go out and prove the critics wrong. Overcoming reticence expressed by supervisors on testing teachers (Does any teacher really want to know how they would go on a primary level NAPLAN Language Conventions Test?), I developed a test on grammar terminology derived from the National Curriculum: English and primary level NAPLAN questions. Drawing upon the skills and attributes developed while teaching children excluded from mainstream settings, I bribed, begged and duped 69 pre-service and 47 in-service teachers into participating in the questionnaire so that comparisons could be made on what teachers actually know about what they are required to teach in WA primary schools. These findings were placed within a qualitative paradigm that explored similarities and differences regarding their values and beliefs with respect to grammar, what it is and whether and how it should be taught. In this presentation, you are invited to share in my journey of ill-founded faith in teacher knowledge of grammar. As teachers, we must face limitations of our knowledge and embrace failure so that we can then reinvigorate and reclaim teacher expertise.
Ameliorating reading difficulties in secondary students
Edith Cowan University
National literacy assessment data indicate that approximately 30% of students fail to meet minimum standards for reading. By secondary school, these students are reading three or more years below grade level and have difficulty comprehending secondary texts, thus markedly impairing their chances of success. The recently introduced requirement for all WA students to demonstrate a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy to qualify for secondary school graduation is placing increased pressure on secondary schools to address the literacy difficulties of their students. However, lack of training for secondary teachers in teaching reading, and the time required to improve the reading skills of students who have experienced consistent and long-term reading failure, creates challenges for secondary schools.
The purpose of this research was to evaluate the implementation and efficacy of a Direct Instruction reading program in a Secondary context. Specifically, the research sought to determine the impact of the program on students’ reading skills as well as the strengths and limitations of implementing this program in this context. Data indicated the program had a significant impact on student performance but also highlighted areas of additional consideration for Secondary students with a long history of reading difficulties.
Listening with young children: Enchanted animism of trees, rocks, clouds (and other things)
This presentation introduces the notion of enchanted animism, contending that an enchanted re-animation of the world may be necessary for learning to live on a damaged planet. The presentation draws on a project with young children which invited them to share what they thought was ‘good’ in the outdoor spaces at their early learning centre. These encounters revealed children’s relationship with nonhuman elements which seemed to be calling in and enchanting children. In particular, children’s playful animation of so-called inanimate things – trees, rocks, clouds – allowed an egalitarian view of the world in which both humans and nonhumans were seen to be engaged in intentional projects. The presentation argues that enchanted animism kindles children’s sensitivity to Earthly processes, enabling them to listen to the Earth more attentively, with the awareness and responsiveness that a planetary crisis demands.
Teachers’ perceptions of effective secondary mathematics teaching through the lens of the ‘actions’ of mathematics: The Proficiency Strands
Department of Education, University of Notre Dame Australia
This research examined how 14 Western Australian (WA) secondary mathematics teachers perceived effective mathematics teaching through the actions of teaching mathematics, described as Proficiency Strands. The research used an analysis of perceptions of effective teaching practice, beliefs about the importance of teaching mathematics, participants’ regular classroom practices, participants’ background tertiary mathematics experience, length of teaching and participant familiarity with the language of the Proficiency Strands in the WA curriculum. Comparisons were made using an interpretive theoretical perspective of an instrumental case study and analysed using a structured inductive framework with thematic analysis. The research found that participants’ beliefs and practices did help determine their perceptions of effective teaching but that understanding and interpretation of mathematical proficiencies were less influential and inconsistently understood. There was evidence that mathematical proficiencies are incorrectly regarded in a hierarchical sense. There is no evidence that teaching experience affected participants’ understanding of mathematical proficiencies but there was evidence that participants’ lesson planning focused on classroom management and lesson content and less on the mathematical goals of the lesson.
Shared history/ies but divided memory/ies? Frameworks for teaching and approaching contested histories
In late-March 2016 splashed across the front page of The Daily Telegraph was the headline: ‘Whitewash: UNSW Rewrites the History books to state Cook “invaded” Australia’. The article continued on page 3, ‘Nutty professors want to Cook the record books’. The subject of the article and the outrage was the University of New South Wales School of Teacher Education Indigenous terminology guide. The views of the Daily Telegraph were echoed by commercial radio hosts who criticised the guidelines calling them “rubbish” and “political-correctness-gone-mad”. What most incensed both the Daily Telegraph journalists and the radio hosts were the suggestions Australia was not discovered by Cook and it was not “settlement” but “invasion”. Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham issued a government response ‘[…] universities enjoy autonomy when it comes to academic concepts and what they teach their students. Universities should be places where ideas are contested and open to debate, nonetheless, with autonomy comes a responsibility to keep in touch with community expectations and provide an accurate reflection of our history.’
Issued in 1996, the Guidelines were only deemed controversial when republished in 2016. This paper will consider the context to ask why? And, in response to Birmingham, consider how divided memories of what are considered shared or collective histories can be taught and treated in our classrooms. To do so I take direction from the work of John Foot in Italy’s Divided Memory, which considers the effect of these clashes and contestations and how they are dealt with in everyday life.
Resilience and emotions: Teacher strategies for managing heightened emotions
Emily Poulton and Susan Beltman
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Teacher resilience is a prevalent issue in the education literature and one that is of particular relevance to teachers. Identifying characteristics and strategies used by teachers who demonstrate resilience is becoming of greater focus than that on teacher attrition. The aim of this study is to identify the strategies teachers use when experiencing heightened emotions, and to determine if these strategies contain themes that align with other practices of managing heightened emotions. Responses were collected through the emotion module of the Building Resilience in Teacher Education (BRiTE) program, and were qualitatively analysed using a constant comparative method. The findings show that the most common strategy identified by teachers to manage heightened emotions is breathing. Additional strategies include a general assessment of the situation and considering one’s perspective and response. Across the strategies, a chronological feature is apparent; some of the strategies are to be used immediately after recognising heightened emotion, while other are to be used after a period of time. While teachers state some of the strategies recommended in the BRiTE modules they had completed, their strategies identified have significant similarities to functional coping strategies, as well as techniques common to the practices of mindfulness and decentering. These similarities between the strategies for managing heightened emotions identified by teachers to coping and to practices of mindfulness and decentering have implications for future research regarding teacher professional learning, particularly with respect to teacher resilience and wellbeing.
Whose voices are missing: The impact of the politicking of early childhood STEM
Edith Cowan University
The focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – STEM – has grown in Australia and internationally as the component subject areas have been linked to innovation and the future productivity of developed countries. An inherent difficulty of this type of narrow focus, is that government policy and therefore funding are allocated to a particular area and if a voice is missing from the debate, it loses out. In the case of STEM, one missing voice is that of the early years of education as being critical to developing knowledge, skills and dispositions that may enhance these areas into the future.
This presentation focuses on a review of Australian government policy and advisory documents as well as government spending in the area of STEM. Using online word-clouds, key terms were identified in the documents to see where early childhood education featured. The results showed very minimal recognition of the role of the early years within this focus thus raising the concern related to the missed opportunities to support and fund initiatives within these critical early years. The missing voice of early childhood in the debate has political repercussions that highlight the plight of groups within these debates.
Who I am and who I can become: Applying a critical lens to schooling and identity
As many have articulated, schools are an important site for identity formation. Through the processes of schooling, students are organised into categories on the basis of performance, categories that purport to say something about their capacity to achieve. Accordingly, achievements are readily understood to signify the identification of legitimising truths, truths that serve to say something about who students ‘are’, but perhaps more importantly, who they can ‘become’. The very idea that students comprise pre-existing and tangible qualities will be presented here as a construct of the psychological lenses endorsed by schools, through which abilities have come to be viewed. It will be argued that abilities – and the identities that are enabled and constrained by their presumed pre-existence – are less a ‘discovery’ than they are a ‘product’ of the technologies that make them a reality. Such a view gives rise to the notion that what schools reveal about students through measurement is situated and occasioned and can therefore change. Not only does this lead us to question the unequal distribution of educational opportunities presented to students on the basis of performance, it also gives rise to the emergence alternative future realities for many students.
“This is how we learn”: Children’s perspectives of childhood and learning
School of Education, Edith Cowan University
Children are first hand witnesses of their childhood and experiences of learning. However, children’s perspectives are seldom sought by educators, who traditionally hold views of children as innocent, and dependent upon adults who “know what’s best” to foster their well-being and future trajectories. This research seeks to raise the credibility of young children’s voices, by viewing them as active agents in the construction of childhood and learning.
Seventeen public school children from a Pre-primary class in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia were interviewed in a small preliminary study. Utilising a phenomenological approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted that explored children’s constructions of childhood and how they believe people learn. The children’s responses revealed a contradiction in being in their first year of compulsory schooling. Children identified childhood as a time of play and freedom, but recognised school-work and learning as important new responsibilities. The children’s perspectives reflected the socio-cultural impact of their ecological system in shaping their understanding of school and learning. The findings further illuminated a child’s capacity to communicate to educators the specific experiences that they associated with the learning process, and the impact of diverse learning contexts and conditions upon their motivation to learn.
This study assists in bridging the gap between child and adult held beliefs and moves toward the co-construction of new understandings of childhood and learning. This shared understanding can be used as a platform for reconsidering adult intentions for children and developing teaching practices that are truly responsive to the contemporary young learner.
Science inquiry pedagogy in upper primary and lower secondary Australian classrooms
Keryn Sturrock, Amanda Woods-McConney and Deborah Pino-Pasternak
Email: K.Sturrock@murdoch.edu.au; A.Woods-McConney@murdoch.edu.au; D.PinoPasternak@murdoch.edu.au
Science inquiry is considered best practice for science learning and teaching and is fundamental to the science curriculum in a number of countries including Australia. A decline in student science performance and post-compulsory enrolment in science disciplines has prompted the Australian government to implement strategies to improve student attainment and engagement, and support teachers in their endeavours to facilitate effective pedagogy, including an inquiry approach to science learning and teaching. Current science education literature supports an inquiry approach but there is still much to learn about how inquiry is enacted in science classrooms. This research uses a qualitative approach to investigate how teachers enact science inquiry and the reasons why they choose to enact certain inquiry pedagogies. To better understand what is happening in science classrooms, and teachers’ views on what is happening, 20 primary and secondary teachers will be observed during 60 science lessons. Interviews with the teachers to discuss their reasoning for their practice will occur after the classroom observations. Findings from this study will contribute to a better understanding of science inquiry features that are currently implemented in classrooms, may inform teachers’ pedagogy, and contribute to sharing best practice as stated in the Australian National STEM School Education Strategy.
Enhancing students’ metacognition through teachers’ two-way feedback interaction
School of Human Sciences, University of Western Australia
Peter R. Whipp
School of Education, Murdoch University
Business School, University of Western Australia
Niels Van Quaquebeke
Management Department, Kühne Logistics University, Germany
Two-way interactive feedback, whilst under-researched, potentially serves to facilitate active learners. Originating in business leadership research, Respectful Inquiry (RI) provides an innovative lens to evaluate teacher-student feedback interaction. Moreover, as teachers’ self-efficacy is catalytic towards learning, and metacognition regarded as a higher order outcome of education, this paper reports expert teachers’ two-way feedback interaction behaviours through RI, perceived learning-related outcomes, self-efficacy for displaying the identified behaviours, and barriers to classroom implementation. Individual interviews with verified expert teachers (N=9) were conducted. Results indicate three new constituents of RI (asking questions, question openness, and active listening). When RI behaviours in two-way feedback are jointly executed, outcomes related to students’ metacognition are enhanced. Barriers of time, class size, and the over-crowded curriculum thwart inquiry-related feedback.
The degree to which English teachers can successfully ‘differentiate’ their teaching practice
Diana van Straalen
My research is inspired by colleagues who have confessed their misgivings about what ‘differentiation’ is, expressed best by one saying: “What on earth is differentiation anyway”? The answer is not easy to find and the misgivings lie initially with whether ‘differentiation’ refers to classroom practice, management and/or design; curriculum design; syllabus design, or all of these singly and together. The documentation is not helpful; nor is an initial engagement with the literature much of it focusing on primary schooling; gifted students, or students with disabilities. So in recognising the gap I have selected specialist lower school English teachers of heterogeneous English classes in Western Australian public schools, many of whom might teach five lower school classes and potentially 150 students on a given day. The purpose of the research is to inform pedagogy and practice, in the contexts of the emerging strategic plan for public schools from 2020; and in turn teacher training. As a result, my questions include:
1. What they understand by the term ‘differentiation’ and then based on these understandings.
2. What they identify as the enablers, and the barriers, to successfully ‘differentiating’ their teaching and learning practices.
The effects of school choices on the Western Australian school system
The University of Western Australia
This research analyses student flows between primary and secondary schools to identify the differing ways that academic results and socioeconomic status influence the composition of the school system. The outcomes of parental choices are observed over a two-decade period in Western Australia which encompasses a surge in enrolments at private secondary schools as the economy boomed and then a recovery in enrolments at government secondary schools as the economy cooled. This research finds evidence that parents take into account academic results when choosing schools. However, they also take into account SES and in doing so are increasing the size of high SES relative to low SES government secondary schools. There is also some indication that average academic results are diverging between high and low SES government secondary schools.