Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

14th Annual Research Forum
at University of Notre Dame, 19 Mouat Street, Fremantle
Friday 27 and Saturday 28 August

Forum 1999 Abstracts

Listed in alphabetical order by author. [ Schedule ] [ Proceedings ]


Session A.5
What happens when an industry appointment develops course units for a 3-year undergraduate programme (Bachelor of Multimedia)? Is there a difference in approach?

Jennie Bickmore Brand and Marjolein Towler
Murdoch University

As an Industry appointment to Murdoch, Marjolein has approached the development of both the individual units and the programme as a whole very much from an industry perspective. Asked what her philosophy of teaching was during the job application interview, "I could not really answer that. I had simply never had to consider my profession from that perspective. What I do know is what I would expect from a multimedia professional working in industry. I have developed my course units entirely working back from that perspective." Multimedia development requires its professionals to have a set of very broad skills related to the technology (hardware/software), project management (most multimedia production is project work), client/contractor interaction, and creative abilities (graphics development). In addition, it requires them to understand on a much deeper level of what it is that is being produced, how it communicates and why, what responsibility that bring and why, how to 'translate' client needs to workable projects and appropriate products. Assessment is project driven. All the assessment work during the unit is incremental and works towards a final product at the end. Students work on real projects for actual clients (on campus, charities, not for profit, non-profit).

This session will discuss how pedagogical issues of "good practice" developed during the evolution of the course, and how the university system was negotiated around.

[ Schedule Session A ]


Session E.1
Managing oral to literate language development: Strategies for 'children at risk' in early childhood education

Carmel Bochenek
University of Notre Dame Australia

Most children starting kindergarten at 3-4 years of age have adequate speech, language and listening skills to learn. They are expected to become aware of oral language as the base that literacy is built on, and to be literate by about 8 years of age.

A review of the literature confirms that this 'transition' from oral to literate language; is difficult for many children. Specific problems with oral language are thought to 'cause' literacy difficulty. Recent literature, school experience and clinical records suggest that oral to literate language development is a complex process, not simply a linear one.

This research will analyse the oral and literate language status of children (from kindy through to year 3) and document the management of "children at risk of literacy failure". An Action Research design will be used to examine oral-literate interactions and to facilitate 'best practice' in one double stream primary school.

[ Schedule Session E ]


Session F.4
Evaluating the effectiveness of online learning using a new Web based learning instrument

Vanessa Chang
Curtin University of Technology

In today's educational context, the delivery of education via the Internet or Web based learning is not a new concept. In fact, this medium of education delivery is much sought after by students and many academics now accept and use this environment. The opportunity now exists for educators to look more closely at the effectiveness and appropriateness of a Web based learning environment. Educators need to equip themselves with instruments that allow the effectiveness of Web based learning to be evaluated.

This paper describes the development of a new Web based learning environment evaluation instrument. Apart from demographics and general background information, this instrument is divided into four main aspects. The first three are adapted from Tobin's (1998) clusters of emancipatory activities, co-participatory activities and qualia. The fourth aspect of the instrument focuses on information structure and the design of online material.

[ Schedule Session F ]


Session D.5
Web based learning environment: The preferred choice?

Kum Leng Chin
Curtin University of Technology

The introduction of Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) in educational delivery has attracted the attention of educators from around the world. However, the most important question still remains unanswered: Is this really what the students want? Do students perceive this learning environment will enhance their learning experiences and improve learning outcomes?

The aim of this study is to gain an insight on how students perceive and receive the use of Internet and the World Wide Web in teaching and learning. Previous studies on students' perceptions of web based teaching and learning indicated that the use of the Internet/WWW in teaching is well received by students in general. This study examines students' perceptions of web based learning environment including its perceived usefulness, students' learning experiences, aspects of quality and design issues and others. Five groups of students, studying in different areas, participated in the study. Results of the study reveal that students' responses were very consistent across all groups when asked about students' preferred choice of learning environments. Despite the general approval of using the Internet/WWW to supplement teaching, the majority of students participated in the study still prefer face to face classroom teaching than learning solely from the web.

[ Schedule Session D ]


Session F.3
Science kids surf the Net: Effects on classroom environment

Dan Churach
St Mary's College, Broome

Darrell Fisher
Curtin University of Technology

This study marks the first attempt to examine the extent and nature of Internet usage and its impact on the constructivist learning environment and students' attitudes towards science. The authors hypothesise that Internet usage and online connections in secondary science classroom could prove to have enormous positive impact on partially alleviating the process versus content dichotomy.

The study included a sample of 431 students in five Hawaii Catholic high schools and data were collected using site observations, student interviews, teacher interviews, and a survey. The survey consisted of an inventory of student Internet usage and a previously validated classroom environment questionnaire, the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey. The paper reports the associations found between student Internet usage and the constructivist classroom environment with a special emphasis placed on qualitative findings revealed through observation and interview. One intriguing finding is the almost total acceptance by students of the Internet as an educational resource. Student interview data suggested that this new technology has moved past the innovative stage and into the mainstream of daily educational routine. The authors have found that student attitudes, as well as individual feelings of self control and personal relevance seem to be enhanced by the use of the Internet, allowing students to construct unique meaning on a personal level.

[ Schedule Session F ]


Session A.3
Constructivist and Montessorian perspectives on student autonomy and freedom

Eva Dobozy
Murdoch University

In recent years many educational theorists have advocated a more active form of teaching and learning commonly referred to as constructivism. Montessori schools in Western Australia are independent schools, which play an important part in the maintenance of educational diversity. People who are looking for alternatives to the technical rational model of teaching and learning have been attracted to progressive educational systems such as Montessori schools. The recent shift in the theory of knowledge or epistemology in the field of education has made the potential benefits of investigating alternative educational practices such as Montessori schools even more relevant. The aim of this study was to describe, interpret and appraise the emphasis of student autonomy and freedom in Maria Montessori's work and Montessori teachers interpretation and application of this phenomenon. In this paper, I discuss some of the findings of this study and also explore some arguments presented on the general issue of knowledge acquisition, particularly why many educational theorists in recent years have parted with the teacher centered, technical model of instruction, which is understood as mere transmission or dissemination of information and knowledge to a more active, child centered form of teaching and learning.

The commonalities that constructivism and the Montessori philosophy of child freedom share is the focus of this paper. Montessori teachers perceptions on concepts such as student's self esteem, control empowerment and intrinsic motivation are discussed. The findings have methodological significance in that they demonstrate that the teachers appear to be able to let go of control and they are viewing children as agents of power and knowledge, which is in direct correspondence with granting them autonomy, respect and responsibility - and that both, teachers and students love being at school. The focus of this study has been the teachers' use of power and their authority rather than the content of what was taught.

[ Schedule Session A ]


Session D.3
Software engineering education: Setting and meeting goals

K. W. Duley, S. P. Maj and A. Fetherston
Edith Cowan University

Software engineering has been defined as 'the practical application of scientific knowledge in the design and construction of computer programs and the associated documentation required to develop, operate and maintain them'. On considering the many cases where software is delivered late, over budget and with unsatisfactory functionality, the authors are currently surveying the software industry and tertiary educational institutions to identify current states of practice and effectiveness, seeking reasons for and solutions to these problems. Our objective is to establish a regime within which tertiary education both serves the needs of industry (in terms of graduate skills) and provides a lead in the development of the industry (in terms on new technologies and methodologies) to the benefit of both parties. Preliminary surveys at Edith Cowan University on the effectiveness of software engineering education have been completed.

This paper lists core concepts of software engineering, examines the teaching methodology currently employed in teaching those concepts and comments on the results of the preliminary research.

[ Schedule Session D ]


Session C.1
The strange case of the disappearing teachers: Reflections on ethnographic research in a critical world

Martin Forsey
The University of Western Australia

In dramatic representations of school life, be they film, television, advertisements or books, teachers tend to be the secondary players, shadowy caricatures against which the real characters, the students, are grown and developed. Curiously this is also the case in many ethnographic renderings of school life. The failure of many school ethnographers to present rich accounts of teacher world views and practice stands in stark contrast to the ideals of ethnographic research, where the production of holistic, empathetic, and deeply relational accounts of cultural systems is supposed to be de rigueur. A partial explanation for this phenomenon can be found in the research agenda of the criticalists who tend to valorise student resistance, and in the process paint teachers into the backdrops of a social drama in which student needs and concerns are paramount.

[ Schedule Session C ]


Session B.5
How do I actually learn? A questionnaire for (co)participatory learning in the presence of technology

Patricia A. Forster
Curtin University of Technology

The subject of this paper is the rationale and development, based on classroom observations, of a student questionnaire for secondary school mathematics students who were using graphics calculators as a matter of routine. The questions are consistent with sociocultural views of learning. The questionnaire could be adapted easily for other subjects and for non-technology based environments. Ways in which the questionnaire has been used for research and teaching purposes are described.

[ Schedule Session B ]


Session C.3
Open ended investigations in Year 9 Science

Pam Garnett
Edith Cowan University

This presentation will address some aspects of the presenter's PhD research titled Open ended investigations in Year 9 Science: Instruction and Assessment. A programme of 30 lessons was implemented in three classes to develop students' skills at planning and conducting investigations, processing data and evaluating the findings of investigations. Different assessment procedures were used in each of the classes. Data were gathered using pre and posttests, teacher and student interviews, questionnaires and videos.

Discussion will focus on the research methodology associated with interpreting data from multiple sources; the ways students attended to results that were inconsistent with their original hypotheses, and a comparison of the effects of different assessment regimes (teacher assessed norm referenced, teacher assessed criterion referenced and student assessed criterion referenced) on the development of students' investigation competencies.

[ Schedule Session C ]


Session C.2
Young children as research participants: Exploring the issues

Janet Hunter and Anna Sullivan
Edith Cowan University

The old theatre adage "never work with animals or children" is an indicator of the unpredictability of events when working with young children. Yet an emerging trend in educational research is to engage children as active participants in the research process. In this presentation, two researchers who have conducted research projects with children will explore some issues which may pose potential difficulties when using children as research participants. The children in these projects were 5 and 6 years old, and 9 and 10 years old respectively.

Issues include children understanding the purpose of the research, the status of the researchers in the classrooms, developing relationships between the researchers and the children, and data collection techniques. Other issues relate to the ages and cultural background of the children, some of whom were Aboriginal.

The presenters will discuss ways in which these issues may be addressed when conducting research with young children. Additionally, the presentation will provide a forum for interested researchers to contribute ideas, knowledge and experiences to enhance the discussion.

[ Schedule Session C ]


Session B.3
Teaching computer and network technology to multimedia students

Gurpreet Kohli and Paul Maj
Edith Cowan University

There are many rapid changes in computer and network technologies that places a considerable demand on curriculum design. One response to this challenge is the fragmentation of computer science into many new disciplines such as multimedia, information technologies etc. These disciplines require a curriculum that provides an understanding of appropriate technologies. However the authors have found the standard approach to teaching such technologies, failing to meet both student and employer expectations. Students must be provided with the necessary declarative and procedural knowledge appropriate to their discipline. This paper presents the results of implementing a new curriculum for teaching computer and network technology to multimedia students with recommendations for its general implementation in other universities. It is based on a new model for describing computers and networks which has proved ideal not only as the basis of a constructivism educational framework but also for defining the operational characteristics of multimedia equipment in more readily understood parameters. At the completion of this new curriculum students are able to meet employer expectations. Students have both the knowledge to understand and the skills to manipulate multimedia equipment (DVD, flat base scanner, Zip disk , Intra red communication link etc) to a professionally acceptable standard.

[ Schedule Session B ]


Session B.2
Challenges of participatory research

Elizabeth Nafula Kuria
Edith Cowan University

Recently, participatory approaches have been promoted as contributing to improvement of people's well being in health, nutrition included. This paper attempts to pinpoint the challenges faced in undertaking a participatory research. The paper is a result of my on going PhD study on "Participatory community nutrition education: A Kenyan experience". The main concern of this study is that nutrition has been promoted through the child growth monitoring promotion at the community level in Kenya, however no analysis of participation in the program has been done. One of the purposes of the study was to provide information that could lead to an understanding of the effects of participatory research in the program. A literature search was conducted to understand community nutrition education and participatory process. Few studies were found employing participatory process in nutrition promotion through the child growth monitoring. Data were collected by myself and community health workers and nutrition field workers from participants of Ngoliba child growth monitoring and four community health workers. Twenty one participants and four community health workers responded to open ended interviews. Focus group interviews, observations of the child growth monitoring sessions, in depth interviews and conversations provided data in the study. The research participants participated in most of the research process.

Although the analysis of the study is not yet completed, the results so far indicated that participatory research contributes to immediate use of findings from the study by the participants and contributes to their empowerment. In spite of these positive outcomes, there are challenges of the process related to time, conflict, ethical considerations and ownership of knowledge generated through such an approach.

[ Schedule Session B ]


Session D.4
Changing the curriculum: Does it ever get any easier?

Clare McBeath
Curtin University of Technology

Fullan (1982, 1991) mentioned the history of change as a determinant which can affect the success of curriculum change. The implication of this is that teachers cope with curriculum change better when they have had some previous experience of the processes and have learned to work collaboratively towards successful implementation. A corollary of this is that unsuccessful or unpleasant experiences in the past will lead to increased teacher resistance in any future attempts at change.

Curriculum reform in the training sector this decade has included the introduction of competency based training and testing, industry defined competencies, modularisation of courses, flexibility of delivery and national descriptors of levels of Awards. More recently there have been the training packages.

Following on from earlier research spanning most of this decade, a recent study looked at staff reactions to curriculum change in two study areas at a local TAFE college. These were the Electrical and Furniture trades. Both were introducing national curriculum directives according to the Australian Training Reform Agenda. Electrical staff, however were doing it for the second time after a disruptive and unsuccessful attempt eight years earlier, while the Furniture trades were experiencing the innovations for the first time. This presentation will explore the issues.

[ Schedule Session D ]


Session A.4
Getting serious about Grounded Theory

Angela McCarthy
University of Notre Dame Australia

Grounded theory, as a methodology, has attracted both intense interest and criticism since developed by Anselm Strauss and Barney Glaser in the 60s. The manner in which it still incites division, even amongst its enthusiasts, holds a fascination. Getting serious about Grounded Theory however, is a very exacting process and the researcher needs to be serious about it to achieve even a partial understanding of the process of theory building.

When faced with the issue of choice of methodology it seems easy to fall into the trap of allowing the procedures to rule the question. In studying the phenomenon of parents choosing Catholic secondary schools for their children, Grounded Theory offers a way of receiving data and analysing it to form a theory in a very rigorous and exacting manner. Many studies have been completed about choice of schooling but all available have used quantitative methods of collecting and analysing the data. Using a qualitative method such as Grounded Theory will allow this interesting phenomenon to be seen in a multi dimensional perspective. Grounded Theory allows the stories that contextualise the choice to build data of great richness from which a theory will emerge.

"Getting serious about Grounded Theory" offers an insight into the choice of methodology and its interrelatedness with the phenomenon being studied.

[ Schedule Session A ]


Session E.3
Aboriginal health workers and their ways of working with Aboriginal families

Gerard McKelvie
Murdoch University

Although Aboriginal health workers are considered to be the key to improvements in Aboriginal health, little research has been generated on their professional practice with Aboriginal families. A grounded theory research design was utilised to explore and describe the ways in which Aboriginal health workers work with Aboriginal families. A purposive sample of fourteen Aboriginal health workers from a variety of Aboriginal health facilities and community health centres within the Perth metropolitan area and regional centres in Western Australia participated in this study. Data for the study were obtained from the transcripts of tape recorded interviews, field observations, memos and documentary analysis of related documents. This research design enabled the participants' perceptions, attitudes, beliefs and experiences with the Aboriginal families to be unveiled and assisted in an understanding of the phenomenon.

An Aboriginal Reference Group was established to support the researcher and to ensure for the cultural appropriateness of conducting the study. The findings of this study revealed the emergence of a core category labelled as cultural connecting. Cultural connecting led to the implementation of culturally appropriate strategies that facilitated the creation of a milieu of mutual trust, openness and acceptance enabling successful family health outcomes to be achieved. The core category was a strategy utilised by the Aboriginal health workers to deal with the basic social problem that they experienced.

[ Schedule Session E ]


Session E.2
Implementation of a collaborative learning framework within an individualised curriculum

Gregory Munyard
Murdoch University

This research sought to apply a framework of collaborative learning skills to children's learning from within an individualised, self paced curriculum. The premise underlying the research was Vygotskyian learning theory that learning is socially constructed, best undertaken when children are in communication with one another within their zone of proximal development. The object behind the research was to identify the structures that were evident in the learning process that impeded communication to bring about a process of formalised change through action inquiry, and then to document those changes and the findings.

This entailed large changes to the physical structure of the classroom, the approach of staff in facilitating learning, and the students in dealing with the changes to gain positive learning experiences. The overall result has been a relaxation of tight procedures enabling staff and students to communicate more freely and with less stress. Staff have felt the relief that students are able to offer through the collegial assistance the students can provide to one another. Students have experienced the greater freedom that can be gained by assisting others and not having to wait for a teacher. Student changes also incorporated attitudinal shifts to enable them to view their own worth as educational resources to other members of the class.

[ Schedule Session E ]


Session F.1
A learning environment study of tertiary classrooms

Chenicheri Sid. Nair and Darrell L. Fisher
Curtin University of Technology

The purpose of this study was to modify and validate a new form of the College and University Classroom Environment Inventory (CUCEI), and to then use it to compare students' and instructors' actual and preferred perceptions of their science classroom learning environments at the tertiary level of education. The modifications to the CUCEI included personalising the items before it was used to assess the perceptions of students and adding two new scales, namely, Cooperation and Equity. The reliabilities of the scales of the modified CUCEI ranged from 0.73 to 0.94. Student's perceptions of their classrooms at the tertiary level indicated a preference for a more favourable learning environment in all areas measured by the seven scales in the CUCEI. Female and male students perceived their classroom environments similarly. Mature students in the classes perceived their classroom more positively on two scales, Task Orientation and Equity. Instructors in all the science classes generally perceived their environment more favourably than their students.

[ Schedule Session F ]


Session C.4
Portable computers supporting secondary school learning

Paul Newhouse
Edith Cowan University

There are convincing arguments for the integration of computer applications into school programs but after more than 30 years of increasing investment there has been very little impact on the experiences of students in schools. In the 1990s, significant developments in computer technology have been the emergence of low cost, high powered portable computers, and improvements in the capabilities and operation of computer networks (eg. Intranets and the accessibility of the Internet). It is not clear that these developments will have any more impact on school based learning than any of the previous developments in computer technology. This paper discusses the findings of an initial three year evaluation of the use of portable computers in a secondary school in Perth, Western Australia, and information from a recent follow up study. In particular the perceptions of students in their final year of secondary school will be presented. Most of these students have had a portable computer for all of their secondary school years.

[ Schedule Session C ]


Session E.5
Teaching for transfer. Transfer of whose learning?

Kim Pitts-Hill (Swan Education District)
Jennie Bickmore-Brand (Murdoch University)

The research findings from each of the classrooms in this study raise important issues when applied to two current popular practices in education namely the employment of group work and heuristics to enhance student learning. In regard to the first popular practice of employing group work to enhance student learning, these research findings revealed that classroom dynamics and teacher-student relationships can actually work against achieving positive effects from groupwork activities and problem solving. The second trend, particularly employed in the maths and science areas is that of teaching a heuristics to enhance student learning. These research findings revealed that the problem solving approaches of the students were so idiosyncratic as to question the validity or at the very least challenge the notion of transfer of heuristics to settings outside the framework.

[ Schedule Session E ]


Session A.2
The importance of family for private girls' schools in Western Australia up to 1945

Noreen Riordan
The University of Western Australia

It could be said that the importance of family for private girls' schools, or any schools in Western Australia at any time, is self evident, because without families there would be no need for schools. The families of pupils of private girls' schools in Western Australia from foundation to the end of World War II were, perhaps, more important, because they were forced to play a more pivotal role in shaping the lives of the girls in their car due to the different social, economic and political environment of the time.

Families in the context of this paper can mean different things according to circumstances like: families of teachers; the economic or social position of families and or teachers; generations of families and or teachers; benefactors of families or particular girls; employment opportunities for and of families; and the lack of families. This Works in Progress paper points out how all these different aspects of family converged in various ways to rear (in some cases) and educate girls in private girls' schools, without any government assistance, so that they could take their places in, and make a contribution to, society of the time.

[ Schedule Session A ]


Session F.5
The role of public opinion on the subjects of educational research

Peter Roguszka
University of Notre Dame

Educational research almost invariably inquires into what the phenomena of education are. My recent research was inspired by the very different question of why an educational phenomenon occurred. The findings of the research show that public opinion plays a significant role in generating the phenomena we see occurring in education. In reaching this conclusion it was necessary to examine the nature of public opinion and how it is generated. Important in understanding the generation of public opinion is knowledge of how opinions are formed, developed and changed in the individual. In this process there comes a point at which it is impossible for the individual to have first hand knowledge of all the factors that combine to create an understanding of social life on which to base opinions. It is at this point that an elite discourse, provided by the wide range of information and entertainment media, becomes important in providing the information on which the development and change of opinions are based. To have an understanding of this process and the nature of elite discourse can be a very useful tool in making sense of the educational phenomena researchers seek to understand by explaining the reasons for their occurrence.

[ Schedule Session F ]


Session C.5
Using telephone interviews to explore transfer of complex teaching strategies by newly graduated teachers

Shelley Scott
Curtin University of Technology

This article examines the use of telephone interview techniques in collecting data on classroom teaching practices. The findings are based on research conducted over a period of three consecutive years during which graduate teachers were interviewed over the telephone, regarding their transfer of a selection of teaching skills and strategies. The effectiveness of the teaching and learning processes in the graduates' professional preparation course was examined by ascertaining the amount of transfer by graduate teachers of complex teaching strategies into their regular teaching classroom practices. Additionally, graduates' self-efficacy and implementation of appropriate reflective practices within the classroom situation were also examined.

Educational literature tends to categorise telephone interview methodology as suitable only for collecting data regarding attitudes and perceptions or items that are 'subjective' (Spector, 1994). This study examined the merits of utilising telephone interviews for collecting information regarding respondents' performances and classroom experiences and found it to be a satisfactory technique for verifying performance indicators. It had many advantages, including, higher response rates, increased access to a widespread sample or population, minimal cost in comparison to other methods and, a relative anonymity that appeared to be less threatening to respondents and encouraged them to be more voluble. The validity and reliability of the results rested primarily on the strength of the interview instrument and the technique of the interviewer.

[ Schedule Session C ]


Session D.1
Evaluating online teaching from a social constructivist perspective

Peter Taylor and Dorit Maor
Curtin University of Technology

Teachers of science and mathematics Australia wide are being required to transform their established epistemologies of practice in order to engage learners as active conceptualisers within socially interactive learning environments. Many teachers are enrolling in higher degree distance education programs to assist them with this challenging task. Universities are responding by using computer mediated communication to speed up the exchange of study materials and to provide online interactive learning environments (via chat groups, bulletin boards and email).

For the past 3 years, we have been using the Internet to teach online postgraduate students studying at a distance from Curtin. A major pedagogical goal is to engage our students (professional teachers) in reflective and collaborative learning. Our separate web sites provide Discussion/Activity Rooms in which we engage students in frequent and focused discourse with each other and with their online tutors. As reflective teachers, we are keen to evaluate our own innovative practices and constantly improve them. To this end, we have designed the Constructivist Online Learning Environment Survey (COLLES), an electronic questionnaire that enables us to readily monitor each student's preferred online learning environments and compare them with her/his actual experiences. In this presentation, we outline the rationale of the questionnaire and present some recent analyses that illustrate its usefulness.

[ Schedule Session D ]


Session F.2
The assessment of lower secondary school students in Western Australia: from Junior Certificate to Achievement Certificate 1946-1972

Kaye Tully
Curtin University of Technology

Often educationists explain changes in assessment policy by way of improved measuring techniques, making students' results more meaningful and the need to accommodate curriculum change. Such explanations ignore the historical legacy. Between 1970 and 1972 the newly established Board of Secondary Education introduced a new credential into Western Australian schools. The Achievement Certificate was a cumulative record of the student's lower secondary schooling. It replaced the Public Examinations Board's (PEB) Junior Certificate examination and the Education Department's school based High School Certificate. The reform resulted from the implementation of recommendations made by the Committee on Secondary Education in 1969. This committee identified antecedent activity beginning in 1952. The changes, however, had earlier historical roots.

The introduction of universal secondary education in 1946 and chronological promotion in the primary schools produced an unfamiliar high school population. The gradual vocationalisation of the Junior Certificate syllabus encouraged non-academic students to remain in school beyond the school leaving age of 14 years. In 1956, the PEB informed the Senate of the University of Western Australia that it could no longer afford to accommodate the proliferation of Junior Certificate examination candidates. It was then that the search for new curricula and assessment procedures for the lower secondary school became a priority for educators.

[ Schedule Session F ]


Session B.4
Handmaidens of literacy: Gender issues in higher education literacy provision

Julienne van Loon
Curtin University of Technology

Various industry bodies, government white papers and university policies point to the importance of supporting and developing communication skills in Australian university graduates. Why then is the literacy sector in higher education still staffed largely by women on fractional and/or short term contracts for whom promotion is systematically challenging? Why is it that communication skills departments or learning centres remain on the peripheries of larger Faculties or Schools and continue to be treated as 'service' sectors rather than academically integral and professionally respected disciplines? Is the well documented lack of productive partnerships between tertiary literacy educators and their senior colleagues in various fields a result of relations of gender/power? This paper examines some of the challenges faced by the language and literacy sector on campus, particularly in relation to gender issues.

[ Schedule Session B ]


Session E.4
A framework for analysing 'quality' policy

Lesley Vidovich
The University of Western Australia

On the global scene, 'quality' has achieved metadiscourse status during the 1990s across both private and public sectors, and education is no exception. 'Quality' has provided a powerful legitimating tool for restructuring education, but it is a complex and contested phenomenon which requires careful dissection in situ in its localised context.

This paper presents the findings of an analysis of quality policy processes in Australian higher education of the 1990s using a modified theoretical framework of a policy trajectory (Bowe, Ball and Gold, 1992; Ball 1994) which distinguishes contexts of influence, policy text production and practice (effects). Documents and interviews provide data on quality policy processes which extend from the global context (macro level) to individual institutions (micro level).

Despite considerable localised variation in quality policy processes at individual universities, evidence is presented that the 'big picture' effect of the policy under investigation was to enhance control by Government, albeit within the policy mechanism of 'steering at a distance'. A policy trajectory, derived from the data, is constructed to depict the complex interrelationships between contexts of influence, policy text production and practice in this example, and finally the use of the modified theoretical framework is evaluated.

[ Schedule Session E ]


Session D.2
An exploration and comparison of the effects of the use of narrative in Montessori and non-Montessori Schools

Gayle C. Ward
University of Notre Dame Australia

This qualitative study explores the use of narrative in Montessori and non-Montessori primary school classrooms. An overview of narrative literature supports the contention that narrative is a key tool in meaning construction as we use fictional and nonfictional stories to prioritise events and identify conflict and resolution. Story, as both a mirror of a culture and a means to understanding that culture, is a natural interdisciplinary bridge. The capacity of story to create and enhance meaning also makes it an ideal tool to provide a context for linguistic exploration as well as providing a doorway to view cognitive development. Through in depth interviewing of primary teachers representing varied educational systems, it has been revealed that narrative is being used in our schools for a multitude of philosophic and linguistic purposes. Through data analysis with NUDist software, the researcher is in the process of exploring not only the spectrum of narrative uses, but also the links between schools' philosophies and uses of narrative and between individual teachers' philosophies, experiences and influences and their use of this genre.

[ Schedule Session D ]


Session A.1
Level 3 Classroom Teacher in practice: Teacher and principal perspectives

Helen Wildy, John Wallace and William Louden
Edith Cowan University

This paper reports an investigation into the early stages of the new career structure for the teaching profession in Western Australia. The career structure arose from an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement with the State School Teachers Union and the Education Department of Western Australia, and provides tangible rewards after promotion based on attainment of teaching standards. Teachers were selected on the basis of the completion of a portfolio and participation in a reflective review exercise. Of the 720 Level 3 Classroom Teacher applicants, 230 were selected by independent panels of assessors. In this paper we discuss the results of a survey of all Level 3 Classroom Teachers and the principals of their schools, 18 months after their appointment. Newly appointed Level 3 Classroom Teachers revealed that the roles they negotiated in their schools were based on the five competencies used in their selection. In some cases teachers believed the Level 3 status made no difference to their work, roles or responsibilities. Other Level 3 teachers reported problems with time, unrealistic expectations and the difficulty of establishing meaningful relationships with colleagues. Almost unanimously, Level 3 teachers voiced concern about the future of the new career pathway. Principals reacted positively to the Level 3 teacher experience in their schools.

[ Schedule Session A ]


Session B.1
Statues, lenses and crystals: Looking at qualitative research

Helen Wildy
Edith Cowan University

This paper deals with a study of dilemmas principals face as they deal with the contradictions and pressures of school restructuring. I describe an innovative use of interview data to create narrative accounts. The accounts were analysed to illustrate and explore three dilemmas: the accountability dilemma that principals are accountable for the decisions made by or with others; the autonomy dilemma that principals maintain authority while working collaboratively; and the efficiency dilemma that principals share decision making while using resources in least wasteful ways. In this paper I explain how I conceptualised the study around the central metaphor of a statue - school restructuring - which is viewed through a number of different lenses to reveal different perspectives. The image of the crystal is used to combine symmetry and substance with infinitely varied transmutations and multi dimensionalities, to give a deepened, more complex and thoroughly partial understanding of school restructuring.

[ Schedule Session B ]


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