28th Annual Research Forum
Research Informing Reform
Saturday August 10, 1:00pm-6:00pm
Tannock Hall, The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle
Critical research on teacher professional identity: A Foucauldian perspective
Edith Cowan University
Teacher identity emerged as a research area in teacher education around 25 years ago (Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004). Most of the studies in this area have been conducted within a sociocultural framework which has been associated with a relative neglect of critical issues such as human agency and power (Martin & Peim, 2009). Concerns raised about the prevalence of a ‘what-works’ mentality in teacher education (Apple, 2001) and the recent interest in exploring teacher identity from critical and ethical perspectives (Carson, 2005; Clarke, 2009) highlight the need for framing teacher identity research within a critical paradigm. In this presentation, it will be argued that a Foucauldian perspective can provide a useful framework for critical research on teacher identity. More precisely, certain Foucauldian concepts, namely ‘technologies of the self’, ‘regimes of truth’, ‘power’, ‘resistance’, ‘governmentality’, and ‘panopticism’, will be drawn upon to conceptualise research on teacher identity construction in terms of the competing forces of conformity and agency on the part of teachers and their dynamic interactions with mechanisms of power, market demands, and the standards movement. This conceptual framework will be translated into some research methodological choices, namely research approaches, data sources, and data collection and analysis procedures.
Keywords: critical research, Foucault, teacher identity
Engaging pharmacy students in argumentation: Its impact on critical thinking and conceptual understanding
Argumentation skills are essential generic attributes required by the pharmacy profession in Australia. The teaching of these skills, like many other generic attributes in tertiary education, may not always be explicit in pharmacy courses partly due to the problematic inclusion of these skills within traditional assessment methods.
Using case study methodology and a before-after quasi-experimental design, this study investigated the impact of teaching third year pharmacy students Toulmin’s Argumentation Pattern (TAP). Students were asked to construct an argument that would convince a colleague on their response to a professional practice scenario. Preliminary results indicate that student arguments improved after introduction of TAP. Evidence from the scenario, warrants and backings to support the student’s position appeared to be better coordinated. In addition, arguments produced after teaching TAP scored higher against the marking criteria. Feedback from students indicates they found TAP helpful and all students responded that they believed the method had improved their argument.
Pharmacists operate within a complex framework of not only clinical issues but also ethical, moral and legal obligations. These preliminary results indicate that the teaching of argumentation skills may positively influence the development of critical thinking skills and conceptual understanding of practice issues and improve professional decision-making.
Keywords: Pharmacy education, argumentation, critical thinking
Second-year pre-service primary teachers in service-learning immersion in a remote Aboriginal school
This presentation has two elements. First, it details the methodology underpinning research into the self-perceptions and experiences of eight second-year pre-service teachers living and working for a week in the Tjuntjuntjara remote Aboriginal community and school. Specifically, data collection methods include (a) blogging to gain pre-immersion expectations; (b) journal writing as a means of exploring perceptions and experiences during the week-long immersion; and © a focus group interview post immersion for pre-service teachers to debrief their experiences. Any pre-service teacher who so desired, could also participate in an individual interview. Second, the presentation provides a brief overview of the research findings. These findings fall into three categories: pre-service teachers’ self-perceptions of themselves personally, of themselves professionally, and of their wider understanding of remote Aboriginal education.
Keywords: remote, Aboriginal, teaching, community, needs, service-learning
Critical questioning unsettles white noise in educational research
Roslyn (Rose) Carnes
Critical theory is analytical of itself, its approach and “the social forces that make up its own basis” (Marcuse, 1968: 156). As a product of the dominant social and systemic forces in which it operates, critical educational research also requires such analysis. Reform can be difficult when underlying assumptions of research approaches are themselves shaped in an environment dominated by white noise. As much a systemic issue as an individual one, white noise occurs in the thinking, decision making and communication of dominant Settler cultures in relation to Indigenous people.
This PhD research project has considered what helps and hinders Aboriginal education in Western Australian prisons. Adopting the culturally and academically rigorous method of yarning, the researcher prioritised Indigenous voices in exploring this question. This paper identifies some pivotal challenges the researcher has grappled with such as the subtlety of her own internal white noise and her reactions when her privilege has been confronted or challenged. It presents some crucial questions that have arisen in the research process that could be of assistance to others seeking to conduct culturally appropriate educational research in a way that acknowledges white noise. Pivotal to these questions is asking, “Who says? Who decides?”
Reference: Marcuse, H. (1968). Negations: Essays in critical theory (J. J. Shapiro, Trans.). London: The Penguin Press.
Keywords: critical, race and whiteness, white noise, research methodology
A mobile technology supporting the transition of students from primary to secondary school
University of Notre Dame Australia
The move from primary to secondary school may be considered a rite of passage for students. Research into issues facing students who are negotiating this transition has identified a number of factors with which students frequently struggle. Until quite recently in Western Australia students made this transition at around the age of 13 as they entered Year 8. However, more recently, Independent and Catholic schools have required students to make this transition at the end of Year 6. From 2015 all government school students will commence secondary school in Year 7. Therefore, all students will now be required to cope with transition twelve months earlier.
In order to address organisational and relational issues with which students struggle during transition, a mobile optimised website is currently being developed with the aim of assisting students more easily manage the move to secondary school. This website will provide students with a readily accessible tool that they can use independently or under the direction of teachers/family members. The content will comprise general information which can be accessed by the student (via static pages), as well as data fields which can be used to personalise the content to specific situations. By accessing currently available technology (mobile devices), students are empowered to develop skills and enhance their independence.
Keywords: transition to secondary school, mobile technology, special needs
Relationships between the initiators of classroom interactions and ICT use in upper primary classrooms
Interviews with teachers and observations of nine sessions where ICT was used were conducted to explore the relationships between ICT use and who initiated classroom interactions. The teachers described student learning in terms of learning the ICT itself, learning from using the ICT, or both. ICT use involved electronic whiteboards (EWB) or desktop computers. When the teacher stated ICT was used to help students learn, the EWB was used and there were more interactions between the teacher and students. When the teacher used the EWB they initiated the interactions with students and when students used the EWB they initiated the interactions with other students. When the teacher stated the students learned the ICT itself, the students used desktop computers. In two of the five sessions, the students initiated interactions with other students. In two sessions, the teacher had stated students also learned from using the ICT, and the most frequent interactions were student initiated interactions with the teacher. The findings indicate that there are relationships between the learning the teacher anticipated from ICT use, whether EWB or desktop computers were used, who used the ICT, and whether teacher-student, student-teacher, or student-student interactions were most prevalent.
Keywords: classroom interactions, ICT
Contested curriculum in Australian schooling: A reflection on research methodologies
The University of Western Australia and St Stephen’s Institute, St Stephen’s School
The study reported on in this presentation analysed radical curriculum policy reform in senior secondary schooling in Western Australia, within a broader context of national developments and global trends. The presentation will consider the methodologies used, with a particular focus on challenges related to interviewing the ‘policy elite’ and on gaining access to research participants. The research captured State and Federal curriculum reform agendas, especially their impact on select non-government case study schools, during a critical era of curriculum policy change. Interviews were conducted with participants at the national, State and local school levels, and surveys were used with teachers at the local school level. Different nongovernment schools were selected as case study sites, representing a cross section of the diversity within the nongovernment education sector in WA.
Keywords: curriculum reform, policy elite, education research methods
Using standardised assessment to appraise young children’s understanding of prepositions
Sharon M. Davies
Prepositions indicate relationships among certain words. Traditional assessment tools determine children’s understanding of prepositions using pictures. This study sought to determine an understanding of young children’s comprehension of the prepositions; in, on, under, over, behind, in front, between, next to and through when presented with objects to manipulate. Comprehension of each preposition was measured against a criterion. The findings failed to capture young children’s understanding of prepositions. Children also demonstrated unexpected responses to protocol instructions. Patterns of responses were analysed revealing unidentified features. Implications of using standardised measures to determine young children’s understanding of prepositions are discussed and alternative assessment strategies are suggested.
Keywords: preposition, children, assessment
Inverting the curriculum in a Faculty of Science and Engineering
As Australian universities compete for students in a global market there is recognition that technology savvy students expect to use technology to supplement their learning. Curtin University’s efforts to reduce face-to-face lectures and enhance the use of technology has led to academics in science and engineering trialling a ‘flipped classroom’ approach. This presentation describes the rationale and approaches taken by nine academics in their particular disciplines as they reduced face-to-face lectures and endeavoured to introduce a more interactive technology rich approach to learning. Each academic participated in a structured one-on-one interview towards the end of semester 1, 2013. Audio transcripts were analysed to determine the approaches taken and the perceived advantages and disadvantages. It was found that while the rationale for change varied, the approaches led to improved student engagement, greater responsibility taken by students for their learning and increased attendance. However, in most cases there was an increase in academic workload. Also, some academics found it harder to connect with students and be engaged in recorded lectures. The implications of these findings will be discussed.
Keywords: tertiary teaching practice, blended learning, science and engineering
Theorising case-based teaching: Foundations, definitions, directions and connections
Any investigation of the value of a pedagogical method necessitates not simply an understanding of its basic elements, but more importantly, its historical and philosophical foundations and its relationship to other pedagogies. Exploring some aspects of the history, philosophy, characteristics and representation of case-based teaching (CBT), this presentation introduces a unifying model of learning-centric education. The purpose is to make explicit CBT’s constructive alignment with other learning-centric teaching strategies, such as project-based teaching (PBT), inquiry-based learning (IBL), and problem-based (PBL). A key goal of the illustration of CBT’s association with popular pedagogies that are, similar to CBT, action-based and experiential in nature, is to help educators shift current teacher-centric pedagogical practices and better understand the characteristics and value-adding nature of CBT as part of a suite of learning-centric approaches available to them.
Keywords: case-based teaching (CBT), connectivism, learning-centric education
Girls and the media: A review of the literature
Ever increasingly, children’s lives are entwined with media, which is powerful and pervasive. The relationship between girls and media is particularly intriguing. Focusing on this relationship, a wide-ranging search of literature was conducted to form the basis of my PhD at Curtin University. Aiming to gain a deep understanding of the issues, the central question was: What writing is available regarding girls and media? Additional questions were: a) What are the benefits/challenges associated with media use?; b) What is the manner of representation of girls and women?; and c) How do these representations influence individuals? While there are clear benefits, many critical issues were revealed. These included idealisation, objectification, sexualisation, and stereotyping. As media play a key role in educating children, such distorted representations are of considerable risk. The literature shows many potential physical and psychosocial effects, including appearance anxiety, disordered eating patterns, and limited perceptions of gender. Furthermore, it is evident that many studies have focused on adolescence and early adulthood, rather than younger girls. The literature is predominantly adult-centric, with limited voice given to participants. My summary and synthesis of the literature will show what is known and what we need to know in order to move forward.
‘You can’t be neutral on a moving train’: Why critical educational research matters in ‘dark times’
This presentation borrows the title of Howard Zinn’s (2002) book ‘You can’t be neutral on a moving train’ to provoke some difficult conversations about the crisis of education with a view to advancing the centrality of critical educational research in ‘dark times’ (Arendt, 1968). The intent is, firstly, to identify how schools and those who inhabit them are increasingly ‘caught in the crossfire’ (Grossberg, 2005) of a regime of hyper-accountability, corporatisation and deficit ideologies (Ahlquist, Gorski & Montano, 2011) and how things came to be this way; secondly, to explore what it means to be a critical researcher in conservative times and what kinds of obstacles and possibilities exist; and thirdly, to identify some potential research issues worthy of critical investigation and how we might go about the task. At the end of the day, I hope we are better placed to start some purposeful conversations around the question: ‘Has our research done anything to level the playing field, to overcome disparity, to promote a more mutually beneficial democratic society?’ (Shields, 2012, p. 12).
Click here for Professor Barry Down’s Keynote PowerPoint slides.
A retrospective phenomenological study of twice exceptional students in Australian early childhood settings
Debate about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is increasing in frequency and is reported to be one of the most common diagnosed disorders in school children globally. Gifted and/or talented children (GaT) can also be identified as suffering from ADHD, a concept commonly referred to as Twice Exceptional (2e). This presentation will report on a phenomenological investigation of three adult participants who have been identified as 2e (with a profile of ADHD and gifted and/or talented). Through open-ended, in-depth interviews, participants explored and accounted for their time spent in inclusive early learning environments in Australia. From these interviews, thick and rich descriptions of participants’ lived experiences were created to gain a better understanding of what it means to be identified as Twice Exceptional (2e) in an inclusive early learning environment. The findings show disparity of experiences, but more importantly, include some recommendations for practice based on the retrospective accounts of the three adult participants. Strategies that may assist the integration of 2e children with a profile of ADHD and GaT include more movement/physical activity and the provision of less repetitive tasks.
Keywords: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, gifted and talented, early childhood, twice exceptional, inclusive classroom
The role of international electives in global health education: What do students think?
The University of Western Australia
With the globalisation trend in modern medicine, it is imperative that universities adapt medical education curricula to prepare students for practise within internationalised health frameworks. Currently, this need is not met: graduates have inadequate understanding of global health and its impact on their careers. An online survey was sent to third, fourth and fifth year medical students at UWA to explore perspectives of global health education and how the end-of-fifth year elective will impact upon this. 107 students completed the questions in full, with results indicating significant interest in learning about global health. There is growing desire to practice medicine overseas post-graduation, however only 40% of students felt the curriculum provided skills and knowledge enabling work in a global health setting. Additionally, 60% of the students were relying on the final year elective to provide necessary supplementation to their global health education. There was a desire for more internationally focused classes to be embedded in the curriculum, including language, culture, disease trends, and migrant/refugee health, as well as collaborative research. This study indicates a need for increased global health education for medical students, to better equip them for an internationalised health future, with electives and additional classes being prime opportunities to expand exposure and understanding.
Keywords: internationalisation, global health, medical education
What is an effective teacher of German? Perceptions of Western Australian teachers of German
The University of Western Australia
Currently, there is a Commonwealth government and State government of Western Australia policy focus on teacher quality. The policy is largely based on quantitative measures of teacher quality. Further, public reporting of teacher quality often uses student test data from State, national and international tests as the measure of teacher quality. The nature of these measures of teacher quality do not always allow for the realities of teaching and learning in a classroom, particularly in a languages classroom. The study on which this presentation is based is qualitative, and seeks to fill the lacuna in research related to what teachers believe a quality teacher does in a school environment. Specifically, it reports what teachers of German in Western Australia perceive an effective teacher of the language to be.
Keywords: language teachers, teacher quality, policy
Integrating theory and practice: skill development in higher education
The employability of university graduates is gaining prominence as an accountability outcome for the higher education sector and is considered a measure to ensure sustained economic and knowledge growth in Australia. The expectation is that educational institutions will prepare students for the global economy through capacity building and authentic learning experiences. Such an approach challenges traditional educational methodologies, requiring a paradigm shift in teaching and learning and assessment profiles. As educators we face complex challenges in meeting the demand to integrate theory with practice in the student experience.
The relevance and authenticity of the learning experience is integral to successful student outcomes and ultimately graduates who are equipped for the workforce. Employers are seeking graduates who are resilient, autonomous, reflective and innovative. In addition, qualities such as teamwork, emotional intelligence and potential leadership are deemed highly desirable by industry. Work-integrated learning (WIL) is internationally recognised and nationally endorsed as a mechanism for ensuring students are exposed to authentic learning experiences with the opportunity to apply theoretical concepts to practice-based tasks. This presentation showcases a framework for embedding WIL in curriculum which is aligned to and evidenced by rigorous assessment practices.
Keywords: graduate capability, employability, work integrated learning (WIL)
Principals’ experiences of the Independent Public Schools initiative
The Independent Public Schools (IPS) initiative was launched in Western Australia in 2010. The program aims to give public schools and their principals greater decision-making authority, including in the areas of staff recruitment and the management of school budgets. This presentation reports on research conducted into this program, which included interviews with two IPS principals. The presentation begins by situating the initiative in relation to a neoliberal policy discourse, before proceeding to report on the experiences of the two principals whose schools become IP schools. The study confirms the findings of research into similar reforms. It finds that IPS and its flexibilities are welcomed by the principals and that the program enjoins principals to conduct themselves as pragmatic and self-reliant performance managers. The significance of these findings is discussed.
Keywords: IPS, principals, governmentality
Professional self-confidence in health education: A multi-method study using the Rasch measurement model
Health professionals in medicine, chiropractic, and physiotherapy require high-level knowledge and skills in their assessment and management of patients. This is important when communicating with patients and applying assessment and treatment procedures. Prior to embarking on professional practice, it is imperative for a beginner practitioner to acquire optimal situation-specific levels of self-confidence. In order to purposely foster professional self-confidence during university education and clinical internships, it is critical to use instruments that are reliable, valid and sensitive enough to measure change in perceived professional self-confidence and determine the factors that contribute to change.
This research utilised a multi-method approach with the conceptualisation, development and psychometric analysis of two professional self-confidence scales, grounded in the Rasch measurement model and examined students’ accounts on the development of professional self-confidence during their internships. Through its in-depth examination of the development of professional self-confidence, the research makes a unique contribution to clinical education. The development of the scales can identify students who require additional help, guide curriculum development and, used with objective measures of competence, identify under or over-confident students. The multi-method design allowed for the identification of factors which affect professional confidence and was enriched by insights into students’ clinical experience.
Keywords: self-confidence, Rasch measurement model, clinical internship
Student leadership: A focused review of current research and literature
Gregory S.C. Hine
Notre Dame University Australia
The preparation, promotion and inclusion of a student leadership program positively contributes to school culture and student development. Leadership programs in Australian, Catholic, secondary schools are offered to students and vary according to stages of implementation, size of institution, and charism of the institution. Such programs afford (adolescent) students the opportunity to experience a leadership role, develop their potential as a leader, and make a meaningful contribution to the school community. This paper undertakes a select but focused review of recent research literature on student leadership and student leadership development within Catholic schools. It aims to present a view that recent student leadership studies are intentionally designed and conducted with an increasingly ‘youth-centric’ focus, and with less emphasis on generating empirical evidence from adults. Moreover, accessing students’ leadership perspectives and experiences highlights the need for further critical research in this area. By addressing this need, researchers are able to reform the direction of student leadership research using a relatively unsolicited and crucial perspective – that of the key student leaders themselves.
The impact of the Australian Curriculum on children’s school readiness and school readiness competencies
Australia is amidst the implementation of an education reform agenda which has seen unprecedented levels of government investment in Australian school and early childhood education. A significant feature of this reform is Australia’s first ever national curriculum, which has instigated discussion and contention among early childhood educators with differing perceptions of its appropriateness for children in their first year of school – Foundation Year (FY). This presentation will report on a phenomenological study, which explored the lived experiences of seven early childhood educators in relation to the concept of children’s school readiness (SR) and school readiness competencies (SRCs). The findings show great disparity of ideas and experiences among educators working in different states and different education systems. Whereas some educators’ experiences seem to mirror those stated in online forums that the expectations of children in Foundation Year (FY), especially in the cognitive and language domains, are ‘pitched too high’, others noted that they work within or above expectations of the Australian Curriculum content for FY.
Keywords: Australian Curriculum, Foundation Year, school readiness competencies
Taking ownership of teacher professional learning: Using video-clubs to develop teacher professional vision
Khadeeja Ibrahim-Didi and Mark Hackling
Edith Cowan University
Travis Carter, Anna Keunen, Mark O’Mara and Laura Dale
Roseworth Primary School
This presentation illustrates the professional learning that resulted from an action research project based on a video-club model aimed at fostering teacher professional growth. The video was captured in a special, purpose-built video classroom located in a WA school. Four local upper primary science teachers participated in a video club to engage in joint conversations on selected, critical, video-captured incidents from their own practice. University researchers facilitated this reflection through utilising an inclusive and collaborative process based on professional respect. Teachers engaged in follow-up lessons to make changes to their practice. Significantly, in less than three video club cycles, teachers began to ‘see’ evidence of student learning as a more critical trigger for teacher professional learning than a focus on their own actions. They developed more sophisticated professional vision that distinguished the multi-modal ways in which students show what they know. Before the end of the planned four cycles, the teachers took charge of the video club and began their own teacher-led video clubs within the school. The implications of the study include the potential of video-clubs to be sites of teacher-owned professional learning spaces with the potential to cater simultaneously to individual and collective teacher development goals.
Keywords: teacher professional vision, video-based research, professional learning community
Overcoming Australian tertiary students’ barriers to studying abroad in Asia
The University of Western Australia
Study abroad is generally perceived as a positive and educational experience. It is associated with great personal and academic growth, regardless of the specific location. However, there is a deep discrepancy in the popularity of various exchange locations. Participation rates for Study Abroad in Asia remain significantly lower than student exchanges to other countries. This is surprising given the recent emphasis on the Asian Century and the funding that goes into such programs. In order to attract the highest calibre of students to such programs, it is important to identify key barriers to studying abroad. Research in this area is severely limited. In order to identify key barriers to such exchanges, this study interviewed undergraduate students and staff at The University of Western Australia. The results highlight a number of key issues impacting on students’ decisions in relation to studying in Asia. Findings are discussed, and key strategies for overcoming these barriers are proposed. Implications for the Study Abroad office, senior administrators, the curriculum board, and Higher Education researchers are explored. This study also addresses limitations and future research possibilities.
Keywords: studying abroad, Asian century, higher education
What do education researchers think about emotions in teaching? A review
Despite the fact that emotions punctuate almost all the significant events in our lives, the nature, causes, and consequences of the emotions are among the least understood aspects of human experience. Within the teaching context, the daily lives of practitioners are often highly charged with feelings caused by both the people we work with as well as the values and ideas that shape the profession. Traditionally working within psychological and sociological frameworks education researches have pursued a wide array of avenues to illuminate this difficult to define human process. Taken together, these studies have produced a fragmented landscape of discourse that shows us, if nothing else, the complexity of the issues at hand. As a primer for my own PhD study within this field, I am looking to develop a literature review that will update and expand an oft-cited previous review from 2003 by Sutton and Wheatly to include the recent surge in critical responses to the issues of emotions in teaching. This presentation will focus on providing a snap shot of the key findings and conceptual insights of the varied methodological approaches in the field. It will view the literature from the perspective of critical assessments which seek to locate emotions in the space between the traditional perspectives, challenging the divisions between the individual and social, the private and the public.
Keywords: emotions, teaching, literature review
Why international students choose UWA for an exchange experience
The University of Western Australia
Resulting from global expansion, many students are choosing to study overseas. Education in Australia is well established and The University of Western Australia is the institution of choice for thousands of international exchange students every year, yet the factors leading to this choice are widely unknown. The focus for the current research in this area is limited to the negative outcomes and problems encountered whilst on exchange such as language difficulties and loneliness. This investigation adopted a holistic qualitative approach aimed at generating a theory on what drives institutional choice for students through the use of interview and survey techniques. Five overseas exchange students took part in one-on-one interviews. A survey was then developed and distributed to a larger group. Both the interviews and surveys were limited to those students completing a six month to one year exchange at the institution. While the results proved broad and varied, trends emerged that point to certain educational and social factors as key drivers of institutional choice for international students. This research project will be of value to universities seeking to attract exchange students and will contribute to a growing body of research for use by education providers across the globe.
Keywords: studying abroad, internationalisation of higher education
Fifty tonne plan: Sustainability cross curriculum priority action
Coolbinia Primary School
A greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiative, known as the Fifty Tonne Plan, aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by fifty tonnes. A primary school in Western Australia implemented this initiative undertaking a variety of biodiversity, waste, water, energy and social actions, within a whole systems thinking perspective, to achieve this goal. A case study was conducted on the impact of this type of sustainability action at the school. The research investigated student, staff, parent and community partner perceptions after involvement in the initiative. Results showed the school achieved its goal and all stakeholders actively participated. The findings provided evidence about the strengths and weaknesses of the initiative in the context of the differing perceptions of the various stakeholders. Overall, this successful example of sustainability action provided a model that is broadly applicable in a wide range of school settings. Other Western Australian schools are now implementing the model. Furthermore, the case study school has progressed from a Ten Tonne Plan, to Fifty Tonne and now a One Hundred Tonne Plan.
Keywords: education for sustainability, whole systems thinking, primary school
A feasibility study into higher degree supervision to bring reform to this field
In this presentation I will describe the initial stages of an OLT project which aims to investigate how the use of Web2.0 technologies can enable a more participatory process to support higher degree research supervision and bring reform to this field.
According to the Grattan Institute Report, Mapping Australian Higher Education, most Australian universities are not ranked in the top 50 in the world for research, although they have been improving their standing over time (Norton, 2012, p. 7). One way to improve research outcomes in the higher education system is by dramatically changing training for higher degree research in universities. There is a strong need to improve supervision of higher degree research students in order to increase completion rates, reduce the high level of dropouts and improve low levels of completion within the time limits. The project team will take an innovative approach to this issue by using technology to facilitate the process of training higher degree research students. With a seed grant, this project will involve trialling existing technologies to support supervisors and students in two universities and conducting a feasibility study.
Keywords: Supervision, higher degree by research, supervision, technology
Meta-analysis of ethics reporting in 10 early childhood research journals
Fiona E. Mayne and Christine Howitt
The University of Western Australia
Variations exist in the way research involving young children is conducted and subsequently reported. Increasingly children’s agency as valid research participants is generating an appetite for more child-friendly approaches to research ethics protocols. Despite this, ethics reporting practices in educational research have not kept pace with the change in research climate, and the value of reporting of ethics information has, to date, been overlooked. This paper presents a comprehensive review of reporting practises of research ethics in 10 scholarly international early childhood education journals. Peer-reviewed primary research articles published between 2009 and 2012 (inclusive) were reviewed for reported parent consent, child consent and institutional ethics approval. Of the 506 articles identified as relevant, 49% reported parent consent (with a range across journals from 23-66%), 19% reported child consent (9-40%) and 16% reported institutional ethics approval (6-23%). Only 24% of articles specified the type of parent consent, while only 11% of articles specified the type of child consent. These results highlight considerable underreporting of ethical procedures in early childhood education research journals. The potential benefits of increased reporting of ethics are discussed in relation to the Rights of the Child movement and journal editorial and author guidelines.
Keywords: ethics, reporting, early childhood, meta-analysis, rights of the child
The perceptions of undergraduate students towards studying a language other than English: An Australian case study
The University of Western Australia
An overwhelming percentage of Australian university graduates remain monolingual, despite an increasing focus on the internationalisation of higher education. Indeed, the number of enrolments in LOTE programs in Australia has been limited in the last decade, even with the growing awareness of the need for intercultural adaptability, in order to operate in an increasingly multinational employment environment (Leask & Carroll, 2011). This study aims to explore the underlying perceptions of undergraduate students in the recently introduced New Courses of study at The University of Western Australia, towards studying a language other than English (LOTE). An anonymous online survey was completed by 225 students. An analysis of participants’ responses exposed a number of factors that influence undergraduate students’ choices to study a LOTE, including perceived level of difficulty of the unit and its potential application in one’s future career. The survey responses have highlighted the need for increased quality of tertiary level LOTE programs, and for greater information and support for students who are inexperienced in learning a second language. The student perspectives towards LOTE revealed in this study provide valuable insight to Australian universities generally when establishing courses to better equip graduates with marketable skills for a progressively globalised workforce.
Keywords: internationalisation of higher education, language learning, undergraduate perspectives
Using semiotic resources to build metaphors when teaching the part-whole model of fractions
Edith Cowan University
This research study is an exploration into the use of semiotic resources when teaching the part-whole model of fractions. The study involved a single case study of one class teacher and six students in an Australian primary classroom. Using video as the predominant research tool, it was possible to describe how gesture, language and drawings were combined with 3D representations of folding paper to create a metaphor that appeared to enhance students’ understanding of the part-whole model of fractions. I conjecture that the semiotic resource of gesture should have more prominence in teachers’ planning documents.
Keywords: mathematics education, semiotic resources, case study
The role of overseas electives in teaching global health: Perspectives of UWA medical students
The University of Western Australia
Health today transcends the individual and is increasingly shaped by global factors, a concept termed global health, which is critical for doctors to understand. Only 30% of Australian medical students in a recent survey however, felt that they received sufficient teaching to practice in this area upon graduation. This study aimed to explore the role of an overseas elective as part of global health teaching. Two hundred and fourteen final year UWA medical students were invited to complete an online survey on their global health teaching and elective. There is a high level of interest in global health (77%). However, only 34% felt competent to work in a global health setting upon graduation. 76% believed further teaching should be provided, but did not want to allocate more than 2 additional hours per week (90%). 87.2% travelled overseas, 44.7% of which to a developing country. The majority (78.7%) felt that the elective was important in their global health education. Students were generally not keen for the elective to be more focused on teaching global health viewing it as an educational holiday. Students are still dissatisfied with their global health education. Consequently, work is still required to ensure the curriculum satisfies students’ desires.
Keywords: medical education, overseas electives, global health
The Orff-Schulwerk approach to effective teaching of Italian to upper primary students
Edith Cowan University
Since the second half of the twentieth century, Italian has been the second language spoken in Western Australia. In the primary school sector, there are over two hundred Italian teachers engaged with primary students. Many Italian teachers also use music/song as a pedagogical tool. The first part of the research examines the extent that music/song is used in primary Italian classes, as well as how and why they are used. The second part of the research centres on the use of the Orff-Schulwerk approach as an integrated music approach to teaching Italian. The research examines the success of a trialled intervention with a group of upper primary Italian language teachers, as well as exploring the support that is required to support Italian as a second language specific to upper primary contexts.
The research findings conclude that the novelty of the Orff-Schulwerk approach is considered effective in the teaching and learning of Italian. However, the research also highlights a number of constraints, which need to be addressed if teachers are to provide students with a rich and engaging curriculum.
Assisting international students adapt to university life in an Australian University
The University of Western Australia
Students entering into a foreign learning environment need to adapt to a new educational and social environment. It is essential for teachers to be aware of this, and whilst some research has been conducted to gain an understanding of the perspectives that teachers in tertiary education have towards international students, there have been limited studies conducted within Australia, and none within The University of Western Australia (UWA). This study utilises previous research conducted both within and outside of Australia. Data was collected via face-to-face interviews and an online survey of teaching staff across UWA, providing an insight into teachers’ perspectives of their international students’ experience. The responses from the surveys can be categorised into four main general types, as shown in a study conducted by Carroll (2005). These attitudes range from denial; teachers who claim their job is to teach and it is the students’ responsibility to learn, to teachers who acknowledge that each student brings their own cultural experiences and therefore accommodate and adjust their practices to suit. A greater understanding of the dominant attitudes towards teaching international students provides a solid foundation for identifying how the university can better assist international students to adapt to foreign university life.
Keywords: international students, transition, teachers’ perspective
Navigating the future: Perspectives of aspirations for higher education
In a period of increased engagement with higher education in Australia, participation rates for low socio economic status (low-SES) students remains static. The national response in the wake of the Bradley Review into Higher Education (Bradley, Noonan, Nugent & Scales, 2008) has seen student aspirations emerge as central to policy and a critical site of action. This response is situated within a fluid national context where funding for social inclusion initiatives for higher education is not currently planned beyond 2015. Contributing to an uncertain future is an increasingly loaded national debate about the impact of increased participation in higher education on tertiary quality and an imminent federal election. In this paper, I provide an overview of perspectives on student aspirations underpinning current theory and programs discussed in the literature, with emphasis on current student outreach. From this overview, I arrive at a perspective grounded in critical theory that is based on the writing of Appadurai (2004) and the notion of aspirations as a navigational and cultural capacity. Implications for how this understanding of student aspirations will assist the planning and development of effective interventions in an uncertain future will be discussed.
Keywords: aspirations, outreach, higher education
Hello globalisation: Adapting the Australian law degree to the international playing field?
The University of Western Australia
Globalisation is a widely recognised phenomenon, requiring locals to internationalise more and more in order to remain globally competitive. In recognition of this, the Australian government has set up an International Legal Education and Training Committee in 2004 to aid the process. In this paper, an online interview was sent out to a sample of legal academics at two Australasian universities regarding the increasing demand of internationalisation within the legal profession. Follow-up interviews were conducted with a small number. The results showed that internationalisation is seen as highly desirable within the legal industry, yet academics are still challenged by the lack of pressure towards internationalisation within the education context and often struggle to come up with solutions that would enable them to successfully cover local, as well as international content within the standing teaching constraints. In order for law schools to remain internationally competitive, the gap will need to be bridged by introducing more internationalisation strategy, which may include but is not limited to: more internationally applicable units or international components into units, encouraging international student exchange or introducing a compulsory cultural component and language studies into the standard law degree.
Keywords: internationalisation, legal education
Teacher professional development in an online learning community: A case study in Indonesia
Edith Cowan University
Over the past decade the rapid pace of technological innovation has changed society and the way teaching and learning are conducted. These changes have been difficult for teachers, requiring substantial amounts of professional development. In Indonesia, the government has implemented various pathways to improve the professionalism of teachers. Nonetheless, there are still a large number of teachers who struggle to access the professional development support provided by the Indonesian government. This is particularly the case for teachers in rural and remote areas, because many of the current practices still focus on teacher-centred approaches instead of collaborative approaches, and often only in face-to-face interaction. Research has shown that an online learning community can support teacher professional develoment and facilitate collaboration among teachers. Online learning promotes active and collaborative learning processes and gives opportunities for teachers to engage in reflective practice that can lead to transformative professional development. This presentation looks at the results of a study that set out to develop and implement an online learning community to support the current practices in Indonesia. The study investigated the facilitating and inhibiting factors of implementation, and analysed how it supported teachers within the Indonesian context.
Professional and personal needs of beginning principals in Catholic schools: The first five years
University of Notre Dame Australia
This research explores the professional and personal needs of newly appointed principals in Catholic education in Western Australia. The research is based on qualitative data collected through semi-formal interviews of thirteen beginning principals within the first years of their principalship. These principals are men and women responsible for secondary or primary schools. Their schools are located in metropolitan, country or remote areas of the state.
The theoretical perspective that was adopted for this study lies in the interpretivist epistemology of symbolic interactionism. The research design of case study was chosen in this inquiry because it is consistent with a symbolic interactionist approach. The method of data collection utilised within this study included face-to-face interviews, document search and field notes. This research utilised Miles and Huberman’s (1994) interactive model of data management and analysis: data reduction, data display and verification / conclusion drawing. Using qualitative analysis techniques, findings emerged around three areas: technical, socialisation and self/role awareness.
Keywords: beginning principals, Catholic education, qualitative research
What influences exchange destination choice? Evidence from students returned to an Australian university
The University of Western Australia
Exchange students’ motivations for studying abroad vary widely. Their choices can be informed by factors that range from specific qualities of the university to those that are beyond the university’s control. Through the employment of a mixed-method survey of former exchange students from The University of Western Australia, this study explores the pull factors and the scale at which these exist when it comes to choosing a university as an overseas exchange destination. The study’s findings point to opportunities for cultural immersion and social interaction rather than education factors as predominant influences on student’s choice of destination. It was also apparent that students saw their choice of university as a means to experience a particular country or city. As such, the results of this study support the notion of the exchange student as an ‘educational tourist’ (Llewellyn-Smith & McCabe, 2008). The results of this study have marketing implications for universities seeking to attract international students, especially full-fee paying students. The necessity for universities to build relationships with destination managers, including planning and tourism agencies, is highlighted. Preliminary recommendations will be made.
Keywords: exchange students, overseas study, educational tourism
Globalisation of curriculum reform: A case study conducted in Chinese and Australian primary classrooms
Globalised tends in science curriculum reform usually have constructivist underpinnings and include student-centred and inquiry-based pedagogies that originate in western countries. However, few of these reforms are rigorously evaluated in the context of the educational settings of adopting countries. The purpose of this presentation is to explore the impact of the adoption of western oriented approaches to curriculum reform in China, a country where education is traditionally strongly influenced by Confucian philosophy. The research design was a multiple case study with Year 6 students in three Chinese and three Australian primary schools (n=245). Methods of data collection included student questionnaires and interviews to ascertain their understandings of science, interviews with teachers and classroom observations. The findings indicated that socio-economic status in both countries was an important factor impacting on the implementation of the curriculum reform. Students in higher socioeconomic status schools in both countries participated more frequently in classroom activities consistent with reform documents compared with children in medium and low socioeconomic schools. However, the socioeconomic disparity was more apparent in China. We speculate that Confucian educational traditions in China provide viable alternative approaches and that this may result in widening the achievement gap.
Introduction to a cognitive learning tool to learn about metacognition
Edith Cowan University
The Taxonomy of Metacognition forms the framework and basis of an online cognitive learning tool. This presentation outlines the development of a cognitive learning tool to promote learning about the construct of metacognition. The taxonomy provides a clarification of the construct of metacognition by providing a categorised structure. The cognitive tool is based on a concept mapping structure to depict knowledge representations of metacognition as presented in the taxonomy. The aim of the cognitive tool is to facilitate knowledge construction about metacognition and the interrelationships with other concepts. The aim of the tool is to help provide a dynamic clarification of the construct for teachers and researchers.
Keywords: cognitive tool, concept mapping, metacognition
Digital Design portfolio assessment and Rasch analyses of the Design Course analytical marking
Edith Cowan University
Digital portfolio assessment is a viable alternative to traditional paper-based portfolio assessment especially in the subject of Design. Phase 2 of an ARC Digital Assessment project conducted by the Centre for Schooling and Learning Technologies at ECU required Design students to digitise their portfolio work for assessment research purposes. The digitised portfolios were analytically marked and the scores analysed using Rasch measurement methodology. This presentation describes feedback from students and teachers about the digitisation process, the outcomes of the Rasch analysis and the recommendations for implementing digital portfolios for high-stakes assessment.
Keywords: digital assessment, analytical marking, Rasch analysis
The use of ethical frameworks in teaching bioethics issues in Year 10 Biotechnology
Siew Fong Yap
Kingsway Christian College
With the re-emergence of values education in the school curriculum in the last decade, science is viewed as one of the key teaching domains, and in particular, socio-scientific education is increasingly perceived as instrumental in helping students explore underlying beliefs and values, develop reasoning and critical thinking skills to make informed decision on socio-scientific issues. This presentation is based on a study that explores the use of ethical frameworks as a tool which also helps students make ethical judgements and rationally and relationally justify them. The five ethical frameworks explored in this model are categorised as rights and duties, beneficence/non-maleficence (utilitarian), autonomy, communicative virtues and Christian moral. The features of controversy that are made explicit to the students through the use of ethical frameworks are situated in the area of human genetics and transgenic plants in Australia. Such a study is undertaken in the realm of bioethics within the context of an ethically pluralist society. The investigation focuses on the teaching of a Year 10 biotechnology class over a period of ten weeks in an evangelical Christian college Perth. Using an interpretative case study approach, a mixed method data collection and action research as the methodology, analyses of instructional strategies, teachers and students’ beliefs/values/attitudes and achievement outcomes were conducted and evaluated accordingly. This study is unique in that it presents one of the few studies that incorporates Christian/faith values in the ethical frameworks that enables the researcher to explore the connection, if any, between cognitive learning and moral reasoning and moral development, and in the wider sense, the link between cognitive learning (scientific literacy) and ethical reasoning.
Keywords: socio-scientific issues, ethical reasoning, bioethics, interpretative case study approach, mixed method
The voucher system and national standardised tests in the Chilean system of education
The University of Western Australia
The Chilean educational system has faced multiple changes since the introduction of a national voucher system, over thirty years ago. The system is based on the market-oriented premise that competition amongst schools can improve the service provided. In order to attract and retain students, schools under this system, it was argued, would be compelled to improve the quality of the education of their students. In order to measure the quality of education offered in the nation’s schools, a national standardised test was created in 1988. This study aims at developing an understanding of the consequences of the voucher system and the effectiveness of standardised tests to measure quality of education. The research is located within the interpretivist paradigm and adopts grounded theory approaches to data gathering and analysis. Contemporary official documents and literature on the matter have been collected and analysed. The study has demonstrated that the voucher system has not succeeded in increasing the quality of education provided in Chile. Rather, segregation is the result. In addition, evidence suggests that standardised tests measure academic achievement, not quality of education.
Keywords: Voucher system, national standardised tests, international education