32nd Annual Research Forum
Local Research, Global Focus
Saturday August 5, 1:00pm-6:00pm
Tannock Hall, The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle (Cnr Cliff and Croke Streets). Free parking available.
Combining content-based and EAP approaches to academic writing: Towards an eclectic program
Rosemary Joy Allen
Edith Cowan University
As an educator, responsible for guiding the writing of international students entering post-graduate programs in an Australian university, I am often asked: Where do I start? Like most research, the answer lies in identifying a situation that encompasses various concerns of interest to the student. This presentation provides the background to a three-phase, mixed-methods study which investigated whether an eclectic English for Academic Purposes Pathway (EAPP) program would provide greater academic writing assistance—for international students studying Masters by coursework units—than direct entry into faculty, or initial entry into a general EAP program, or assistance through voluntary adjunct short courses. In addressing this concern, models were constructed to aid the analysis of data. These models provided in-depth insights into the special academic, cultural, linguistic and social elements that could potentially affect the academic writing success of EAL students; an important concern given that academic success is heavily dependent on mastery of writing. The models encompass the following: EAPP design elements and approaches; writing analysis using framing reference; writing-prompt design elements; common tasks/genres across faculties, and a model of academic writing needs. All models could prove useful for researchers examining the writing of both international and local tertiary students.
Using multiple-choice items to assess student learning
The University of Western Australia
For many educators the use of multiple-choice (MC) items to assess student achievement is problematic and yet such items continue to be used in large-scale assessments in several countries. Research findings can be implemented to improve the quality of MC items and hence increase the amount of information gathered about student learning from each item. In this presentation there will be a brief overview of the current status of MC items and of the benefits of their use. Some of the concerns about their effectiveness will be reviewed and summary will be provided of the mechanisms by which these concerns could be addressed. Following the overview, the preliminary results of research into one particular aspect of improving the creation and analysis of MC items will be presented. This aspect concerns the recognition of partial knowledge for which students can gain credit when they select particular incorrect options. While the responses to the MC items were sourced from a test of the mathematical achievement of Year 8 students in WA, the findings are applicable to other subject areas and to other year groups.
How content without context creates ‘noise’ in primary arts education in Western Australia schools
The University of Notre Dame
Arts education in Western Australian primary schools consist of learning opportunities outlined by mandated curriculum across the five arts subjects of dance, drama, media arts, music, and visual arts. However, assumptions underlying this curriculum involving access, resources and support are contexts that impact schools without being adequately addressed by the written curriculum. Interviews with 24 participants across four schools are used in this presentation to discuss the enablers and constraints that create or minimise ‘noise’ experienced by primary teachers when implementing arts curriculum. The key enablers identified in working to minimise the disruption include: access to learning opportunities, quality support from school leadership personnel, and development of arts resources both physical and material. Key constraints to overcome and minimise the ‘noise’ include an overcrowded curriculum, change fatigue experienced by teachers and priority given to standardised testing regimes. Understanding the relationship between content and context, minimising the noise of ineffective practice allows schools and teachers to better align content to suit the contextual variables at play.
Enabling non-English major students to communicate in a multilingual and multicultural environment
Thi Minh Tam Dang
One of the goals of Vietnam’s National Foreign Language Project 2020 is to enable university students to communicate in English in multilingual and multicultural contexts. This research will explore how different universities in Vietnam respond to this task. In particular, this study will look at how intercultural communicative competence (ICC) is developed in the EFL classroom.
Qualitative methods will be employed including classroom observations, interviews and document analysis. Observations will be conducted in classes where English is taught as a foreign language for non-English major students. A classroom observation instrument has been specially designed to keep records of how culturally related components are integrated into class activities. In addition, interviews with teachers and academic heads will be carried out to find out their interpretations of Project 2020’s goal, how they prepare students for communicating with people of different linguistic and cultural background as well as their challenges when taking on the task. Extant documentation such as Project 2020’s documents, curriculum, syllabuses and textbooks being used at the given institutions will also be analysed.
It is hoped that this research will help introduce an intercultural perspective into English teaching in Vietnam, where language education generally focuses on grammar and vocabulary (considering language as code) rather than social practice.
Reframing Mathematical Futures II project: Development of a draft learning progression for algebraic reasoning
University of Notre Dame Australia
Curriculum documents make a clear distinction between algebraic skills and algebraic reasoning, where the development of the former is far more readily articulated than the latter. While there are many studies of algebraic reasoning, these are usually topic specific and/or highly contextual. What are the big ideas of algebraic reasoning and is it possible to map their learning trajectory? This presentation reports on the preliminary phase of a large national study in Australia which is designed to move beyond the hypothetical and to provide an evidence-based foundation for a learning progression. Using rich assessment tasks designed for middle years students of mathematics, this presentation reports on the method of analysis used and some preliminary findings.
Practical research in schools to measure the effectiveness of BUZ (Build Up Zone) social and emotional wellbeing strength-based approach
Nurture Works Foundation
The University of Notre Dame
Nurture Works Foundation
This study examines the effectiveness of Build Up Zone (BUZ) Strength-Based Life Skills School Programs for primary aged children on the overall social and emotional wellbeing (SEW) of the classroom and whole school. BUZ universal classroom based social-emotional wellbeing life skills programs for primary aged children comprise of year-appropriate classroom lessons. Each program provides opportunities using circle skills, roleplay, classroom discussion and interactive activities for children to develop personal and social capabilities. Learning activities are explicitly taught and designed to strengthen children’s SEW. Children develop social and emotional skills to understand, improve and manage personal and group relationships, bully-proofing, conflict resolution, restorative justice, and regard for others and in general build a repertoire of social and emotional essential personal life skills
Curriculum analytics: Assurance of learning in Business Education
The need for education innovation is fueled by the renewed focus on quality assurance debates. The systematic process of articulating and measuring what graduates know and can do upon completion of a program or degree is, in Business Education, often referred to as Assurance of Learning (AoL). The Assurance of Learning standards have been developed by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Implementing a successful AoL program can be challenging and it requires a deep understanding and commitment from staff to perpetual curriculum analysis and quality improvement.
This presentation will provide an overview of the AoL program at the Curtin Business School and showcase the custom-built AoL dashboard. The AoL program at the Curtin Business School is well established and has been progressively enhanced over several iterations. With detailed course mapping in place, the AoL dashboard is able to map student achievement of course learning goals and outcomes. The AoL measurement and reporting is able to support the maintenance of course innovation, degree quality and relevance. The ’closing the loop’ review and curriculum analytics is able to provide a common approach to quality assurance and course improvement, helping staff at multiple campuses and across multiple degree programs collect relevant course level data to ensure that courses foster graduate industry-readiness and employability.
Appreciating the emotional ties young girls share with their media
There are concerns regarding the use and impact of media in relation to adolescent girls and young women, but there is relatively little research focusing on the experiences and perceptions of young girls. This presentation reports some of the findings of a larger, five phase, feminist, mixed research study in a small Australian school. Interviews with educators (n=5), parents (n=7) and young girls (n=14) were analysed using a phenomenological approach to elicit key themes for each group. Common and contrasting perspectives were then identified. Adults felt that media were powerful and pervasive but also expressed some reservations about the proliferation of media and the representations of girls and women. The adults set boundaries and enabled various levels of access for the young girls who showed strong emotional and intellectual engagement with a variety of media. While further research is needed to examine children’s views, the findings point to some recommendations for parents and educators as well as a broader conceptualisation of the position of media in our society.
Towards a phenomenological perspective of children’s writing
The world experienced by the child during the act of writing may be comprised of potentially rich and significant meaning that is waiting to be uncovered. The challenge of engaging children in rich writing experiences is ongoing. Thus, this presentation explores how writing research from cognitive, affective and social perspectives may form the foundations for the major determinants on children’s writing experience and engagement, with a specific focus on the expression of ideas. In light of modern trends in technology and pedagogy, I argue for a shift in perspective that views these determinants as crucial factors constituting and shaping the lived experience of the act of writing. Drawing upon literature reviewed across disciplines, I offer the early steps towards a new phenomenological orientation that positions writing as an experience of the self, the expression of ideas and the existential lifeworld phenomena, to investigate this rarely addressed field of writing research. I offer an emergent and preliminary working framework that attempts to situate the experience of expressing ideas as it relates to the potential determining factors, and I highlight future phenomenological research I am undertaking in this area.
Ekphrastic poetry and the affordances of photography for literacy education
The relationship between the visual image, speech and writing is integral to English in the Australian Curriculum. There has been an increase in the appearance of multimodal texts as a result of mass communication and globalised communication via the World Wide Web, leading Australian educational policy makers to the realisation that to be literate in the 21st Century, students need to be able to both create and deconstruct multimodal texts.
The ancient art of ekphrastic poetry is a means of encouraging student’s engagement with visual images by eliciting latent visual knowledge and igniting an empathic ‘embrace’ with the image. This presentation will explore intersemiotic affordances of photography and the ekphrastic poetry as a means of extending students’ ability to create meaning.
Children thinking multiplicatively
University of Notre Dame Australia
Multiplicative thinking is a’big idea’ of mathematics that underpins much of the mathematics learned beyond the early primary school years (Siemon, Bleckly and Neal, 2012), and is fundamental to the development of many important mathematical concepts (Brown & Quinn, 2006, Siegler et al., 2012; Siemon, Izard, Breed & Virgona, 2006).
This session reports on a current study that utilises a written quiz and a teacher reflection tool to gather data about multiplicative thinking. The development of the tools and some of the research findings will be discussed in the session.
Given its importance and its extensive links with other mathematical ideas (such as algebra and proportional reasoning) it is important for teachers and researchers understand the importance of multiplicative thinking, and some of the misconceptions students are carrying into their secondary mathematics lessons.
Further, it is timely to conduct this research given that there has been considerable comment about the ‘crowded curriculum’ and the need for teachers to focus their teaching on fewer but more significant ‘big ideas’ of mathematics. Multiplicative thinking is indeed one such idea and this research has the potential to inform teacher planning for developing children’s multiplicative thinking.
Implementing the Aboriginal Cross Curriculum Priority in a Primary School Context
Department of Education
The Western Australian Curriculum acknowledges the importance of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross curriculum priority. This priority, together with the Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework and the Western Australian Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum, support schools in the State to become more culturally responsive. This presentation addresses the challenges to deeply embed the Aboriginal priority across a wide range of learning areas and meaningfully engage with the Framework. A case study was conducted over five years (2013-2017) involving a primary school in the Perth Metropolitan Area. The whole school, consisting of eighteen classes from Kindy to Year 6, participated. This case study aimed to elucidate the planning, implementation and evaluation processes involved in embedding the Aboriginal priority where there was a natural fit in different learning areas, and the implementation of the Framework. Several learning areas were examined to determine where and how the Aboriginal priority was embedded. Project results include evidence of effective and meaningful embedding of the Aboriginal priority, positive stakeholder feedback, conservation links and high levels of student engagement. However, it was found that the implementation of the Framework required adjustment in a school with low numbers of Aboriginal students. Finally, future directions for teacher education and school leadership are discussed.
Teaching intercultural capabilities to first year Humanities students at Curtin University: A Case study
Kara-Jane Lombard and Liam Lynch
Intercultural competence is a graduate attribute of many Australian universities and “it is well accepted in higher education that students, whether domestic or international, need increasingly complex knowledge and skills because of increasing mobility and multiculturalism” (Corder & U-Mackey, p. 409). Culture to Cultures, a first year core unit in the BA and Mass Communication courses at Curtin University, encourages students to question their engagement with other cultures and culturally diverse thinking and perspectives. Students critique cultural and social positionings and colonial forms of knowledge, as well as reflect on their own cultural background/identity and how it impacts their worldview. Liam and Kara-Jane are undertaking research to analyse intercultural education in the tertiary setting in a WA context, through the case study of Culture to Cultures. They aim to investigate how exposure to a unit teaching intercultural awareness does or does not promote a lifelong learning approach to the issue; that is moving from a competence to a capabilities approach. In this paper we present our initial findings of a research project that will continue throughout 2017.
Teachers’ beliefs about how less-skilled adult readers can be taught to read
The University of WA
Despite hundreds of millions of dollars of expenditure on adult literacy initiatives worldwide, significant numbers of adults continue to have difficulty reading. To be effective in addressing entrenched reading difficulties, reading instruction requires highly skilled teaching, sensitive to individual learner needs. However, adult-reading teaching practices vary widely, often reflecting individual beliefs of teachers about how the adult can be taught to read rather than practice informed by available research. This presentation reports findings of an on-line survey of adult reading teachers in Australia and New Zealand. The survey examined instructional practice at word level and is part of a broader study investigating single word reading in less-skilled adult readers undertaken as part of a doctoral programme at UWA. The use of a range of approaches underpinned by differing understandings of reading skill acquisition was identified. These are described and discussed with implications for existing practice and future research.
eBooks or paper books for girls and boys?
Margaret Kristin Merga
Saiyidi Mat Roni
Edith Cowan University
Regular book reading is widely acknowledged as offering a range of literacy benefits for young people. To encourage students to read with greater frequency, educators need to understand their preferences and habits. Continued technological evolution in the possible modes of book reading has increased the range of platforms on which young people can read books. In the absence of a robust volume of research into young people’s attitudes toward reading eBooks or paper books, the myth of young people as a homogenous group of highly digitally literate, screen-based reading lovers has played a role in dictating book resourcing decisions both in Australia and overseas. However, recent findings from the 2012 West Australian Study in Adolescent Book Reading (WASABR) and the 2016 Western Australian Study in Children’s Book Reading (WASCBR) suggest that the majority of young people still read paper books even where eBooks are widely available to them. We also found that in children, access to mobile phones was associated with reading infrequency, and that reading frequency was less when children had access to a greater range of these devices. It has also been suggested that boys in particular may prefer to read on screens. While our data challenge this view, we also found that while device access was negatively associated with reading frequency for both genders, its negative impact was more significant for girls than boys.
The impact of arts consumption on students’ motivation and efficacy
Edith Cowan University
Critical thinking, communication and creativity are a few 21st century learning skills being promoted both in Australia and internationally. The responding strand of Australian visual arts curricula develops these skills, as student learn about artists and artworks, decoding art and making critical judgements. This study sought the effect of students’ personal consumption and production of art on their intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy in responding. Intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy were measured as students who do not feel they can master a task are generally less motivated to persist and can disengage from learning. A total of 266 Western Australian secondary students between 14 and 17 years old participated in the research. The findings showed that while being an art consumer impacts on intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy, maintaining a personal arts practice does not. The research raised questions about links between practice and theory, and how to promote students’ engagement in responding.
Who are we? Learning culture through culturally responsive teaching and ethno-chemistry
Yuli Rahmawati and Achmad Ridwan
Chemistry Education Study Program, Universitas Negeri Jakarta, Indonesia
The papers portrays the first year of two-year longitudinal study of ethno-chemistry integration in culturally responsive teaching in Indonesia chemistry classrooms. The culturally responsive teaching and ethno-chemistry has been applied to understand the culture and indigenous knowledge through chemistry perspectives. The study was conducted in year 10 and 11 of four classrooms from two secondary classrooms. The qualitative research approach with observation, interviews, and reflective journals as data collection. The integration of ethno-chemistry in culturally responsive teaching approach was conducted by involving 5 principles which are content integration, facilitating knowledge construction, prejudice reduction, social justice, and academic development. The study found that the students reflected and found the different ways of understanding their own cultural identity. The students also developed the critical and creative thinking skills, problem solving skills, and collaborative skills. Besides they were facing the challenges of transforming their learning paradigms, the culturally responsive teaching has provided the opportunity for students to understand the differences, explore their cultural identity, and engage in meaningful learning experiences. The approach is also relevant to the policy of national curricula of character and culture identity development.
Tracing a 40 year-cycle perspective: Telling Jacinta’s story to tell my own
Dr Janean Robinson
I graduated as a secondary school teacher in the late 1970s during what I now realise was a special time in the politics of Australia. When returning to this profession in the mid 1990s after a short break, the world of teaching seemed foreign to me. As a returning to university undergraduate, I had begun to understand more about political policy interference and the school effectiveness movement that was alienating many of us from our authentic practice. I continued with further study to investigate this impact of reform politics on teachers’ work. Then as a postgraduate, I not only researched the impact of global politics on teachers but also on the daily lives of students within government schools.
This presentation will trace this educational journey to the present time as I continue research in policy interference into government schools. The most recent larger research project, of which I was a senior research associate; was a longitudinal study which tracked the lives of 32 young people as they transitioned from school to search for meaningful work. One of those participants, Jacinta, speaks back to the impact of the broader neo-liberalising project on young lives because we learn a great deal about the things that both serve to hinder and enable student learning. In telling Jacinta’s story, I also tell my own of reimagining and reclaiming a more humane and socially just schooling. This is the type of schooling I had experienced 40 years ago as a graduating teacher.
Perceptions of students and parents of full-time opportunity classes for gifted students
Provision for students who are gifted is an unresolved issue in education. To meet the needs of its own academically gifted students, one primary school in Western Australia customised the Opportunity Class model used by New South Wales Primary Schools. This study focused on participants’ experiences of the school’s full-time academic Opportunity Classes. Data were collected through focus groups and individual semi-structured interviews with questions designed to address ability class issues most commonly raised in the literature. In particular, participants were asked to share their personal perceptions of the program and to recollect other gifted provisions these mildly, and moderately gifted students had experienced. They were asked to consider how each met student’s needs with the focus being on the full-time ability-grouping model. The implications were that it was possible for a range of academically gifted students to thrive in full-time ability classes and for the effects of the big-fish-little- pond effect, labelling and force choice dilemma to be reduced or eliminated in a program with the appropriate cultural and emotional support.
Instructional leadership and change: An investigation into the emotional experiences of teachers as agents of change.
Dr Rebecca Saunders
This purpose of this study is to examine teacher emotions in the context of instructional change. Specifically, this study focuses on the role emotions play when teachers transfer new instructional processes into their practice, and are then required to lead instructional change within their own institutions. A sequential, mixed methods research design consisting of the administration of a quantitative questionnaire followed by in-depth qualitative narrative interviews and classroom observations was used to better understand this complex area of educational change. Results from data collection and analysis were used to profile the journeys of professional change and leadership experienced by 27 tertiary teachers involved in a four-year systemic-change professional-development initiative. Findings revealed that the teachers involved in this study experienced a range of emotions when implementing new instructional processes and when leading instructional change. The teachers’ emotional responses directly impacted their use of new instructional processes and their interactions with colleagues, as they assumed instructional leadership roles. A cyclical pattern of emotions emerged influenced by time, place and interpersonal relationships. Implications for the future design and implementation of instructional change initiatives and the preparation and support of teachers as leaders and agents of change are discussed.
My effort or your effort: Exploring stories for young children in Indonesian schools
This study examined the nature of effort toward challenge depicted in stories recommended for young children in Indonesian schools. One hundred and nine stories from 20 schoolbooks for Years 1 and 2 recommended by the Indonesian Government were analysed using a combination of content and structural analyses. When exploring the characters’ efforts toward challenge, the findings revealed that the most prominent type of effort depicted in the stories was exerted by characters other than the protagonist (other-initiated effort). While all stories with this kind of effort had a successful outcome, self-initiated individual effort (by the main character) was the most prevalent type of effort in stories with an unsuccessful outcome. We argue that these findings can be interpreted in more than one way when exploring their potential impact on children’s understanding and enactment of effort at school. This study therefore suggests different ways through which stories as educational tools may encourage or alternatively miss opportunities to socialize young children’s responses to challenging tasks at school.
Transforming university curriculum policies for a global knowledge society: A focus on a Chilean context
University of Western Australia
University curriculum transformations are moving to a centre stage in the higher education reform agendas of many countries, as they strive to strengthen their positioning in a competitive global knowledge society. Consequently, development of quality university curricula to attract the ‘best and brightest’ students in a mobile world has become a significant feature. These international trends are underway in Chilean universities, although specific curriculum transformations are shaped within the unique contexts of localised Chilean settings. A number of the nation’s universities are prominent in their engagement with curriculum policies which resonate strongly with those in Europe and the United States. International reforms, such as the Bologna Agreement, pose challenges for Chilean higher education. Rising to these challenges requires a strong evidence base to support curriculum policy development in Chile universities in a competitive knowledge era.
This project focuses on curriculum policy transformations at three of the 10 best Chilean research-intensive universities. At each of these institutions the emphasis at the undergraduate level is on developing their ‘whole curriculum’ on general education principles of a liberal-humanist nature, while specialist and professional university education is being provided at postgraduate courses. These transformations, when viewed historically, are radical and unprecedented within Chile, while at the same time carrying extensive costs and risks for the universities themselves, as well as for national positioning within the international scene. Therefore, they offer particularly rich and fruitful possibilities for detailed study in the national interest.
Teachers’ perceptions of continuing professional development: A case study of Vocational High School teachers in Yogyakarta province, Indonesia
School of Education, Murdoch University
The purpose of this paper is to examine vocational high school (locally termed SMK) teachers’ perceptions of continuing professional development (CPD) at a time of changing policies regarding teacher CPD. The paper was based on fieldwork conducted in Yogyakarta province, Indonesia in 2015, in which 6 accounting teachers consisting three certified and three uncertified teachers were interviewed.
The findings show that the certified and uncertified teachers had a common understanding of CPD in terms of goals, activities and outcomes of CPD. The teachers understood CPD as for teachers’ improvement, and they defined CPD as performance assessment, government program, and personal development activities. These accounting teachers highlighted workshops, seminars, and participation in a forum as the most attended activities besides company visits. They also participated in informal activities such as reading books in the library, through the Internet, or from the book stores. A difference was identified between civil servant and non-civil servant teachers as civil servant teachers participated in more structured CPD since this relates to their promotional rank. The study highlights the need for further support of SMK accounting teachers to develop their professionalism in order to ensure that their students are work ready. Government can facilitate partnerships between schools and companies where actual accounting is practised so that teachers and students experience accounting in the current real world setting.
Literacy assessment: Is analysis of the data impacting teaching at all?
University of Notre Dame Australia
Australia has been part of an international trend pursuing the use of assessment data to improve educational standards. This mixed method study examined how Primary school teachers in Perth use literacy assessment data to inform teaching practices, including intervention, which may lead to improved student outcomes. A purposive sample of teachers included teachers of different ages, years of experience, qualifications and educational sectors. Survey questionnaires and semi-structured interviews allowed the researcher to investigate many aspects of teachers’ analytical skills, applications of analysed data and issues. Results of the research showed that, while most teachers express confidence in their analytical skills, their data analysis skills are predominantly inconsistent and irregular. The research indicates that teachers have limited knowledge of strategies that are recommended for analysing all the areas of literacy. Furthermore, their understanding of analysis and the strategies they use are inconsistent with recommended, evidence-based practice. Teachers involved in a whole school approach indicated more sophisticated, effective data analysis skills. This group of teachers were also able to link analysed data to subsequent instruction in a more effective manner than teachers who received limited support in this area. The study established that time was the main barrier to teacher’s analysis of literacy assessment data. Recommendations for professional development in data analysis and innovations for providing time for teachers to engage in data analysis were made.