Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

18th Annual Research Forum at Edith Cowan University

Forum 2003 Abstracts

Listed alphabetically by first author
[ Forum Invitation ] [ Schedule ] [ Contents of Proceedings ]


Through a looking glass darkly - impressionistic, critical self study: Respectable research or navel gazing?

Steve Benson
Faculty of Business and Public Management
Edith Cowan University

For a person with a strong science and engineering background, adopting an impressionistic approach for the autobiographical component of my PhD thesis was not an easy one. Particularly since I have Asperger's syndrome and lack the natural emotional intelligence that most interpretive researchers seem to possess. My decision was made after a lengthy consideration of four questions:

In this symposium, I will outline my answers to these questions and present an insight into the difficulties that working in this paradigm poses for an Asperger's person. I will also address the problems associated with 'proving' the validity of such approaches to more conservative academics. I conclude that while hermeneutic phenomenology is less objective than traditional research methods, it is often more useful in educational research. That said, there is scope for the use of complementary, quantitative methods; not to enhance the validity of the work but to produce a more complete understanding of the issues. [See also the SMEC group's session overview by Peter Taylor]

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Academic writing for L2 learners at Foundation Studies, Curtin University: Pedagogical issues

Thelma Blackford and Janine Rutledge
School of Languages and Intercultural Education
Curtin University of Technology

Academic writing for L2 learners is important in a knowledge society where information is considered crucial for professional work in the future. Many students do not have the skills necessary for writing at a tertiary level, nor are they familiar with the academic discourse of their respective disciplines. In Foundation studies students learn writing skills that help to better prepare them for the exigencies of writing in their future university course. A process approach to writing is used, which consists of much recursive writing and students submit multiple drafts on different parts of their essay. Students are given didactic input on different essay genres each of which is syntactically more complex. To prepare students to be more technologically proficient the essays are marked online. To further enable students to research for resources for an argumentative essay they must be able to understand that writing in an electronic environment is underpinned by layers of learning that enhance, inquiry, technology and scholarship. Information literacy is taught in a computer laboratory with the students' writing teacher and the results of a survey on students opinions on their use of information literacy and writing in a computer mediated environment are presented. Many benefits of learning how to write in a computer assisted environment are presented as well as considerations for future writing pedagogy.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


The use of physical and mental representations in learning chemistry

Gail Chittleborough
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

Understanding chemical explanations requires the learner to have a well-developed mental model of the chemistry at the sub-microscopic level. The development of an individual's mental model is dependent on the use of physical representations such as models, diagrams, explanations, role plays etc. The learner is instructed that the physical representation is not always accurate or precise, that it is just one of many possible representations, that it should help to explain the chemistry, that it is useful for describing the nature of things and for making predictions, and that the representation may not remain valid if scientific ideas change. With experience a learner moves from thinking of the sub-microscopic level in terms of his or her favourite representation to having a personal mental model that incorporates information from all the representations. This shift is significant in the students' personal construction of knowledge. This building of knowledge requires the learner to identify and select the pertinent attributes of the physical representations, make interpretations of their importance and relate these ideas to the information from other physical representations. Without the physical representations the learner cannot develop their own mental representation. This paper reports on the use of physical representations to develop mental representations by first year university chemistry students.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Science Career Inventory (SCI): What motivates students to pursue higher degrees in science careers such as extractive metallurgy?

Dan Churach
AJ Parker Centre CRC for Hydrometallurgy
Murdoch University

Tony Rickards
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

There is ample evidence of a rapidly developing worldwide shortage of young people with strong physical science backgrounds who are interested in pursuing research in extractive metallurgy with the goal of earning a higher degree by research. This lack of students threatens continued research throughout the extractive metallurgy industry and bodes of a shortage of replacement research and management personnel as the current generation of staff nears retirement. The problem is of particular concern to Australia in that nearly 50% of all the export income earned per year is directly attributable to the natural resources sector. In order to acquire a better understanding of the motivational drivers that induce graduates with science and technical backgrounds to make a career choice in this area, the authors have developed a new tool, the Science Career Inventory (SCI). The SCI comprises six scales (financial, academic, relationship, lifestyle, altruistic and personal esteem) with six items in each scale. Three forms of the SCI have been developed: the Undergraduate Form, the Graduate Form and the Professional Form. This paper describes a pilot study trialling the SCI. Early qualitative and quantitative results concerning the reliability and validity of the instrument are reported.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


There's a difference: English as an international language (EIL) and English as an L1 variety (EL1), with special reference to Australian English and Australian educational contexts

Chris Conlan
Department of Languages and Intercultural Education
Curtin University of Technology

This paper argues that, as a result of their differing functional orientations, international English and L1 varieties of English such as Australian English can be contrasted at the levels of lexical mitigation, syntactic structure, and discourse organisation. It argues further that such differences can result in breakdowns in empathic communication when speakers for whom English is not an L1 variety interact with speakers for whom it is, and suggests that both educators and students for whom English is a second language need to be aware of such differences in both mainstream and ESL educational settings.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Educators and professional judgement: Are teachers professionals or technicians?

Elizabeth Criddle
The University of Western Australia

The recent introduction of the citizenship education curriculum package Discovering Democracy to Australian schools included professional development training to skill teachers in the 'implementation' of the package. This paper reflects on a research project that analysed the curriculum policy processes - including the professional development training - associated with the Discovering Democracy curriculum resource package. While there was a clear expectation from policy developers and professional development trainers that teachers should be technicians using the package as it was presented, this research revealed that teachers tended to reject prescribed teaching processes, instead asserting their view of themselves as self-determining professionals. This disparity between the expectations and the reality of teacher professionalism has wide ranging implications for the framing of future professional development experiences.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Enhancing literacy learning in a classroom community: Integrating information and communication technology into a literature based English program

Wendy Cumming-Potvin
School of Education
Murdoch University

Empowering students for academic and economic success in a world of technological change and cultural diversity involves new basics of literacy (Bianco & Freebody, 1997; Lankshear & Snyder, 2000; Luke & Freebody, 1999; Unsworth, 2002) These 'new basics' should allow students to reflect on and respond critically to texts. This presentation reports on a research project in progress, which aims to improve primary school students' construction and application of knowledge in literacy, particularly in relation to online learning. A qualitative approach, involving an action/reflection process is used to integrate ICT into an upper primary classroom to examine the role of scaffolding in students' literacy learning.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


A liberatory pedagogy: Incorporating diversity into higher education assessment

Dawn Darlaston-Jones and Lauren Breen
School of Psychology
Edith Cowan University

The past decade has seen greater enrolments in higher education from non-traditional student groups resulting in a far more diverse student population. Despite these changes, psychology has maintained a strong emphasis on more traditional teaching styles and assessment formats. The presenters argue that adherence to the dominant approach to teaching and learning contributes to a culture of oppression in higher education. A series of vignettes, based on our teaching experiences, will be used to facilitate discussion and illustrate how teaching and assessment methods can contribute to the oppression and marginalisation of students. Further, alternatives will be presented to illustrate alternative assessments that contribute to a culture of inclusivity that embraces diversity and promotes quality teaching and learning.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Q Methodology: An introduction to the analysis of subjectivity [1.5 hr Workshop]

Dawn Darlaston-Jones
School of Psychology
Edith Cowan University

Q Methodology was developed in 1935 by Charles Spearman's protege William Stephenson. Initially a source of controversy, Q has been readily and eagerly accepted in recent years for its ability to capture the subjective reality of the participant whilst enabling the researcher to objectively evaluate the data. In essence, Q methodology takes information drawn from a concourse (interviews, books, film, research, etc.) that represents the range of views or perspectives on a particular topic or issue from which a series of statements is derived. Participants are then required to sort these statements, called the Q-Sort, according to pre-determined criteria. Analysis is via centroid or principle components factor analysis that provides the researcher with a series of profiles to explain the different views of the participants. Drawing on examples from the facilitator's own research in higher education, this workshop will provide participants with an introductory understanding of Q methodology and its utility in providing clarity to subjectivity.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


An evaluation of a leadership portfolio project for principals

Robert C. Dixon and Kathryn C. Dixon
Curtin University of Technology

Early in 2002, the Swan Education District of Western Australian initiated a professional portfolio project for educational leaders. The portfolio was designed for principals to demonstrate leadership competency as underpinned by the Education Department of WA draft competency framework. This study is an evaluation of the project. The focus of the evaluation is on issues related to participant principals' perceptions of their experiences in creating the portfolio. It sought to clarify the adequacy of the training and preparation phase, whether or not the goals set were achieved, perceptions of the value of creating a portfolio and perceptions of any effects that resulted as a direct consequence of developing their portfolio.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


To stay or not to stay: The use of the Adolescent Coping Scale as a prognostic tool

Francis Donohoe
University of Notre Dame Australia

Teenagers can make responsible life decisions! The Adolescent Coping Scale (Frydenberg and Lewis, 1993) was used in research undertaken at the Catholic Agricultural College Bindoon on how students manage the transition from Year 10 to the fully vocational outcomes based residential course in Agriculture that is special to WA.

In the planning of the research, the ACS was intended to serve as a means of triangulating the data obtained from surveys and interviews on how the students were coping with the move from Year 10 to the Senior Agricultural course. However, as the research proceeded it became clear that there was the potential to use the instrument as a prognostic tool. Consequently, this presentation will:

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Education reconstruction in a transitional society: The case of East Timor

Jaya Earnest
Research Unit for the Study of Societies in Change
Curtin University of Technology

The conclusion of the electoral process in April 2002, paved the way for the declaration of independence of East Timor on 20 May 2002, making the tiny nation the world's newest democracy. The purpose of this study is to describe and analyse information on the education reconstruction process, and to make some recommendations about how to better promote a contextually relevant education in this fledgling democracy. The study is an inquiry into a transitional state struggling with multiple social, political, economic and educational constraints. The research used an interpretive case study approach within a qualitative framework. Multiple methods, sensitive to the context included in depth interviews, focus group interviews, school visits, accumulation of documentary data and reflective narratives. A model and framework for school improvement through effective leadership and on going, in service teacher professional development has been recommended at the conclusion of the first phase of the research study.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


An interactive knowledge environment for more active student learning via the Internet

Eilean Fairholme
Curtin University of Technology

Technological innovations deeply influence our educational system. What we teach has always been embedded in how we teach. Now our teaching is also inextricably associated with technology and the traditional transmission model of teaching that some have practiced for so many years no longer answers to the demands of our knowledge based society." (Laurillard & McAndrew, 2003).
In response to this pressure for change, educators construct online learning materials, and students 'use' them. How do both do this? What processes or models do they employ? It is not possible to know what goes on in people's heads, but the output can be regarded as an indication. I am collecting data for a dissertation on 'An interactive knowledge environment for more active student learning via the Internet'. I want my research to improve the processes of knowledge construction for online teaching. I see knowledge construction as dependent partly on the processes that educators are using to construct online learning materials, and partly on the design of an environment for students to interact with and add to existing knowledge.

I intend to describe an Interactive Knowledge Environment (IKE) where learners and teachers have co-authoring rights over content, and can regard themselves as equal members of a research team. I will equip the IKE with a range of scaffolding tools, including, for example, a documented process for the teacher to model metacognition as a possible precursor to facilitating students in building their own scaffolding.

The questions I would like to pose at the Forum are:

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Interacting effectively to develop language and literacy skills

Ann Galloway
Kurongkurl Katitjin: School of Indigenous Australian Studies
Edith Cowan University

Teachers may use teaching activities and strategies likely to be effective in helping to develop language and literacy skills, but the nature of their interaction with students also has an impact on the efficacy of classroom activities. The paper will draw on data collected as part of a cross sectoral research project investigating literacy teaching strategies being used with Pre-primary - Year 3 Indigenous students, some of whom have conductive hearing loss. The paper will discuss examples from different interactional contexts between teachers and students to identify characteristics of interaction that contribute to a positive learning environment for Indigenous students, especially those with conductive hearing loss.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Online collaborative projects: A journey for two Year 5 technology rich classrooms

Ian Gaynor and Barry Fraser
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

This paper documents the experiences of two teachers while they taught an online, thematic, outcome focused, portfolio based learning experience in two technology rich classrooms. This learning experience provided two classes of year 5 students with an opportunity to enhance their literacy, geography and information technology skills. The study, part of a longer term research program, explores the use of an online resource within a classroom where every student has a notebook computer and access to the Internet using wireless technology.

Two themes will be explored in this paper, firstly the pedagogical practices of the teachers and secondly the levels collaboration and cooperation of the students, while the teachers and students were working within the online environment.

The outcome of this online learning experience for the teachers was a dynamic, collaborative, student centred and constructivist classroom that enabled students to explore engaging and rewarding learning opportunities. This paper documents the teachers' experiences and students' journey while providing an informative and rewarding insight into a dynamic learning environment and presents a useful model of information technology integration.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


A good curriculum: The Kenyan experience

Regina Gitau
The University of Notre Dame Australia

A curriculum assessment survey was carried out in Kenya in 1999 for both Primary and Secondary Education. One of the major findings was that the curriculum was overloaded. Teachers spent most of their time completing the syllabus and did not adequately instil social values in the students (Kenya Institute of Education Research Series No. 63. 1999). A review of the curriculum in the year 2002 resulted in a reduction of subjects and an infusion of social skills in all the primary and secondary school subjects.

This paper will discuss what a 'good' curriculum means in relation to fostering students' discipline within the context of social skills. Shores, et al. (1993) suggest that curriculum may unintentionally serve as a major source of aversive stimuli for students and thereby influence behaviour that is counter to the goals of instruction. We note here that part of any curriculum is its context. The Kenyan context will be used to inform this discussion of a 'good' curriculum.

The paper will be based on the Kenyan primary school curriculum. The correlation of the Kenyan experience and reforms in Australia and other countries will be explored.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Cultural differences in parenting

Bronwyn Harman
Edith Cowan University

The aim of the study was to explore parenting strategies, values and beliefs about parenting, and family life for parents from a Muslim community in Perth, Western Australia. In addition the researchers were interested in the barriers to effective parenting and supports that enhance positive parenting and family life. Underpinning the research is the framework that parents in minority groups balance the values of their own culture against the values of the mainstream culture. Previous research indicates that cultural beliefs and values systems have a strong influence on parenting. This issue is pertinent to Western Australia because it is an increasingly multicultural society, with a large number of migrant families.

Data was collected through semi-structured qualitative interviews with 5 Muslim participants from Egypt, Kurdistan, Pakistan, Jordan and Ethiopia. The information provided by the participants identified positive and negative factors that influenced parents in their parenting. Five themes were identified: independence and freedom; support networks; employment, education and time constraints; discipline and own background factors; and, community's lack of tolerance. These themes provided a useful framework for discussing the implications of the findings for policy and planning and for the development of family supports tailored for different communities with different needs.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Can emotional intelligence be used to determine the emotional well-being of pupils or to predict school based success?

Vicky Houghton
Edith Cowan University

At the hub of best teaching practice is the teacher-pupil relationship. Research into the links between emotional intelligence and significant-other attachment transference in first year teachers as they attempt to successfully manage the teacher-pupil relationship, is being undertaken at Edith Cowan University. One purpose of this paper is to reflect the progress of this research. Emotional intelligence is still being debated in academic circles and there is a general lack of consensus regarding its definition. It is of concern therefore, that quantitative instruments for measuring pupils' emotional wellbeing may soon find their way into Western Australian schools. A second purpose of this paper is to keep open the debate into the value of using such instruments to measure and classify the affective domain of pupils and teachers.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Sampling a diverse population

Beatrice Imathiu
The University of Notre Dame Australia

How does one sample a population that is culturally and geographically diverse, difficult to quantify and highly mobile? The target population is that group of young, highly skilled professional people working in fluid workplaces. Lateral thinking has been generously applied to find unconventional methods that capture the attention of the target population, and enable research into the psychology of motivation as it relates to this diverse group of individuals.

Method triangulation is proposed with the purpose of maximising on the benefits of each methodology whilst aiming to keep costs of research down and within a time frame that can be effectively self managed. The data collection methods applied here are intended be intriguing enough to capture the interest of the relevant population and hold their attention to their successful completion of both instruments.

Not only must the tool and its application be exceptionally culturally sensitive it must be flexible enough to suit both the mobility of this cohort and appealing enough to the lifestyle of the highly skilled professional.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Learning online: A study of the evolution of teacher knowledge from "Newt" to "Nerd" and its transposition to the language classroom

Tracey Jones
Murdoch University

In 2002 a group of Western Australian teachers took part in the trial of an online LOTE methodology program (FLOTE) that has been developed at Murdoch University through Commonwealth Government funding from the NALSAS (National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools) strategy. This paper presents the initial findings of a study that was undertaken during this trial. It investigates the interactions of the trial cohort of teachers as they undertook the online professional development program. The program is designed to provide the requisite skills and knowledge to enable the teaching of another language. Teachers' engagement with, and reaction to this program are examined within this paper.

Specific areas examined include

As well as exploring the above areas the paper also examines the extent to which learning online has impacted on the classroom pedagogy of the teachers involved in the study.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Application to the real world: Making mathematics enjoyable to technical students in Brunei

Madihah Khalid
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

There are many factors that made students enjoy mathematics. Students who performed better in mathematics seemed to enjoy the subject more than those who are poor at it. Many students who are poor in mathematics consider mathematics as boring and could not connect mathematics that they learn in schools to the real world outside. In this paper, I will present some results on a study that emphasised real world application in classroom. Other features that might enhance students' interest and enjoyment such as cooperative learning, authentic assessment and innovative activities were also included. The data of the study was mainly collected via interviews, student opinion sheet and classroom observation.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Teachers' perception of the culture of physical education: Investigating the silence in elementary school

Jinhee Kim and Andrew Taggart
Edith Cowan University

The purpose of this study was to explore and describe teachers' perception of elementary physical education classes in Korea. Furthermore, this study tried to interpret how teachers' beliefs are reflected in their teaching. One elementary school was selected as a case study with seventeen teachers (seven: male, ten: female). Data were collected by participant observation, informal interview and field notes. Inductive analysis was used to analyse and organise the data throughout the research process. Three factors emerged that recognised teachers perceptions of physical education in elementary school: the deficiency of physical education, spiritlessness, and pedagogical knowledge. This perception appeared as the specific one, which was recognisable, institutional, unchanged, and isolated. The teachers' perceptions of physical education at the elementary school are varied.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Science classroom learning environments and their associations with students' attitudes and gender differences in India

Rekha B. Koul and Darrell F. Fisher
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

This paper reports part of a wider study that investigated classroom learning environment, and its association with students' attitudes and cognitive outcomes in year nine and ten science classrooms in Jammu, India. The questionnaire on What is Happening in My Class (WIHIC) and an attitude scale was administered on 1,021 students from 32 science classes in seven co-educational private schools. First, the study confirmed the validity and reliability of the WIHIC and attitude scale when used with an Indian sample in educational context. Significant positive associations between the WIHIC scales and student attitudes were found and supported the predictive validity of the WIHIC. The multiple regressions showed that, three scales namely, Investigation, Task Orientation and Equity were positively and significantly related to students' attitudes.

Perceptions of science classroom learning environment of male and female students in the same class were also investigated. The quantitative data provided a starting point from which other qualitative methods (interviews and observations) were used to gain a more in depth understanding of the classroom environments with special reference to students' attitudes and gender differences there. An educational critique has been used to describe the social, cultural, economical and political factors that may be responsible for the present prevailing learning environments. The findings from the quantitative data were supported by the findings of interviews and observations.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


A study of primary teachers' perceptions in relation to the implementation of education reform in Taiwan, with particular reference to aboriginal education

Sophie Lee
The University of Notre Dame Australia

This is an empirical case study of aboriginal education reform in Taiwan. The purpose is to describe the process of aboriginal education reform in Taiwan and how primary teachers have reacted to these changes. The 'gap' in educational achievement between aboriginal and non-aboriginal learners is the subject of national and international concern and is part of the Taiwanese experience. In theoretical discussions about the link between reform, policy and changing classroom practice, the question of the teachers' interpretation of the policy remains a significant matter.

For the purpose of this research a methodological triangulation will be used. It will involve a three stage case study.

  1. Comparing and contrasting the aboriginal education policy in Taiwan and elsewhere;
  2. The administration of a survey to primary teachers in the Saisiyat trial community and in the Amis tribal community in Taiwan [N=502];
  3. Interviews with teachers at each primary school which have volunteered to participate [N=50].

All three stages will involve investigation of the factors affecting teachers' ability and willingness to change classroom practices in response to the 1998 Aboriginal Education Act of Taiwan. Both the policy analysis and the survey data will help refine the interviews. Data analysis will employ techniques appropriate to the particular data form: statistical, using SPSS; and qualitative using QSR NUDIST 6.

This presentation will focus on the education of aboriginal Taiwanese primary children. The presentation will compare and contrast the Taiwanese experience with that of other indigenous populations and discuss methods of engaging with teachers' perceived understandings of the context of Taiwanese education.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Critiquing situatedness: An integrated approach to improving a researcher's practice

Bal Chandra Luitel and Peter C. Taylor
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

This presentation focuses on some methodological aspects of an ongoing Master's degree project that builds upon the researcher's autobiographical experiences of ethnographic moments. Informed by the recent construct of teacher education that research should improve educative practices of the researcher, the methodological edifice embodies alternative and multiple approaches to self study research by using multiple genres of writing - narrative, fictional storied, poetic and reflective representations - in order to represent the researcher's experiences as a mathematics student, teacher and teacher eductor in Nepal. Blending Van Manen's criteria of representing texts - orientation, strength, richness, and depth - for invoking readers with pedagogical thoughtfulness within auto-ethnographic texts that critique the situatedness of the researcher, the bricolage metaphor is central to the inquiry. [See also the SMEC group's session overview by Peter Taylor]

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Sense of belonging, coping and depression: Is there a connection in Year 7?

Wendy Jane Müller
Edith Cowan University

Sense of belonging is a fundamental psychological need. In schools it has been found to relate to achievement, school performance and motivation. Adolescents who experience sense of belonging have a stronger sense of identity and a positive perception of their own ability to cope no matter what the challenge. The absence of sense of belonging results in feelings of alienation, which often leads to depression with accompanying lowered interests in life and engagement in school. Research has indicated that certain coping styles maximise psychological well being whilst others contribute to continued depression. This study examines whether depression and certain coping styles predict sense of belonging in Year 7 students. Participants were 82 Year 7 students from 5 suburban primary schools in low to medium income areas. The Psychological Scale for School Membership (Goodenow, 1993a) measured sense of belonging; the Children's Depression Inventory (Kovacs, 1992) measured levels of depression and the Adolescent Coping Scale (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993) measured coping styles used. Standard multiple regression was used to analyse the data. Results indicated that depression and functional coping are significant predictors of sense of belonging whilst the dysfunctional coping style was not. Recommendations for future research include using only 12 year olds for the study; students should be selected from all income levels; teachers sense of belonging to their particular schools should be assessed as should family functioning and various other types of student assessments should be included.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


The relationship between university teachers' and university students' educational beliefs: Preliminary findings of a PhD study

Maria Northcote
Edith Cowan University

This paper reports on the preliminary findings of a PhD study that focussed on the relationship between university teachers' and students' educational beliefs. This interpretivistic study adopts a mixed methodological approach and is based on a theoretical framework that draws upon theories of epistemology, personal psychology and the conceptual theories of teaching and learning.

The initial findings of the study reveal a number of areas of interest that may contribute to current knowledge about educational beliefs. A combined analysis of interview transcripts and questionnaire responses indicates:

  1. participants' unprompted use of metaphorical language to describe their educational beliefs;
  2. participants possess both simple and complex beliefs that may seem outwardly inconsistent and do not necessarily reflect traditional hierarchical conceptual structures about teaching and learning;
  3. consistent links exist between epistemological and educational beliefs;
  4. increased evidence for the replication of the conceptual structures of teaching and learning;
  5. augmented emphasis, especially by students, on emotional and social aspects of learning and teaching;
  6. teachers and students' beliefs are very similar; and
  7. although teachers' and students' beliefs may not necessarily become more congruent across a learning period, their ability to construe each others' beliefs may increase.
The study's outcomes have implications for how university teachers' beliefs affect their students and, conversely, how university students' beliefs affect their teachers.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


A change of approach to teacher professional development

Gary Partington
Kurongkurl Katitjin: School of Indigenous Australian Studies
Edith Cowan University

This paper will discuss the teacher professional development model being employed in a state wide research project being conducted in Western Australia into the implementation and efficacy of literacy teaching strategies designed to improve literacy outcomes for Indigenous students who suffer from conductive hearing loss as a consequence of otitis media. As part of the Project, participating teachers receive on going, rather than only initial, professional development. This presentation will include discussion of this aspect of the Project and the approach to professional development that is being adopted. The work to date has demonstrated the value of this approach in building relations of trust, and in bringing about change in pedagogic practice. This suggests the approach has the potential to bring about sustained change in pedagogic practice, leading to better educational outcomes for Indigenous students.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


The missing link: A consideration of sociometrics in the design of focus group interviews

Lee Partridge
Graduate School of Education
The University of Western Australia

Focus groups and sociometry are two long standing contributors to the qualitative research toolbox. Central to the existence of both is the notion of group dynamics. Despite this common feature they appear to have travelled on parallel pathways rarely being employed as complementary techniques in social research. The author argues that there is a natural link between them that is seldom utilised. The apparent omission of such strategies in the empirical literature is queried and possible explanations for such an oversight offered. This paper seeks to draw attention to the use of sociometric techniques to assist in the selection of participants for focus group interviews and aid in the interpretation of the results. The particular relevance of this combination of techniques in educational research involving child and adolescent participants is considered. A brief overview of the theoretical and empirical literature of sociometry and focus group interviews is given and the natural link between them discussed.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Tutoring at the mercy of technology: Examining online tutor competencies and the factors which affect those competencies

Doug Reid
Edith Cowan University

Since the Internet is a relatively new phenomenon, there have been attempts to impose more traditional approaches to control its use in educational settings. There are a number of sources of inertia to pedagogical change including the lack of formal and informal apprenticeship opportunities in online tutoring (Salmon, 2000). Education finds itself in a situation where online tutors are acting as pathfinders in untraversed territory in the hope of achieving success.

This study examined the perceptions of online tutors, students and unit coordinators to discover what they indicated were the competencies possessed by successful online tutors. An ethnographic approach (a combined qualitative and quantitative design) was used for one semester in six online tertiary units. Data collection occurred from before the units started and finished after the units ended. Data analysis began with the first collection of data and continued throughout and after the data collection ended.

Online tutors' competencies were identified and classified according to five competency categories created by the researcher based on the current literature. The study answered a number of questions regarding what the educational stakeholders indicated were the key tutor competencies, as well as identifying factors which affect the successfulness of the competencies.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Predicting student views of the classroom: A Californian perspective

Tony Rickards, Perry den Brok, Eric Bull and Darrell Fisher
Curtin University of Technology, Utrecht University and California State University

In this study, it was determined which factors influenced students' perceptions of their learning environment. Students' perceptions were measured with the What Is Happening In this Class questionnaire (WIHIC). Data were analysed for a large sample of US (California) middle school classes. Several variables were included in the study, such as student and teacher gender, student ethnic background and socio-economic background (SES), student age, but also class and school variables, such as class ethnic composition, class size and school SES. Hierarchical analyses of variance (multilevel analyses) were conducted to investigate separate and joint effects of these variables. In the presentation, we will report on effect sizes of these variables and on the amounts of variance they explained. Results indicate that some scales of the WIHIC are more inclined to measure personal, idiosyncratic features of students' perceptions of their learning environments, whereas other scales contain more variance at the class level.

Also, different variables affect different scale scores. A variable that consistently affected students' perceptions, regardless of the element of interest in the learning environment was student gender. On average, girls perceived their learning environment as more positive than did boys.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


What does the Australian teacher look like: Australian typologies for teacher-student interpersonal behaviour

Tony Rickards, Perry den Brok and Darrell Fisher
Curtin University of Technology and Utrecht University

Development of an Australian typology of interpersonal teacher behaviour has not been done before. This study reports on the first such typology. Teacher interpersonal behaviour was measured by asking students for their perceptions of their teachers' interpersonal behaviour using the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (QTI). Earlier work of the QTI in the Netherlands revealed eight different interpersonal styles. These eight styles were later confirmed in an American sample of Secondary school teachers. The present study investigates to what extent the earlier found typology also applies to a sample of Australian secondary school teachers. For this purpose, student perception data have been aggregated to the class level. We first checked with SPSS whether the eight types found in the Netherlands and US were also present in the Australian data. A cluster analysis using various clustering methods and procedures was used to determine Australian typologies and compare this to earlier Dutch findings.

Results of the cluster analyses were verified by analyses of variance (ANOVA), by plotting QTI scale scores graphically and by presenting a set of sector graphics to two independent researchers and having them sort these into different styles as found in the statistical analyses.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Factors influencing students' perceptions of their teachers' interpersonal behaviour: A multilevel analysis

Tony Rickards and Perry den Brok
Curtin University of Technology and Utrecht University

This study investigates which student, teacher and class characteristics affect students' perceptions of their teachers' interpersonal behaviour. Using the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (QTI), two important dimensions of teacher interpersonal behaviour were investigated: influence (dominance vs. submission) and proximity (cooperation vs. opposition). Earlier work with the QTI in the U.S. and Netherlands has shown that, in those countries, several factors affect student's perceptions. These include student and teacher gender, student and teacher ethnic background, student age, teacher experience, class size, student achievement and subject. It has been found that each of these variables has a distinctive effect, but also that they interact with each other in determining students' perceptions. For the present study, we performed a meta-analysis on a large data set of student perceptions from the QTI for Australian secondary school teachers. QTI dimension scores examined against factors such as: gender, class size and subject. To investigate separate and combined effects of variables, we conducted hierarchical analyses of variance (distinguishing between the school, class and student level) with ML3E software. This presentation will report for the first time in Australia on the effect sizes and variance explained by these variables.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


"I am unmusical!": The verdict of self judgement

Eve Ruddock and Sam Leong
The University of Western Australia

The phenomenon of people labelling themselves as unmusical is widespread and terms such as talent, giftedness and musicality characterise the research field. This paper presents four case studies of adult non-musicians (a teacher, a teacher educator, a lawyer and a public servant), providing perspectives of the impact of self view on their self judgement of musicality. A major negative consequence is the deprivation of self from future active participation in and enjoyment of music making.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Using autobiography to map an interpretive researcher's sensitivities towards her subject/s

Elisabeth Settelmaier
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

In this presentation I shall argue that autobiography can be a useful means of establishing the personal/professional significance of research into teaching and learning. According to Denzin and Lincoln (2000) the gendered, multiculturally situated researcher approaches the world with a set of ideas (ontology), that specifies a set of questions (epistemology) that are then examined (methodology) in specific ways. The ontological, methodological, and epistemological choices related to the research can be traced back to the researcher's autobiography. Autobiography can thus help educators map their growing consciousness by identifying nodal moments in their lives and by revealing patterns of experience. I shall illustrate my argument with examples of how my autobiography strongly influenced my research choices in my PhD study. Relating my upbringing in post-war Austria to an inquiry into moral education within a science education context allowed for reinterpretation for both reader and writer. [See also the SMEC group's session overview by Peter Taylor]

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Aboriginal cultural conceptualisations in English words: A study of primary school children in Perth

Farzad Sharifian
WAIER Early Career Award Recipient 2003
The University of Western Australia

National measures of achievement among Australian school children suggest that Aboriginal students, considered as a group, are those most likely to end their schooling without achieving minimal acceptable levels of literacy and numeracy. This study explored the possibility that, despite intensive exposure to non-Aboriginal society, Aboriginal students in metropolitan Perth may maintain, through a distinctive variety of English, distinctive conceptualisations which may help to account for their lack of success in education. In this study, a research technique called Association-Interpretation was developed to tap into cultural conceptualisations across two groups of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. The technique was composed of two phases:

  1. the 'association' phase, in which the participants gave associative responses to a list of 30 everyday words such as 'home' and 'family', and
  2. the 'interpretation' phase, in which the responses were interpreted from an emic viewpoint and compared within and between the two groups.
The analysis of the data provided evidence for the operation of two distinct, but overlapping, conceptual systems among the two cultural groups studied. The two systems are integrally related to the dialects spoken by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, that is, Aboriginal English and Australian English. The discrepancies between the two systems largely appear to be rooted in the cultural systems which give rise to these dialects while the overlap between the two conceptual systems appears to arise from several phenomena such as experience in similar physical environments and access to 'modern' life style. The results of this study have implications for the professional preparation of educators dealing with Aboriginal students.


Testing models of collaboration among high school science teachers in an electronic environment

Punipa Suntisukwongchote
Murdoch University

Teacher collaboration is one of strategies for fostering teacher development. In a complex modern world, the structure of the school has not changed; teachers rarely have time to collaborate with each other. The email/Internet technology encourages teacher collaboration to be emerged with personal interaction. Email is rapid, permitting responses within the same day or even a few hours. On the network, teachers can seek advice from teachers on other campuses and around the world, and at the same time, they can build their relationship with other users. In Western Australia, the email network for science curriculum leaders has been established in both primary and secondary schools. In 1998, a study showed that for government high schools 93 heads of science department have connected to the email network, and more than two thirds of them have their computers connected to the World Wide Web.

This study aims to test Fishbough's models of collaboration among high school science teachers on email/Internet, and presents a detailed science web site analysis. Science teachers at twenty-four government secondary schools and science web sites in five selected continents were the sample of this study. In 1999-2001, the study found that consulting model of collaboration is frequently used by science teachers and science web sites from five chosen continents.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Autobiographical methods in educational research [Symposium]

Peter Taylor
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

In the Handbook of Qualitative Research (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000), emerging forms of experimental qualitative research include (amongst others) researcher reflexivity and alternative writing genres. In recent years, graduate students at Curtin's Science and Mathematics Education Centre have been practising experimental qualitative inquiry. An exciting innovation has been the use of autobiographical methods (including auto-ethnography) and impressionistic writing styles. These innovative approaches are perhaps best situated in the arts based domain of educational research, and yet science and mathematics educators, who are normally situated in the domain of scientific inquiry, are finding them to be very fruitful for self study. This interactive symposium, coordinated by Dr Peter Taylor, will afford the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of these relatively new forms of qualitative research, particularly in the context of Doctoral and Masters thesis research. Discussion will be focussed by presentations of three SMEC postgraduate students [see abstracts by Steve Benson, by Bal Chandra Luitel and Peter C. Taylor, and by Elisabeth Settelmaier].

Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.) (2000). The handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

[Scheduling for the first of these presentation]


Learning biology with computer multimedia: Roles of peer learning

Chi-Yan Tsui and David F. Treagust
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

This paper examines the roles of peer effects on learning science with computer multimedia in six dyads (n = 12) of Years 10 and 12 students in three Perth senior high schools. The study utilised a case based, interpretive research approach and a multidimensional conceptual change model for interpreting the data. In particular, Vygotskian perspectives were used to interpret conceptual learning. Over four to six weeks, students in each case study learnt biology in their teachers' normal lessons that included computer activities involving an interactive program BioLogica and other web based multimedia. Data from multiple sources were collected - online tests and questionnaires, computer log files, classroom observations including some video data, and teacher and student interviews. Findings indicated that most of the case students enjoyed using the computer multimedia and they generally improved their conceptual learning after instruction. Four roles of peer learning - peer support, peer co-construction, peer collaboration and peer tutoring - were identified in these six case studies. Data analyses and triangulations pointed to the roles of peer effects on learning within the zone of students' proximal development in ICT rich learning environments. The findings on peer effects have implications for improving student learning of science within the peer context, particularly when using ICT.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


The effect of an educational package on the attitudes, knowledge and practice of Registered Nurses working in the emergency department of three metropolitan hospitals in Western Australia

Christine Vecchi
The University of Notre Dame Australia

The increasing levels of violence within the community and surrounding areas have brought new forensic demands on the already overflowing health care system. The numbers of forensic patients that present to hospital emergency departments continue to increase. Effective and appropriate care requires ED nurses to have new knowledge. With advanced forensic knowledge, Registered Nurses could initiate forensic protocols without delay.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing a forensic nursing educational package in three WA emergency departments (ED). The study will investigate the ED nurse's perception and recognition of forensic patients, forensic evidence collection procedures and current hospital policy and procedures related to forensic issues. Key forensic stakeholders will be interviewed to establish the "wants and needs" of the forensic and health care community. Secondly, a forensic nursing educational package that includes a forensic kit will be implemented into three emergency departments.

An evaluation based on interviews, chart audits, a questionnaire, personal journals and a telephone log will explore how ED nurses can contribute to maximising forensic patients outcomes.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Innovation today

Tanya M Vernon
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

This paper aims to define innovation as contextualised in education in Australia. While the primary focus will be upon higher education, the importance of generic education in a knowledge based economy and linkages to Information, and Communication Technologies (ICT) will be discussed. Further contributions include exploration of the following concepts: innovation cycle, technology transfer, intellectual property, and commercialisation, for which contextual definitions and graphical illustrations will be provided. The above will be facilitated via review of current government publications, journals, and texts.

Today innovation is inescapable. In the commercial world, innovation is recognisable, if nothing else, by superlatives (smaller, faster, ultra, turbo, super, bigger). Increasingly, however, government and universities, (among others) are laying claim to the term.

While "Innovation Action Plan" and "Curtinnovation" certainly conjure visions of something important and immediate, what does it really mean in terms of Universities, schools, funding, research or teaching? What does innovation look like in these settings and contexts?

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Using metaphors to explore teachers' perceptions of school science curriculum: A case of Indonesian lower secondary schools

Wahyudi and David F. Treagust
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

This study reports the findings of study investigating teachers' perceptions of school science curriculum in an Indonesian lower secondary school context. Using metaphors, teachers' perceptions of formal and operational levels of curriculum were explored. Samples of this study consist of six science teachers, who taught at three rural and three urban schools, respectively, and two superintendents who are in charge of these schools. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews using Schubert's (1986) framework of curriculum metaphors. Prior to the commencement of the study, validation of the interview protocol was conducted with five Indonesian graduate students from the Faculty of Education at Curtin University of Technology. This validation mandated the use of four curriculum metaphors during interview. These metaphors were:

Two assertions emerged from this study. First, teachers commonly perceived the science curriculum at the formal level (curriculum document) as an Intended Learning Outcome (ILO) and as Content or Subject Matter. Secondly, teachers held various perceptions of the science curriculum at the operational level that included teachers' beliefs about their role in teaching, and their metaphors for the teaching and learning process.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Monitoring the development of an outcomes based, technology rich learning environment

David Wood
Sevenoaks Senior College
Jill M. Aldridge, Barry J. Fraser and Darrell L. Fisher
Curtin University of Technology

This study involved the validation of a widely applicable and distinctive questionnaire for assessing students' perceptions of their actual and preferred classroom learning environments in outcomes focused, technology rich learning settings. The data included 1035 student responses from 80 classes. The data provided evidence for the validity and reliability of the questionnaire for use at the senior high school level across a number of different subjects. Also, the data were used to investigate

  1. associations between students' perceptions of the learning environment and their academic achievement, attitude towards the subject, attitudes toward computer use and academic efficacy,
  2. whether differences exist between the attitudes and learning environment perceived and preferred by students of different genders and enrolled in different courses,
  3. the success of educational programs in promoting outcomes focused and ICT rich classroom learning environments.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


I see or I saw? A real problem for Thais

Tikamporn Wuttipornpong
The University of Western Australia

This paper presents preliminary findings from the first phase of a linguistic study, exploring Thai tertiary students' difficulties when using English tenses at sentence level. The findings were drawn from a questionnaire adapted from Hinkel (1992). The questionnaire was designed to

Each sentence contained verbs with different inflections, and in some cases, temporal adverbials. For each sentence, students were asked to identify the time of action and aspect by selecting temporal locations and aspectual characteristics given in a multiple choice form. Based on the findings, the paper will also discuss possible areas of interference where there are suggestions that students' temporal conceptualisations represented in their L1 interfered with their interpretation of temporal representations in English. A brief preliminary discussion of plausible implications of the findings for the teaching of English tenses will be included.

[Scheduling for this presentation]


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