Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

20th Annual Research Forum at Edith Cowan University

Forum 2005 Abstracts

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

Preparing tomorrow's citizens today: Middle years' success stories

Jennie Bickmore-Brand
Southern Cross College
Lesley Newhouse-Maiden
Edith Cowan University

In this paper, we reflect on the effectiveness of an innovative life-long learning graduation program implemented for young adolescents in grades six (6) and seven (7), especially for those at educational risk, in a low-fee paying private College. The program aimed to broaden the student's perceptions about what constitutes learning and their relationships with the immediate and wider communities in which they live, "work" and play. Features of the program rewarded students for looking outside their own lives to see how they might make a difference to the quality of other people's lives. By listening to the stories of both 'high achieving' and 'at risk' students, we highlight what we learned of their satisfaction in being altruistic and being civic-minded. We found that the program has helped students to unpack what it was they are gifted in, and how some have maximised this to their advantage. After three years of operation the program, we concluded that it is having wide reaching effects on the perception of the school community about how young people can become empowered. Not only has the program been shown to motivate students to achieve personal goals and engage in going outside their own comfort zones (regardless of gender), it has also established an environment for families to reconnect.

Dr Jennie Bickmore-Brand, Head of Educational Studies, Southern Cross College
Dr Lesley Newhouse-Maiden, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Joondalup Campus, Edith Cowan University

Email: jbrand@scc.edu.au, l.newhouse_maiden@ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Pedagogical writing issues of international students

Thelma Blackford
Department of Languages and Intercultural Education
Curtin University of Technology

For international students tertiary level writing can be problematic. Differences in the use of rhetorical structure can present difficulties and students from countries where the language is not cognate with English such as Japan, China, Indonesia, and the Middle East have greater difficulty dealing with English rhetorical structures. Many international students complain about the difficulty of accessing academic disciplinary discourse and express regret at lacking the local (Australian) knowledge to be able to complete assignments or understand. Another area of concern is that of group work. Collaborative team work is well recognised as a skill that will be professionally beneficial and yet such barriers as language, apathy, prejudice and cultural-emotional connectedness impede the successful completion of group assignments. Another barrier can be the variance in approaches to writing composition where values promoted by a Western culture such as individualism in 'voice' and textual ownership are not similarly embraced. In addition, online environments are not culturally neutral and the need for appropriate sensitivity to instructional design is crucial as students' preferences and backgrounds can influence both the impact and use of WWW sites. Finally the need for adequate learning support systems is discussed.

Thelma Blackford teaches on the Foundation Studies Pathway program at Curtin University and is interested in the processing of the argumentative research essay, information literacy skills, pedagogical and socio-cultural issues of international students. She also takes a keen interest in the operationalising of the internationalised curriculum at Curtin University.

Email: t.blackford@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Dusty files and dusty tracks: Research methodology for extracting information from devious sources

Nan Broad
University of Notre Dame Australia

In order to examine the effect of British hegemonic colonial rule, which enabled its colonists to develop a unique Australian character, it is necessary to scrutinise the people transposed on to the environment. A study of the first paths of communication and transport, the stock routes in the North West of Australia, illustrated a dichotomous situation of men against nature. Users and maintainers of the routes conflicted with each other and with desk bound bureaucrats, but always with an omnipotent environment dominating their activities. My research led me to read old institutional files containing yellowed, torn and fragile reports and correspondence which spoke of the understated anguish of coping with distance and aridity in the outback. Then I travelled the real world, the routes themselves - undemarcated and unsigned paths although gazetted as main thoroughfares and marked on maps. The ancient files and extended journeys produced a new perspective to the development of Australian traits, that of improvisation, tenacity, patience and dry humour to match dry country. My research demanded of me patience and tenacity to study multiple files, and humour to improvise a passage through innumerable creek crossings and stony hills to follow the old routes.

Email: nanbroad@bigpond.net.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Conclusions about the efficiencies and effectiveness of educational
research methodologies in investigating how students learn

Gail Chittleborough
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

Examining how students learn is not only looking at what they know but how they came to know what they know. In this way this research focused on the process of learning as well as the content of learning. This paper examines the educational research methodologies that were used in investigating both of these aspects of how students learn chemistry. Multiple research methodologies were adopted, including surveys, cross-sectional studies and naturalistic inquiries. A variety of both qualitative and quantitative data sources were used. The choice of data sources, the samples and the difficulties and limitations of the research methodology is discussed. The validity and reliability of the interpretive analysis is demonstrated with examples from the research into how students learn chemistry. While the research was focussed on particular research questions, the choice of methodology has some commonality with all research situations. The research process itself is a dynamic and developing process and the parallel between the process and content of learning is made to the process and content of research.

Email: G.Chittleborough@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Attitudes towards the use of Bahasa Indonesia in the English Education Study Programme classrooms at Sekolah Tinggi Keguruan Dan Ilmu Pendidikan (STKIP) Cokroaminoto Palopo

Chris Conlan and Rusdiana Junaid
Curtin University of Technology

This paper focuses on attitudes towards the use of Bahasa Indonesia in the English Language Teacher Training Programme classrooms at Sekolah Tinggi Keguruan dan Ilmu Pendidikan (STKIP) Cokroaminoto Palopo. The research had three objectives: to investigate the attitudes of the lecturers towards the use of Bahasa Indonesia in the English classes at STKIP Cokroaminoto Palopo; to investigate the attitudes of students towards the use of Bahasa Indonesia in these same classes; and to investigate the reasons given by both lecturers and students for their attitudes towards the use of Bahasa Indonesia.

The study involved the total population of lecturers (10) and a sample of 60 of the 383 students of the English Education Study Program. Analysis of the data revealed that a majority of both lecturers and students had positive attitudes towards the use of Bahasa Indonesia in the English Education Study Program classrooms at STKIP Cokroaminoto Palopo, and that reasons for these attitudes could be classified into five main categories.

Dr Chris Conlan is a senior lecturer and Coordinator of Research and Postgraduate Studies, and Ms Rusdiana Junaid is a postgraduate student, in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Education, Curtin University of Technology.

Email: C.Conlan@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

A professional electronic portfolio for educational leaders: the production phase

Robert Dixon
Faculty of Education, Language Studies & Social Work
Curtin University of Technology

In November 2004 a group of eleven educational leaders from educational support, secondary and primary schools in Perth, Western Australia, were selected to take place in a trial of an innovative software package designed by the author of this paper, to facilitate the creation of a professional electronic portfolio. A leadership framework developed for the Department of Education and Training, Western Australia (DETWA) with a consortium of academics (Wildy & Louden 2002), underpinned the portfolio. Several competencies and characteristics of school leaders guided the structure of the portfolio. The collection of authentic artefacts to demonstrate these competencies and characteristics and integrate them into the professional electronic portfolio characterised phase 2 of the study. This part of the study investigated the production phase of the trial and participant perceptions as to how an electronic portfolio promoted professionalism and accountability in their personal educational leadership responsibilities. The project followed aspirant leaders as they underwent the process of constructing an e-folio over six months, in an effort to understand the efficacy of an electronic portfolio as a medium for demonstrating leadership, for improving leadership and as a mechanism for self reflection and analysis.

Email: r.dixon@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Making a case for portfolio work: Students' responses to our attempt at
challenging the traditional educational paradigm of input education

Eva Dobozy, Val Faulkner and Janet Hunter
Edith Cowan University

Our teacher education program employs a combination of traditional assessment practices, portfolios and student performances. It is the learning portfolio that is of interest to this presentation. Education students in the Kindergarten through Primary Program of the Bachelor of Education course at ECU Joondalup were required to compile portfolios as evidence of their learning and professional growth. Outcomes based education approaches firmly acknowledge the place of the portfolio as a significant assessment tool. We explore the linkages between an outcomes based approach and authentic assessment through the use of learning portfolios.

Our study is timely because of the continuing debate about the benefits and challenges of an outcomes based education approach in the Western Australian media (The Sunday Times, 26.06.2005 and ABC Radio, 28.06.2005), in online forums (online opinion, May 2005) at teacher-parent meetings, in front of classroom doors and in university corridors. Students' voices need to be integrated within the debate about the effectiveness of outcomes based education practices. Students in three units were given the opportunity to reflect upon the benefits, challenges and frustrations of portfolio work as authentic assessment tasks. Despite their frustrations, mostly with the time involved in completing the task, the majority of students could see the benefits and therefore indicated willingness to consider designing and implementing portfolio assessment tasks as part of their own teaching practices.

Dr Eva Dobozy, Lecturer in Education Studies, Dr Val Faulkner and Ms Janet Hunter, School of Education, Joondalup Campus, Edith Cowan University, 100 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup WA 6027

Email: e.dobozy@ecu.edu.au, v.faulkner@ecu.edu.au, j.hunter@ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

The effect of the control on comparative adolescent coping profiles

Francis Donohoe
University of Notre Dame

In a study of student management of the transition from Year 10 to the senior residential course in agriculture at the Catholic Agricultural College, the author employed the Adolescent Coping Scale (Frydenberg and Lewis 1993) to develop a computer generated comparative profiles of student coping.

The presentation will outline the development of the profiles and simultaneously demonstrate the effect of the control on the appearance and, hence, the usefulness of the profile.

Email: francisdon@bigpond.com
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Issues of English language proficiency for international students

Patricia Dooey
Curtin University of Technology

In the last 20 years or so, there has been a phenomenal increase in the number of international, full fee paying students applying to study in Australian universities. The revenue provided in this way has helped to address the problems faced by cash starved universities facing recurring funding cuts over the same period. Furthermore, the presence of such students on any university campus provides immeasurable enrichment to the student body in terms of cultural diversity and research potential, and indeed it is very tempting in an ever increasing global market, to be as flexible as possible with prospective international students. However, the process of admission also demands careful consideration on the part of the various stakeholders involved. Although several factors need to be taken into account, the most obvious and certainly of primary importance would be the need to prove proficiency in the English language.

Given that English is the dominant means of communication in the university, all students are required to draw from a complex web of linguistic resources to construct meaning and to complete the range of tasks required of them during their tertiary studies. This volume deals with the overarching theme ofof issues of English language proficiency for overseas students studying in an Australian university. This focus can be viewed from many angles, and there are certainly many key facets involved, a selection of which is explored in the papers of the portfolio. These include the following broad areas: recruitment and admissions, language testing and technology, curriculum and inclusivity, English language support, academic conduct and finally, the specific needs of international students, as viewed from their own perspective.

Trish Dooey is a lecturer and IELTS Senior Examiner in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Education, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845

Email: P.Dooey@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Young refugee perspectives on psychosocial well-being

Jaya Earnest
Curtin University of Technology

Today's migration patterns have shifted in ways that bring new challenges to the field of refugee mental health. There is now clear recognition that in a country as culturally and linguistically diverse as Australia, specific attention must be paid to the cultural dimensions and the specific needs of immigrants and refugees. It has been clearly demonstrated that refugee children and adolescents are vulnerable to the effects of pre-migration, most notably exposure to trauma. Refugee children are often torn between their homeland culture, the culture of the new country and the culture of refugee resettlement. This research study interweaves migration, resettlement and identity formation into an understanding of psychosocial well-being. The conceptual framework used for this qualitative study viewed psychosocial well-being of an individual with respect to three core domains: human capacity (mental health and well being); social ecology (relationships within and between communities and the environment) and culture and values (the value and meaning given to behaviour and experience). This paper presents a broad literature review and preliminary results of an ongoing study being carried out in three government high school in Perth.

Dr Jaya Earnest is a lecturer in the Centre for International Health, Research Unit for the Study of Societies in Change, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6845.

Email: j.earnest@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

The effect of a professional development program on the promotion of scientific awareness

Rosemary Evans
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

The Kids' Science State (KSS) initiative in Western Australia is a partnership between Scitech Discovery Centre in Perth and Rio Tinto through the Rio Tinto WA Future Fund, with some in kind support from the State Government and other education institutions. Three significant aims of the project are: to enhance the skills and understanding of teachers; to develop teacher confidence; and to promote scientific literacy. This paper introduces a qualitative study concerning primary science teachers' experiences of professional development provided by the KSS relating to the understanding of scientific literacy. This paper examines the definition of scientific literacy and the intended methodology the researcher will use to identify professional development strategies that may develop guidelines for best practice in promoting scientific literacy. Additionally, the study aims to determine the characteristics of the resources/approaches that are most effective in assisting primary teachers' confidence, skills and willingness to teach science.

Email: rosemary.evans@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Raising science awareness through an environmentally focused school-community project

Rosemary Evans, Rehka Koul and Leonie Rennie
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

The Australian Science Teachers Association's School, Community, Industry Partnerships in science (SCIps) project provided a grant to a wildlife centre to work with a nearby primary school to develop an educational program for the community. The main aim of the project was to increase the science awareness of the school and wider community. There are many tiger snakes in the area and safety and conservation issues are the key to the program. This paper reports a qualitative study of the program and its implementation. Issues relating to cooperation between the wild life centre and the school, and the involvement of the community are explored and implications drawn.

Email: rosemary.evans@curtin.edu.au, R.Koul@curtin.edu.au, L.Rennie@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

The influence of curriculum reforms on the classroom behaviour of primary school students in Kenya

Regina Gitau* and Roger J Vallance
University of Notre Dame Australia

This is a report of a doctoral project on behaviour management in Kenyan primary schools. The project utilised a mixed methods approach in order to determine whether a new, state wide curriculum had measurable effects on student behaviours as reported by teachers, school records and the students themselves. The study collected data over a two year period so that a nested data collection scheme was employed to evaluate both the effect of the introduction of the curriculum and the length of time the curriculum was experienced by the students.

The sample included two comparable primary schools in suburban Nairobi, Kenya, in 2003 and 2004. Control classes that did not experience the curriculum were contrasted against those classes that had experienced the new curriculum for one or two years. Observation data, school records, student and teacher surveys, and student and teacher interviews comprise the data collected.

This project is contextualised by the researcher's deep concern for the welfare of primary students, many of whom found the older state curriculum unhelpful to learning and their experience of schools in some cases hostile and threatening even to physical health. The research is at this stage incomplete and this report describes the work done so far in the analysis of the data.

* Presented in memorium: Regina Gitau died on 17 April 2005 after an illness that developed quickly, hospitalised her for some weeks and despite medicine's best efforts claimed her life. This report is written by her academic supervisor to acknowledge the importance of the work Regina had done and the value of the data she was analysing in preparation for writing her thesis as an EdD student at the University of Notre Dame Australia. It is hoped that the sparse referencing of this report is accepted as a limitation of this particular process of writing rather than a weakness of the scholarship of Regina, whose notes, files and data I have tried as best one can to properly do justice. RJV.

Email: rvallance@nd.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]
[Photos 2 - In Memorium]

Research methodology workshop: Researching longitudinally

Jan Gray, Gary Partington, Ann Galloway and Graeme Gower
Edith Cowan University

This forum will discuss a number of issues that arise in running research projects, from the perspective of conducting a large scale longitudinal study. These issues include ensuring informed consent of participants; working with stakeholders; managing the research project; and reporting outcomes. While many of the principles involved are common to most research projects, the way some of these issues are handled may differ when working on a larger scale and over a longer time period. The discussion will highlight the complexity of factors that need to be considered to ensure viable research outcomes are achieved. This interactive session will be of particular interest to early career researchers.

Email: jan.gray@ecu.edu.au, a.galloway@ecu.edu.au, g.partington@ecu.edu.au, g.gower@ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Curriculum policy processes: Comparative case studies

Joanne Griffiths, Lesley Vidovich and Anne Chapman
Graduate School of Education
The University of Western Australia

Curriculum reform, particularly with the ascendancy of policies on outcomes based education, has accelerated in many countries across the globe since the late 1990s. Western Australia, the focus of this study, is no exception. In 1998 the state government mandated that all government and non-government schools must demonstrate compliance with the Curriculum Framework (CF) by 2004. This paper presents case studies of curriculum policy and practices at one non-government and one government school as they responded to the CF. These findings are part of a larger study into the dynamics within and between the stakeholders and sectors in developing and responding to the CF in Western Australia, within a 'bigger picture' context of national and global trends. This paper draws on critical theory and post-structuralist approaches to policy analysis. In acknowledgment of agency at all levels of the policy process, in depth semi-structured focus groups and individual interviews were conducted to understand the views of curriculum leaders and teachers at each site about curriculum reform. Although there is no intention to generalise from two case study schools, interesting meta-level contrasts and commonalities arose that may provide 'food for thought' about curriculum reform in other contexts.

Email: jogriffiths@iinet.net.au, Lesley.Vidovich@uwa.edu.au, Anne.Chapman@uwa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Computer supported intentional learning environments (CSILE): Effects on
student achievement, attitudes, higher order thinking, and metacognition

Sharinaz A. Hassan
Graduate School of Education
The University of Western Australia

This presentation will report results of a study on the effects of Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environments (CSILE) on learning processes and outcomes in secondary level classrooms. CSILE is an online network system designed to provide support for collaborative learning and inquiry. In this study, 70 year 9 students in one private school in Perth, Western Australia completed two Chemistry units either in traditional collaborative groups or in groups that relied on the CSILE software. There were three classes, two experimental and one control. A quasi-experimental design with random assignment of classes to conditions was used to evaluate the impact of CSILE on student achievement, attitudes, and higher order thinking (ie., cognitive and metacognitive) skills within those two conditions. A broad range of measures was used, which included achievement and higher order thinking skills tests, students' ratings on standardised attitude scales, a metacognition test, and analyses of students' critical thinking skills based on evaluation sessions, research summaries and videos. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for use of this technology in secondary school settings.

Email: sharinaz@yahoo.com
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Mixed model research: Self concept and the highly skilled professional

Beatrice Imathiu and Roger Vallance
University of Notre Dame Australia

Recent research has argued that self concept, long considered to be a make up of universally desirable constructs, may present constructions of the self that are attenuated and in many cases reversed when investigated within cultures different from the more individualistic North America.

The population under study here are highly skilled Kenyan professionals both in Kenya and her diaspora in professions ranging from medicine, academia and engineering to career diplomats. The Mixed Model concept plays a three-pronged role: to enable the collection of data from around the world and maximise validity by aiming for completeness and confirmation across data from different methods, constructs, locations and professions.

The Mixed Methods were quantitative and qualitative in nature comprising an electronic survey designed by the researcher, a similar paper questionnaire and follow up, in depth interviews for a total 471 sets of data. The Mixed Concepts, used to achieve a fuller picture, included the often researched constructs of Self Esteem, Control, Self-Efficacy and Motivation. Finally, the Mixed Locations aspect incorporated participants in Kenya's urban and rural cities of Nairobi and Meru respectively with data from international participants collected via an electronic survey.

This paper will present an overview of methodology and the findings used in proposing a brave new model of presenting the self concept.

Email: bimathiu@nd.edu.au, rvallance@nd.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Primary school students' perceptions of their teachers' interpersonal
behaviour: Identifying exemplary teachers

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

The paper reports on part of the results of a large scale study aimed at determining students' perceptions of their teachers' interpersonal behaviour when teaching science in Australian primary schools. In this part of the study, a total of 810 students from 34 classes in six different Western Australian Schools were asked for their perceptions of their teachers' interpersonal behaviour using the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction (QTI). In particular, the QTI was used to identify and describe exemplary primary science teachers. The exemplary teachers were identified as those whose students' perceptions were more than one standard deviation above the mean on the scales of Leadership, Helping/Friendly, and Understanding, and more than one standard deviation below the mean on the Uncertain, Dissatisfied and Admonishing scales. Exemplary teachers were then observed teaching and descriptions made of their classroom behaviour. These descriptions are reported in this paper.

Email: R.koul@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Determining the professional development needs of teachers regarding learning styles

Jenny Lane
School of Education
Edith Cowan University

The increasing use of the World Wide Web for research has changed the way we look at knowledge and learning. Learners no longer need to learn and reproduce a set group of facts. The factors that will remain constant are their own thinking and learning processes. Schools need to change into places where learners are encouraged to think and learn effectively determined by their own cognitive style. Few teachers have been encouraged to explore their own thinking and learning. Very little support in the form of resources has been provided to schools to encourage the effective teaching of brain compatible thinking and learning strategies (Gardner, 2004; Long & Stuart, 2004; Pink, 2005).

A significant factor in the development of effective learning communities could be the congruence between the cognitive styles of the teacher and the cognitive styles of the learners. Data is currently being gathered from teachers to determine their current understanding of their own learning processes and their needs for professional development in this area. A questionnaire is being used to collect the initial data. Preliminary findings from the first data collections are indicating that many teachers are indicating interest in professional development in this area as this information was not included in their initial teacher education.

Gardner, H. (2004). Changing minds. Boston: Harvard Business School.
Long, D. T. & Stuart, C. (2004). Supporting higher levels of reflection among teacher candidates: A pedagogical framework. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 10(3).
Pink, D. H. (2005). A whole new mind. Moving from the information age to the conceptual age. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

Email: j.lane@ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Recognition and motivation: The impact of systems of recognition on student motivation in middle school

Caroline Mansfield
Murdoch University

Systems of recognition are widely used in schools with the intention of acknowledging students' academic achievement and attitudes towards school tasks. Teachers often use systems of recognition to motivate students and rewards offered take on many forms. Research from a motivational goal theory perspective has established that systems of recognition can be used to encourage students to pursue particular classroom goals, including task mastery and performance goals. More recent research using a situative approach to motivation emphasises the dynamic relationship between individuals and context, and the impact that individual's perceptions of contextual variables has on behaviour and motivation. As such, students' perception of recognition processes and practices in classrooms has the potential to influence their motivation and engagement.

This paper presents qualitative, longitudinal research focusing on the development of motivational goals of a group of middle school students during an academic year. The research found that students' perceptions of the school based system of recognition (rewards and penalties) had significant positive and negative impacts on individual students' motivation and engagement, specifically increasing their focus on performance and avoidance goals. This paper discusses the influence of systems of recognition on the development of students' motivation in context.

Email: caroline.mansfield@murdoch.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Mediating classroom culture based on democratic values: A sociocultural
exploration of a teacher's facilitative role

Veronica Morcom
Murdoch University

The aim of this research was to examine the teacher's facilitative role to engage students in values education. An action research approach reflected on the classroom context and provided a focus for a range of qualitative research methods. Multiple data sources such as teacher observations, interviews, students and teacher reflection logs and sociograms were used to triangulate findings from parents, students and teachers. A sociocultural perspective (Vygotsky, 1978) provided the conceptual framework as the underlying assumption is that students learn from each other, mediated by the teacher or more capable peers. The focus on the social context and the development of interpersonal relationships are key features of peer mediated learning which complemented the processes chosen by the researcher to elucidate how a caring, supportive and democratic classroom was created.

The major findings reflected the foci of student and teacher conversations about interpersonal skills. The three phases of the study included: establishing positive 'relationships'; providing opportunities to develop leadership skills; broadening views about discriminatory behaviours, friendship and leadership. The major conclusion drawn from the study is that teachers do play a significant role in mediating positive relationships amongst peers in the process of establishing the foundations for productive and active citizenship.

Email: veronicamorcom@yahoo.com
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Students in educational change: A Freirian culture of silence

Karin Oerlemans
Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
The University of Western Australia

Marnie O'Neill
Faculty of Education
The University of Western Australia

This paper explores the use of Freire's work in a study of students' perceptions of top down educational change. One of the oft expressed beliefs is that students' perceptions are limited so that their voices are bracketed and adults speak for them and in their "best interest". Yet, it was Freire's conviction that every human being, no matter how submerged in the "culture of silence" they may be, is capable of looking critically at their world in a dialogical encounter with others. The study sought to examine this concept, by exploring the quality of students' perceptions and so gain a better understanding of the roles students might yet play in educational change.

The research consisted of three in depth case studies of schools undergoing educational change initiated by macro-level policy. Focus group semi-structured interviews with students formed the main data collection method. The study found that students, whilst questioning their own role, were very perceptive about school change and the role and power of individuals within the state in implementing those changes. The paper concludes by addressing the question: "How can we meaningfully empower students as participants in educational change?"

Email: karin.oerlemans@uwa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

School governance: Phases, participation and paradox

Lesley Payne
Murdoch University

This research investigated school governance within particular school settings in order to gain some understanding of the ideologies and values behind how these schools came to have their present governance forms. It was a qualitative research project undertaken to analyse the governance structures and processes of thirteen independent primary schools in Perth, and one state primary school, with more in depth case studies undertaken at five sites with participants from different time periods. The results revealed several themes in the changes in governance over thirty years. The governance discourse today is primarily about development and efficiency. There are pressures on alternative schools to become more commercially oriented. The emphasis is away from parent involvement as schools began to envisage themselves less as communities and more as businesses. Conflict over values and principal 'burnout' and short tenure were identified as destabilising forces.

Very little research has been undertaken at the individual school level studying the dynamics of governance and change. This research did this, locating the themes and changes identified within the context of the global phenomena of restructuring and reform. It provides insights into important governance issues for those involved in governance in all schools and indicates how the roles and structures of governing bodies evolve and adapt.

Email: lpayne@murdoch.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Multi-site action research case studies: Practical benefits and challenges

Mary Delfin Pereira and Roger J. Vallance
University of Notre Dame Australia

A curriculum initiative project was implemented in four schools in Singapore over a span of five to six weeks during 2004. In conducting research in the diverse schools, there was also an opportunity to study the interactions between action research and multi-site case studies. Though action research and case studies are frequently used in education to research curriculum initiatives, their interactions are seldom explored. Moreover, the practical benefits and challenges of multi-site case studies in an action research are little discussed.

The project employed a number of different schools: girls only, boys only and co-educational schools; different levels of performance in a graded situation; multiple teachers and classes within each site; and control and experimental conditions for the curriculum implementation. Thus, by examining the particular benefits and challenges presented by this project, it is hoped that this paper will contribute to a better understanding of case study action research through describing:

Email: delfinpereira@lycos.com, rvallance@nd.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

The re-engagement of early school leavers through technical and further education

Sharon Ross
Edith Cowan University

To date, there are only a few studies that discuss the re-entry of early school leavers into second chance education programs at TAFE (Technical and Further Education) colleges. Their attempt to re-engage with learning outside the school system is an area that is under-researched. There appears to be no major studies undertaken in this field in Western Australia. My research in this area will be conducted in three phases. This presentation focuses on phase one that is currently being undertaken. In this first phase the factors that cause students to leave school early and their impact on student behaviour are investigated. The decision making processes of early school leavers and their readiness for transition is also researched. The research methodology will be briefly discussed. Pertinent issues that emerged from the literature review and inform the research will be highlighted. The complexity of ethical issues involved in researching participants from this cohort will be examined. As this is work in progress some of the challenges encountered in interviewing young people aged 15 to 19 years and the strategies used to obtain interview data are also discussed.

Email: smross@student.ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Non-musicians' perspectives of musicality: Contradictions in key informants'
perceptions raise issues of connection and disconnection

Eve Ruddock
School of Music
The University of Western Australia

While music is a recognised means of engaging with life, contradictions embedded in information from non-musician participants raise questions that have implications for education in Western Australia.

Email: ruddock@iinet.net.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Thinking patterns, pupil engagement and understanding in early childhood

Delphine Shaw
Graduate School of Education
The University of Western Australia

Mismatches between pupils' sensory modality preferences and the dominant methods used in their learning contexts have been suggested to contribute to low levels of engagement and understanding. The goals of this study will be to (i) determine whether teacher and parent ratings can be used as a rough index of pupils' modality preference patterns in early childhood settings; (ii) examine the relationships between children's modality preferences in pre-school and kindergarten readiness; and finally (iii) through intervention, to evaluate the impact of multisensory education strategies on pupil engagement and understanding levels in formal learning.

A control and intervention group design across participants will be used to evaluate the efficacy of this multisensory educational approach. Results will be analysed using a variety of correlational and multivariate analysis of variance methods. The study outcomes are anticipated to make a significant contribution to the context field of education by providing a rigorous evaluation of the impact of multisensory strategies on key learning outcomes in early childhood education settings.

Email: dpshaw@iinet.net.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Evaluating teacher professional learning experiences during the
Collaborative Australian Secondary Science Program (CASSP)

Rachel Sheffield
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

Mark Hackling
Edith Cowan University
Denis Goodrum
University of Canberra

This project examined Western Australian teachers' professional learning experiences while participating in the CASSP program. The CASSP model is a professional development model that seeks to bring about sustained changes to teachers practice. The model comprises three components, professional development, curriculum resources and participative inquiry.

This project mapped the experiences of four teachers during the course of the CASSP program and used Hall and Hord (1987) and Dlamini, Rollnick & Bradley (2001) models to map changes to their concerns, understandings and practice. This study sought to determine how successful these teachers were in changing their practice, what concerns they experienced, and what impact the project had on their students. It also identified and documented those factors which impeded or supported changes to teachers' professional practice.

Email: R.Sheffield@exchange.curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Critical Literacy: A study concerning the ways in which children
identify and disrupt stereotypes in toy catalogues

Victoria Stephens
Curtin University of Technology

There is substantial Australian interest in critical literacy and the use of community texts in classrooms. This paper is concerned with critical literacy and the ways in which children identify and disrupt stereotypes in mass market toy catalogues. It describes how several tasks and group interviews were used by one teacher with students from a Year Three class to develop the students' abilities to take a critical stance with toy catalogues. The children were given opportunities to become familiar with the text, identify and disrupt stereotypes, take action against the text, and reflect on their learning. The findings of this study indicate critical literacy is not beyond the capabilities of young children and small group interactions with peers, and specifically constructed critical literacy activities can improve the children's abilities to explore alternative meanings in texts.

Email: vicky_stephens@hotmail.com
[Scheduling for this presentation]

How do children with learning difficulties slip undetected through the
educational system? What can be done to prevent this happening?

Margaret Sutherland
Edith Cowan University

This research will investigate the reason why children who have learning difficulties in schools in Western Australia are not identified and are able to slip through the educational system in spite of all the resources that have been implemented within the system. Children who differ from dyslexia, Asperger's Syndrome and specific learning disorders or difficulties will be targeted. The study will also look at ways of identifying those children at risk and what can be done to resolve the situation so they have an equal chance of learning alongside their peers. The study will be using some previous case studies to show how children can be left behind and how teachers can learn how to identify these children in their early years at school. The study will also recommend ways teacher could be provided with professional education to help them to identify children at risk so programs could be implemented to aid individual students in reaching their goals toward a meaningful education to the best of their ability.

If the aim of the Education Department of Western Australia is to have every student from age four to eighteen become fully literate, fully numerate and to have a general knowledge of the world and things in it by the time they leave school. Then why are there still students leaving school without these skills? (Curriculum Council of Western Australia, 1997).

Email: mssuther@student.ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

Dewey, reflection and metacognition: The problem solving connection

Pina Tarricone
School of Education
Edith Cowan University

Dewey (1859-1952) built a picture of the function and specific reflective processes that are involved in learning and problem solving. There are many instances in Dewey's work which identify reflective thinking as part of metacognitive processes such as awareness, monitoring and regulation. As such, he is touted as one of the first educational researchers to investigate, discuss and present thinking and reflection as important aspects of learning. I argue that Dewey's contribution to reflection provides a foundation for the discussion of the role of reflective metacognitive processes in problem solving. This presentation draws from an aspect of a current theoretical doctoral study of the construct of metacognition.

Email: g.tarricone@ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]

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