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Western Australian Institute for
Educational Research Forum 2006

All Forum 2006 abstracts listed alphabetically by first author
[ Forum Invitation ] [ Schedule ] [ Contents of Proceedings ]



Developing a culturally inclusive philosophy of science teacher education in Mozambique

Emilia Afonso
Curtin University of Technology

There is educational reform underway in Mozambique which is attempting to implement a local curriculum, a curriculum which is defined locally taking into account local cultural context. Although it is at an initial stage, some changes and achievements are already being reported, for example in regard to the introduction of local languages and the positive impact on students' participation in classes. It is my view, however, that on the one hand most of the concerns raised and researched regard learning science at school while little has been discussed in terms of educating teachers in teachers' courses. On the other hand, most research on teaching science in Mozambique has focussed on others and not on the self. As a science teacher educator in Mozambique I am engaging in research which focuses on educating teachers and taking into account our cultural context. With my research I am trying to make connections between others (e.g., my student teachers, or students in schools), our cultural context and my self (as a teacher educator and science teacher). In this way, I take as part of the problem not only the context and/or the students but also my self. Reflections on my own practice constitute in large part the object of my research in the form of narratives, poems and also testimonies from my students.

My presentation will focus on questions about what? (the topic) how? (the methodology) and who? ('I' the researcher).

Emilia Afonso from Mozambique provides the third presentation in the Science and Mathematics Education Centre Symposium series [Symposium Introduction] at WAIER Forum 2006.

Email: emilia.afonso@postgrad.curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


DET Participation Directorate Symposium
Raising the School Leaving Age in Western Australia

The legislation entitled The Acts Amendment (Higher School Leaving Age and Related Provisions) Bill 2005 was promulgated on 15 November 2005. The principle underpinning the legislation is that '15 is too young to stop learning'. The legislation states that from 1 January 2006, young people must remain in education, training or approved employment until the end of the year in which they turn 16 years of age. From 1 January 2008, young people will be required to remain in education, training or approved employment until the end of the year in which they turn 17 years of age.

This symposium looks at key features of the Acts' implementation and the extent to which this is redefining senior schooling in WA and elsewhere. Four main points of focus are offered:

[Abstract for 'Cultural change and raising the school leaving age']
[Abstract for 'Validating a participation risk factor instrument']
[Abstract for 'Scenarios for year 12 in 2008']
[Abstract for 'Successful programs for Indigenous youth in rural and remote WA']

[Scheduling for Symposium introduction by David Ansell and these presentations]


DET Participation Directorate Symposium

Cultural change and raising the school leaving age

David Ansell, Peter Reynolds and Paul Stewart
Participation Directorate
Department of Education and Training

This presentation provides an overview of the work of the Participation Directorate, the cross-sectoral body responsible for implementing the RSLA initiative. The purpose here is to identify and describe key ways in which the legislation has and will continue to challenge the organisational culture and delivery of education and training for 15-17 year olds - and the strategies which the Directorate will employ to meet these.

This presentation is the first in the DET Participation Directorate Symposium series [Symposium Introduction] at WAIER Forum 2006.
Email: David.Ansell@det.wa.edu.au, Peter.Reynolds2@det.wa.edu.au, Paul.Stewart@det.wa.edu.au
[Scheduling for Symposium introduction by David Ansell and these presentations]


Validating a participation risk factor instrument

David Ansell, Peter Reynolds and Paul Stewart
Department of Education and Training

The major tool used by the Participation Directorate to collect, collate and analyse data regarding young people not engaged in education, training or employment is the ETPP Database. This piece of software was developed with a number of interests in mind - in particular the validation of some 63 participation risk factors. This presentation outlines the manner of construction and uses for the Database, focussing especially on the strategy being adopted to validate both the factors and the instrument.

This presentation is the third in the DET Participation Directorate Symposium series [Symposium Introduction] at WAIER Forum 2006.

Email: David.Ansell@det.wa.edu.au, Peter.Reynolds2@det.wa.edu.au, Paul.Stewart@det.wa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Scenarios for year 12 in 2008

David Ansell, Paul Stewart and Peter Reynolds
Department of Education and Training

The RSLA legislation is being implemented in two stages - from 15-16 years in 2006 and 2007, and from 16 to 17 years from 2008 and beyond. In this presentation, the question is posed: "What is likely to occur in 2008 and what steps can educational planners reasonably adopt to ensure a 'seamless transition'?" The point is made that the current incompleteness of student destinations data renders the task of scenario planning difficult but not impossible. An increasing focus on inter-agency collaboration and expanding the capacity of staff to deal with at risk 15-17 year olds will possibly hold the main keys to effective educational management in the area.

This presentation is the fourth in the DET Participation Directorate Symposium series [Symposium Introduction] at WAIER Forum 2006.

Email: David.Ansell@det.wa.edu.au, Paul.Stewart@det.wa.edu.au, Peter.Reynolds2@det.wa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Devising a phenomenological study within the qualitative paradigm

John Bednall
The University of Notre Dame

Sixteen Heads of Anglican and Uniting Church Heads were asked to describe their experiences of providing leadership to religiosity in independent Church schools. It was found that there was a strong ironic tension characterising how each of the affiliated Churches engaged with the religious culture of these schools. The accounts of this indicative group of Heads suggested that the use of the word church as a dynamic descriptor of the schools needed to be re-appraised. Indeed, in order to maintain the schools' educational integrity, the Heads seemed inclined to keep the contemporary Church at arms length. The authenticity of this research was established through a carefully designed model of phenomenology. A valid distinction between the notions of epoche and bracketing was articulated and then a process for the clear operationalisation of both was designed. The professional literature seemed reluctant to be so specific in describing either concept within qualitative research methodology. This presentation will describe how the researcher activated both at the point of data interpretation and how the intuitive connection of the researcher's own life experiences to the data provided by the sample Heads could be authenticated according to the nature of phenomenology as a social research method.

Dr John Bednall's PhD was conferred by The University of Notre Dame on 16 July 2006. John is the University's nominee for the WAIER Postgraduate Award 2006 [Postgraduate Awards].

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


Making the most of participants: Applying the Delphi Technique to policy and research

Christine Buckley
The University of Western Australia and
Department of Education and Training

The Delphi Technique has a controversial history in research and policy, with equally strong advocates as there are critics. I have - as a public servant working in education and training policy development and strategic planning, and as a researcher - used variations of the Delphi Technique for diverse purposes, including the generation of opposing views on a specific issue, as a problem solving and resolution mechanism, as a forum for discussion of ideas and for decision making - especially when the issue is complex, contentious or highly contested. This paper explores briefly the challenges and rewards of applying the Delphi Technique as one method of data collection for research and policy purposes.

Dr Christine Buckley, The University of Western Australia and Department of Education and Training

Email: christine.buckley@det.wa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Student use of digital technologies in and out of school

Anne-Marie Chase
The University of Western Australia

The aim of this research is to describe how students' experiences of technology outside of school differ from their experiences in school. It is expected that there will be a difference in students' technology use in each environment and by providing levels for this use a comparison and measure of the differences can be made.

Technology has changed the world around us, business and industry require workers to have new skills to operate and take advantage of the new opportunities that technology offers in the knowledge economy. Educators and schools aim to equip their students with skills that will be useful to them in the future. Are there schools that are better able to utilise a student's informal learning and close the gap between the two environments? By identifying the informal learning now taking place by students as they use digital technologies as part of their everyday lives, and the learning with technology taking place in school, it will be possible to see if the level of mismatch correlates with student disengagement and retention rates.

The research will conclude by considering what students' current use of technology may mean for education in the future.

Email: Chasea01@student.uwa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Development, validation and use of an instrument for assessing business management education learning environments: The BMELE Inventory

Philip Chien
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

Although there are numerous instruments available for assessing classroom learning environments at the tertiary level, no instrument has been specifically designed and validated for measuring business management education learning environments (Brennan & Ahmad, 2005). It is my aim to design, develop and validate an instrument, the Business Management Education Learning Environment Inventory (BMELEI), to (1) assess business management students' perceptions of the psychosocial learning environments, and (2) relate learning environment to attitudes towards the subject and attitudes towards the case study teaching strategy. This study involves both quantitative and qualitative methods. The sample will involve approximately 500 university students from the various universities in Australia for the quantitative aspect of the study. The qualitative component of the study will involve about 10% of the sample population. All of the respondents are currently enrolled in a strategic marketing or strategic management module in which case studies are used as a key component of the teaching and learning strategy.

Philip Chien is a PhD candidate in the Science and Mathematics Education Centre.

Email: chee.chien@postgrad.curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Towards a culture-sensitive pedagogy of science teacher education in Mozambique

Alberto Cupane
Curtin University of Technology

I started my postgraduate studies with the aim of become a 'better' teacher of science. My wish was inspired by the Mozambican system of science education in high schools that has never really changed despite the many reforms that have taken place. My initial thoughts were that my research should enable me to know how to implement these new curricula for all students everywhere in Mozambique, especially in the rural areas. However, by adopting a postcolonial perspective and examining critically the benefits my aim would bring to the country, students and population I have moved away from becoming a 'better' science teacher. The inclusion of the Mozambican cultural context and 'indigenous knowledge' in science classrooms is part of the work of my doctoral thesis where I am using critical auto/ethnography and interpretive inquiry combined with postcolonial theorising. In this paper I would like to show the evo lution of my understanding of concepts of postcolonial theory such as: cultural diversity, multiculturalism, cultural identity, indigenous knowledge and essentialism.

Alberto Cupane from Mozambique provides the fourth presentation in the Science and Mathematics Education Centre Symposium series [Symposium Introduction] at WAIER Forum 2006.

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


Striving for excellence: Challenges and tensions of teaching behavioural science to a large class of diverse disciplines

Dawn Darlaston-Jones
University of Notre Dame Australia

Teaching a large class is challenging in any situation, but the complexity is increased exponentially when trying to make the content relevant to students from a diverse range of disciplines. Up to 480 students enrol in a Behavioural Science unit (PS100 Developmental Psychology) in first semester. Students are enrolled in a diverse range of disciplines including nursing, education, counselling, physiotherapy and biomedicine. Each of these discipline areas require a broad understanding of human development to be an integral component of their degree structure but the application of this knowledge post-graduation might take many different forms. Managing a cohort of this size and achieving relevance for the students requires innovation and creativity to balance the tension between academic rigour and student satisfaction. This presentation discusses the ways in which this unit has been developed in trying to achieve these aims, the ongoing challenges to be overcome and the logistics involved in achieving positive outcomes for the students.

Email: ddarlaston-jones@nd.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Power to the students: Contributing to debates on effective learning about civic engagement, human rights and democratic values

Eva Dobozy
Edith Cowan University

Schools need to be seen as important social and political communities that impact upon children and help shape their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours. The way schools and classrooms are governed is central to the question of human rights and values education. In this presentation I will discuss some findings from my recent research into effective human rights and values education and the connections I draw to school environments. More precisely, I will discuss some research findings regarding the characteristics that democratic schools appear to have in common. These commonalities seem to have contributed to the case study schools' status of being perceived to be reputable democratic schools. For the purposes of the reported study, four schools that were diverse in their philosophical approaches to education and socio-economic composition were selected as case study schools. A specific selection criterion was that these schools had a reputation for nurturing the critical capabilities of students within an explicit 'children's rights and citizenship framework'. Students were not seen as 'objects to be acted upon', but rather were trusted to be subjects of rights and responsibilities within the school community in some form or other.

The research included analysis of interview, observation and document data. Three major corresponding features were identified: a) the principals perceived their schools to be 'out of the ordinary', b) all four case study sites had carefully developed school rules as statements of principles rather than an extensive list of do's and don'ts, and c) three of the four schools seem to employ differential treatment practices rather than a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to the discipline of students.

The findings suggest that it is possible for schools to educate effectively in and for democracy and human rights by ways of day-to-day educational practices that inspire some aspects of political and moral empowerment of students.

Dr Eva Dobozy, Lecturer, School of Education, Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus, 100 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup WA 6027

Email: e.dobozy@ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Students at educational risk: An interpretivist study of micro level policy implementation in three Western Australian Government primary schools

Julie-Anne Ellis
Graduate School of Education
The University of Western Australia

The principal aim of this study was to investigate the perspectives stakeholders in Western Australian State primary schools had of the Students at Educational Risk (SAER) policy and inclusive education practices in schools. The study included an analysis of the SAER Policy process in Western Australia between 1998 and 2003 at school and District Office level, with a particular focus on inclusivity, as enacted at the grassroots, micro, primary school level.

The research found one superordinate category, 'School Policy and Strategic Plans'. Within the superordinate category were 'Conceptualisation and Implementation of SAER Policy' and 'Conceptualising Inclusivity'. Emergent from the superordinate category were four categories: 'School Leadership', 'Teambuilding', 'Communication with Stakeholders', and 'Operationalising or Managing'. The category of School Leadership was the foremost and most crucial of the four categories because the form and the degree of success in the School Leadership category determined both the form and the state of the other three categories. Therefore, the success of SAER policy and inclusivity is about the intersection of continuity, quality, teambuilding, communication and operationalising and managing.

This presentation is based upon the thesis submitted to the Graduate School of Education, The University of Western Australia, by Julie-Anne Ellis in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education.

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


Successful programs for Indigenous youth in rural and remote Western Australia

Brian English, David Ansell, Linda Moore and Peter Reynolds
Department of Education and Training

Possibly the most problematic aspect of the RSLA legislation is providing meaningful programs for young people in remote regions of WA. Issues raised in this presentation concern in particular, historical problems with attendance, human resource issues, and interagency collaboration. A lens is placed on the conjunction of these aspects with respect to indigenous programs and the question is posed whether we may be able to learn as much from studying unsuccessful as successful programs.

This presentation is the second in the DET Participation Directorate Symposium series [Symposium Introduction] at WAIER Forum 2006.

Email: b.english@ecu.edu.au, David.Ansell@det.wa.edu.au, Linda.MOORE2@det.wa.edu.au, Peter.Reynolds2@det.wa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Investigating the understanding of scientific literacy using personal meaning mapping as an interview technique

Rosemary Evans
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

Australian research has indicated that scientific literacy is seen as important for all Australian citizens. Furthermore, international research has recognised that science educators, teachers and researchers believe that scientific literacy is the main purpose of science education in schools worldwide. However, it is also clear that the meaning of scientific literacy is not well understood. This paper reports part of a qualitative study that investigated the understandings of the term "scientific literacy" using Personal Meaning Mapping (PMM), an interview based technique for uncovering people's conceptual ideas. The responses gleaned were sorted to reveal categories which were able to be compared with the attributes of scientific literacy. It appears that even though many people profess to have little knowledge of scientific literacy, many hold views which suggest that they are indeed scientifically literate.

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


Boys and writing: Attentiveness levels and the impact of single gender classes

Janet Fellowes
Edith Cowan University

This paper presents the results of a study into the impact of single gender classes on boys' attentiveness during writing lessons. The study involved the measurement of one group of boys' attentiveness levels in the writing lessons of three classes in a Western Australian metropolitan primary school - a Year 5 co-educational class, a Year 6 all boy's class (comprising boys from the Year 5 class) in the hands of one teacher and the same class in the hands of another. The study also comprised the examination of the characteristics of learning tasks, pedagogical approach and management practices of each class so as to determine what factors beyond class gender composition could have influenced students' attentiveness levels.

It was concluded that higher levels of attentiveness will not necessarily flow from the introduction of an all boys' class and that teaching methods are of greater importance in this regard. However, the study did indicate that all boys' classes are potentially advantageous in creating an environment where boys feel more assured and contented and that a possible consequence of this is a willingness on the part of boys to participate more fully in lessons. Results of the study also highlighted that any potential for greater attentiveness of boys during writing lessons is unlikely to be realised if the teacher maintains a negative view about boys' capacity to learn and achieve. Finally it was observed that there is great individual difference in attentiveness of individual boys, even when there is an overall pattern of higher or lower attentiveness.

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


'Glonacal' contexts: Internationalisation policy in the Australian higher education sector and the development of pathway programs

Maria Fiocco
Curtin International College

Through a critique of Ball's (1990) policy analysis framework, this paper explores the influences that led to the deregulation of international student recruitment ('the policy') and the subsequent development of pathway programs in the Australian higher education sector. Ball's framework was extended to include Marginson and Rhoades' (2002) glonacal heuristic to analyse the global, national and local contexts that contributed to the creation and implementation of 'the policy'. The development of pathway programs was chosen as one aspect of implementation which allowed for an exploration that progressed from a macro to a microanalysis of 'the policy' cycle.

The study examined the key 'players' or individuals who contributed to 'the policy's' creation, the ideologies that influenced these individuals and the contexts within which decisions were made. The research found that glonacal influences of neoliberalism, globalisation, internationalisation and commercialisation were paramount in the formation of 'the policy', and in influencing key 'players'. It was also recognised that it was not always possible to definitively describe the role of these 'players' or 'actors' according to a hierarchical structure and separate contexts, confirming Ball's (1990) theory that influence on policy is often ad hoc and trajectory in nature.

Dr Maria Fiocco is the Managing Director at Curtin International College. Maria is Murdoch University's nominee for the WAIER Postgraduate Award 2006 [Postgraduate Awards].

Email: mfiocco@cic.wa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Why multi-modal? Best practice for the identification of talented and gifted primary school students

Jacqui Gannon
Edith Cowan University

This paper presents the results of a research investigation into the practice of multi-modal assessment and evaluation to identify Talented and Gifted (TAG) children. To be considered multi-modal, identification processes should ideally collect information from multiple sources, in different contexts and in different ways. The classroom teacher has the capacity to significantly contribute to this process, particularly through intuitive understandings of a child's capabilities. Research for this paper was conducted through library, journal and Internet research, interviews with key Department of Education and Training personnel and practising teachers in the field. Evidence collected during the course of this investigation strongly supports multi-modal assessment of TAG children and suggests the benefits of this practice are almost universally accepted.

Email: gannons5@westnet.com.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Captured becomings in the boys' education debate

Brad Gobby
Murdoch University

In this paper I discuss the influence of conservative political, social and economic forces in structuring the perspectives of five pre-service teachers on the education of boys. In doing so, I consider how the boys debate is one resource for effectuating powerful subjectivities which extend the territory of the conservative assemblage increasingly constituting our world. Using concepts of Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Australian corporeal feminist Elizabeth Grosz to think about the social strata and the participants' responses, I deploy a theory of the body as a machinic assemblage in order to interrogate the conservative territorialisation of subjectivity and social relations. One implication considered is the merits of considering the alignment of discourses of sexual difference, neoliberal capitalism and the body in order to create a future beyond the limits currently defined by our culture.

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


Investigating aspects of language and culture and their impact on the teaching and learning of mathematics: A personal perspective

Frieda Hakadiva
Curtin University of Technology

It is not uncommon in Namibia to hear researchers, academics and politicians affirm that 'knowledge is power'. How can I, as a teacher or a learner, claim that I 'know' how to speak the official language: the language of instruction, curricula language or mathematical language? Deriving this assertion (knowledge is power) from the concept of freedom of expression, which is one of the fundamental rights of Namibian people, one can also assert that people cannot adequately influence the decisions which affect their lives, whether inside or outside the classroom, unless they are empowered and can adequately express themselves, are well-informed and can understand facts (be it linguistic or cultural) and arguments that affect them, or perhaps that are relevant to their everyday decision making.

The primary objective of my research is to inquire into the aspect of language and culture and their impact on the teaching and learning of mathematics in Namibia. Writing under postmodern conditions and by the use of narratives, my study is auto/ethnographic, focusing on others' as well as the researcher's own experiences.

Frieda Hakadiva from Namibia provides the first presentation in the Science and Mathematics Education Centre Symposium series [Symposium Introduction] at WAIER Forum 2006.

Email: frieda.hakadiva@postgrad.curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


"He's got to learn to keep his shoes on": How inclusive our schools really are

Reisha Hartley and Zsuzsa Millei
University of Notre Dame Australia

This paper explores two Sudanese refugee students' integration into the Western Australian school system. We argue that although the Curriculum Framework in Western Australia lists as one of its core values 'inclusivity and difference', the actual classroom practices and peers' and teachers' approaches towards refugee children lag far behind.

Over the past few years Sudanese refugees have been the number one national group assisted under Australia's Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy. School age refugee children, after attending Intensive English Centres for two years, enter the mainstream schools. The transition from the Centres to schools sometimes happens smoothly, however, for the majority of students it is problematic. This study, by using a qualitative analysis, examined two students' multifaceted experiences upon starting and integrating into mainstream schooling in Western Australia. It particularly focuses on pedagogical methods used by the teachers and their effect on how the students themselves and teachers perceived their well-being and success in the classroom. Although Western Australian schools adopted an inclusive educational approach in theory, this inquiry questions the extent of this approach in theory and practice. It also embraces the interplaying of multicultural practices and inclusivity.

This paper contributes to the patchy literature on refugee students' integration and achievement in Australian schools.

Email: reishahartley@hotmail.com, zmillei@nd.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Development of an instrument to assess metacognition knowledge in middle and secondary level classrooms

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

Metacognition is a growing research area in the context of learning and education enhancement. Various studies have demonstrated significant relationships between metacognition and learning and thinking processes. Further, several studies have shown that metacognitive skills can be taught, integrated and enhanced in classroom situations. This paper will report preliminary findings on a self-report instrument to assess metacognitive knowledge in middle and secondary school age students. Two hundred and fifty one Year 7 to Year 12 students in one private school in Western Australia participated in the validation. The initial instrument comprised 29 closed-ended questions. Factor analyses indicated that this scale included three distinct components: self-knowledge, strategic knowledge and cognitive task knowledge. These three components were found to have acceptable reliability and validity. Recommendations for further refinements to the scale and for the use of the scale with secondary aged students will be discussed.

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


The gender gap in mathematics education: Cultural factors influencing learning in mathematics in Malawi

Dun Nkhoma Kasoka
Curtin University of Technology

There seems to be a strong view within Malawian societies that mathematics [education] is more fitting for males than for females. This belief continues to serve as a vital explanation for the gendering of mathematics. In this presentation, I offer insights into doing an auto/ethnographic study that is challenging my initial traditional and cultural perspectives on gender and mathematics education. Using critical-constructivism as a guiding epistemology, I reflect on moments in my life, narrate my stories and examine them with a critical view.

By looking back and taking advantage of self reflective text about my experiences with mathematics classes and teaching at a girls only school, I have realised that we can not isolate mathematics education from Habermas' three human interests and hope to better understand how my culture affects females' representation in mathematics education. Auto/ethnography has provided me with a stimulating means and a rare perspective for reflecting upon my experiences and those of others, and sharing these with my audience.

Dun Nkhoma Kasoka from Malawi provides the second presentation in the Science and Mathematics Education Centre Symposium series [Symposium Introduction] at WAIER Forum 2006.

Email: dun.kasoka@postgrad.curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Professional Learning Pathways Project (PLPP): Middle managers leading from the middle

Abe Kassab and Kya Graves
Department of Education and Training

Recent work in the development of professional standards has focused attention on the need to provide Secondary Teaching Administrators, teacher leaders and aspirants with a developmental pathway which ensures that current and future school leaders have the capacity to provide leadership in a range of contexts. In 2005 a comprehensive review was undertaken of the needs of Secondary Teaching Administrators (L3 STAs). The survey of 70 secondary leaders on aspects of their work as L3 STAs identified the following aspects of their work as being difficult to manage ( ranked from highest priority):

  1. Staying abreast of policy and regulations (62%)
  2. Developing a 'bigger picture' understanding of the relationship between DET and their particular school's strategic plans (61%)
  3. Helping their staff develop an understanding of 'bigger picture' or 'whole school' issues and the contribution they make individually and collectively to improving outcomes for students in their school (59%)
The Western Australian Secondary Teaching Administrators Association (WASTAA) then utilised the survey results successfully to gain funding from AGQTP (Australian Government Quality Teacher Program). The Professional Learning Pathways Project was designed for the needs of teaching administrators with support from the Professional Learning Institute (PLI) and the Leadership Centre. The PLPP aimed to improve the learning interface by utilising specific learning improvements in knowledge, skills and leadership attribut es.

In collaboration with the PLI and The Leadership Centre, WASTAA's Professional Learning Pathways Project (PLPP) provided targeted professional learning to build the leadership capacity of L3STAs through effective instructional practices.

The aims of the PLPP are:

  1. Upskill participants to investigate and problem solve action learning in their contexts, for example Curriculum Leadership (e.g. Courses of Study, Assessment Literacy).
  2. Build on the expertise of STAs to take on a leadership role within the school and build their leadership attributes.
  3. Set up collegiate teams to ensure ongoing professional learning and capacity building practices and knowledge sharing.
The PLPP program has conducted two of its four full days. The theme for Days 1 and 2 (1st and 2nd of June respectively) is Increasing Coherence, "People behave their way into new visions and ideas, not just think their way into them" (Michael Fullan).

In these two days participants investigated the change process using Michael Fullan's module 1 and unpacked the leadership framework to clarify professional learning needs. It gave participants the opportunity to form collegiate groups and undertake a refresher in 'Action Research Model' using the 'Reflective Teacher' process. This process makes use of action learning to improve teaching and participants also used the process to define action research activity which focused on instructional leadership. Experts such as John Burke and Barrie Bennett addressed key question such as middle managers and leaders in schools, and how do we lead, initiate and establish a culture of instructional practice in our schools? Where do we begin? What strategies do we use?

The aim now is to seek feedback and investigate ICT as medium of delivery to broaden the availability of the PLPP .

Abe Kassab, Project Manager, Leadership Centre, PO Box 455 Leederville WA 6903
Kya Graves, PLPP Project Officer, Lakelands SHS, 106 South Lake Drive, South Lake WA 6166

Email: abraham.kassab@det.wa.edu.au, kya.graves@det.wa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Development, validation and application of an assessment questionnaire using student perceptions

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

This paper reports on a two stage study aimed at developing, validating and applying an instrument that can be used to assess secondary students' perceptions of assessment. In the first stage, following a review of literature, a six scale instrument of 48 items was trialed with a sample of 470 students from grades eight, nine and ten in 20 science classrooms in three Western Australian schools. Based on internal consistency reliability data and exploratory factor analysis, refinement decisions resulted in a five scale instrument that was named the Student Perceptions of Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ). The scales of the SPAQ are Congruence with Planned Learning, Authenticity, Student Consultation, Transparency and Diversity. In the second stage, the SPAQ was used with five scales of the What is Happening in this Class (WIHIC) questionnaire, an attitude scale, and a self efficacy scale. This survey was administered to a larger sample of nearly 1,000 students from 41 science classes from the same grades as in the first stage. Statistical analyses confirmed the validity and reliability of the SPAQ. The mean score ranged from 2.16 for the scale of Student Consultation to 3.17 for the scale of Congruence with Planned Learning on a four point Likert type scale. Cronbach Alphas ranged from 0.62 to 0.83. Significant correlations (p < 0.01) were found among all the scales used in the instrument, for example, Congruence with Planned Learning was positively related to and was positively associated with all the other scales of SPAQ.

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


Laying bare the hidden curriculum: Exploring values education with pre-service teachers

Bill Leadbetter, Lesley Newhouse-Maiden and Eva Dobozy
Edith Cowan University

Values education has again come to public attention in a serious way. The Commonwealth Government has committed nearly $30 million to the support of values education at the same time as (secular) schools are increasingly employing values education programs like the Virtues Project or similar commercial packages. This is, however, an issue which traditionally has not been addressed in pre-service training, except in the context of units in philosophy, sociology or management, now largely abandoned. In 2001, when Edith Cowan University's Bachelor of Education (K-Primary) was being conceptualised and designed, this gap was identified and an elective unit on Values in Education was designed for final year students. This unit is quite different to most of the other classes which students complete and students react to it in quite different, and often polarised ways.

This paper describes the rationale for and development of the unit since 2001, its conceptual base in the WA Curriculum Framework: Core Shared Values (1998, Appendix 2), and now the National Values framework. It asks fundamental questions about the teaching of values, noting that they must be implicit as well as explicit, and arguing that instrumental teaching of values risks trivialising profoundly held beliefs, both in schools and at universities. The significance of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) is discussed and the paper concludes with a collegial plea that all pre-service programs develop both an explicit and implicit critical and analytical grounding of values in education for pre-service teaching professionals.

Email: w.leadbetter@ecu.edu.au, l.newhouse_maiden@ecu.edu.au, e.dobozy@ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


The story of sustainability at a Montessori School

Elaine Lewis
D.Ed student, Murdoch University

Effective education for sustainability is not simply a program you 'do', or a curriculum commitment you plan, implement and complete. Effective education for sustainability is integrated into a whole school approach. A vision for sustainability, developed through input from the whole school community, and the embedding of sustainability principles into school policies, supports such an approach. The philosophical beliefs underpinning a school's values can also make an important contribution to the success of its education for sustainability programs.

A case study of a Western Australian Montessori school is presented. The Montessori philosophy and curricula are analysed to determine links with sustainability education. Furthermore, specific learning programs in the school are reviewed, showing a comprehensive whole school, community based approach to sustainability. These programs include projects such as nest boxes for endangered native birds, living with tiger snakes, developing a solar power system that feeds into the Western Power grid, and a longitudinal flora and fauna survey of the local area. Links between this school and the Sustainable Schools Initiative are also examined. Results from a range of evaluations of the whole school approach to education for sustainability are presented, indicating successful outcomes for students, staff and the wider community.

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


"There's more to life than marks": The increased emphasis on social goals during secondary school

Caroline Mansfield
Murdoch University

Attending school is an inherently social as well as academic activity for secondary school students. Researchers studying student motivation in classrooms from a goal theory perspective have investigated the academic and social goals students pursue at school and some argue that such goals can operate simultaneously and in a complementary fashion. Few studies, however, have investigated the changes in students' self reported goals during secondary school. This paper presents preliminary findings of a longitudinal qualitative study of student motivation, using data obtained from five students at the beginning and end of their secondary school experience. The findings show the emerging prominence of social goals during secondary school, and how such goals are linked to academic pursuits and broader life goals.

Dr Caroline Mansfield, Lecturer, School of Education, Murdoch University, Murdoch WA 6150

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


Educating or regulating parents? What a parent education website 'teaches' us

Zsuzsa Millei
Murdoch University and
The University of Notre Dame

In this paper I critique the Smart Population Foundation initiative (Initiative) http://www.smartpopulation.org/. This program was established to "bring parenting information and the science of child development to Australian parents and carers".

I analyse the Initiative by using the Foucauldian framework of governmentality. I argue that the Initiative popularises and enforces 'middle class' ideals of family and child rearing in relation to resistances and oppositions anticipated or encountered from certain sectors of population. I argue that although the aims of the initiative are manifold - dominantly "to promote improved childhood environments" - the explicit purpose to better children's lives is not a primary objective. Moreover, I make the case that this program's main purpose is to regulate parents through their wishes for their children's future and themselves, and offers child rearing practices to serve recent economic and political agendas in Australia.

This paper contributes to the literature, which emphasises the strong political nature of childhood and parent education.

Email: zmillei@nd.edu.au, Z.Millei@murdoch.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


An evidence based framework for developing scientific literacy

Karen Murcia
Murdoch University

Clarifying what it means to be scientifically literate in our modern world, increasingly shaped and directed by science was the theoretical springboard for this doctoral research. The research took the view that citizens with a reasonable level of scientific literacy would be better able to participate in public debate and decision making processes, and also to adapt lifestyle and work practices to meet the demands of a rapidly developing and changing world. In this contemporary context, scientific literacy was seen as a relevant and desired learning outcome for all citizens. In particular, it was an attribute both industry and the general community could reasonably expect from higher education graduates, as they would be potential experts in the community and could hold positions of influence in social debate. As such, this research aimed to identify and document the development of scientific literacy amongst a sample of 244 first year university students.

A framework for scientific literacy was generated based on a review of the literature, reflection on teaching and learning experiences, and parallel research in numeracy. This framework and an associated set of levelled indicators were used to explore students' development of scientific literacy. The converging findings from the quantitative and qualitative components of this process challenged the assumption that development of the dimensions of scientific literacy was hierarchal in nature. It became evident that the participants' development of the construct was more complex in nature. Evidence suggested that the development of scientific literacy was the result of increased intertwining of knowledge and understandings in the three dimensions: key science ideas, the nature of science and the interaction of science with society. A Rope Metaphor was used to represent in a concrete medium, the weaving together of knowledge in order to think and act scientifically and capture realistically the complexity of developing scientific literacy observed through out this research.

Notwithstanding the focus on the development of scientific literacy amongst first year university students, the applicability of this research is intended to be much wider. It should clarify the meaning of scientific literacy within our contemporary context, increase the useability of the construct in teaching, and learning and so has relevance at any level of education.

Ms Karen Murcia, Lecturer, School of Education, Murdoch University, Murdoch WA 6150

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


Educational and epistemological beliefs: Exploring blurred boundaries

Maria Northcote
School of Education, Joondalup Campus
Edith Cowan University

Research associated with the exploration of educational beliefs about teaching and learning frequently overlaps into the field of epistemology. However, whether educational beliefs are components of epistemological beliefs, or vice versa, is often debated by psychologists and educationalists alike.

This paper reports on the point of overlap between educational and epistemological beliefs that emerged from a recent study in which the educational beliefs about teaching and learning held by a group of university teachers and students were identified and compared. The methodology adopted in the study enabled an exploration of the participants' beliefs using quantitative and qualitative data gathering and data analysis methods. Findings from the study suggest that the participants' epistemological beliefs were integral to their educational beliefs about teaching and learning: the two areas were inseparable and did not necessarily indicate a hierarchical structure. Implications for higher education teachers and students are discussed in conjunction with previous literature about educational and epistemological beliefs.

Email: m.northcote@ecu.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Helping children comprehend Internet texts: The LUCC Plan

Grace Oakley, Janet Fellowes, Belinda Nelson
Edith Cowan University

In this presentation, the authors will present the progress of their research into how teachers can help middle primary school children comprehend hypermedia texts such as Internet texts. The researchers went into several WA schools to investigate the reading strategies used by middle primary students when they engaged with Internet texts. The research findings suggest that there are many areas of need in WA classrooms with regards to helping children engage with these relatively new types of texts. These findings are in line with in ternational research showing that children face many cognitive difficulties when engaging with such texts. Furthermore, teachers face difficulties in planning and teaching comprehension in hypermedia contexts.

As a result of this research and the extensive literature review carried out, the authors are developing a framework to help teachers increase their repertoire of strategies for assisting children to locate, understand, critically evaluate, and communicate Internet texts.

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


Academic and social support mechanisms for adolescents with mild disabilities in inclusive classrooms: The development and evaluation of a program

John O'Rourke
Edith Cowan University

The research reported in this thesis investigated support mechanisms perceived by secondary school aged students with mild disabilities as enhancing their academic and social outcomes in regular school classrooms. To achieve the research aims three separate yet inter-related studies were conducted. Study One developed the Student Perceptions of Classroom Support scale (SPCS), a 28 item, picture based scale using common features of inclusive classroom models (ICM) identified in the research literature. This scale assessed student's perceptions of curricular, instructional, adult, and peer support through four subscales. Two separate pilot tests with secondary school students with mild disabilities (MD) demonstrated the SPCS to have appropriate content and no administrative issues.

The findings from the first study were used in Study Two which further developed and empirically validated the SPCS. In Study Two, 60 secondary school aged students with mild disabilities participating in regular classrooms were administered the SPCS. First, item affectivity, item discrimination, person discrimination, and internal consistencies (Cronbach's Alpha) were established. Following this, participant's preferences towards the types of support they received for academic and social outcomes were investigated. Significant differences were evident in preferences in general, and also in regard to academic versus social outcomes. For example, support mechanisms rated highly in terms of positive academic and social outcomes often represented traditional teaching values, whereas support mechanisms such as one to one assistance from teacher assistants or volunteers was perceived as positive in terms of completing classroom activities, but of limited value in establishing friendships with peers.

Study Three developed an intervention program, which incorporated the support mechanisms endorsed by Study Two participants as being positive. The newly developed program, entitled the 'Team teaching', 'Interesting and enjoyable content', 'Clear instructional approach', and 'Collaborative learning' (TICC) Support Program, was subsequently implemented and evaluated with target and control students in one Year Seven, Eight, and Nine regular classroom using a multiple baseline research design. The support mechanisms were introduced in a pyramidal, additive components design, whereby each mechanism was introduced cumulatively and then removed in the same order as it was introduced. Data were collected using a video camera and direct observations over a 10-week period. Statistical analyses revealed no significant group or individual changes in levels of academic or social engagement for students with MD, compared to controls from baseline to intervention phases. Significant differences were evident, however, in levels of competing behaviour, a measure commensurate with student centred classroom models. An extensive qualitative ecobehavioural examination was also conducted on the data and this revealed that while overall academic engagement levels were similar for target and control students, the highest rate of academic and social engagement for students with MD occurred when all support mechanisms were implemented. Students with MD were also found to maintain a passive approach to set tasks and were involved in limited social interactions.

This research raises important questions pertaining to academic and social support mechanisms for adolescents with MD, and the opportunities which arise (and how such opportunities might be facilitated) for them in regular classrooms. These issues are discussed in the light of the current research literature and suggestions are made for further research.

Dr John O'Rourke's thesis Academic and social support mechanisms for adolescents with mild disabilities in inclusive classrooms: The development and evaluation of a program received the 2005 WAIER Cameron Award from the Faculty of Education, The University of Western Australia [Postgraduate Awards]. This is an annual award made to the student who has produced the best piece of research in the Faculty of Education for the year. He is currently a Lecturer in the School of Education, Mt Lawley Campus, Edith Cowan University.

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


"It's not rocket science": But is teaching ordinary?

Jane Pearce
School of Education
Murdoch University

This paper focuses on outcomes of a doctoral study of university teachers' experiences of learning about teaching. The research found that university teachers claimed not to use or understand educational theory, which was seen to be unnecessarily complex and disconnected from their preferred focus on 'ordinary' practice. Nevertheless, analysis found that each participant's practices were underpinned by a set of 'private' theories of teaching and learning that had developed over time. Participants described these theories in ordinary language and used metaphor to explain complex ideas. Further analysis identified links between these 'private' theories and the 'public' theories about teaching and learning that many participants had dismissed as irrelevant to their teaching. The paper will outline these links as well as present some of the idiosyncrasies of the 'private' theories, and discuss the potential role of 'private' theories in supporting teachers' professional learning.

Dr Jane Pearce, School of Education, Murdoch University, Dixon Road, Rockingham WA 6168

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


A model for conceptualising democratic education

Laura Perry
Murdoch University

The relationship between democracy and education is complex and situational. While education scholars and policy makers in democratic countries agree that schooling should be democratic, what this exactly means varies by national context. Moreover, educational practices or models are sometimes assumed to be democratic (or not), without a clear explanation why. This paper problematises the notion of democratic education, showing that the concept is not amenable to simplistic pronouncements. It also establishes a conceptual model for analysing democratic education. The model includes the key concepts of equity, diversity, participation, choice, and cohesion. The model allows one to assess educational democratisation, compare differing national conceptualisations, and appreciate the wide diversity of democratic schooling. As an analytical tool, it also improves understanding of the ways in which educational systems continually adjust to changing theory and economic, political, and social forces.

Dr Laura Perry, Lecturer in Education Policy
Sch ool of Education, Murdoch University, Murdoch WA 6150
http://www.education.murdoch.edu.au/staff/laura_perry.html

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


Silencing the everyday experiences of youth? Issues of subjectivity, corporate ideology and popular culture in the English classroom

Glenn Savage
Murdoch University

This paper investigates the influence that popular culture texts and corporate ideologies have on the subjectivities and everyday social experiences of young people, and the extent to which such influences are critically analysed in the English classroom. Using data born of a quantitative survey and in depth qualitative interviews I conducted with a group of secondary English students, I argue that popular culture texts constitute the predominate form of consumed textual material for young people and that the ideologies and discourses in these texts position young people to assume subjectivities that are increasingly defined by branding and corporate ideology.

My data suggests that young people's social currency is often defined by the extent to which individuals demonstrate an alliance to the ideologies of popular media, and that individuals who deviate from such popular norms often experience subjugation and exclusion within peer and social settings. My case study interviews reveal that many students feel their teachers are "out of touch" with the everyday realities of young people and their popular culture influences, and suggest that there is a lack of commitment from teachers to critically analyse popular culture texts. As an English teacher, I argue that such failures risk producing students whose everyday experiences are silenced and who are unaware of the ways they are being positioned to adopt certain corporate driven subjectivities. I argue that a critical pedagogy needs to be further deployed by English teachers in response to the corporate driven nature of popular texts.

Email: glennsavage@aapt.net.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Science and Mathematics Education Centre Symposium

Critical autoethnography as transformative research praxis for
professional educators from postcolonial countries

Peter Charles Taylor
Frieda Hakadiva
Dun Nkhoma Kasoka
Emilia Afonso
Alberto Cupane
Bal Chandra Luitel (Discussant)
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

[Abstract for Frieda Hakadiva presentation]
[Abstract for Dun Nkhoma Kasoka presentation]
[Abstract for Emilia Afonso presentation]
[Abstract for Alberto Cupane presentation]

This symposium will address the question of how postgraduate research can be made relevant to the cultural contexts of students from overseas countries studying full time in Australian universities, especially students from postcolonial countries facing the dilemma of embracing modernisation whilst asserting their own evolving postcolonial identities. We illustrate how methods of critical auto/ethnography - narrative inquiry, excavating personal memory, fictive imagining, arts-based genres of writing - can be combined with elements of postcolonial theorising (e.g., cultural hybridity, non-essentialism) to generate a transformative research praxis. In this context, transformative research praxis involves (i) making visible and contesting otherwise invisible assumptions underpinning 'taken as natural' cultural policies and practices within schools, universities and government agencies and (ii) undertaking a re-visioning and re-conceptualising of one's professional practice. Of particular interest in this symposium is the enculturating role of language, politics of education, philosophy of science/mathematics, indigenous knowledge systems and women's societal roles. This form of educational research addresses Parker Palmer's four key questions about teachers' practices: What do I teach? How should I teach? Why do I teach? and Who is the self who teaches?

The symposium will be led by Peter Taylor, a transformative educational researcher at Curtin's Science and Mathematics Education Centre. Discussion will stimulated with paper presentations by (i) Emilia Afonso, doctoral student and science educator, Mozambique, (ii) Frieda Hakadiva, masters student and mathematics educator, Namibia, (iii) Dun Kasoka, masters student and mathematics educator, Malawi, and (iv) Alberto Cupane, doctoral student and science educator, Mozambique. Each will illustrate ways in which critical auto/ethnographic research is enabling them to transform their professional roles as teachers and researchers. This approach to research as/for professional development has implications for Australian indigenous teacher education.

Email: p.taylor@curtin.edu.au
frieda.hakadiva@postgrad.curtin.edu.au
dun.kasoka@postgrad.curtin.edu.au
emilia.afonso@postgrad.curtin.edu.au
acupane@hotmail.com
[Scheduling for Symposium introduction by Peter Taylor and these presentations]


Quality eLearning: Designing pedagogically effective web based environments for enhancing student online learning in higher education

Lou Siragusa
Curtin University of Technology

As online learning (or eLearning) is integrated into ever growing numbers of university courses, there is a need for practical guidelines and recommendations to facilitate the development and delivery of pedagogically effective eLearning environments. A recent study by Siragusa (2005) examined factors which make for effective instructional design principles and learning strategies for higher education students studying with these environments. Surveys were administered to students and lecturers in Western Australian universities revealing numerous areas of students' eLearning experiences which they had perceived as being successful and those needing improvements.

This paper presents a model that was developed from the study's survey findings, which lecturers and instructional designers may use to design, develop, evaluate and refine their eLearning environments in higher education. The model is accompanied with recommendations that accommodate the varying pedagogical needs of learners as well as varying modes of course delivery. For each recommendation, a pedagogical dimension is presented to illustrate the varying pedagogical needs and instructional requirements. The dimensions are utilised in a similar manner to Reeves and Reeves' (1997) pedagogical dimensions and highlight the decisions which need to be made during the instructional analysis, design, delivery and evaluation phases for the implementation of pedagogically effective eLearning environments.

Dr Lou Siragusa, Lecturer, Training & Development Program, Faculty of Education, Language Studies & Social Work, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia 6845. Lou is Curtin University's nominee for the WAIER Postgraduate Award 2006 [Postgraduate Awards].

Email: L.Siragusa@curtin.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


Identifying students with learning difficulties and finding solutions

Margaret Sutherland
Edith Cowan University

This study will invest igate the reasons why children who have learning difficulties, especially dyslexia, in schools in Western Australia are not identified and are able to slip through the system in spite of all the resources, money and Acts passed to implement strategies to help them. Children at risk by rights should have an equal chance to learn alongside their peers and not get left behind because there are teachers who are not trained to identify these children. Allowing a child to proceed through the grades of a primary education without learning to read is beyond comprehension. Teachers also need to learn how to implement programs for children who learn differently. The aim of the Education Department of Western Australia is to have every student from age four to eighteen become fully literate. So why are students being allowed to advance to high school when they cannot read? (Curriculum Council of Western Australia, 1997)

Margaret Sutherland
c/- Post Office, Bencubbin WA 6477

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


Conducting online questionnaires

Penny Tan
The University of Western Australia

There has always been a consistent struggle among postgraduate students with research methodology, especially issues relating to data collection. The problems include selecting sample, type of samplings, sample sizes, obtaining ethics clearance (especially for surveys that are conducted overseas and require clearance from both the researcher's university as well as the overseas respective authorities) and designing of questionnaires or focus group questions, budget (including application for travel grants if required), and last but not least, the timing of the data collection periods, especially when dealing with participants from overseas schools, due to different holiday schedules.

No matter how well we design the conceptual framework for our data collection process, being postgraduate students, in no time we will realise what we have planned may not be necessary most of the time. Therefore in this presentation, I would like to share with other researchers, especially postgraduate students, the problems that I have faced through my data collection and the solutions, hopefully benefitting those who are working on their data collection processes now or in the near future.

Penny Tan is a PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Education at The University of Western Australia.

Email: tanp19@student.uwa.edu.au
[Scheduling for this presentation]


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