Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

24th Annual Research Forum at Edith Cowan University

Forum 2009 Abstracts

Listed alphabetically by first author
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Utilising collaborative learning methodology in the mathematics classroom: An auto-ethnography

Naif M. Alsulami
Curtin University of Technology
Email: nsulami@hotmail.com

While I was trying to encourage my students (mathematics pre-service teachers) to use collaborative learning methodology (CLM) as an approach in their teaching I found that many were not interested in using this innovative approach. So, the key purpose of my research was to investigate obstacles that I had encountered when using CLM in my teaching. I made use of autoethnography as a research methodology, with 'narrative inquiry method', to carefully describe events and dilemmas that occurred in my teaching while I was using CLM. In using this research methodology my aim was to understand participants' lived experiences and to communicate educatively with my reader about what I learned for my professional practice. My narratives are intended to demonstrate the truthfulness of my study by providing satisfactory details of my experience, rather than to generalise what I have learned. In this way I am writing to enable you to decide whether what I have learned can help you meet your own goals for using CLM. To make sense of my study, you need to use your own personal beliefs to check the degree of similarity between my experience and your own.
Keywords: Collaborative learning, autoethnography, obstacles

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Measuring value adding: A qualitative approach

John Bednall
Social and Educational Research Centre
Email: johnbednall@bigpond.com

In the midst of the debate concerning media league tables, Ballajura Community College commissioned a research project to explore an alternative method for describing accurately the value-added contribution it had made to its exiting students. After a two-year study conducted by John Bednall, the Ballajura Exit Policy emerged which demonstrated that phenomenological method with students as the sample group identified authentically the extent of value adding inherent in a schooling experience as well as provided benchmarks for planning school improvement.
Keywords: Value adding, phenomenology, league tables

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Educators' motivation for continuing professional learning

Susan Beltman
Curtin University of Technology
Email: S.Beltman@curtin.edu.au

Professionals' learning and motivation is regarded as social, situated and constructed. For successful implementation of new professional learning, consideration of both person and context is needed. Individual motivational beliefs regarding activities are, for example, inseparable from and mutually shaped by the social context in which these activities are situated. This paper reports a mixed methods study examining the relevance, effectiveness and implementation of a professional learning program, as perceived by 68 Australian educators. Participants reported enhanced personal development and valued the course, but workplace demands and limited structured support were constraints on implementation. Methodological issues associated with research in authentic professional learning settings are discussed. The study confirms the significance of exploring personal and contextual factors to gain a holistic understanding of professional learning initiatives, and to maximise their actual implementation in practice.
Keywords: motivation, professional learning, teachers

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How do children under 5 years of age engage in scientific thinking?

Elaine Blake and Christine Howitt
SMEC, Curtin University of Technology
Email: e.blake@curtin.edu.au

Although much has been written about improving primary school science and scientific skills for children, not a lot has been done to seek what science actually looks like for children under 5 years of age. There is a common belief among many adults that science concept learning is something to be addressed in the later years of schooling. Thus early childhood educators tend not to emphasise science teaching and learning. Science, however, is a discipline upon which all curriculum learning can begin as young children are innately curious about their world. As a means of capturing the understanding of science by young children, six children in three very different learning centres have been observed to witness their experiences of scientific discovery. These observations and conversations with the children and their teachers are presented and interpreted as a means of understanding young children's thinking in science through case studies. Suggestions on how early childhood educators can enhance science learning in early learning centres are discussed.
Keywords: Early childhood education, science, case studies

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Nurturing relationships within a space created by Indigenous ways of knowing

Lilly Brown
The University of Western Australia
Email: Brownl07@student.uwa.edu.au

A strong student-faculty relationship is continually identified as the most significant form of involvement affecting the student experience. Yet, within the current dominant higher-educational context, student-faculty interactions are also identified as an area in need of improvement. This study explores the educator-learner relationship within a space created by 'Indigenous pedagogy' and epistemology. Within this context distinctions such as 'inside' and 'outside' the classroom are seen to inhibit interconnectedness within a holistic system of knowing. Extensive qualitative enquiry in the form of observations, non-Indigenous and Indigenous student focus groups, and faculty interviews informed a descriptive-case study of the unit offered through the University of Western Australia, Aboriginal Ways of Knowing. It was found that this space, as Indigenised, offered students the opportunity to connect spiritually and personally with themselves, one another and their educators. Further more, in reading this space as an interface between Western and Indigenous systems of knowing, a productive tension emerged in emulation of what Indigenous people experience throughout their daily lives. This research contributes to a growing body of literature indicating the potential of Indigenous pedagogy and epistemologies within the tertiary context, at a time when 'Indigenous knowledge' is increasingly gaining momentum as a global phenomenon.
Keywords: Indigenous pedagogy, higher education, student-faculty

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Effective strategies for teaching problem solving in early childhood mathematics

Lauren Cooper and Renae Cirillo
Curtin University of Technology
Email: lauren.cooper@student.curtin.edu.au, naezal7@hotmail.com

The ability to problem solve in mathematics is an important skill. Developing this ability in early years can improve mathematical ability in later schooling. The purpose of this research was to highlight strategies commonly used and challenges that teachers' encounter in order to improve future teaching and research in this field. Teachers were interviewed about their beliefs regarding problem solving in the early childhood setting and how they implement activities in their classrooms. Evidently teachers are aware of the importance of problem solving but there are many barriers to implementing this aspect of mathematics. It was found that a greater curriculum focus on problem solving is required in order to validate the time required to teach it as well as better resources and teacher support, including specific problem solving professional development.
Keywords: Problem solving, early childhood, mathematics

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Commodification in higher education and its effect on staff-student interaction beyond the classroom

Isabel Da Silva
The University of Western Australia
Email: dasili01@student.uwa.edu.au

The recent government commissioned Review of Higher Education has drawn attention to the impact of 'commodification' (or 'academic capitalism') on higher education, and this study focuses on how staff-student interaction might be affected. Five staff and six students were interviewed regarding their perspectives on staff-student interaction beyond the classroom and how it might be influenced by changes associated with commodification. Potential threats to interaction were found to include heavier demands on staff and an increased proportion of passive students who regard interaction as necessary. Pressures on staff participants had a variety of causes, from teaching with fewer resources in real terms, to research, administrative responsibilities and the challenges of teaching more passive students. This contributes to the growing body of literature relating to commodification, and may help determine whether and to what extent it should be pursued.
Keywords: Education, staff-student interaction, commodification.

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Perceptions of how email affects student staff interactions beyond the classroom: Expectations and criteria

Rachel Dennis
The University of Western Australia
Email: dennir01@student.uwa.edu.au

The rapid increase in the use of email as a means of communication between students and staff in universities in recent years raises the issue of the impact this has on student learning. Online surveys were distributed to undergraduate students and faculty staff at The University of Western Australia to determine their perceptions of how email is being used and how this compares to face-to-face interactions. Findings about what students and staff believe enhance and hinder the use of email were used to develop a set of guidelines outlining how email can be used in a way that is most conducive to learning.
Keywords: Email, student-staff communication, university learning

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A qualitative study of the teaching of Greek as a second language

Angela Evangelinou-Yiannakis
St Andrew's Greek Orthodox Grammar
Email: aevangelinou-yiannakis@sag.wa.edu.au

The Seconded Teachers from Greece Scheme (STGS) has been operating in Australia since 1977. Its concern has been with the maintenance and promotion of the Greek language and culture through the secondment of teachers and the supply of material resources from Greece. However, there has been no substantial research to date on its progress in Western Australia. The qualitative study that was undertaken for the degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Western Australia aimed to address this deficit. Specifically, the study aimed to generate theory regarding how the key stakeholders dealt with the curriculum for teaching Greek as a second language in WA under the STGS. It is this theory that will be the main focus of the presentation. Mention will also be made of the implications of the study for the development of policy and practice, as well as for future research.

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The use of personal meaning mapping to explore understanding of scientific literacy

Rosemary Evans
Duncraig Senior High School
Email: rosemary.evans@det.wa.edu.au

This presentation reports part of a longitudinal study of a professional development program in primary schools to address the issues involved in promoting and sustaining a scientifically literate society. International research has indicated that scientific literacy is seen as important for all citizens and hence an important outcome of schooling. However, it is also clear that the meaning of scientific literacy is not well understood, yet teachers of science are expected to develop students' skills in this area. This presentation reports part of a qualitative study that investigated teachers' understandings of the term 'scientific literacy' using Personal Meaning Mapping (PMM), an interview-based technique for uncovering people's conceptual ideas. This presentation reports the parallels and variations among two groups, teachers and the general public; it presents the findings from which assertions are made and implications are drawn.
Keywords: scientific literacy, personal meaning mapping, science education

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Acceleration: An interpretive study of gifted students within a primary school setting

Chrissy Gamble and Susan McKenzie
Murdoch University
Email: CJGamble@scotch.wa.edu.au, S.mckenzie@murdoch.edu.au

The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of gifted primary school aged students who had been year level accelerated. Principals from primary schools in the independent school sector in Western Australia were surveyed concerning acceleration. The surveys were followed by in-depth interviews in three of the primary schools sites where children had been year level accelerated. The findings revealed an overwhelmingly positive experience of acceleration, post acceleration, for all key stakeholders. The large quantity of literature purporting the effectiveness of year level acceleration for gifted students was well supported through the case studies, with key features of a successful year level acceleration based upon the importance of clearly articulated school policies for giftedness and acceleration, awareness of the needs of gifted students, the importance of periods of transition into the accelerated year level and the vital role of communication and shared understandings between key stakeholders in the acceleration process. The need for a specific tool to measure the effectiveness of year level acceleration for gifted students, post acceleration, was clearly evident. The implications of the findings for future research and practice will be presented.
Keywords: Giftedness, acceleration

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Making space: Exploring alternative pedagogies in teacher education

Christine Glass and Geraldine Ditchburn
Murdoch University
Email: c.glass@murdoch.edu.au, g.ditchburn@murdoch.edu.au

As teacher educators working with students from diverse backgrounds we are interested in a pedagogy that validates what pre service teachers bring to the process of learning and teaching. The publication of the Review of Higher Education in Australia (Bradley, 2008) where the recommendation to include more students from disadvantaged backgrounds is made, has caused us to more fully consider a pedagogy that is inclusive of student experience. But how can we more effectively create the necessary spaces to do this within the constraints of a university context? How can we create alternative ways of constructing teacher identity, one that is characterised by autonomy, risk taking and agency? More importantly how can we avoid using a deficit paradigm to frame our work?

To respond to these questions, we have sought views about teaching and learning from a small group of teacher educators, and students who have entered university through alternative entry points. The students' and educators' perspectives on current practices will be framed in terms of the work of Down et al (2008) on education for empowerment and the conceptual understandings of 'standpoint pedagogy'. Our preliminary work in this area has provided us with unexpected challenges.
Keywords: Standpoint pedagogy, empowerment, inclusivity

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Student interaction with culturally and linguistically diverse staff members beyond the classroom

Rosalind Hewett
The University of Western Australia
Email: hewetr01@student.uwa.edu.au

Previous research indicates that student interaction with teaching staff beyond the classroom can influence student ratings and outcomes. Studies have shown that students rate staff members who speak English as a second language (ESL) lower than staff in general in terms of their ability to communicate. There is little, if any, existing research on student interaction with ESL staff outside the classroom. It is important to ascertain whether such interaction is occurring, if students have difficulty understanding in-class communication. This study asked students about their attitudes towards and interactions with general staff and with ESL staff, in an online survey sent to all undergraduates at the University of Western Australia. 1280 students responded. Quantitative results showed that when students had difficulty understanding what was said in the classroom, they were less likely to contact an ESL staff member than a general staff member. However, when contact did occur with ESL staff, they viewed it much more positively than negatively. Qualitative results suggested that student inclination to interact could be influenced by many factors, not necessarily language alone. Learning can be enhanced both within and beyond the classroom if students perceive staff members as approachable and if staff members encourage interaction.
Keywords: ESL, staff-student interaction, beyond the classroom

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Exploring the development of student leadership potential within a Catholic school: A qualitative case study

Gregory Hine
The University of Notre Dame, Australia
Email: ghine@hotmail.com

The intention of this research is to explore how one Catholic secondary school develops leadership potential in young adolescents, and what kind of leaders are being produced through its efforts. At the same time the research will endeavour inductively to conceptualise the underlying model of leadership being pursued consciously or implicitly by the school, by examining the philosophical perspectives held by those who have designed and implemented the student leaders' developmental experiences.
Keywords: Student leadership development

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Gender inclusivity in early childhood science teaching

Becky Holtham and Kate Abbott
Curtin University of Technology
Email: rebecca.holtham@student.curtin.edu.au

This research project took place in a metropolitan government primary school within two Pre Primary and Year 1 classroom settings over a period of 3 consecutive weeks. The research focused exclusively on Year 1 students only. The questions in focus for the action learning project were "What strategies do teachers use in an early childhood context to enhance gender inclusivity in science education?" and secondly, "How effective are these strategies in ensuring that male and female students engage productively in science activities?" The project aimed to research the different strategies early childhood teachers implemented within their classrooms to create gender inclusivity. By completing the comprehensive study and using a range of multifaceted data collection techniques, extensive data from various contexts was collected and as a result creditable interpretations and information was revealed. The evidence demonstrated that in order to combat gender inequity and ensure that students from all genders, cultures and social backgrounds engage in science as passionate scientific learners, it is essential for educators to focus on creating a curriculum that presents flexible student centered science activities with an inquiry and constructivist focus.

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It's a mystery! A case study from the Collaborative Science Project

Christine Howitt and Emily Upson
Curtin University of Technology
Email: c.howitt@curtin.edu.au

The Collaborative Science Project in a uniquely cross-discipline and collaborative approach between scientists/engineers, teacher educators and pre-service teachers to better prepare pre-service early childhood teachers to teach science. The project has developed, implemented and is now evaluating five modules of science for use in early childhood education. These resources were developed to provide pre-service teachers with the best possible chance of acquiring the requisite science content to merge with their pedagogical skills, and thus increase their confidence to teach science in the early childhood classroom. This presentation will firstly provide an overview of the Collaborative Science Project. It will then present a case study of how one of the modules, "We're going on a (forensic) bear hunt!", was implemented into a Kindergarten class, and what the pre-service teacher and children gained from this experience. This presentation will conclude with a challenge to rethink what science is taught and how it is taught in early childhood.
Keywords: Early childhood education, forensic science, curriculum

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International students' perceptions of their interactions with staff outside the classroom

Pragnya Jagadish
The University of Western Australia
Email: jagadp01@student.uwa.edu.au

There has been an exponential growth in the number of international students choosing to study in Australia. However, little research has been dedicated to understanding the perceptions of satisfaction and/or dissatisfaction amongst international students. Students' satisfaction has been shown to be influenced by the frequency of interaction with staff outside the classroom. The aim of this study is to examine the international students' perceptions of their interactions with staff by measuring the nature and frequency of interactions, students' expectations and the problems encountered in their interactions outside the classroom. From The University of Western Australia, 172 international undergraduate students participated in the on-line survey. Results indicated a very low frequency of staff-student interactions, with a majority of interactions being academic in nature and initiated by students alone through face-to-face contact. Students expected more frequent interactions, believing staff to be better equipped in dealing with their concerns and citing staff availability as a major factor impeding interactions. Recommendations to improve staff availability and initiatives to incorporate cultural awareness within staff training are suggested.
Keywords: International students, perceptions, staff-student interactions

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Teacher discourse according to gender

Chris John
Curtin University of Technology
Email: cjcmjohn@gmail.com

According to the research literature and associated studies, current educational systems are feminised institutions due to an increasing number of female teachers creating a lack of male role models and masculine identities. One of most crucial classroom practices in effective teaching and learning is teacher discourse, which can never be free from the social conditions and contexts in which it is practised. The focus in this research is differentiating classroom discourse according to teacher gender. The discourse methods specifically include both preventative and reactive behaviour management, whole class, small group and one on one communication with students, portrayal of concepts and ideas, disciplinary methods and other social interactions that have an impact on the classroom environment.

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Constructivist teaching strategies in upper primary mathematics: An evaluation of three textbooks

Deanne Johnston
Curtin University of Technology
Email: deannej@westnet.com.au

Student textbooks are used extensively in upper primary mathematics classrooms across Western Australian for every aspect of learning and teaching mathematics. Constructivist style teaching strategies are taught in courses for practicing teachers and feature widely in the State Government's Curriculum Framework. So, do mathematics textbooks adequately support these constructivist style teaching strategies? In order to answer this question lesson plans from three best selling Year 5 textbooks were analysed for the existence of constructivist style teaching strategies commonly recognised by mathematic scholars as such. The data suggested that none of the three textbooks were distinctively constructivist. They did not utilise a significant proportion of strategies commonly recognised as constructivist. One textbook did frequently employ several strategies on the research list but not extensively enough to be labelled a constructivist style textbook. The research could be extended to survey different textbooks or to look at those surveyed in more depth. However, the findings do certainly warn those teachers intent on using constructivist style teaching strategies in their primary mathematics classrooms to look closely at their own reliance on textbooks.
Keywords: Mathematics textbooks, constructivist teaching strategies, upper primary

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Kindergarten teacher's pedagogical styles and their students' social and emotional development

Gillian Kirk
Murdoch University
Email: kirk.image@westnet.com.au

There is currently a plethora of research that promotes social and emotional competency as a necessity if children are to adapt and perform well at school. Emerging from this literature is the knowledge that the best time to nurture social and emotional development is during kindergarten. This is because the prefrontal cortex, which is part of the brain that is largely responsible for emotional regulation, is developing when children are around the age of four (Posner & Rothbart, 2000; Lewis & Stieben, 2004). This accelerated neural development renders this time a critical period for learning effective social and emotional skills. Should social and emotional skills not be learned at this stage, they are more difficult, if at all possible, to acquire later in life (Boyd, Barnett, Bodrova, Leong & Gomby, 2005). Consequently, kindergarten teachers play an integral role in children's social and emotional development. This study examines how pedagogical style contributes to kindergarten children's social and emotional development. A survey (Hyson, Hirsh-Pasek & Rescorla, 1990) used to assist in identifying pedagogical style was issued to kindergarten teachers in Catholic primary schools in the Perth Metropolitan area. Based on the responses from this survey, eleven teachers were selected to participate in this study. Teacher administered pre-test and post-test, coupled with observations carried out by the researcher once a month will map the students' social and emotional development throughout the year. Furthermore, teacher strategies considered to contribute to social and emotional development will be measured using the Classroom Assessment System (CLASS) (Pianta, La-Paro & Hamre, 2004).
Keywords: Early childhood, pedagogical style, social and emotional development

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To e-learn or not to e-learn, that is the question

Jenny Lane
Edith Cowan University
Email: j.lane@ecu.edu.au

This paper discusses the challenges and tensions facing educators surrounding the integration of new technologies in learning and teaching. The field of e-learning is new for many educators and there is confusion about exactly what can be described as e-learning. In this study mixed methods were used to gather data on e-learning in a tertiary institution. A literature review was conducted on the meaning and implications of e-learning in tertiary institutions. A participatory action research model was used with students and staff involved in preservice teacher education to gather data on the factors impacting on the integration of e-learning in teacher education courses at one institution. The qualitative and quantitative data gathered from academics on their current uses of technology in their learning and teaching revealed a number of motivating and constraining factors impacting on the use of new technologies in tertiary education courses. Finally some future plans and directions on the design of tertiary units including new technologies are outlined. Although this small-scale study was situated in teacher education courses, the findings have implications for other fields of tertiary education. The use of new technologies will be integrated throughout the presentation providing participants with an engaging experience modeling how technologies can be used to promote e-learning.

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Little green fingers

Elaine Lewis
Murdoch University
Email: e.lewis@bigpond.com

Using their little green fingers, young children actively participated in numerous real-life education for sustainability (EfS) endeavours. The children attended an independent kindergarten and primary school, located in the Perth metropolitan area of Western Australia. The school was involved in research on the impact of environmental EfS programs. Four environmental education projects at the school illustrated various enactment strategies that moved EfS forward for children in the Early Childhood years. The projects, initiated as result of student interest, were: a biological survey of the school and surrounds, water quality studies at a local lake, a turtle watch project, and a community permaculture garden. The children investigated pit traps, conducted physical and chemical water quality assessments, collected rubbish, planted native trees, shrubs and reeds as well as vegetables and fruit, and cooked healthy food. The outcomes of these projects ranged from improved student understandings about the healthy functioning of natural ecosystems, to enhanced care for the local environment, a reduction in pollution and health benefits from growing and cooking with fresh organic produce. Evidence suggested that conducting EfS projects in early childhood was an effective, meaningful approach to achieving potent, enjoyable, hands-on action in real-life contexts. The projects presented opportunities to engage and empower young children, encouraging them to become inquiring about the environment, and provided situations in which they could enact their understandings and skills.
Keywords: Education for sustainability, early childhood, environmental education

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Year 4 Students' attitudes toward exercise at school

Justina Li
Curtin University of Technology
Email: justina.li@yahoo.com.au

Students' attitudes toward exercise at school are influenced by many factors. Fostering positive attitudes toward exercise at school increases the likelihood of students maintaining healthy and active lifestyles. This action learning project aimed to identify the current attitudes of a class of Year 4 students toward exercise at school, and the effect of the following factors on their attitudes: beliefs about the value of exercise, including advantages and disadvantages; the activities included; gender; and ability levels. Questionnaires, interviews and observations of students were used to gather information about students' attitudes toward exercise at school. It was found that the majority of students in this sample had positive attitudes toward exercise at school. Students were able to identify both advantages and disadvantages of exercise programs at school. Students' attitudes improved when they worked in teams with friends and participated in a variety of activities. Male students tended to have a more positive attitude toward exercise at school, and similarly the correlation between high ability levels and positive attitudes was stronger than for students of average ability. In conclusion, it is important for educators to identify and cater for the needs and preferences of their students in order to create a quality, enjoyable exercise program.
Keywords: students' attitudes, exercise, influence

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Perceptions of undergraduates and their teachers on the opportunities for interaction beyond the classroom

Jess McColl
The University of Western Australia
Email: jess.mccoll@gmail.com

No resource has more impact on the social and academic development of students than the teaching staff. While there may be more to be done in implementing new strategies, it is also important to take some time to reflect on the effectiveness of the existing resources. Recent changes to the physical location of The University of Western Australia's Business School, together with a perception that students do not make use of the opportunities for face-to-face interaction, offered an opportunity to reflect upon the current practises of students and staff with regards to communication beyond the classroom walls. Surveys were used to discover the staff and student perceptions and expectations about both the modes and features of out of class communication (OCC). This study provides significant evidence that there is engagement with the available resources and that the primary restraint to achieving OCC is the availability of academic staff to facilitate it. This research recommends that rather than expecting academic staff to meet all of the requirements of undergraduates, there is a role for academic staff to play in informing students of, and encouraging them to use, the available career advisors, study skills advisors, student representatives and counselling services alternatives.
Keywords: staff-student interaction, business undergraduates, alternative service providers

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Student perceptions: Engagement beyond the classroom

Wayne McGowan and Lee Partridge
The University of Western Australia
Email: Wayne.McGowan@uwa.edu.au

The challenge of engaging students at the tertiary and higher education level has continued to generate strong research interest. As part of this growing body of work, attention has been drawn to the learning opportunities available to students through their positive engagement in experiences beyond the classroom (Kuh, 1995; Tinto, 1998; Light, 2001; McInnis, 2003; Terenzini & Reason, 2005; Krause, 2007). As an emerging issue, the engagement of undergraduate students in the campus community that extends beyond the classroom is presented as a significant force in the overall learning experience. As Light (2001, p. 8) explained, 'When we asked students to think of a specific, critical incident or moment that had changed them profoundly, four-fifths of them chose a situation or event outside of the classroom.' Within this context, this presentation draws from a research project that was designed to gain a better understanding of student engagement beyond the classroom. It provides details of students' perceptions of campus community. In so doing, it helps to highlight how perceptions of university and student characteristics can influence student engagement beyond the classroom.
Keywords: Student engagement, higher education, campus community

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Motivation and engagement of undergraduate students in their relation to lecturers outside the classroom

Emma McIntyre
The University of Western Australia
Email: mcinte01@student.uwa.edu.au

This research utilises the idea of Positive and Negative Feedback-loops, to explore the possibility of amplification or stagnation of tertiary students' motivation, and engagement, in relation to their interactions with lecturers outside the classroom. Previous research has established that students benefit from out-of-class interactions with their lecturers. However, the possibility that the onus is on students to initiate interactions has been overlooked. In this case, students who are not motivated, or confident enough, to initiate contact, may be shown not to benefit in the same way as students who have developed Positive Feedback-loops, through their ability to initiate contact. Qualitative interviews were conducted with eight students and two lecturers from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at The University of Western Australia. Factors found to influence students' motivation, confidence, and ability to interact and to initiate interactions, include: students' backgrounds; what they seek from, and how they are affected by, interactions; in-class perceptions of lecturers and their teaching ability; perceptions of lecturers' willingness, and ability, to interact; and class sizes and types, and their relationship to out-of-class interactions. Findings illustrate the complexity of student-lecturer interactions and support the existence of these Feedback-loops - with initiation of interactions shown to be a crucial determining factor. Lecturers' perspectives on students' perceptions are also presented in order to show influencing factors beyond these student perceptions. These findings suggest that various changes could be made, at different points, allowing students to enter into Positive Feedback-loops and increase their motivation and engagement at university.
Keywords: Out-of-class interactions, feedback-loops, motivation

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Interactive whiteboard technology: Integrating e-learning with e-teaching

Karen Murcia
Edith Cowan University
Email: k.murcia@ecu.edu.au

It is widely accepted that ICT is central to innovations in science education and as such the Australian Government's School Science Education National action plan has recommended as a priority that pedagogy should enable students to learn science by seeking understanding from multiple sources of information, ranging from hands-on investigation to internet searching. Interactive whiteboard (IWB) technology has been embraced in Australia and internationally as an educational tool that enables the convergence of a diverse range of ICTs into daily classroom practice. The technology enables students and teachers to interact with all the functions of a desk top computer through the IWB's large touch sensitive surface fixed at the front of the classroom. It effectively becomes a port for incorporating a range of multimedia resources such as written text, pictures, diagrams, photos, video and online websites into classroom teaching and learning activities. The affordances offered by this technology will be discussed in this presentation in relation to teachers' classroom practice and the way students learn. Examples from lower secondary science classrooms will be used to illustrate effective e-teaching or interactive pedagogy that supports and extends more traditional e-learning activities.

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The philosophy and practice of middle schooling for the education of young adolescents

Lesley Newhouse-Maiden
Edith Cowan University
Email: l.newhouse_maiden@ecu.edu.au

In 2001, a team of educators at Edith Cowan University created a curriculum framework consisting of seven areas that we focussed upon in preparing our middle years teachers (Newhouse-Maiden & de Jong, 2005, July). This framework was an adapted synthesis of the Turning Points 2000 design (Jackson & Davis, 2000, pp. 23-26) and a framework used by Clarkson Community Middle School (1997), one of our local partnership schools. Our framework consisted of seven inter-related areas, namely: 'Pastoral Care'; 'Organisational Structure'; 'Community Partnerships; 'Curriculum; 'Teaching Strategies (Pedagogy)'; 'Professional Community of Educators', all contributing to the outcome of 'Success for Every Student". One of the key principles underpinning our framework was to 'practise what we preach'. This we did by endeavouring to model middle schooling principles and practices in the way in which we delivered the diploma. Key elements of this principle can be summed in words such as excellence, equity, adolescent-centred schooling, community, constructivism, integration, rich tasks, and productive pedagogies. Today, in 2009, as an advocate of 'middle schooling' for young adolescents, I wish to share this framework to answer sceptics or innovators who might ask the question "What's so distinctive and relevant about middle schooling for young adolescents in the 21st century?

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Reciprocal-mentoring residencies: Better transitions to teaching

Lisa Paris
Edith Cowan University
Email: l.paris@ecu.edu.au

Graduate diploma students generally come to teacher education programs from industry settings where they have often worked for several years following the completion of their foundation degree, developing expertise in their discipline. 'Reciprocal-mentoring' acknowledges this expert status and offers to schools the opportunity to have a graduate diploma resident working periodically in their school for three to six months free of charge. In these contexts, schools can derive significant benefit from having a highly-skilled professional mentoring their students on specific projects. The goodwill which is generated within the school setting by the program is reciprocated when the resident enters the teaching profession. In most instances the beginning-teacher is employed at a school other than the one at which the residency was completed, so the mentoring in phase two is external to the employment context. In 2008 a small group of ECU graduate diploma visual arts students completed a residency and are now, as beginning-teachers, being reciprocally mentored by staff from those schools. The 'Reciprocal-Mentoring Model' which emanated from the trial is about to be the focus of formal research which will investigate whether 'reciprocal-mentoring' can significantly improve induction experience for beginning-teachers. This paper provides a context for that research.

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ULTRIS: Undergraduate students and the scholarship of teaching and learning

Lee Partridge, Sally Sandover, Wayne McGowan and students from the ULTRIS internship program
The University of Western Australia
Email: lee.partridge@uwa.edu.au

Developing research skills is predominantly the prerogative of the postgraduate student. Despite much rhetoric about the teaching-research nexus, few undergraduate students have the opportunity to undertake authentic research.

In 2009, The University of Western Australia funded the development of an undergraduate research internship. The program, known as ULTRIS (Undergraduate Learning and Teaching Research Internship), is unique. Other research internships exist for undergraduate students that are predominantly discipline-specific, most frequently occurring during vacations and based in the sciences. ULTRIS is distinctive in that the focus of the research undertaken by students, is in teaching and learning. Students have the opportunity to learn and practice basic research competencies in a discipline very different from that in which they are studying. Nonetheless, these acquired skills stand them in good stead for their continuing undergraduate and possible postgraduates studies. This model of research training represents a novel approach to the often articulated desire to provide undergraduates with authentic research experience.

The findings from the students' projects will be presented in individual sessions at the WAIER conference. In this presentation, background on the development, process and outcomes of the internship will be given. Perspectives of key stakeholders in the scheme, including the students themselves and some of their supervisors, will be offered.
Keywords: Undergraduate research, teaching-research nexus, teaching and learning research

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Implementation of an outcomes focused approach to education: A case study

Catherine Pearce
Murdoch University
Email: cp@classicpressedflora.com.au

Outcomes focused education is an educational reform movement that has influenced many countries, including Australia, in recent years. This case study explores how one primary school in Western Australia has implemented an outcomes approach within the context of large-scale jurisdictional change. The research design utilises the qualitative approaches of ethnography and phenomenology. A number of richly informative case studies, have been developed drawing on data from a broad range of stakeholders including teachers, students, parents and the school's principal. Departmental and school based documents have also been utilised to inform and guide the development of each case study. Emergent themes with respect to the implementation of educational change have been identified and the implications of these are discussed. At the time of the study a variety of key factors were identified as having a significant impact on the level of success achieved in implementation. The change management model as used by the school is identified, and several critical areas of weakness are revealed. The study raises critical questions about the effectiveness of the model used by the school and therefore questions the potential for this model to be used successfully in other schools implementing similar pedagogical change.
Keywords: Outcomes, focused, education

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Evaluating pre-service primary science education: Self efficacy and beliefs

Jennifer Pearson
Edith Cowan University
Email: j.pearson@ecu.edu.au

The common evaluation tool used at ECU to determine the degree to which a unit has supported pre-service teachers learning is the Unit and Teaching Evaluation Instrument (UTEI). While this delivers a range of responses about satisfaction of the unit it does not provide an instrument to test the pre-service teachers self efficacy and belief about their science teaching and learning capabilities. Pre-service teachers at ECU Australia have traditionally completed two units of science education as part of the Bachelor of Education degree. In 2006 a change in the degree structure resulted in only one science unit being offered. It became critical to gather information about the effectiveness of the planned sequence of lectures and tutorials to increase the well documented low self efficacy and beliefs primary pre-service teachers have. Results will be shared from the 2008 data collected.
Keywords: Pre-service teachers, science education, self efficacy, beliefs

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Climate change: Creating online education in Western Australian primary schools

Jennifer Pearson
Edith Cowan University
Email: j.pearson@ecu.edu.au

The climate change debate has left many teachers confused and unsure about what to teach or if they can indeed fit yet another subject into their crowded curriculum. In Western Australia the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) was launched in 2005 to support teachers in implementing education for sustainability across the whole school. While this has been successful in establishing a model of integrated programs for teachers a significant number of teachers choose not to participate. The challenge to conceptualize a novel approach to the designing and delivery of material that children can access with minimal support from teachers was explored. This project reviewed the teaching and learning theories that would support students with online learning and the key elements essential to engage and motivate students. The appropriate technology to deliver activities to promote hands on learning through the curriculum areas of technology & enterprise, science and society & environment were examined. Learning journeys developed were presented as 'Operations' centred on key sustainability issues of energy, waste, water, biodiversity and air.
Keywords: Education for sustainability, online learning, primary education

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Using narratives as a research strategy in educational leadership

Coral Pepper
The University of Western Australia
Email: cpepper@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

In this presentation I report on the construction and use of narrative accounts developed to capture the experiences of participants engaged in educational leadership. Narratives, sometimes called vignettes or creative non fiction, permit life-like accounts which focus on experience (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000). Narratives permit participant's stories and descriptions of experience to be honoured and given status (Conle, 2003). According to Hostetler (2005) narratives support the criteria for 'good educational research' as they contribute to people's well-being. There is no place for 'cause and effect' in the narrative experience. Instead other criteria, such as apparency and verisimilitude ensure trustworthiness and permit transferability. Using narratives as a research strategy in educational leadership is one of the many forms qualitative research may take.
Keywords: Research methodology

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Greening behaviour: Impact of whole school sustainability education on students and families

Zarin Salter
The University of Western Australia
Email: zarin.salter@gmail.com

As the science of climate change is becoming widely accepted and awareness is growing that human actions are the major contributor people remain reluctant to change their behaviours Environmental educators are intensifying their efforts to address the need for behaviour change and have found when an integrated whole-school approach to education for sustainability is established within the teacher and student body, the next challenge is to engender the same awareness and enthusiasm for adopting sustainable practices among families. This study will explore the effects of whole-school education for sustainability initiatives supported by the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative- Western Australia (AuSSI-WA) on adoption of environmentally responsible behaviours in upper-primary school children. It will examine the extent to which students' parents, caregivers and families support these behaviours and the relationship between families' adoption of environmentally responsible behaviours and children's involvement within an AuSSI-WA school. Lastly, the study will identify factors that may maximise the support and reciprocal adoption of environmentally responsible behaviours among families of the children studied. This study, original in its design and goals, encompassing science and society in its scope, will add to the body of local and worldwide knowledge in this field.

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Geographical diversity and faculty interaction in the Law School

Ying Yi Siow
The University of Western Australia
Email: siowy02@student.uwa.edu.au

In recent years, research has shown an increasing recognition of the positive effects out-of-class interactions between academic staff members and students have on the overall experience of University students. However, while there is a vast pool of literature on academic staff-student engagement outside the classroom; there has not been much focus on the perceptions, frequency and attitudes of students from different geographic regions towards such interaction in an Australian Law School setting. The literature has indicated a strong correlation between staff-student interactions beyond the classroom and students' academic performance, college satisfaction, personal development and career and educational aspirations. This study uncovers the current perceptions and attitudes of Law students at The University of Western Australia towards engaging with academics outside the classroom and whether they acknowledge a value-added University experience through the non-class contact with these staff members. The data were collected through online surveys disseminated to staff and students in addition to interviews with students from four geographical groups in question: Metropolitan Perth, Rural/ Regional Western Australia, Interstate and Overseas. The results will serve as an indicator of the current state of engagement between academics and students at the Law School which will aid in reshaping current impressions and policies.
Keywords: Faculty, interaction, diversity

[Scheduling for this presentation]


'Out of class, out of mind': In class learning and out of class communication

Anneli Strutt and Tyler Fuller
The University of Western Australia
Email: Struta01@student.uwa.edu.au

This paper investigates how various factors of in-class learning affect a student's propensity to seek out-of-class interaction academic staff members. The benefits of such interaction on in-class learning have been well-document in previous studies. In contrast, this study explores the inverse causal relationship of in-class learning on out-of-class interaction. A survey was administered to upper-level students at the University of Western Australia in order to determine student perceptions regarding various methods of in-class learning delivery. Specifically, how these perceptions might influence the frequency and nature of out-of-class interaction. The results showed similar trends across multiple disciplines within the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Results indicate that modes of delivery that involve high degrees of student involvement in the classroom were most likely to encourage greater levels of out-of-class interaction with the relevant instructor. However, students generally only felt comfortable seeking out-of-class interaction with the academic staff in relation to specifically course-related issues, regardless of the mode of delivery. The majority of students surveyed indicated that any further interaction with the staff (e.g. informal, social, personal) was inappropriate. The findings and their implications should be of use to faculty, administration and professionals in the field of teaching and learning.
Keywords: Out-of-class learning, learning delivery, staff-student interaction

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Motivational goals and assessment preferences of students in a senior secondary classroom

Melanie Susinetti
Murdoch University
Email: melanie.susinetti@det.wa.edu.au

Assessment and reporting in Western Australian schools is currently experiencing a shift in direction from the non-competitive, standards based ideals of outcomes-based education, to a more traditional style of graded assessment and reporting. The merits of outcomes-based education, particularly in senior secondary schooling, have been under intense scrutiny and debate, with some vocal academics and teacher based activist groups questioning the theoretical and academic merit of non-competitive, criterion based assessment. These discussions have resulted in dramatic changes to curriculum and reporting and have thrown the issue of assessment into the educational spotlight.

This paper presents research investigating student achievement goals and assessment preferences within a Yr 10 Western Australian classroom. It focuses on the multiple and varied goals of students and presents evidence that it may not be the type of assessment that is important, but rather the underlying emphasis beneath each assessment, that has the greatest impact on student achievement goals and assessment preferences. The findings have implications for teachers and researchers interested in student motivation.
Keywords: Motivation, achievement goals, outcomes-based education

[Scheduling for this presentation]


The benefits and challenges of using technology in the classroom

Louise Vanderplas
Curtin University of Technology
Email: Louise_Vanderplas@hotmail.com

Technology is becoming a very popular educational tool, used by both teachers and students to support the teaching and learning programs in place in classrooms. Many make the claim that use of such technologies creates a more stimulating and enjoyable learning experience for students, and has very positive results for their work and achievements. But the way in which technology is used, however, varies greatly between teachers and schools, depending on experiences and preferences. The purpose of this research was to identify what benefits and challenges are associated with using technology in the classroom. Attention was given in particular to two types of technology; computers and interactive whiteboards and their impact on learning, achievement, interest, engagement, enjoyment and motivation. A classroom teacher and some students were observed and interviewed, and a whole class survey was carried out to identify the benefits and challenges. The research found that both benefits and challenges existed with students and teachers even identifying some similar benefits and challenges.
Keywords: IWB, computers, ICT integration

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Authentic learning and assessment: 'Voices' within professional learning in teacher education

Diana van Straalen
Curtin University of Technology
Email: D.vanStraalen@curtin.edu.au

This presentation will report the second stage of research components of a project funded by an Australian Teaching and Learning Council (ALTC) competitive grant, Developing primary teacher education students' professional capacities for children's diverse mathematics achievement and learning needs. The focus of the presentation will be on the nature and role of authentic learning and assessment experiences for final year Bachelor of Education (Primary and Early Childhood) students. A framework using a 'Voices' metaphor was used to examine data from the students' development of a mathematics teaching portfolio, their interviews with education professionals, peer- and self-assessments, and real-life stories from early career teachers.

The professional empowerment aspects of the learning and assessment process will be examined. In particular, the value of the real-life aspects of the interviews, students' portfolio development, and exposure to the experiences of practicing teachers were shown to impact positively on students' professional learning. A final aspect to be highlighted will be how authentic learning and assessment activities enhance student learning by serving as vehicles by which to provide feedback to both teachers/lecturers and students about the impact of learning activities, and thereby, about how subsequent learning and teaching might be improved.
Keywords: Pre-service education, authentic assessment, professional learning

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Cost benefit analysis of private and public schools in district Malakand of NWFP, Pakistan

Amir Zaman
International Islamic University, Pakistan. Curtin University Associate
R.A Farooq
University of Arid Agriculture Rawalpindi
Email: A.Zaman@curtin.edu.au

The objective of this paper is to compare relative performance of private and public schools in term of cost and benefit per student and achievement. 11 private and 11 public schools were randomly selected for analysis from district Malakand in rural setting to compare their cost effectiveness. Document analysis and achievement test shows that private schools are better in student's achievement. Cost per students was also calculated and it was found that private schools performing well with less per student cost. It is concluded that there should be shift in management paradigm to enhance schools effectiveness in terms of student's achievement.
Keywords:

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Developing and analysing a multiple choice test in physics for Pakistani secondary schools

Amir Zaman and M. Munir Kiyani
International Islamic University, Pakistan. Curtin University Associate
Email: A.Zaman@curtin.edu.au

The main objective of this work was development and item analysis of a teacher made test. A secondary of analysis of any sequence effect on the item difficulty was also determined. The instrument consisted of 80 multiple choice items and was administered to 453 randomly taken sample of grade 10. The sample was taken from a variety of schools both gender wise and private/ public sector wise. Simple analysis of items difficulty and discrimination index shows that 11 item out of 80 were problematic and needed revision. The secondary analysis of analysing any sequence effect of items on their difficulty level does not support the hypothesis that item difficulty is affected by the difficulty level of their preceding items.
Keywords: Item analysis, teacher made test, difficulty level

[Scheduling for this presentation]


Disabled university students' perceptions of staff-student interaction outside the classroom

Marzia Zamir
The University of Western Australia
Email: zamirm02@student.uwa.edu.au

A wide array of research covers the academic and social experiences of students with a disability and in particular, their transition to university and the extent to which they attained satisfaction from their education. However, there has been little research into the perceptions of staff-student interaction from a disabled student's point of view. In this study, a survey was conducted to investigate the attitudes of disabled students towards interaction with their teachers outside the classroom. Data were compiled from a sample of 64 students. The results have indicated the importance that disabled students place on staff-student interaction outside the classroom, the value of this for enhancing their educational experience and forming friendships with their teachers and the possible mediums with which this can be enhanced. The findings of this study are valuable for the university primarily because the results provide a useful indication of student attitudes and their approaches when interacting with staff. In this sense, the results assist the university in implementing effective measures that can facilitate and ultimately enhance this aspect of the university experience for disabled students.
Keywords: Disability, students and interaction

[Scheduling for this presentation]


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