Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

26th Annual Research Forum at The University of Notre Dame

Forum 2011 Abstracts

Listed alphabetically by first author
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School of Education

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How does physical education enhance student learning?

Alphonse Beaugeard and Luke Sells
Curtin University of Technology
Email: alphonse.beaugeard@student.curtin.edu.au, Luke.sells@student.curtin.edu.au

Physical fitness for primary school children before, during or after school could be the defining key for developing well educated, healthy and happy future citizens. Over the years, physical education has played a major part in a primary focus for schools, which is, to educate young people to be future citizens. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, physical education and activity has been used for the purposes of survival, social control, military fitness, health, holistic development and citizen education (Tinning, Hunter, & McCuaig, 2005).

The research places emphasis on how the physical, social-emotional as well as the cognitive developmental areas of children should be a major focus that teachers educate through regular, daily physical activity in primary schools. Children through to adults today are exposed to many activities in their daily lives, such as computers and pen to paper lessons, which require little or zero physical activity. Schools in the twenty-first century are seen to be pressuring teachers into preparing their children for Government Standardised Tests. Most Government standardised tests do not test the social and physical development of children to function as healthy and sustained future citizens, and teachers and schools are measured and rated mainly through the cognitive academic achievement of their children. The research suggests how and why teachers should look for better ways of integrating regular physical education into core classroom subjects, and how schools may perhaps improve the knowledge and training of teachers in physical education.

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Survey of secondary science teacher perspectives on excursion and incursion activities

Sophia M. Bickford, Nancy Longnecker and Grady Venville
The University of Western Australia
Email: 20228745@student.uwa.edu.au

Excursions and incursions can increase student engagement with science, and classroom teachers play a pivotal role in determining their educational value. Research on teachers' experiences with these activities is limited, however, and focuses mostly at primary and tertiary levels. This paper reports the results of a survey examining secondary (Year 8-12) science teacher experiences with excursions and incursions in Western Australia. A paper-based questionnaire was mailed to 1,092 teachers with a return of 38% (n = 413). Respondents ranked the goal of inspiring students highest for both types of activity, while cost and scheduling emerged as the most significant challenges. Most teachers reported a moderate to high degree of choice about the activities they used and found their school administrations supportive. Teachers reported limited use of curriculum materials from external providers and expressed a preference for digital copy. Implications for both schools and external providers will be discussed.
Keywords: excursions, secondary science, survey

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Rethinking connectedness: Improving access to professional learning for regional and remote teachers

Tania Broadley
Curtin University of Technology
Email: t.broadley@curtin.edu.au

Transformation of Australian education is occurring through a number of initiatives such as the Digital Education Revolution, the move to a National Curriculum and the implementation of a National Framework for Professional Standards for Teaching. As these are rolled out to teachers across Australia, the equitable access to professional development (PD) to support all teachers, regardless of their geographical location, is in question. This research aimed to examine the existing strategies that were being undertaken by the Department of Education in Western Australia, to provide professional learning to teachers in regional and remote areas. It investigated the perceptions of teachers' access to professional learning in geographically dispersed areas. Consequently, the possible opportunity for improving the amount and variety of professional learning, through the application of both synchronous and asynchronous technologies was proposed as a model of 'rethinking connectedness' for these teachers.
Keywords: professional development; regional education; ICT

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Incarcerated Aboriginal Western Australians: Missing out on an education revolution

Roslyn (Rose) Carnes
Murdoch University, Rockingham Campus
Email: rosecarnes@bigpond.com

Educational possibilities for Aboriginal prisoners are limited and it appears that the Federal Government's "education revolution" is passing them by. When referring to the issue of Aboriginal people and education in prisons, Semmens (1998: 1-2) laments that it "is probably the most persistently serious problem that the various governments of Australia have never faced with much resolve or dedication." After considering reports by the Western Australian Inspector of Custodial Services over the past decade, a picture emerges of inadequate resources, lack of attention in practice to cultural needs and provision of training likely to be of no use to prisoners upon release back to their own communities.

Considering these preliminary findings in the light of critical whiteness theory, this paper raises more questions than it provides answers. It highlights the poor state of prisoner education in general and, more specifically, the situation for Aboriginal adults in Western Australian prisons.
Keywords: prisoner education, Aboriginal education, critical whiteness studies
Reference: Semmens, B. (1998). Policy development and cultural issues in Australian prison education. In W. Forster (Ed), Education behind bars: International comparisons, pp.1-17. Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.

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Troubling curriculum: Discourse, postmodern theory and educational research

Lisa J. Cary
Murdoch University
Email: L.Cary@Murdoch.edu.au

In this presentation I revisit what I call 'Curriculum Spaces Research Theory' (Cary, 2007). This theory calls for an understanding at all times that curriculum is more than a text book, more than a classroom and more than teachers and students. It is all of the social influences, populist crises, military campaigns and historical moments that shape our lives - when we are in school and in our lives beyond the classroom. Historically, moves and counter-moves to define curriculum have occurred within highly contested terrain. This work is based on a variety of research projects conducted over the last two decades. This is a move to study curriculum as a discursively produced historically, socially, politically and economically inscribed epistemological space. This work is based on a variety of research projects conducted over nearly two decades. However, my recent return to Australia after 16 years studying, teaching and researching in North America raises more questions than ever about curriculum. I believe we need to study how we know curriculum in the national arena of educational reform, in schools, and in our personal/professional lives.
Keywords: citizenship, postmodern theory, curriculum theory

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Mixed method investigation of education assistants and their use of assistive technology

Dianne Chambers
The University of Notre Dame Australia
Email: dianne.chambers1@nd.edu.au

This PhD research focused on using a mixed method design to investigate Education Assistant Special Needs' (EASN) perceptions of assistive technology and their pre-training and post-training skill levels. The parallel mixed-method design consisted of both quantitative data in the form of non-parametric statistics and Likert-type scales, while the qualitative element consisted of questionnaire, focus group and observational data. Reasons for the choices of these methods with the group under investigation will be given, and the manner in which these aspects are combined to provide a strong overview of the research will be emphasised. This study was developed to determine EASNs' perceptions of themselves as users and facilitators of assistive technology and the effects that training would have on the use of assistive technologies in the classroom. Along with the increasing inclusion of students with special needs in regular classrooms, is the proliferation of support staff (including EASNs) to assist these students to access the curriculum and social aspects of the classroom (Anderson, Klassen and Georgiou, 2007; Elkins, 2009; Rose & Forlin, 2010). Assistive technologies (AT) comprise many tools that are becoming more accessible and appropriate for students with special needs, and may be required or available for use by EASNs (King-Sears & Evmenova, 2007). The perception of competency for using and facilitating the use of AT with students with special needs has not previously been addressed in respect to EASN. It is suggested that this perception of efficacy would have an impact on the use of the AT.
Keywords: education assistants, assistive technology, mixed methods

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Critically reflective leadership

Christine Cunningham
Edith Cowan University
Email: c.cunningham@ecu.edu.au

Critical Reflective Practice (CRP) has a proven reputation as a methodology for teacher-researchers in K-12 classrooms, but there have been few published examples of this methodology being used to document school leaders' work-based practice. This presentation will outline adaptations made by Dr Christine Cunningham from an original CRP methodology to a Critically Reflective Leadership (CRL) methodology that she developed to document her own lived experiences as a principal and then director of an American International School in South America. Dr Cunningham will argue that more Critically Reflective Leadership research projects need to be undertaken to provide a deeper, body of literature about high stakes decision-making by school leaders.
Keywords: critically reflective leadership

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Use of online video in a first year tertiary mathematics unit

Vaille Dawson and Ian van Loosen
Curtin University of Technology
Email: v.dawson@curtin.edu.au, i.loosen@curtin.edu.au

First year mathematics units are studied by students enrolled in a range of disciplines. Lecturers and tutors are faced with an increasing diversity of student backgrounds, career aspirations, mathematical ability and interest, large student enrolments and reduced face to face time coupled with increased content. The use of ICTs has the potential to improve students' academic achievement and engagement. This exploratory case study uses an action learning approach to examine the impact of visualisation through online video material students (n=49) studying a first year mathematics unit. Students viewed five online videos on exponential function and solved related problems. After this intervention, the students completed a written questionnaire. It was found that although most students were frequent (daily) users of online video only a proportion of students viewed the online video material. Students who did not view the online video material cited lack of time or already understanding the concept as reasons. Two thirds of students who viewed the online video found it useful for visualising and understanding exponential function. The findings of this pilot study are encouraging and provide impetus to repeat the intervention in other difficult areas of mathematics including complex numbers, integration and differentiation rules.

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Electronic portfolios for school leaders: An ICT approach to professionalism and accountability

Robert C. Dixon
Curtin University of Technology
Email: r.dixon@curtin.edu.au

The aim of this study was to use a contemporary Information and Communication Technology (ICT) approach to promote reflective practice and demonstrate professionalism and accountability by creating an electronic portfolio suited to educational leaders in West Australian schools. Participants were trained in the navigation of a portfolio software application engineered by the author, then provided with skills in the various technical aspects required to use it effectively. The software was designed to encourage self analysis through reflective practice using the Wildy and Louden (2002) Leadership framework as the conceptual model for the study. The research set out to describe an effective electronic portfolio designed to promote professionalism, accountability and reflective practice, to outline its architecture and technical features and to carefully follow people as they worked on their personal growth as leaders through its use.

As a result of the creation of their professional portfolios, eighteen key qualities and attributes were identified by the group as crucial concerns of their leadership approach; values, the quality of the relationship they had with their staff, the school as a physical and cultural entity, curriculum, communication, students, parents and community, pedagogy, leadership, management process and policy as well as the resourcing of ICT infrastructure were important concerns. Change and change management permeated thinking.

The study has demonstrated that a carefully constructed portfolio based on a solid conceptual model can promote reflective practice which can develop critical consciousness and perspective transformation in school leaders (Mezirow, 1981). The project gave excellent training for participants in what was expected of them as school leaders within the leadership framework as well as providing a detailed insight into the perceptions and priorities of modern educational leaders and their practices in Western Australian schools.
Keywords: educational leadership, reflective practice, electronic portfolios

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The use and usefulness of open educational resources in teacher education

Eva Dobozy
Edith Cowan University
Email: e.dobozy@ecu.edu.au

In this presentation, the newly developed deBono LAMS sequences are introduced, which are self-contained learning objects that build on each other and can be used in a variety of disciplines and contexts. As an example of the growing number of open educational resources (OERs) that are developed with the help of national competitive grants, they attempt to shift pedagogical practices in higher education from teacher-directed to student-centric modes of teaching and learning so that the next generation of knowledge workers can be better prepared for the demands of an increasingly volatile and globalised world.

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Parent teacher interactions: Achieving their own goals

Michelle Ellis
Edith Cowan University
Email: mellis5@our.ecu.edu.au

The nature of parent-teacher interactions and evidence of social influence strategies used by in their interactions were investigated in this interpretive study. Sixty-seven parents and teachers from low fee independent Protestant metropolitan Perth primary schools described their lived experiences of parent-teacher interactions. From the data, parent-teacher interactions were found to be either collaborative or non-collaborative in nature. However, parents and teachers held differing perspectives to what constituted these collaborative or non-collaborative practices. Furthermore, six social influence strategies were evident in parent-teacher interactions, which were associated with different contexts and purposes of their meetings. The results indicate that the majority of parents and teachers used the discussion strategy within their interactions followed by the evidence and relational strategies. Professional development based around parent-teacher relationships should consider the notion that parents and teachers have different perspectives of the other person's role in their interactions; parents give credence to developing a relationship more so than teachers and that teachers utilise more social influence strategies than do parents.

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Making sense of the components that contribute to effective primary science teaching

Angela Fitzgerald
Monash University
Email: angela.fitzgerald@monash.edu.au

Teachers are key players in the reinvigoration of science education. Unfortunately, the spotlight is often shined on the shortcomings associated with teaching and learning in science. If the status and quality of science education in schools is to improve, efforts need to be made to better understand the classroom practices of effective science teachers.

In a step towards better understanding, the doctoral study gathered evidence examining what two effective primary teachers were doing to promote student engagement in science over a term long sequence of lessons. Evidence of their effective science teaching was gathered primarily through a video-based approach and was supplemented with teacher and student interviews, and student work samples.

Several themes were identified as characterising the practices of these two teachers. These themes form the basis of a conceptual model, which was developed to highlight the various components contributing to effective primary science teaching practices. In teasing out these components, this presentation will examine how the teachers_ beliefs, knowledge and practices, as well as the contextual factors inherent in their classroom environments, influenced how and why they teach science in the ways they do. While care must be taken in generalising from two cases, these findings have implications for primary science teachers, teacher educators and curriculum developers.
Keywords: primary science education

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Observing engagement issues in the early years

Leanne Fried
Edith Cowan University
Email: l.fried@ecu.edu.au

Student engagement, as a predictor of achievement, has been well documented. Yet questions still remain in regards to student engagement issues and how engagement levels of students classified by the classroom teacher as 'disengaged' change in response to classroom activities. This presentation reports on an explorative study that investigated how an observation tool could be used in the early childhood classroom to measure different forms of engagement and what 'issues with engagement' look like.

Engagement was presented as a multi-dimensional concept consisting of cognitive, behavioural, emotional and social components. Classroom activities were classified as to whether they were whole class, individual or partner/group activities and according to their alignment with the theory of self-determination i.e., their ability to address student feelings of competence, support for autonomy and opportunities for collaboration. Observations showed that rather than the type of activity predicting engagement, it was the teacher's ability to connect with the three aspects of self-determination theory that was important. This has particular implications for design of interventions to assist in engaging the disengaged student, and for the teaching of all students.
Keywords: engagement, self-determination theory, early primary education

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Year 4 Maths students using calculators to learn place value

Ingrid Fuchsbichler
Curtin University of Technology
Email: ingrid-f@bigpond.com

The focus of this project was to understand the perceptions of year 4 maths students towards the effective use of calculators to learn place value. Four year 4 students of varying abilities were selected to complete a trial consisting of a number of tests, interviews and activities based on effective calculator use to promote the learning of place value. A mixed method Action Research paradigm was used to collect quantitative data using a pre-test and post test technique which was tabled using descriptive statistics. Qualitative information from a semi structured interview was interrogated for key themes as they emerged from analysis.

The study demonstrated that, when calculators were used effectively, they had a positive influence on the children's attitudes as well as improving their capacity for understanding and using place value. This research confirmed that calculators are most effective when calculators are used to build connections between the numbers the children are seeing and producing on the calculators (Duffin, 1991; Groves, 1994; Pope, 1997; Booker, Bond, Sparrow & Swan, 2004; McIntosh & Sparrow, 2004).

The results also highlighted the importance of providing teachers with professional development which focuses on the effective integration of calculators and other technologies to enhance learning.

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Exploring pre-service teachers' conceptual understanding of gravity

Patrick Hampton
The University of Notre Dame
Email: Patrick.hampton@nd.edu.au

This study used a symbolic interactionist lens (Crotty, 1998) to explore pre-service teachers' conceptual understanding of gravity. A survey research methodology, utilising a questionnaire that includes an open-ended question and two gravity related tasks, was utilised to explore content knowledge of gravity. The scientific content knowledge of Pre-Service Primary and Early Childhood Teachers is an area of focus in teacher training programs at the University of Notre Dame Australia. Understanding of the concept of gravity is central to the effective teaching of the Physical Sciences sub-strand of the Australian Curriculum: Science, (ACARA, 2011) which includes understanding the nature of forces and motion, matter and energy. The questionnaire used in this study was designed by Nussbaum (1979, cited in Ashgar & Libarkin, 2010) to explore students' understanding of gravity and how they applied this understanding to gravity related tasks. The results of the questionnaire were analysed using thematic content analysis (Newman, 2011). This presentation will examine the outcomes of the study and consider the implications for pre-service teachers in their future roles.
Keywords: content analysis, gravity, science, pre-service teachers

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A proposal for research into the use of reading assignments in mathematics

Allen G. Harbaugh
Murdoch University
Email: allen.harbaugh@murdoch.edu.au

This paper presents a theoretical framework supporting the use of reading assignments in mathematics classes. Reading assignments have the potential to change students' epistemic beliefs, self-efficacy and self-regulatory skills. Reading assignments provide a cognitive scaffold that helps students learn how to read a mathematics textbook. Anecdotal observations from a department-wide implementation of preliminary reading assignments at a community college in north-western USA will be discussed in support of proposed research. Suggestions for creation and use are briefly provided. Future research suggestions are also provided.
Keywords: motivation, mathematics education, preparatory assignments, epistemic beliefs, attribution theory

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An investigation of the relationship between emotional literacy and bullying

Anne Harris
Murdoch University and
John Wollaston Anglican Community School
Email: subarka1@gmail.com

This research was designed to investigate the relationship between emotional literacy and bullying. Very little research has been done into the role that emotional literacy may play in helping a student avoid being the victim of bullying behaviours.

A mixed method approach was undertaken to investigate the relationship between emotional literacy and bullying. Results showed that of the students who reported being bullied; almost one in four assessed themselves as having below average levels of emotional literacy. On the other hand, of the students who rated themselves above average in emotional literacy; only one in ten reported being bullied.

The focus of our anti-bullying programs needs to remain on campaigning against bullying and changing such anti-social behaviours by working with bullies and bystanders. However, there is also room to continue to investigate what it is that bullies target in a victim. Working with victims of bullying who have been assessed as possessing low emotional literacy could prove to be an effective way of empowering victims and reducing the incidents of bullying in schools.
Keywords: emotional literacy and bullying, mixed method approach

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Keynote presentation: The possibilities of authentic e-learning

Jan Herrington
Murdoch University
Email: j.herrington@murdoch.edu.au

Teachers have long been aware of the need to connect pedagogical approaches to the real world, but they are often discouraged by a perceived need to create real learning opportunities (such as practical experience, industry projects, excursions, field trips, etc.) with all the attendant practical logistics, restrictions and constraints. This presentation will explore the educational possibilities of authentic learning in forms that can occur within classrooms and on-campus using ICT. Based on recent research into authentic learning and tasks, the presentation will contend that real experience is less important than providing opportunities to think and solve complex problems in realistic contexts.

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Happiness in the middle school years

Sandra Hesterman
Murdoch University
Email: s.hesterman@murdoch.edu.au

In partnership with a small Western Australian independent community school, this research investigated how the Reggio Emilia philosophy was extended into the Middle School context. The Reggio approach, recognised as a model of excellence for early childhood education, has remained largely unexplored in secondary education. This research, is therefore, highly significant to the educational community as it presents an alternative model with fresh insight for delivering mainstream Middle Schooling consistent with post-modern sensibilities. The case study, conducted over a six-month period and employing ethnographic inquiry methodology documented the experiences of those involved in this innovative programme during a time of ongoing tension between the school's promotion of a curriculum responsive to the 'complex ecology' of young adolescents' lives and fulfilling government registration requirements. Implications for educational practice and theory are that extending Reggio Emilia educational principles in the Middle School context promotes students' learning, well-being and happiness.
Keywords: Reggio Emilia, middle schooling, adolescence, efficacy, well-being, happiness

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Implementing images walls to improve literacy skills

Jessica Hodgkinson
Curtin University of Technology
Email: jessica.hodgkinson@gmail.com

The use of an image wall is intended to support writing in the classroom. An image wall is a collection of personal images provided by the students that they collate and use as a basis for their writing. Research into implementing this in the classroom suggests it will support the development of literacy skills, in particular writing, in a number of ways. For example, how students can more confidently portray their own stories through writing, how implementing an image wall promotes assertiveness, expression and collaboration among class members and the new entry points to writing that images open to students (Caine, 2010, Gabriel & Gabriel, 2010, Grauer, 1984, Moore, 1994).

A project was conducted with three year 3 students that had low level literacy skills. The focus of the project was to improve their writing according to a number of carefully selected criteria such as their use of expressive language and punctuation. All three students showed a marked improvement in their writing when using the image wall. All three were able to identify an entry point to begin writing within the first few minutes of the session, where before they would have wasted time to put off beginning their writing. This alone is a great outcome for these students as the sooner they begin their writing, the more time they have to develop and practice their skills as opposed to avoiding what they feel they cannot achieve. Each student showed improvement across the board and each had their individual achievements as well.

It is recommended that the use of an image wall be implemented primarily for use by students with low literacy skills to help them improve more rapidly. However an image wall is not just for students at risk, it can also be used to supplement the literacy development of students across the year levels as it is very personal in nature and as such can be used for a student of any learning ability to allow them to practice their writing and the teacher to assess various aspects of the writing as well.
Keywords: literacy education, student centred pedagogy, primary education

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Primary school students' understanding and interest in science, engineering and technology

Rekha Koul and Nicoleta Maynard
Curtin University of Technology
Email: R.Koul@curtin.edu.au

The paper reports on the results of the first phase of a longitudinal study which aimed at developing interest and understanding among primary school students in engineering and technology as potential career choices in order to redress the inadequacy of trained professionals in the fields of Engineering and Technology to satisfy increasing demand. As society is becoming increasingly dependent on engineering and technology, it is more important than ever that citizens have a basic understanding of what engineers do, as well as the uses and implications of the technologies that they create. Prior research on primary school children's ideas about engineering and technology is sparse when compared with the greater amount of literature available on science education. All participating students, teachers and researchers worked together as a caring, trusting team sharing unique talents and resources to provide an improved learning environment for students to develop their understanding. This research further demonstrated a successful development of a body of research that enhanced excellence in teaching and learning of engineering and technology concepts by primary school students.
Keywords: engineering and technology, primary education, action research, learning environment

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Hope for the future: Teacher perceptions of AuSSI-WA

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

A longitudinal case study was conducted on the impact of AuSSI (Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative) at an independent primary school in Western Australia. 2005 was a critical year for the school because it marked the beginning of participation in the Sustainable Schools Initiative pilot in Western Australia (AuSSI-WA). The research investigated teacher outcomes before and after involvement in the Initiative. Results showed the school's approach to EfS progressively changed from an ad hoc, uncoordinated, silo approach prior to 2005 to a planned, coordinated, integrated, evaluated, whole systems thinking approach following engagement with AuSSI-WA. However, after three years in the Initiative, it became evident that the school had begun to revert to the previous approach to EfS. The findings emphasise the challenges of sustaining change in schools, as well as significant implications for organisational change, school administration, curriculum and teacher support.
Keywords: education for sustainability; sustainable schools; intergenerational influence

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Publishing your research in a journal

Clare McBeath and Roger Atkinson
Email: mcbeathc@bigpond.com, rjatkinson@bigpond.com

"Getting published" is a vitally important part of every researcher's endeavour. This presentation gives a brief review and discussion opportunity, highlighting some key aspects. These include choosing a journal, preparing your submission to suit the target journal, what to expect in the review process, and what to do after your article has been criticised or rejected. "Getting published" in a journal is becoming more difficult, maybe quite different from "getting a thesis passed", and may require a number of "tries". In addition to the advice we can present as veteran editors for IIER, AJET and various conference proceedings, we would like to engage in discussion about your own experiences, if any, with journal editorial processes, and about perceptions of journal prestige.
Keywords: journal, publishing, research

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How parents deal with educating a child with an autism spectrum disorder

Jasmine McDonald
The University of Western Australia
Email: jazmike@iinet.net.au

Prevalence rates of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have risen dramatically over the last 50 years. Accordingly, there have been an ever increasing number of children with an ASD who need an appropriate education to maximize their potential. Despite this increase, there have been relatively few longitudinal studies conducted that have investigated how parents deal with the education of their child with an ASD. The aim of this presentation is to give a brief overview of a qualitative study completed in 2010 that developed substantive theory about the processes undertaken by parents when they deal with the education of their child with an ASD over time. The study was conceptualized within the social theory of symbolic interactionism and used constructivist grounded theory and an innovative use of autoethnographic research methods to develop substantive theory about how parents deal with the education of their child with an ASD over time. A series of in-depth case studies was conducted investigating six Western Australian families from diverse circumstances. 'Seeking progressive fit' emerged as the central proposition of the theory generated from the study. During this process parents progressed through four indistinct and iterative stages, namely Beginning Battle, Waging War, Strategizing Solutions and Framing Futures.
Keywords: autism spectrum disorders, education, parent experience

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The impact of respect and concern for others on cooperative learning

Dean McIntyre
Curtin University of Technology
Email: bananarama_420@hotmail.com

Since 1998, Western Australia has had five core shared values which 'underpin and shape the curriculum' (Curriculum Council, 1998). Now thirteen years on, the value of respect and concern for others and their rights may be understood by primary school students, but are these understandings utilised in their everyday social interactions? In other words, do students 'practice what they preach,' in relation to respect?

The research emphasises the need for students to consistently show respect and concern for others and their rights in all of their everyday social interactions. Perhaps the most common social interaction students will have at their time at school is that of cooperative learning or 'team work'. Working in groups or teams is the norm in most primary school classes, as it gives students the opportunity to have potentially successful social interactions, as well as the opportunity to provide their individual knowledge on a range of topics in a collaborative learning setting. Alas, social interactions and collaborative learning can only be successful if respect is shown to all individuals within the interaction. The research suggests that primary school students as old as nine may not be able to show the respect that is necessary for these interactions to be successful, and this may have an effect on how students interact cooperatively now and in the future.

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Using digital representations of students' work for authentic and reliable performance assessment

David Miller
Edith Cowan University
Email: david.miller@iinet.net.au

The assessment of student performance in Applied Information Technology (AIT), does not lend itself to traditional, paper-based testing methods. The emphasis placed on the acquisition and demonstration of practical skills is difficult, if not impossible, to measure by scores on written assessments. Alternative assessment practices, which are both valid and reliable, need to be devised. The capture, in digital form, of students_ work, may allow the development of authentic forms of summative, high-stakes assessment with high reliability. This study looked at the digital capture in two formats, a digital portfolio and a computer-based examination, of student work in AIT across seven high schools in Western Australia.

An ethnographic, action-research methodology was employed, using qualitative and quantitative data collected and compiled into multiple case studies. Though digital capture of students_ performance was not without problems, the benefits far outweighed the constraints. Digital capture allowed authentic practises to be assessed by analytical marking with high reliability in both the portfolio and the examination. The practical component of the examination was also assessed by a method of multiple comparisons of pairs, again with high reliability.
Keywords: digital assessment, ICT

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Enhancing chemistry teaching with multiple representations in Nigerian secondary schools

Olaleye Bolanle, Mark Hackling and Karen Murcia
Edith Cowan University
Email: bolaleye@our.ecu.edu.au, m.hackling@ecu.edu.au, k.murcia@ecu.edu.au

The quality of teaching and learning of chemistry in Nigerian schools has been of great concern to the country's government, parents and teachers. Students find learning chemical concepts difficult and boring and the academic performance of students is relatively poor. Learning chemistry concepts tends to be by rote and memorising of content. This study focussed on enhancing teachers' pedagogical knowledge and beliefs for using multiple representations in teaching chemistry through a professional learning program. Participating teachers attended a series of professional learning workshops and engaged with learning activities on how to construct, interpret and use multiple representations to teach chemistry concepts. A mixed methods case study research design was used to study the impact of the professional learning intervention. This paper reports impacts of the professional learning intervention on teachers' use of multiple representations in the classroom and on students' interest in and engagement with chemistry learning.

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A design based research approach for creating effective online higher education courses

Jenni Parker
Murdoch University
Email: j.parker@murdoch.edu.au

This paper discusses how a design-based research approach is being used to explore how to design and develop authentic e-learning within the higher education sector. Like action research, design-based research is accomplished at the coal face, however, it involves an ongoing iterative process to monitor the effectiveness of a specifically designed artefact "to provide immediate (and accumulating) feedback on the viability of its 'learning theory' or 'hypothetical learning trajectory' " (Kelly, 2004, p. 105).

Design-based research consists of four connected phases: analysis, development of solutions, iterative cycles of testing and refining solutions, and reflection and production of design principles (Reeves, 2006). This paper focuses on phase one of the research process. It identifies some of the challenges educators face when designing and delivering student-centred learning environments and provides examples to demonstrate how technology is currently being used to support student learning in authentic online environments. It proposes one possible solution for improving the quality of online learning in higher education and outlines the intended qualitative methodologies and processes for the following phases of the research project.
Keywords: constructivism, authentic e-learning, higher education, technology
References: Kelly, A. E. (2004). Design research in education: Yes, but is it methodological? Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), 115-128.
Reeves, T. C. (2006). Design research from a technology perspective. In J. van den Akker (Ed.), Design methodology and developmental research in education and training. The Netherlands: Kluwer.

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Operation climate change: AuSSI-WA resource

Jennifer Pearson
Australian Association for Environmental Education
Email: pearsonjo@iinet.net.au

The emerging National Curriculum has Education for Sustainability as an integral component of each learning area. For teachers who will find this challenging how will they be supported in this current climate of fiscal austerity which prevails in education? With the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative as a guiding model, teachers still have to source appropriate programs to meet a range of outcomes. When support material is hands-on, innovative, paperless and sustainable what are the best ways to promote interactive web based programs?
Keywords: education for sustainability; sustainable schools; intergenerational influence

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At what time of day is grade one student reading most productive?

Christine Peclaris
Curtin University of Technology
Email: cpeclaris@iinet.net.au

Past research suggests factors such as class ecology, brain hemispheres, circadian rhythms, ability levels and restless behaviours can determine the best time of day to teach students, however, none offer a definitive answer. The purpose of this research project was to discover if there was any correlation between productivity and the time of day, on a year one student's performance during reading activities. For this project, six year one students sharing an average reading ability and a similar reading age were selected and given reading activities at three different time sessions: before recess; between recess and lunch; and after lunch. The students were given thirty minutes to complete a reading task, during which, their off task behaviours and the time it took to complete the activity were recorded. Two year one teachers were also interviewed to identify if their perceptions concurred with the past research and the findings of this project. The findings of this research indicated that students performed marginally better in the session between recess and lunch, as the majority of students completed the task in the shortest amount of time and demonstrated the least observed off task behaviours. This research demonstrates the importance of considering student behaviours and attention levels at different times of day when scheduling reading, in order to enhance student learning so students gain the maximum benefits from their education.
Keywords: scheduling, reading, productivity

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Co-teaching and co-generative dialogue for transforming classroom practices: Multiple case studies

Yuli Rahmawati, Arpana Dah, Rekha Koul and Darrell Fisher
Curtin University of Technology
Email: yuli.chem@gmail.com, Arpana.Dhar@curtin.edu.au

The paper reports on part of a longitudinal study which aimed to investigate the effectiveness of co-teaching and co-generative dialogue in the science learning and teaching in lower secondary science classes. The idea of co-teaching and co-generative dialogue was first proposed by two leading educationists, Roth and Tobin, making an international impact in educational research. In the context of the research, co-teaching and co-generative dialogue are applied for transforming classroom practices. This multiple case studies research was conducted in three year-9 science classrooms from different high schools in Western Australia. Multiple research methods (interview, students' reflective journals, and questionnaires) were used to develop in-depth understanding of the participants. The results show that co-teaching and co-generative dialogue helped the science teachers to develop their pedagogical praxis, improve teaching behaviour, and improve interactions with the students. The science teachers' teaching transformation has implications on improving students' engagement and achievement.
Keywords: co-teaching, co-generative dialogue, pedagogical praxis, students' engagement

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Creating design principles to support reflection through an e portfolio platform

Pauline Roberts
Murdoch University
Email: pauline_k_roberts@me.com

Research in eLearning is growing exponentially, and with it, the need to create clear guidelines on how to develop design principles that may lead to strong theories to inform practice. This paper outlines the implementation of a modified elearning lifecycle as proposed by Phillips, Kennedy and McNaught (2011) to produce an online environment aimed at enhancing the reflective abilities of pre-service teachers. Within the ePortfolio platform of PebblePad, students are provided access to a set of authentic activities focused on the development of reflection-in-action (Schon, 1983) within their classroom experience. When working with students in this reflective environment, the scaffolding is often referred to as coaching. For this project, the coaching will take place within two teaching units in the fourth year of a Bachelor of Education that will include the completion of an action learning project and an electronic teaching portfolio. The goal of the research is to develop design principles that can be used to design similar elearning environments aimed at engaging students in ongoing reflective practice.
Keywords: e-portfolio; reflection; design principles.
References: Phillips, R., McNaught, C. & Kennedy, G. (2011). Evaluating e-learning: guiding research and practice. Routledge: New York.
Schon, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Ashgate: England.

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Social constructs affect potential possibilities

Eve Ruddock
Murdoch University
Email: ruddock@iinet.net.au

As participants' lived experiences reveal an everyday musical reality that is overshadowed by notions of judgement, performance and talent, they lead to the question that drives my hermeneutic study: How can everyday musicking be freed from socially evolved constructs that restrict instinctive musical expression? Tensions between inherent musicality and lived experiences expose a mismatch between conditioned perceptions and musical reality. Instinctive musicality emerges as an important aspect of living and I argue that music is no mere 'frill' to be included in the curriculum at the whim of a teacher. Denial of instinctive musicality is seen to occur following events that undermine individuals' sense of their musical worth as they 'learn' from a judgemental society that they do not have the talent to sing, play or understand music. Possibilities for change lie in an open-minded educational provision that can combat embedded social influences.
Keywords: inherent musicality; narrative; social constructs

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Sustainability education at school and home: AuSSI-WA and Intergenerational influence

Zarin Salter
The University of Western Australia
Email: zarin.salter@graduate.uwa.edu.au

In schools where an integrated approach to education for sustainability is established within the teacher and student body, environmental educators often hope to stimulate the same awareness and enthusiasm for adopting sustainable practices among families. This seminar explores the dynamics of intergenerational influence on formation of pro-environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in students and their families at an AuSSI-WA primary school. Data draws from interviews conducted with nine upper-primary children and their parents and features three case study families whose responses represent a range of knowledge and attitudes about climate change and self-reported pro-environmental behaviours. These families displayed complex intergenerational dynamics including different flows of pro-environmentalism, 1) one-way: home to child, 2) one-way: home and school to child, and 3) two-way from home and school to child and back. Interview data will be presented and discussed with reference to the body of knowledge in this field.
Keywords: education for sustainability; sustainable schools; intergenerational influence

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Using photographic activity schedules to improve student's before-school organisation

Ella R. Scrimgeour
Curtin University of Technology
Email: ella_1311@hotmail.com

The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effectiveness of photographic activity schedules to promote organisational and self-management skills in students without a specific disability in a general classroom. Photographic weekly timetables were implemented to prompt participants to remember and pack specific items for school each day. Two Year 2 students and two Year 3 students from the same classroom, enrolled at a metropolitan government primary school, were selected as participants. A mixed method Action Research approach was applied to the study. An observational checklist was used to collect quantitative data each school day over a two week period. On completion of the trial period, a focus group was conducted with the participants to collect qualitative data which was analysed for reoccurring themes. The results of the investigation indicated that student before-school organisation improved when the photographic weekly timetable was used. Whilst all participants demonstrated improvement in self-management, two students improved significantly, remembering all the school items specified throughout the investigation period. The implications of these findings suggest photographic activity schedules used as everyday teaching and learning tools may have wide-reaching benefits for all students. Future research should focus on activity schedules used as part of a whole-class management system.
Keywords: activity schedule, student self-management, organisational skills

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Leadership emergence: Lessons from female educational leaders in Australian higher education

Deborah Southwell and Rob Cavanagh
Curtin University of Technology
Email: southwed@gmail.com

While there is evidence of an increasingly feminised workforce in Australian academia and an increasing number of women leaders in higher education, a far higher proportion of males than females still fill leadership roles. Several recent studies have set out to examine and analyse the leadership styles of women leaders in higher education in order to better understand and inform models for women who aspire to positions of leadership in higher education. There has been little research, however, on the question of the personality of leaders, their developmental characteristics or how certain people grow up to be leaders. This paper focuses on the findings from one subsidiary question: What factors led to these women becoming leaders? Early influences that emerged and the approach of the female leaders to their careers is examined. Implications and possible application of this study to female aspirants to educational leadership in higher education are discussed.
Keywords: leadership emergence, higher education, female educational leadership

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Benefits and deficits of attending long day care before entering formal schooling

Sally Stowers
Curtin University of Technology
Email: sallystowersperth@gmail.com

Beginning school can be a daunting time for any young child. New children, teachers, location, routines, uniforms and expectations all seem to conspire to undermine the confidence of even the most resilient. Belsky, Burchinall, McCartney, Vandell, Clarke-Stewart and Owen (2007) explain initial success at school, both academically and socially, leads to a cycle of achievement that can be critical in determining future scholastic success. Research has found many children in their early years of school lack attributes such as appropriate behaviour, social competency, the ability to follow instructions or focus on activities. Therefore are the needs of transitioning children being met? Cyclical teaching philosophies, currently embracing lack of discipline and structure, and the alignment with seemingly successful theories about educating children can make realistic preparation for formal schooling difficult.

An increasing number of children are attending long day care services. Have day cares relinquished their responsibility for preparing children to transition, or is this lack of preparation societal. Attending long day care appears to ensure children are socially adept with an academic advantage. However, research also indicates these children exhibit greater negative behaviours, and any academic advantage on entering school lessens within the first two years. Readiness for school through familiarisation of school requirements minimises anxiety children may feel when progressing to a school environment. Educators need to unite to prioritise needs for the children and for themselves to ensure this is realistic.

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Creating a community of learners: Class blogs as a teaching tool

Miriam Sullivan and Nancy Longnecker
The University of Western Australia
Email: miriam.sullivan@uwa.edu.au

Blogs are increasingly being used as an educational tool in university teaching and are known to provide many benefits for student learning, including increased motivation, ease of use, greater engagement with course materials and increased interaction with peers. However, most research has focused on individual student blogging, which presents a sizeable marking load for teaching staff. One solution is to have a single class blog to which students take turns to post.

This study used surveys of students to analyze the success of a new class blogging assignment in two science communication units. Preliminary results found that students agree that the blog increased meaningful intellectual exchange between students and improved their writing skills. Knowing that other students read the blog motivated them to submit better work and most agreed the blog should be public. However, students felt the blogging assignment was not particularly well integrated with the rest of the course and had mixed opinions on commenting. There were significant differences between the two classes and recommendations for implementing blogging assignments are suggested.
Keywords: blogging, motivation, assignment design

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Attitudes of Aboriginal youth to suicide in the Goldfields region of WA

Elizabeth Tchacos
The University of Notre Dame
Email: liz@tchacos.com

The purpose of the research was to develop a better understanding of the cultural, behavioural, and social aspects of Aboriginal youth with respect to youth suicide among the Aboriginal people of the Goldfields region of Western Australia. Face-to-face interviews were performed with Aboriginal Youth (aged 15-24), Parents and Service Providers from five towns (Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Coolgardie, Laverton and Leonora) using a protocol developed with an Aboriginal reference group. Results indicated drugs and alcohol abuse, lack of opportunity and poor home environment rated highly as problems facing youth. While suicide was not raised as a major problem amongst any groups, approximately half of the youth had some personal experience of suicide within their communities. They suggested improvements could be made if more opportunity for work existed and if there was a greater opportunity to have someone to talk to. Service providers also advocated a need for greater parent education and involvement in the lives of their children.

These findings offered the opportunity to gain a greater insight into the thinking of Aboriginal youth in the Goldfields to the problems they face, the prevalence of suicide and suicide ideation, and some possible practical strategies that could be developed to help minimize risk in these communities.
Key words: Aboriginal youth suicide

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English language literacy for employability: A Malaysian case study

Wahiza Wahi, Marnie O'Neill and Anne Chapman
The University of Western Australia
Email: wahizawahi@gmail.com, marnie.oneill@uwa.edu.au, Anne.Chapman@uwa.edu.au

Global forces dictate that to compete in the international market and to adapt to different work demands and requirements, English language proficiency is an advantage for graduates. There is an increasing concern about the quality of Malaysian graduates in this regard. Informed by theories of literacy as a social practice, this paper reports the preliminary findings of a group of Malaysian undergraduate students' perspectives on their English language academic literacy competencies and practices in the context of prospective employers' expectations for English language proficiency. Employing a qualitative case study approach, this paper draws on data gathered from focus group and individual interviews with the students and supplemented by classroom observations. The findings illustrate that, linguistically, the students were not sufficiently competent in English to be able to 'market' themselves and to adequately meet the demands of employment. The research also provides insights into students' problems in acquiring English as a second language.
Keywords: academic literacy, English language proficiency, higher education.

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Investigating the impact of curriculum imperatives on teacher practice

Jeannine Wishart
Curtin University of Technology
Email: j.wishart@curtin.edu.au

Australian educational policy changes over the two previous decades have been many and varied. The most recent have been the introduction of the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), the 'My Schools' website which rates school achievement from the NAPLAN data, and the introduction of the 'Australian Curriculum'.

These changes have given rise to such questions as "Has the introduction of NAPLAN had an impact on teacher pedagogy, and if so, how so?" Much research has been written about the negative effects of 'high stakes' testing and the term 'backwash effect' is used by such researchers as Luxia (2007) and Slomp (2005). This research will be reviewed and alternative view posited: that imposed curriculum imperatives could possibly hold unacknowledged benefits to teacher pedagogy and practice. The theoretical framework, data collection and analysis tools for identifying these benefits or encumbrances will be explained during the session. The recent Australian curriculum imperatives may be shaping the literacy future in unforeseen ways.

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Continuous assessment of maths and science at primary level in Pakistan

Amir Zaman
Curtin University of Technology
Curriculum and Teacher Education, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Arshad Ali
University of Peshawar
Email: amirzaman69@yahoo.com

This study reports the results of a pilot study of item bank development for continuous assessment in primary schools of Pakistan. The project was initiated by the Directorate of Curriculum and Teachers Education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. A team of experts was involved in the development of items in science and mathematics for students in grades 3 and 4. After development, a sample of items was piloted to see if there were likely to be any problems in the actual implementation by practicing teachers. A sample of 100 teachers was taken for the study, consisting of both genders. The data was collected through classroom observation by three independent observers. An observation checklist, properly validated, was used to collect the data in the actual classroom setting. It was reported that most of the teachers did not read the item stem carefully and did not follow the instructions, probably due to language dificulty. Also the teachers' content knowledge was found to be poor and therefore could not present the item according to given materials and instructions. Where the teachers were sufficiently competent and properly guided, the items were found useful in identifying the students who were conceptually strong from the students who relied on rote memorisation. It was recommended that the items should be translated into national language Urdu, that instructions for teachers should be refined and proper orientation arranged for the practising teachers to achieve the desired objectives of the project. Further research is required to see the variety in use adopted by the teachers in the classroom according to the prescribed objectives of continuous assessment.
Keywords: continuous assessment, classroom based assessment, effective teaching

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