2012 Postgraduate Awards

Mr Jeffrey Brown

The impact of student created Slowmation on the teaching and learning of primary science

MEd thesis, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

Mr Jeffrey BrownInnovations in science teaching are having a positive impact on science education, however this is not reflected in improvements of student achievement nor increases in science as a study or career option. There remains a need to further develop pedagogies that promote the development of students’ scientific literacy and engender a joy of science learning.

This study aimed to explore the implementation of student created slowmations in a primary connections science unit, investigating the ways in which the process engaged students in quality discourse and afforded opportunities for students to use representational modes as literacies of science in a socio-cultural paradigm. The research utilised aspects of ethnographic and naturalistic methodology in a case study of a multi-aged class in a rural primary school setting. Transcripts from videos of student interaction, interviews and analysis of finished slowmations generated information regarding the extent to which student created slowmation impacted on science learning.

The process of multi-modal representation, re-representation and substantive discourse required of the slowmation task, in addition to the ability of an animation to represent a moving phenomenon, leads to the general assertion that slowmation has a positive impact on the teaching and learning of primary science.

Dr Dianne Chambers

Assistive technology: Effects of training on Education Assistants’ perceptions of themselves as users and facilitators of assistive technology and consequent transfer of skills to the classroom environment

PhD thesis, The University of Notre Dame

Presentation Abstract

Dr Dianne ChambersThe purpose of this research was to investigate the perceptions of Educational Assistants (Special Needs) of themselves as users and facilitators of assistive technology in the classroom and to examine how skills learnt in a training situation might transfer into a classroom setting. Both Educational Assistants (Special Needs) and assistive technology are being increasingly utilised in the regular classroom to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities, often at the same time. It is important, therefore to ensure that the Education Assistants who may be using the technology feel empowered and capable of doing so.

A mixed method study incorporating a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies underpinned the research which utilised eighteen participants from five primary schools in the Perth metropolitan area. As part of the study, an eight week training program was designed to the Education Assistants to incorporate a wide range of assistive technologies, from low-tech to high-tech, across a number of functional areas. The research revealed that significant impacts for the Educational Assistants (Special Needs) were evident in the areas of confidence in using and facilitating assistive technology. Recommendations to address these barriers are presented. Future avenues of research are also highlighted.

Dr Matthew Kemp

Kemp, M. W., Newnham, J. P. & Chapman, E. (2012). The biomedical doctorate in the contemporary university: Education or training and why it matters. Higher Education, 63(5), 631-644.

Best postgraduate publication in education, The University of Western Australia

Presentation Abstract

Dr Matthew W. KempComparatively little attention has, to date, been paid to the scholarship of doctoral education generally, and more specifically, to the form and function of doctoral education in the biomedical sciences.

Drawing on the work of Marton and Booth, the present work presents an analysis of the results of a series of semi-structured interviews and identifies interpersonal relationships as a key component of the learning environment in the contemporary biomedical doctorate. We suggest that the relationships between students and their ‘non-supervisor’ peers (other doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers and research assistants) are perceived as being at least as important as the traditional, institutionally revered student-supervisor relationship. Furthermore, we identify an ontological evolution in interpersonal relationships across the course of the biomedical PhD, characterised by an increase in the perceived importance of inter-student or student ‘non-supervisor’ peer relationship relative to that ascribed to the student-supervisor relationship.

We conclude that although student-supervisor relationships remain important and warrant further investigation, the provision of an environment in which PhD students can organically develop authentic ‘non-supervisor’ relationships is critical to the learning process in the biomedical doctorate.

Dr Janean Robinson

‘Troubling’ behaviour management: Listening to student voices

PhD thesis, Murdoch University

Presentation Abstract

Dr Janean RobinsonOfficial responses by education ministers and executive directors to issues of student disengagement from schooling all too often become an exercise in labelling and blaming students as defiant and the cause of “the problem”. Such approaches, I argue, shift the focus away from the broader sets of structural, organisational, cultural and pedagogical conditions leading to student alienation and disengagement from schooling. Recent media stories reinforce this kind of victim blaming analysis whereby “troublesome” students are seen to be “nicking off at lunchtime, having a smoke down on the oval and disappearing” (Emerson, 2012). In response, we witness short-lived and ineffectual threats such as “police return students to school to reduce crime” and “they should never forget that attending school is the law” (Oliver, 2012).

In this paper, I argue that these kinds of simplistic policy responses to the phenomenon of student truancy and behaviour urgently require a more sophisticated and theoretically robust form of analysis. As educators, we have a responsibility to move beyond individualistic deficit and pathologising responses to young people and search a more critical analysis capable of helping us to better understand the complex social, historical, cultural and economic factors at play. Throughout this paper, I use critical ethnography as a research methodology to unsettle simplistic versions of student behaviour in schools and instead use student voice to help inform and reposition educational policies and practices from the perspectives of young people themselves (Pasco, 2000).

Dr Josephine Sia

High school students’ proficiency and confidence levels in displaying their understanding of basic electrolysis concepts

Doctorate in Science Education, Curtin University

Presentation Abstract

Dr Josephine SiaA two-tier multiple-choice diagnostic instrument consisting of 17 items was developed to evaluate students’ understanding of basic electrolysis concepts. The instrument was administered to 16 year old secondary school students (N = 330) who had completed the first year of a two year chemistry course. The instrument was found to have a high Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0.85. Analysis of students’ responses identified 30 alternative conceptions that involved a variety of electrolysis concepts relating to the nature and reaction of the electrodes, the migration of ions, the preferential discharge of ions, the products of electrolysis, and changes in the concentration and colour of the electrolyte. In addition, there was a mismatch between students’ confidence in answering the items and their correct responses. Students’ level of confidence in providing correct responses to these items ranged from 44% to 72%, but the actual correct responses ranged from 19% to 53%. As no other similar instrument has been reported in the research literature, this instrument is a convenient diagnostic tool that teachers could use to identify students’ preconceptions prior to introducing the topic. In addition, using the instrument in formative assessment during classroom instruction will enable teachers to identify students’ alternative conceptions and institute appropriate remediation measures with the students concerned.