Postgraduate Awards 2017

Dr Rosemary Allen

Combining content-based and EAP approaches to academic writing: Towards an eclectic program

PhD Thesis, Edith cowan University

Presentation Abstract

As an educator, responsible for guiding the writing of international students entering post-graduate programs in an Australian university, I am often asked: Where do I start? Like most research, the answer lies in identifying a situation that encompasses various concerns of interest to the student. This presentation provides the background to a three-phase, mixed-methods study which investigated whether an eclectic English for Academic Purposes Pathway (EAPP) program would provide greater academic writing assistance—for international students studying Masters by coursework units—than direct entry into faculty, or initial entry into a general EAP program, or assistance through voluntary adjunct short courses. In addressing this concern, models were constructed to aid the analysis of data. These models provided in-depth insights into the special academic, cultural, linguistic and social elements that could potentially affect the academic writing success of EAL students; an important concern given that academic success is heavily dependent on mastery of writing. The models encompass the following: EAPP design elements and approaches; writing analysis using framing reference; writing-prompt design elements; common tasks/genres across faculties, and a model of academic writing needs. All models could prove useful for researchers examining the writing of both international and local tertiary students.

Mary-Anne Zevenbergen

Examination of Primary School Teachers’ Analysis of Literacy Assessment Data

MPhil Thesis, The University of Notre Dame

Presentation Abstract

Australia has been part of an international trend pursuing the use of assessment data to improve educational standards. This mixed method study examined how Primary school teachers in Perth use literacy assessment data to inform teaching practices, including intervention, which may lead to improved student outcomes. A purposive sample of teachers included teachers of different ages, years of experience, qualifications and educational sectors. Survey questionnaires and semi-structured interviews allowed the researcher to investigate many aspects of teachers’ analytical skills, applications of analysed data and issues. Results of the research showed that, while most teachers express confidence in their analytical skills, their data analysis skills are predominantly inconsistent and irregular. The research indicates that teachers have limited knowledge of strategies that are recommended for analysing all the areas of literacy. Furthermore, their understanding of analysis and the strategies they use are inconsistent with recommended, evidence-based practice. Teachers involved in a whole school approach indicated more sophisticated, effective data analysis skills. This group of teachers were also able to link analysed data to subsequent instruction in a more effective manner than teachers who received limited support in this area. The study established that time was the main barrier to teacher’s analysis of literacy assessment data. Recommendations for professional development in data analysis and innovations for providing time for teachers to engage in data analysis were made.

Dr Rebecca Saunders

Professional development, instructional intelligence and teacher emotions: A mixed methods study of a four-year systemic change initiative.

PhD Thesis, Murdoch University

Presentation Abstract

This purpose of this study is to examine teacher emotions in the context of instructional change. Specifically, this study focuses on the role emotions play when teachers transfer new instructional processes into their practice, and are then required to lead instructional change within their own institutions. A sequential, mixed methods research design consisting of the administration of a quantitative questionnaire followed by in-depth qualitative narrative interviews and classroom observations was used to better understand this complex area of educational change. Results from data collection and analysis were used to profile the journeys of professional change and leadership experienced by 27 tertiary teachers involved in a four-year systemic-change professional-development initiative. Findings revealed that the teachers involved in this study experienced a range of emotions when implementing new instructional processes and when leading instructional change. The teachers’ emotional responses directly impacted their use of new instructional processes and their interactions with colleagues, as they assumed instructional leadership roles. A cyclical pattern of emotions emerged influenced by time, place and interpersonal relationships. Implications for the future design and implementation of instructional change initiatives and the preparation and support of teachers as leaders and agents of change are discussed.

Janet McHardy

Adult reading teachers’ beliefs about how less-skilled adult readers can be taught to read

Best postgraduate publication in education: University of Western Australia

Presentation Abstract

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars of expenditure on adult literacy initiatives worldwide, significant numbers of adults continue to have difficulty reading. To be effective in addressing entrenched reading difficulties, reading instruction requires highly skilled teaching, sensitive to individual learner needs. However, adult-reading teaching practices vary widely, often reflecting individual beliefs of teachers about how the adult can be taught to read rather than practice informed by available research. This presentation reports findings of an on-line survey of adult reading teachers in Australia and New Zealand. The survey examined instructional practice at word level and is part of a broader study investigating single word reading in less-skilled adult readers undertaken as part of a doctoral programme at UWA. The use of a range of approaches underpinned by differing understandings of reading skill acquisition was identified. These are described and discussed with implications for existing practice and future research.

Dr Susan Bunkum

Thomas Kuhn, Paradigm Revolution Possibilities, and ‘Frausein’: Patriarchy Seen Yet Unseen

PhD Thesis, Curtin University

Dr Sonja Vanderaa

Towards Openness: A Reflection on Functional Behaviour Assessment in Schools

PhD Thesis, Curtin University