Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Social area indicators and educational achievement
    Ross, Kenneth N (1947-) ( 1982)
    This study was concerned with the development and validation of a national indicator of educational disadvantage which would be suitable for guiding resource allocation decisions associated with the Disadvantaged Schools Program in Australia. The national indicator was constructed by using a series of stepwise regression analyses in order to obtain a linear combination of census based descriptions of school neighbourhoods which would be highly correlated with school mean achievement scores. A correlational investigation of the properties of this indicator showed that it was an appropriate tool for the identification of schools in which there were high proportions of students who (1) had not mastered the basic skills of Literacy and Numeracy, (2) displayed behavioural characteristics which formed barriers to effective learning, and (3) lived in neighbourhoods having social profiles which were typical of communities suffering from deprivation and poverty. A theoretical model was developed in order to estimate the optimal level of precision with which indicators of educational disadvantage could be used to deliver resources to those students who were in most need of assistance. This model was used to demonstrate that resource allocation programs which employ schools as the units of identification and funding must take into account the nature of the variation of student characteristics between and within schools. The technique of factor analysis was employed to investigate the dimensions of residential differentiation associated with the neighbourhoods surrounding Australian schools. Three dimensions emerged from these analyses which were congruent with the postulates of the Shevky- Bell Social Area Analysis model. The interrelationships between these dimensions and school scores on the national indicator of educational disadvantage presented a picture of the 'social landscape' surrounding educationally disadvantaged schools in Australia as one in which there were: high concentrations of persons in the economically and socially vulnerable position of having low levels of educational attainment and low levels of occupational skill, low concentrations of persons living according to the popular model of Australian family life characterized by single family households, stable families, and separate dwellings, high concentrations of persons likely to have language communication problems because they were born in non-English speaking countries.
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    Secondary education in the Australian social order, 1788-1898: a study in the evolution of the theory and the curriculum of secondary education, and the methods of teaching, in the changing Australian social order
    French, E. L ( 1958)
    In spite of all the hard words said about educational histories there should be no need to justify the historical study of education. The school, like the Church or the Theatre, is a social institution: if we may write the history of one, we may write the history of the others. As to the peculiar value of the enterprise, there will be differences of opinion; the distinctive values of the study of history are again in question. Suffice to say that it is the writer's suspicion that the debate on the content and method of secondary education, which has been conducted with considerable vigour in Australia in the past twenty years or so, would have been more fruitful if, to the various capacities brought to it, there had been added the capacity to see the problems of secondary education in the perspective of their development. It is surely not unimportant that the architects of educational policy should he enabled to see their problem in depth.
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    Educational accountability and organisational capacity in school science departments: a material critique of management models of mandated curriculum reforms
    Bainbridge, John ( 2007)
    In Sociology, Bourdieu (1977), Giddens (1984) and Schatzki (2001) have developed theories of practice to offer an alternative to rational and normative concepts of action and to solve the problem of the relationship between agency and structure. They argue that cultural, political and economic processes are mutually constitutive of social agency, as agency can be productively read as a historically specific confluence of discursive and material processes. In applied disciplines such as organizational and management studies (Niccolini, 2001) as well as in education (Southerland, Smith, Sowell and Kittleson, 2007), practice has been adopted to redefine the concepts of knowledge and learning and to understand change in working life. In these contexts, practice-based research has become part of new research areas, such as organizational learning, knowledge management, innovation and workplace studies and this research is in this modern tradition. This is a study of the praxis of two groups of science teachers, in different countries under different policy regimes of state mandated curriculum management. It is a study towards an understanding of the pedagogy of resistance and transformation. The significance of the resistance of material entities for the objectivity of knowledge is an important theme in the sociology of knowledge. The practice theorists in science and technology studies (for example Pickering 1993,1995, Latour 2000, Miettinen, 2006) have taken this resistance manifesting itself in experimental activity as a constitutive factor in accounting for the emergence of facts and scientific concepts. Pickering (1955: 560) talks about the temporal emergence of experimental activity in research as a "real-time dialectic of resistance and accommodation". Resistance refers to the blockage in reaching a goal or realization of a hypothesis. Fleck (1981) proposes that a fact is understood as a resistance expressed in experimental work and interpreted by the practice community. The widespread notion of "constraint" is usually understood as some kind of external condition that objectively limits scientific activities and epistemologies of transformative material activity more generally. "Resistance" is to be preferred, Pickering argues, because resistances are genuinely emergent in time, as a block arising in practice to a passage of goal-oriented practice" For Latour (200) objectivity refers to the presence of things that "object to what is told about them". This study uses surveys of whole school and science department staff as well as interviews conducted over a year in each of two schools, one in England and one in Melbourne Australia. It looks at the agency of science teachers as a transformative material activity, its relationship with policies of State mandated standards, and the objectivisation of teacher knowledge. Whereas subjective identity operates here in terms of types of experience that are available, agency of these teachers has to do more with a distribution of acts. Bhaskar's (1993) Transformational Model of Social Action has been applied to the analysis of staffroom praxis and offers an informing under-theory to the study of teacher agency and practice.