Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 2024
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    VCAL: growth and performance
    Debrincat, Cornelia ( 2015)
    This thesis examines a major curriculum innovation that was introduced into the upper secondary curriculum in the Australian state of Victoria in 2002 – the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). Victoria is the only state in Australia which has developed a separate senior secondary certificate, a vocational certificate to sit alongside the general Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). The VCAL claims to be a comprehensive attempt to anchor vocational learning within the secondary school environment in Australia. The aim of this study is to investigate whether the VCAL has delivered on its promise to provide an educational opportunity for students for whom the VCE is not appropriate; an opportunity to experience success and move into appropriate pathways into further education and training and employment. It is important to assess the educational impact a vocational program like the VCAL has had within the senior secondary curriculum. To see this in context, the research literature on vocational and applied learning in schools is examined through various approaches that are used in the delivery of vocational and applied learning to school-age students internationally and in Australia. The research focuses on two main models of differentiation – whether they are predominantly school-based or employment-based and the age at which differentiation into academic and vocational programs occurs. The research also examines the effectiveness of these programs and their impact on school retention, student engagement and their ability to create effective pathways into a range of destinations, including further education, training and employment. The story of vocational education and training (VET) in the Australian state of Victoria is seen in an historical context as the researcher explores the history of curriculum change in Victoria over many decades, leading to the senior secondary offerings available today. The thesis concludes that the VCAL has on the whole been successful in engaging the VCAL students who participated in this study. It has also provided strong pathways in apprenticeships. However, pathways into employment in particular, full-time employment are less than optimal. The VCAL also continues to face many challenges, particularly in terms of perceptions and ownership at a local level. The thesis argues for a new educational philosophy and a redefinition of upper secondary curriculum to place VCAL as a credible alternative to the VCE. It argues for a redesign of the VCAL program requiring all VCAL students to enrol in the VCAL as an apprentice or trainee. Finally, it argues for a whole school approach and commitment to the VCAL program with strong leadership support and active involvement in the VCAL program.
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    Investigating the effect of mathematics problem context on the performance of Year 10 students
    Almuna Salgado, Felipe Javier ( 2016)
    This thesis is to revisit and scrutinise a possible effect of problem context familiarity, context engagement, and levels of context use on the performance of Year 10 students in PISA and PISA-like problems. Two research phases (i.e. a quantitative phase and a qualitative phase) shaped the design of this study. These research phases adhere to the mixed methods explanatory sequential design. The quantitative phase investigated whether an alteration of students' context familiarity and context engagement influenced the students' performance when solving PISA and PISA-like problems—that were controlled, to the best extent possible, in their textual and problem core features. There were two experiments that differed in the criteria for choosing the problem contexts (expert judgement vs students judgment). Then, students' performance was compared at different levels of context use. Later, the relationship between students’ performance and degrees of context familiarity, degrees of context engagement, and levels of context use was examined, principally using an ordinal logistic regression model. The qualitative phase used stimulated recall interviews to understand how students interpreted and experienced context familiarity and context engagement as well as the students' behaviours towards the accessibility of problems and the solution methods to the problems, and therefore students’ performance. The results of the quantitative phase showed that more familiar and engaging contexts did not improve students’ performance in either experiment, that the performance decreased as levels of context use increased, and that neither higher degrees of context familiarity nor higher degrees of context engagement affected the students' performance but higher levels of context use did. Added to this—and as part of the research work involved in the quantitative phase— a system to classify mathematical problems in terms of levels of context use was developed theoretically and validated statistically. Main results of the qualitative phase indicated that although students appeared to have a well-established understanding of context familiarity this was not strong enough to influence the use of the problem context as a resource to solve a problem that required the students’ interaction with the real-world context.
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    Comics go global: evaluating an online collaborative project using the community of inquiry framework
    Toniolo, Antoine ( 2017)
    This thesis examines the feasibility of evaluating online collaborative education programs, specifically, it explore the question, to what extent does Comics Go Global (CGG), an extra-curricular, online collaborative arts based project, represent a positive educational experience from the perspective of its students, as defined by the Community of Inquiry as a framework (Arbaugh, 2008). In exploring this question this study addresses how the promise of collaborative online learning for education might be delivered through projects such as “Comics Go Global” (CCG). The role of the “Community of Inquiry” (CoI) framework was to serve as a tool for gathering and measuring empirical research. This helped identify the extent to which students perceived the CGG program as a positive experience and also explore what promise online collaborative learning has for education. In this feasibility study the two mentor/teachers who I selected to participate in the study received two professional development sessions in July 2016, under my direction. These focused on delivering the Comics Go Global project within a CoI framework as well as establishing norms and expectations of student behaviours and the monitoring of technical issues. Later, in order to gather qualitative and quantitative data about their experiences and viewpoint with respect to the CGG program and student involvement, I interviewed them at the end of week four and eight. The interviews enabled mentor/teachers to share their views with me; they reported that the students had a positive learning experience in the CGG program. These interviews were also designed to provide data to identify what promise online collaborative learning has for education and how that promise might be delivered. In order to assess the extent to which students perceived themselves to have had positive experience as per the set criteria identified by the Community of Inquiry framework, five of the six students who participated in the study were surveyed, using the CoI Survey Instrument. This survey has been validated in large-scale trials. Participant surveys were analysed using descriptive strategies and the Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test “a non-parametric test designed for comparing pairs of results that may not represent a normal distribution or be derived from an equal-interval scale”. The results of the CoI survey confirmed that students perceived the program to be a positive experience. These positive findings were echoed in the transcripts provided by the eight weeks of online classes and the mid and post program semi-structured interviews. To build on the findings of this research, further work needs to be conducted to demonstrate whether the experiences in a full scale study, students and teachers could be replicated, or improved, if greater numbers of teachers utilising the CoI framework model could work with larger numbers of students exploring fields other than CGG visual narratives. For example, alternative online collaborative classes might cover subjects and activities focusing on a broad range of topics, including Journalism, Ecology or Debating. Further research is also required to investigate whether larger scale blended learning options, for local schools, might enable a greater exploration of face-to-face extra-curricular opportunities with digital tools such as teleconferencing, password protected NINGS environments, blogs and emails. Such research might provide insights into new and effective ways to improve student engagement, outcomes and wellbeing through the support of such teaching and learning networks.
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    Indian children's experiences and understandings of their transition from kindergarten to class one
    Sharma, Anandi ( 2017)
    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) outlines children as being right holders with the entitlement to express their views freely about matters concerning them. The image of the young child outlined in the Convention as a competent social agent has challenged National Parties that ratified the UNCRC (1989) to provide for and uphold this right and ensure that opportunities for children’s voices to be heard. The right to be heard has, in turn, given rise to a growing interest in consulting children in research about matters that impact on their lives. While researchers have examined the topic of school transition it has i) relied heavily on the perspectives of adults’ and ii) been untaken in developing Western countries such as America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. This study aims to address these gaps in transition research by investigating the experiences and perspectives of 20 children in Kalimpong, India on their transition from kindergarten to school. It employs a qualitative approach using an interpretative paradigm, within a child rights framework design. Data was collected through drawings and interviews. Content analysis was used to present a detailed account of the study and its findings. It concludes that young Indian children have considerable knowledge and understandings of themselves and their transition to school. This information is vital to assisting teachers and policy makers to respond to issues raised by children in the research. It also helps adults to gain a fuller understanding of how transition is experienced and understood by young children.
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    A case study of the influence of diagnostic information on a teacher’s planning for a Year 8 algebra lesson
    Rule, Vanessa ( 2017)
    With the emergence of online testing, data about students’ mathematical thinking is becoming more readily available to teachers in the form of diagnostic information. The availability of such data presents opportunities for teachers to use the data to inform their planning and teaching. The aim of this research was to investigate how diagnostic information, provided by an online system, impacted a teacher’s lesson planning for one Year 8 algebra lesson. The online assessment used to provide the diagnostic information in this research was the ‘Specific Mathematics Assessments that Reveal Thinking’ (SMART) test. The SMART tests system includes individual student diagnoses and teaching advice consisting of potential student difficulties and how to address these. In this case study, the teaching advice impacted the Year 8 mathematics teacher’s awareness of potential student misunderstandings, and resulted in the teacher changing their lesson plan on solving linear equations with pronumerals on both sides of the equation. The changes made included an emphasis on the gathering of algebraic like terms for explanations of solving equations with pronumerals on both sides of the equal sign. While broad generalisations cannot be made from this single case study about teacher planning, the findings suggest there are opportunities to help teachers better understand the developmental stages associated with learning how to solve linear equations, and the potential difficulties students may encounter. This study also allows for future research to be conducted on a larger scale about the impact of diagnostic information on teacher lesson planning.
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    Problematising the present: the historical contribution of consultancy to early childhood education in Australia: 1960-1985
    BROWNE, KIM ( 2017)
    Consultative approaches in Victorian state funded kindergartens operate presently as the Preschool Field Officer (PSFO) program. Described as a service delivery model (DET, 2015a), the PSFO program is designed to ‘ensure that early childhood teachers and educators continually improve their capacity to provide young children who have additional needs with the experiences and opportunities that promote their learning and development, and enable then to participate meaningfully in the program’ (DET, 2015a, p. 8). Contemporary documents detailing the PSFO program have been recently revised within the context of shifts and reforms to early childhood education in Australia. The provision of early childhood education has arguably changed since the Council of Australian Governments (COAG, 2009) endorsed ‘Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia’ (EYLF), the first national framework in Australia. Providing guidance to all practitioners working in early childhood education, including PSFOs, principles, practices and outcomes are framed within a model of collaboration with children, families and educators. Significantly, the EYLF advocates for practitioners to view children as competent learners (DEEWR, 2009). Currently, Victorian early childhood programs operate under both the national EYLF and the Victorian Early Years Learning Development Framework (VEYLDF), the Victorian State Government document introduced in 2009. This document guides early childhood professionals to work with children from birth to eight years through a focus on outcomes, practice principles and transitions. Positioned within these curriculum documents, early childhood educators’ practices thread between early years’ programs and also the school-based Victorian Curriculum and transition to school frameworks. Underpinned by Foucault's genealogical approach (1977) and ethnography, this study critically examines written and visual documents, by examining and rendering visible complex processes and discursive shifts from the 1960 – 1985 timeframe. Texts selected for examination included contemporary and past Victorian State Government documents and visual images authorised by the National Union of Australian University Students (Roper, 1971). By interpreting the complex processes and changes over this timeframe, an opportunity presents to understand by attempting to make meaning of what might be now known about contemporary consultative services operating in Victorian kindergartens. The findings in this study indicate that in contemporary times discourses of governmentality dominate consultative practices, compelling PSFOs to enact ‘techniques and procedures for directing human behaviour’ (Foucault, 1997, p. 81), in a myriad of complex and contradictory manners. Juxtaposed with practices in the past, I argue that (inter)relating multiple discourses have historically dominated early childhood education. Discourses include: health with supervision, additional needs education with developmentalism, and community organisations with welfare and arguably remain deeply embedded in contemporary consultative practices, forming part of current governing agendas. What may be missing is that children and families are often swept up in the governmentality of consultancy, both historically and currently. Under the guise of collaborative partnerships and capacity building, where children and families are viewed as capable and listened to, it may be argued that consultative practices appear inclusive of the voice of children and families. However, while it appears that this is a shift away from a deficit-based approach, it emerged through the analysis of the data that a lack of transparency and authenticity pervades in these relations. In contemporary times the PSFO program as a consultative body, has come to be an authoritative entity in preschools. Revealing discourses is one means to problematise what may be (un)known about claims which prevail as truth and the authority accorded to circulating privileged agendas and productive moments, but also points to times which are rendered silent. Examining power-knowledge relations producing dominant discourses can rupture certain truth claims and open possibilities to reconstruct new ways to conceive consultative practices in kindergartens and also for a reconceptualisation of ‘understanding of how to do things differently’ (Ailwood, 2004, p. 30).
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    A study of moral positioning in sites of high-rise public housing: exploring ontologies of pro-environmental practices in Australia and Mexico
    Aldape Garcia, Angel Omar ( 2017)
    This doctoral research addresses the dearth of sustained research on the pro-environmental practices of individuals and communities living in high-rise public housing. This ethnographic cross-site study focuses on two high-rise sites: Collingwood high-rise public housing, in Melbourne, Australia; and Tlatelolco high-rise public housing, in Mexico City, Mexico. The thesis, drawing upon Positioning Theory (Harré) and Site Ontology (Schatzki) as its main theoretical frameworks, revealed the ontological meanings of each site and the moral positions that helped to sustain or disrupt the pro-environmental practices of residents. What emerged were new understandings of how pro-environmental practices can be conditioned by past experiences, attachment to place, material infrastructure, the social production of fear, and the lack of reinforcement of social rules.
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    Teaching academics’ perceptions of ‘Asia Literacy’ and its integration into undergraduate curricula: A case study in three Australian universities
    Ho, Wing Sze Caterina ( 2017)
    The imperative of including Asia in education has been Australia’s national interest since 1970s, which has been reiterated under successive policies through the promotion of ‘Asia literacy’ in terms of Asian languages and studies. While its relevance to Australian students in economic, political, social, cultural and intellectual terms has been widely discussed in public policy and academic contexts, recently, the place of Asia has gained currency and traction in Australian higher education in light of universities’ strategic focus on Asia and graduate attributes linked to intercultural competence. Despite this, after more than four decades of work to build ‘Asia literacy’, its meanings and pedagogical strategies remain unclear (Halse, 2015; Halse et al., 2013; Rizvi, 2013, 2015; Salter, 2013, 2014, 2015). The poor understanding of this concept in higher education, coupled with a notable absence of studies on pedagogical implications of ‘Asia literacy’ for different curriculum domains, points to a pressing need for evidence-based and theorised research to inform a better articulation of university strategies on Asia in teaching practice. To address this, empirically, this study investigated the notion, value and integration of ‘Asia literacy’, and factors that may influence this integration. Theoretically, this study contributes to the knowledge field by adopting a sociological view of curriculum for investigation, which has not provided a major perspective of research on ‘Asia literacy’. Drawing on Young’s (2008) social realism and Maton’s (2014) Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) as major conceptual lens, this study explored the disciplinary principles that underpin curricular integration of Asia, and academic’s agency in navigating the idea of ‘Asia literacy’ within their disciplinary conditions. Given this fresh perspective, this supported an exploratory case study approach that took place in undergraduate programs at three Australian universities with institutional approaches that favoured students’ intercultural/international development to optimise opportunities for exploration. The focus on disciplinarity further informed the selection of disciplines that represent distinctive knowledge fields (Trowler et al., 2012). This study has identified the layered notion of ‘Asia literacy’ associated with cultural differences, internationalisation and languages; its multifaceted roles in enhancing students’ employability, cultural engagement and worldviews; and its curricular integration through discipline-specific strategies. The nuances of teaching practice of ‘Asia literacy’ offer insights into how disciplinary structures and academics play out in the integration, their interplay with other important factors such as students and external bodies in different disciplines, and the tension of how ‘difference voices’, as Ashwin (2014) describes, seek to legitimate knowledge of Asia. To advance the understanding of ‘Asia literacy’, this study proposes a reconceptualisation to encapsulate the contextual meanings for higher education: it unpacks the conceptual complexity and the place of Asia for undergraduate curricula. It identifies possibilities for curricular integration of Asia across the university. It highlights the specialisation of disciplinary structures, and urges universities to take this into account in policy-making, and improve visibility of their directives to incentivise academics’ articulation of the Asian focus in teaching practice. Finally, it suggests promising areas for future research in methodological and theoretical aspects.
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    Explorations of the moral socio-cultural contexts of the intentional action of physics teachers: case studies to inform practice and teacher education
    Haji Mohd Said, Hajah Hardimah ( 2017)
    This study seeks to explore the intelligibility of physics teaching and the dynamics of the processes of personal professional identity formation processes. The teachers’ reflections in association with their vision, motivation, understanding and practice in their daily discursive practices have been carefully explored from multiple semi-structured conversational interviews and classroom observations. In this study I attend to the situational, cultural and social identities of ten physics teachers, at different stages of their careers; student teachers in training, early career and experienced teachers, in their autobiographical accounts, analysing their subject positions as classifications, participant roles, viewpoints and interactive positions in their schools and beyond. Positioning theory has been used to locate the agency of the teachers in their accounts of dynamic social episodes, and to deeply explore the complexity of the multiplicities of their social realities, evidenced in their discursive practices, that is in their alignment of both their “doings and sayings”. Pronoun Grammar Analysis (PGA) has been utilised to better locate the teacher as agent, in their own positioning in their own storylines and the social impact claimed for them. The use of PGA has assisted in illuminating and interpreting the teachers’ “technologies of the self”, against the local cover, secret and sacred stories. The teachers’ storylines seemed to be consistently impacted upon and influenced by the teachers’ institutional setting and also by past and present members of their school communities of practices. The teachers explained what they “do” and clearly described their understanding of their duties, as those that were imposed upon them in the concrete local social context of teaching in general, and of physics teaching specifically. They discussed how they had come to make practical sense of what physics teaching meant to them in their own classroom, but at the same time, also how their teaching had come to be adapted to how teaching was already being performed, and valued in their schools. There are many ways in which to approach and analyse the identities that emerge and unfold in research materials. In this study the teachers’ identities have been approached as historically, socially and culturally produced positions, as processes that are in permanent state of becoming. This study has found, and suggests that we need more complex ways to better understand the multiple “ways of being” that are required to be an effective teacher in school setting generally, and particularly as a physics teacher. The study has general implications not only for a richer study of identity formation of physics teachers but also the use of narrative accounts presented in the case studies in the study for pre-service programmes and faculty development.
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    Contained art experiences for young people, staff and an a/r/tographer in Nicaragua: implications for art education and wellbeing
    Nixon, Margaret ( 2017)
    Contained Art Experiences (CAE) was developed as an art practice in response to my work with Si a La Vida (SALV), a small Non-Governmental Organisation that supports young people and families who have experienced trauma through poverty, violence and neglect in Nicaragua, Central America. Within this cultural setting, I explored CAE as a new quality art practice with the aim of enriching participants’ capacities of awareness of self and other, to assist them in strengthening relationships that contribute to resilience and wellbeing and in responding more positively to their cultural reality. CAE was developed through my prior experience, blending three constructs: attachment theory and attuned relationships; art making and wellbeing; and culture, art practice and recovery from trauma. CAE invited participants to consider and express their experiences and feelings through their art making within an environment where they were valued and where they sensed the presence of an attuned relationship. My exploration of CAE was a qualitative investigation, guided by a/r/tography and case study methodologies that interacted together to create and inform a trans-methodological frame for the study. This frame allowed me to gather data through observations, artefacts and interviews resulting from the participation of 40 young people and two staff in CAE over a five-week period at SALV. Data gathered from reflection and artefacts during my time in Nicaragua recognised my participation in CAE as a/r/tographer. I analysed the data through a process of sifting and sorting that allowed a deeper and refined analysis, and brought a greater clarity to the emerging themes of participation, expression and new thinking. Weaving text and the creative work, The Altar, I responded to these themes. The Altar is an installation consisting of four elements set in a scene of a Catholic altar, with my choice of materials, techniques, and subjects informed by my interaction with the cultural context of Nicaragua. This text/creative response identified that participation in CAE allowed individual expression of experiences and feelings, and contributed to changed thinking and behaviour in young people, staff and a/r/tographer. Further, CAE contributed to their sense of value and the development of pro-social behaviours for young people. CAE informed teacher professional practice and their relationship with students, and provided a reflective practice for me, as a/r/tographer, that informed my relationship with participants and contributed to the process of implementing CAE. This is a small-scale study, however, I suggest that participation in CAE has implications for art and wellbeing as a new addition to quality art practices in a broader setting in education. CAE may provide a model of teacher professional learning and teacher reflective practice, and offer a relationship-centred student wellbeing approach that may support students who have experienced trauma.