Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Social emotional learning (SEL) in practice in early childhood: translating and applying the COPE-resilience program in Taiwan
    Wu, Marissa Yi-Hsuan ( 2020)
    Social emotional learning (SEL) has become a significant priority to policy makers and education providers around the globe. It refers to essential skills needed for individuals to function well in the 21st century, and directly impacts how well individuals adapt to change, handle interpersonal issues, and cope with challenges in life (OECD, 2018). A recent development in educational focus has placed a strong emphasis on SEL during the preschool years in Taiwan; however, there is a shortage of SEL training and resources available to support teachers in this endeavour. Preschool teachers in Taiwan are struggling to find effective strategies to teach social and emotional skills in intentional and evidence-based ways. Nonetheless, to date, limited research has been carried out in Taiwan to explore the effect of preschool SEL programs on both teachers and children. This doctoral thesis investigates the processes and considerations for translating a specific evidence-based SEL program, such as the six-week COPE-Resilience program in preschool settings in Taiwan to increase children's social and emotional competencies (SEC) and teachers’ SEL practices. A multiphase mixed methods approach is used in determining the practicability, translatability, effectiveness, sustainability, perception and understanding of the COPE-Resilience program and SEL practices in Taiwan. Findings across four sequential study phases provided preliminary support for the use of the Chinese COPE-Resilience program in preschools and kindergartens in Taiwan. The program demonstrated its cross-cultural utility by positively increasing children's SEC (i.e., emotional knowledge, empathetic responses, empathy and inhibitory control) in six weeks, sustained its effect for six months, buffered negative behaviour, increased school readiness and successfully prompted teachers to reflect on their own SEL practices. Teachers reported an increase in their levels of self-efficacy and change in their overall teaching techniques, including a greater focus on children's emotions and intentional preventive teaching of SEL skills. These results indicate that teachers' understanding of SEL and their own SEC could be enhanced through short workshops and training in the implementation of child-focused SEL programs.
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    Literacy assessment in the early years: teachers at work in a changing policy paradigm
    Tassone, Martina Mairee ( 2020)
    This thesis reports on a mixed-methods, two-phase study, which focused on the literacy assessment practices of early years teachers and literacy leaders in Catholic schools in the Melbourne archdiocese in a period following the devolution of assessment responsibility to schools. Phase 1 of the data collection resulted in 76 literacy leaders’ responses to a questionnaire on literacy assessment practices in their schools. In Phase 2, semistructured interviews with 23 early years teachers and seven literacy leaders were conducted to investigate their literacy assessment beliefs and practices. Importantly, the thesis reports on the participants’ interrogation, innovation on, resistance to, or acceptance of both previously mandated and current options around literacy assessment priorities and practices. Additionally, the thesis explores assessment in the early years within the contemporary high-stakes assessment environment which is characterised by heightened levels of teacher accountability. Bernstein’s (1990, 1996, 2000) pedagogic device is used as a theoretical framework to examine the complexities and tensions of policy enactments at the school and classroom level. Findings from this study illustrate that early years teachers’ literacy assessment work is complex due to working in a “boundary zone” of tension and compromise where, on one hand, they are encouraged to engage in age-appropriate, child-centred early years pedagogies yet, on the other, are mandated to assess and report against system-wide primary curriculum standards.