Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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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.
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    Bɛ ŋme anfooni karimbu ka sabbu: accessing out-of-school children’s perspectives of literacies in northern Ghana through collaborative digital photography
    Rigby, Brendan James ( 2020)
    Literacy is simultaneously a practice in which people engage daily and a global education policy challenge. Formal education contexts, such as schools, are generally viewed as the sites for developing literacy. Similarly, those that have been, or are going, to school are viewed as literate. When literacy and schooling are conflated, the understanding of literacy is narrowed. This has relegated 63 million primary school-age children to being considered out-of-school and, therefore, non-literate. This narrow understanding and hypothesis of literacy as a school-based skill has mobilised international advocacy and development efforts to achieve universal primary education and literacy targets. Ethnographic approaches to literacy research have challenged practices and policies of literacy as autonomously schooled, uncovering everyday literacy events and practices in which people engage outside of school. This study seeks to access and understand the literacy experiences of out-of-school children in order to support their literacy development. To support the development of out-of-school children’s literacy, it is important to understand the ways in which literacy is embedded in their everyday worlds. This case study seeks to access the perspectives of ten out-of-school children, from two rural communities in northern Ghana, of their understanding and practice of literacy. A collaborative digital photography methodology was developed to access the children’s perspectives during their enrolment in a nine-month Complementary Basic Education program. The study demonstrates different configurations of literacy in the two communities, and how each child negotiated their understanding and practice of literacy in their community. It also finds that methodologically, visual research can access out-of-school children’s perspectives through collaborative digital photography. This visual knowledge of children’s literacies has the potential to inform the creation of relevant and meaningful curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment to progress their literacy learning. Appropriate interventions can be designed when a nuanced understanding of children’s practices, knowledge, and understandings are taken into account. This will help to accelerate the goal to achieve universal primary education and meet literacy targets in those hardest to reach places.