Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

Permanent URI for this collection

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 185
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Educating the next generation of communication designers: Addressing environmentally sustainable design principles and practices in Australian undergraduate communication design curriculum.
    Miceli, Maria Luisa ( 2021)
    Mitigating the impacts of anthropocentric environmental degradation is both an individual and collective responsibility. This research considered the role of higher education in advancing environmental sustainability (ES). The purpose of this study was to specifically investigate the way environmentally sustainable design principles and practices (EDSPP) were being addressed in undergraduate communication design (CD) courses in Australia. This multi-case study comprised of five Australian universities, each representing a single case. Each case was divided into two communities. Community One – represented the executive and senior leaders who set the strategic direction of the university, this strategic direction was identified through publicly available documentation. The second community, Community Two – represented teachers within the communication design faculty. These teachers were interviewed to understand: their philosophy in relation to ESDPP; what influenced their pedagogical decisions and how these values were implemented in their teaching practice. The findings demonstrated that ES was recognised by Community One through the university’s values and goals, yet ES activities were often limited to facilities management. The majority of teachers in Community Two recognised the importance of EDSPP in CD; however, they reported that attempts at embedding these practices into their units were often challenging. The study identified three main factors – eco-anxiety, holistic understanding of the course, and effective leadership concerning ES, most prevented progressing ESDPP in undergraduate CD courses. These challenges meant that EDSPP rarely progressed beyond arbitrary material choice inclusions within projects, rather than consideration for the critical relationship between communication design and consumerism and the changing nature of the CD profession. These one-dimensional material aspects, while important, remain superficial and shallow and may hinder the trajectory toward deeper behavioural changes that would promote a paradigm shift. This transformation may require a meaningful endorsement of environmental sustainability as a university value and a concrete plan to drive structural and course content change that would support teachers in undertaking this paradigm shift.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Interrogating quality Indicators of students' online learning in Australian higher education
    El-Ayoubi, Mona ( 2021)
    The growth and proliferation of online education is one of the incisive radical transformations that has taken place in the higher education sector recently. Given the increasing centrality of online learning, it is imperative to have appropriate quality measures capable of effectively gauging the learning quality outcomes of students in the online environment. This research addressed the following two overarching questions: To what extent can students’ Student Experience Survey results predict outcome measures such as student pass rate, dropout rate and overall satisfaction? How effective are Student Experience Survey results in measuring online learning quality in Australian higher education? This study focused on the case of online undergraduate education at Australian universities and primarily drew on extensive empirical evidence, and systematic analysis of a significant amount of SES data. This analysis was complemented by a focused set of semi-structured interviews conducted with academic staff working in quality assurance in Australian universities. The research utilised a sequential mixed-methods approach combining analysis of secondary data (Student Experience Survey) and collection and analysis of primary data interviews. This approach offered the opportunity to contextualise the Student Experience Survey data and interrogate it for insights into the practical considerations and dimensions of online learning quality within universities. A framework to assess different aspects of learning quality was developed from the items in the survey and consisted of four groupings: curriculum, learner support, learner engagement, and technology. The analysis of student responses to the items in these groupings applied the principal components of factor analysis. Specifically, the research examined these factors to determine if they could predict student performance outcomes of pass rate, dropout rate, and overall satisfaction as effective quality measures. This analysis presents observations of student responses to individual items across disciplines, institutions, and academic year levels. When SES responses of student perceptions were examined, this study identified a critical disconnect between the positioning of the Student Experience Survey as a central measure of learning quality and the outcomes of those learners as a population. The key finding is that the Student Experience Survey responses were not related to pass rates and dropout rates. The second critical finding is that students’ perceptions of engagement and curriculum had no relation to these same outcomes. This finding is irrespective of students’ academic year level, their discipline, or the institution they attended. The study has implications for institutions and government bodies to evaluate existing metrics said to measure online learning quality. This study questions the ultimate purpose of student surveys and concludes that using student satisfaction to evaluate online learning quality through the Student Experience Survey instrument is ineffective in predicting or measuring outcome achievement. As such, institutions must invest in alternative and/or different approaches for assessing learning quality. This study provides substantial evidence base analysis of a large population in the Australian higher education online context. Further, it contributes to widening understandings about the limitations of student experience surveys in measures of learning quality. The study has implications for institutions, academics, and policymakers and provides opportunities for the reconceptualisation and the redevelopment of learning quality metrics beyond the Student Experience Survey.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Being an effective teacher: what do teachers in different contexts conceptualise? A contextualised study for improving teacher effectiveness
    Wilkie, David Jeffrey ( 2021)
    Effective teachers achieve far more in terms of student outcomes than do less-effective teachers. There are educational, social and economic reasons as to why high learning outcomes for students are needed system-wide, and effective teachers are necessary for the success of endeavours to improve educational systems. System-wide efforts to improve overall teacher effectiveness, however, have had only limited success, and school-level effects emerge as important. The work of teachers in schools is multifaceted and complex, and there are subsequent complexities in considerations of teacher effectiveness and ways to improve it. Research has identified that individual attributes of teachers and school-level, environmental factors impact upon the effectiveness of teachers. Further knowledge and shared understanding of how teachers can become more effective, individually and collectively, continue to prove necessary. There is little research into how teachers and school leaders conceptualise being an effective teacher in their own working context, and what enables their effective work, and what impedes it. This qualitative study investigated the ways practising secondary school teachers and school leaders conceptualised being an effective teacher in the environment in which they worked. Contextualised enablers of teacher effectiveness and impediments to teacher effectiveness were also explored. A multiple case study of three schools was designed. Participant schools were purposively selected to provide substantial contextual variation – one government school, one Catholic school, and one independent school were each a case explored. Five-to-six voluntary participants in each school were selected, each one a practising teacher, or a school leader who also had an active teaching role. Semi-structured individual interviews were utilised to produced rich, contextualised data on the attributes, knowledge, and behaviours necessary to be effective as a teacher at the school. Data evidenced that teachers’ own conceptualisations of being an effective teacher aligned with established research, yet with notable contextual variation in some emphases in the descriptions. Participants described detailed, contextualised knowledge of their working environment and what they understood was enabling effective work by the teachers at their school, and what impeded effective work. Contextualised collective teacher efficacy and the impact of a school ethos were evidenced to enable teacher effectiveness. Unintegrated, time-intensive managerial and policy directives impeded teacher effectiveness.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Elite Sports Coaching and Feedback: The use of communication and metacognitive strategies in sport
    Jackson, Brendan Craig ( 2020)
    The similarities in skills of coaches and teachers have been of particular interest to researchers for half a century. Within coaching research, the emphasis has been on coach observation studies, whereas in education research the evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions on student outcomes has been the focus. Furthermore, most coaching literature explores coaches at the sub-elite level. Crucially, to develop coaching practice, more information is needed regarding the impacts feedback, pedagogical techniques and instructional interventions employed by coaches have on athlete outcomes in the elite sporting environment. A mixed-methods approach was used in this thesis to explore the impact of coaches’ actions and behaviours on elite teams. In Part A, communication between the senior coach, three assistant coaches and 45 players from the VFLW competition were explored across a six-week period; during meetings, training sessions and competition. Feedback was predominantly descriptive in nature, with the exception of in-competition settings, where prescriptive feedback was predominant. Coaches and players asked minimal questions of one another regardless of the format of the interactions. In Part B, nine VFLW players were interviewed about their feedback preferences. Players preferred individual, specific and prescriptive feedback. Players acknowledged the benefits of video review feedback yet suggested playing an active role in the review process would improve learning. In Part C, a metacognitive strategy (Think Aloud) was introduced into the player review process for 14 AFLW players. This occurred across an entire pre-season and season of the AFLW competition to assess the impact it had on the understanding and performance of a tactical concept. The results showed an effect size of 0.68 for the introduction of a metacognitive strategy on athlete understanding and performance outcomes, compared to 0.37 for no metacognitive strategy. Major conclusions relate to coach feedback not always reflecting player preferences for how feedback is communicated, with feedback tending to be descriptive in nature. Players and coaches evaluate understanding and performance differently, however the implementation of metacognitive strategies into coaching practice led to a higher impact on athlete learning and was similar to the effects reported in prior educational research with students. Further exploration of the overlap of effective teaching pedagogies and their applicability to sports coaching practice would be useful.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The preparation and development of middle leaders in Victorian secondary schools
    Cooper, Peter Anthony Hope ( 2021)
    Middle leaders in schools provide a critical link between senior leadership and teaching staff. Employing a multi-perspective case study methodology, this study looked at the common themes facing middle leaders at three Victorian secondary schools, Catholic, government, and independent, with regard to their preparation for leadership, their professional and personal development in the role, how their role is perceived by those to whom they report and those they lead, and how they determine if they have been successful in their role. At each school, the following staff members were invited to participate in the study: senior leaders, middle leaders, and teachers. The middle leaders involved in this research were actively involved in leading pastoral, academic, and/or co-curricular departments within a Catholic, government, or independent school. Semi-structured interviewing was used for the purpose of collecting their responses. The participants’ responses were analysed, and emergent themes described. A total of 56 themes with 78 sub-themes emerged from the study, covering the dimensions of preparation, development, perception, and success in leadership. Common themes raised by middle leaders were professional learning, the support provided in their role, career progression, their ability to influence school direction, level of autonomy in the role, departmental management, professional relationships, and their support of students’ achievement. The study indicates that middle leaders’ measurement of success in the role was primarily linked to student achievement in academic and social domains. A leadership development model is offered to support aspiring and current middle leaders.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Practices of professionalism in Early Childhood Education and Care: Long day care educators at work
    Jackson, Phyllis Joy ( 2021)
    There is an emerging corpus of Australian research, both qualitative and quantitative, inquiring into how early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators experience and understand their work. This qualitative case study traces the lived experience of a group of centre-based long day care educators working in communities experiencing high levels of social and economic disadvantage. Set within the context of the Australian ECEC reform program, the study investigates what constitutes ECEC professionalism and how educators experience and practise it every day. Analysing data drawn from two quality centre-based long day care settings, it was found that educators predominantly frame professionalism in terms of pedagogic practice—what they do, how they use their knowledge and skills and how they enact professional identities they value. Thus, for many of the study’s participants, a commitment to social justice, of wanting to make a difference in the lives of young children and their families and, a belief in quality ECEC services as having the potential to ameliorate the socio-economic inequities many families in their community experience, was the basis on which their practice and professionalism was constructed. Altogether, the argument is made that educators’ understandings of their work practice, value commitments and the qualities and dispositions they privilege offer a nuanced and multifaceted view of professionalism, one that potentially widens the policy-based discourse of ECEC professionalism and requires that acknowledgement be made of the range and complexity of educators’ work in contemporary ECEC. The identity(ies) of relational and ethical professionalism that is both child-centred and family and community-centred most particularly requires recognition and support.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    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.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The impact of testing on students: Australian students' perspectives on NAPLAN and internal assessments
    Dowley, Mark William ( 2019)
    National and state testing policies have become an increasingly common feature of the policy landscape in education, both in developed and developing countries. Testing policies can generate a range of emotional responses among students, including high levels of stress. Alternatively, students’ emotional responses may not be discretely associated with large-scale standardised tests, but instead generalise to any testing situation. This study aimed to compare student responses and perceptions of assessment in both NAPLAN and internal tests. This study used an anonymous survey to gather data from 206 Year 7 and Year 9 Australian students on their perceptions of the importance their parents and teachers placed on doing well in tests, and their own self-reported responses to both NAPLAN and their internal tests. We found that the students in this study placed more value on internal tests than NAPLAN and students were also more likely to be confident in internal tests and bored for NAPLAN. A small percentage of students reported negative physical responses, such as crying or feeling sick to both types of tests, however, there were no significant differences between NAPLAN and internal tests in the number of students reporting negative physical responses. Furthermore, individuals who placed a high value on a given assessment and have greater emotional stability were more likely to experience positive responses to assessment. The findings suggest that NAPLAN does not cause significant negative responses in the majority of students. Implications for schools and policymakers are discussed.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Specialist nurses’ engagement with an online bioscience subject: a quantitative analysis
    Connors, Amanda Marie ( 2020)
    Bioscience has been a fundamental element of Australian nursing education programs since the early 1990s. The term bioscience in nursing curricula encompasses elements of physiology, pharmacology, immunology, genetics, biochemistry and pathophysiology. In postgraduate programs the capacity to link bioscience concepts to complex healthcare problems is required for competent and safe specialist nursing practice. The types of teaching and learning technologies utilised to engage specialist nurses with theoretical content in technology-enhanced learning environments are constantly evolving. Technology-enhanced learning involves the contemporaneous use of information technologies to augment teaching and learning. This approach has been widely accepted in various forms; the conventional mode of delivery for postgraduate bioscience subjects is frequently online. There is however, an absence of robust empirical evidence to substantiate the effectiveness of online learning on learning outcomes. In particular, there is a limited understanding of the relationship between students’ learning behaviours, readiness to learn and their academic achievement within technology-enhanced learning environments. The aim of this thesis research program was to establish whether postgraduate specialist nurses’ learning behaviours and readiness to learn, contribute to variability in academic achievement when studying bioscience via a technology-enhanced learning environment. An exploratory descriptive cohort study was conducted in two phases. Learning analytics were used in Phase 1 to identify nurses’ learning behaviours and explore the relationship between these behaviours and academic achievement. Learning behaviours included the total time spent online, the total number of logins, and the total number and frequency of hits on specific content areas. Hit activity was linked to topic summaries, webinars, formative multiple choice questions (MCQs) and online library readings. The endpoint measure of academic achievement was a combination of the cumulative mark for five summative assessments. Based on learning outcomes, participants were categorised into three groups according to their achievement level; high (greater than or equal to 75%), medium (64% to 74%) and low achievers (less than or equal to 63%). In Phase 2 a cross section of students from Phase 1 completed the Self-Directed Readiness Scale for Nursing Education (SDRSNE) survey (Fisher et al., 2001). This instrument was used to measure specialist nurses’ readiness for self-directed learning. Comprised of 40 items, the SDRSNE measured self-management, desire for learning and self-control. Respondents rated each item on a Likert scale with anchors from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to explore the data. Participants in this study accessed online information more than 70,000 times over two semesters. While the average time spent online was over 48 hours there was substantial variability in the number of times individual students logged into the subject, the total time they spent online and the number of hits in content areas. Learning behaviours did not differ according to level of academic achievement, but there were trends in the data that warranted scrutiny. High and medium achieving students had a similar number of logins and hits but high achievers spent more time online. Topic summaries were the most frequently accessed online content followed by webinar recordings, online library readings and practice quizzes. No particular resource or content area was associated with improved learning outcomes or level of academic achievement. Specialist nurses undertaking an online bioscience subject demonstrated improved learning outcomes over time, with high achievers demonstrating the greatest knowledge gain when comparing pre and post quiz results. Mean scores for low, medium and high achievers in four summative MCQ were consistent and similar throughout the semester. Specialist nurses in this study demonstrated high levels of self-reported readiness to undertake self-directed learning and the SDRSNE was shown to be a valid and reliable tool for assessing readiness to learn in this cohort. There was no evidence of a relationship between a specialist nurses SDRSNE and their learning outcomes, and no substantiative relationship between SDRSNE and learning behaviours. Specialist nurses were ready to undertake self-directed online learning and actively engaged with the bioscience subject, achieving learning gains over the semester that demonstrated the effectiveness of the subject. There was however, no clear relationship between learning behaviours and learning outcomes, indicating that the learning of bioscience by specialist nurses is complex and multifactorial. Findings from this research provide valuable insights into online learning as a pedagogical tool for bioscience and nursing education. Future studies designed to test the effectiveness of active, collaborative online learning strategies will enable those involved in education to explore the links between students preferred learning behaviours and learning outcomes. There is opportunity to develop a variety of synchronous and asynchronies learning strategies to accommodate and acknowledge the diverse learning behaviours of students while simultaneously identifying students that may be at risk. Future research should focus on learner to content, learner to instructor and learner to learner interactions in technology-enhanced learning environments. Facilitating nurses’ understanding of bioscience principles is challenging; multiple factors impact upon the mastery of bioscience concepts. The findings from this study offer nurse educators and curriculum designers baseline data to guide and support innovations to shape contemporary student focused online learning.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Teacher perceptions of new principals in Melbourne, Victoria
    Moreno, Bernardita ( 2020)
    This thesis explores the impact of new principals through the eyes and experiences of teachers in three schools in Metropolitan Melbourne, Australia. A multi-perspective case study methodology involving semi-structured interviews, non-participant observations and the study of documents is employed to answer three research questions: (1) how do teachers perceive their new principal, (2) how does this perception impact on teachers’ work environment, and (3) how can teachers be supported during a change of principal? The findings suggest that teachers’ perceptions of their new principal are a function of the new principal’s personal and leadership qualities and practices which, in turn, are informed by three contextual factors: school leadership history, the origin and background of the new principal, and teacher expectations. These factors not only influence teachers’ perceptions independently, but they also have the capacity to influence each other. These perceptions appear to impact on a number of domains within teachers’ work environment, such as teacher well-being, teacher professional development and, to a lesser extent, teaching practice and professional relationships. Teacher well-being, in particular, revealed itself to be the most diverse among and within schools. An overwhelming positive impact on teacher professional development also emerges yet, paradoxically, it does not result in any perceived changes on their teaching practice. Professional relationships among teachers, and between teachers and students, does not appear to be affected significantly by the arrival of a new principal. Teachers expressed a desire to be included in the pre-appointment consultation process. Finally, new principals who are committed to building relationships with staff and who display an awareness of how the nature, pace and implementation of change initiatives impact on teachers’ work environment appear to be pivotal in supporting teachers during principal succession. The findings have enabled the development of a conceptual framework for understanding how teachers’ perceptions of a new principal impact on teachers’ work environment