Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    The teaching of history in state-supported elementary schools in Victoria, 1852-1954
    Trethewey, Alan Robert ( 1965)
    The major concern of this thesis, then, is to trace and account for the introduction of History as a subject in 1886, to show its development in an initial period of transition as the implications of the new subject were explored, to follow it through the years of the "New Education" to the time when it became an established and accepted subject, changing little, to examine a period of exciting rediscovery and revision in the early 1930's, and finally, after another twenty years of relative but deceptive calm,to describe the changes which led to the introduction of Social Studies at the expense of History, Geography and Civics in 1954.
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    Can children in the early years of primary schooling say from whom or what or where they acquired their scientific understandings ?
    Roscholler, Carolyn June ( 2006)
    Young children bring with them to school a certain amount of science knowledge gained from their everyday lives. What they "know", whether right or wrong, may be the result of interactions with family, television, computer programs, books, peers or visits to environmental locations, museums or science centres. In this study, children who have been at primary school for between two and three years are asked to describe their knowledge and their sources of information. The extent to which school factors are influencing their science knowledge is investigated. A survey was developed and protocols trialled before fifty-seven children aged eight and nine years at a provincial Victorian government primary school were surveyed to establish their home background and family interest in science, their own attitudes and feelings toward science and the efficacy of their science experiences at school. Interviews were carried out with nine students, selected to represent a broad range of attitudes to science, in order to gain more detailed information about their specific understandings of a number of topics within the primary school science curriculum and the sources of their information. The students' responses revealed that where they were knowledgeable about a subject they could indeed say from where they obtained their knowledge. Books were the most commonly cited source of information, followed by school, personal home experiences and family. Computers and the internet had little influence. Students who appeared to have "better" understandings quoted multiple sources of information. Positive correlations were found between enjoyment of school lessons and remembering science information, liking to watch science television or videos and remembering science information, and liking to read science books and remembering science information. Mothers were also linked to the use of science books at home, and the watching of nature TV shows at home. There are several implications for the teaching of science at early years level. Teachers need to be aware of powerful influences, from both within and outside of the classroom, which may impact on children, and which may be enlisted to help make learning more meaningful. The research indicates the importance of home background, parental interest and access to books, and notes the under utilisation of computers and lack of visits to museums and interactive science centres.
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    Predictors of performance in arithmetic in the middle years of primary school
    Pincott, Rhonda Marie ( 2002)
    While the amount of research into difficulties in mathematics has increased markedly over recent years there continues to be a need for more research into mathematics in the middle years of Primary School. The present study examined the extent to which performance on various maths related processing tasks (e.g. reading numbers, reading number statements, mental arithmetic) and measures of maths understanding (e.g. numeration and counting) predicted maths computation ability as determined by performance on typical Year 3-5 un-timed pen and paper arithmetic tasks. Analysis consisted of a stepwise regression for each of the three year levels. Some of these tasks were found to be highly predictive of achievement in arithmetic. The multiple regression was not only significant at each of the three year levels but accounted for a substantial proportion of achievement criterion variance: Year 3: 61%, Year 4: 59.8% and Year 5: 61.5%. Achievement in arithmetic was best predicted by a combination of factors at each year level with some similarities occurring across levels. The most striking of these is Mental Arithmetic: multiplication which was found to be a predictive factor at all three levels. Other significant predictive factors included Mental Arithmetic: subtraction (Year 3), Numeration: tens of thousands (Years 3 & 4), Processing of 4-digit numerals (Years 4 & 5), and Mental Arithmetic: addition (Year 5).
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    Teaching children to use metalanguage : what they say they know
    Quinn, Marie ( 2002)
    What should be explicitly taught to primary school children in writing has been hotly debated over a number of decades in Australia. At the heart of this debate are questions of how much knowledge about their language children can learn and how much is really useful in order to use language effectively. This study, a case study from one Year Six classroom, proposes that teaching students some overt knowledge of their language, and developing a metalanguage in the Systemic Functional Grammar tradition with which to define this knowledge, is possible and assists children to write more successfully. The study analysed the students' progress in writing texts across factual and fictional genres as well as tracking the reflections students made on their own knowledge. The students not only identified how they had been able to improve their writing, but express satisfaction in possessing such knowledge about language.
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    The evolution of concepts of decimals in primary and secondary students
    Moloney, Kevin Gerard ( 1994)
    This thesis studies children's conceptions about ordering decimals. It builds upon previous work which established three commonly used systematic errors in children's understanding as they encounter decimal notation. Students were categorised according to erroneous rule usage. This work includes a small longitudinal study which showed little change over twelve months in rule usage by an Australian sample of 50 secondary students. The categorising tests were redeveloped to make them suitable for primary students and to have increased reliability. The main study traced the use of rules from Year Four to Year Ten in a sample of 379 students and showed how students with different rules performed on other decimal tasks. It was found that one of the rules, called the whole number rule (in comparing two decimals that with more decimal places is chosen as the larger) was important in earlier years but disappeared with time. The second rule, called the fraction rule (the decimal with fewer decimal places is chosen as the larger), persisted in worrying proportions well into the secondary years and it was shown that significant gaps in knowledge of decimal notation existed which had not corrected themselves with time. The third rule was shown to be not important. Further investigation of a longitudinal nature to examine how individuals actually make the transition to mastery of decimal notation is encouraged by this study.
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    Another world like here : futures studies and early childhood education
    Page, Jane M (1963-) ( 1995)
    This thesis examines the discipline of futures studies and its potential for application in early childhood education. The need for an increased futures-orientation in education is established by a survey of the overwhelmingly negative commentaries of youths on the topic of the future. These comments, it is argued, point to a vacuum of understanding about the future which educators should seek to counterbalance. This task should be particularly emphasised by early childhood educators since they share a commitment to the central objective of laying foundations for life-long learning. Futures studies offers a useful methodology for this task. The thesis examines the major tenets of futures studies and its translation into primary and secondary educational settings. The applicability of futures studies to early childhood education is established by demonstrating the many principles which futures studies and early childhood education share in common. A futures-focused curriculum need not involve the educator in any radically new philosophical and educational frameworks. It, rather, provides a means of extending and re-articulating existing developmental objectives from the vantage point of new perspectives. The thesis resolves the issue of whether or not futures concerns are beyond the reach of four and five year olds by examining how pre-school children conceive time and the future. Young children are seen to possess many of the qualities which futures studies seek to re-instill in adults and older children. The educator should seek to capitalize on this by combining the positive aspects of children's innate perceptions of future time with the more abstract 'adult' understanding of time. A research project on pre-school children's attitudes towards the future sheds further light on their understandings of the future while also enabling their own opinions on the topic to be heard. The thesis then defines the principal objectives of a futures-focused curriculum and translates them into practical learning experiences. It concludes by exploring the implications of the findings contained in the thesis for early childhood education and by discussing some of the ways in which the educators themselves might come to terms with the issues articulated in this study.
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    An evaluation of a short, intensive mathematics program
    Nativ, Isaac ( 1999)
    This thesis evaluates a short intensive mathematics program for primary and secondary students that was conducted at the University of Melbourne in April 1997. The methodology of the evaluation can be described as action-research: a collaborative investigation where researchers, teachers and students cooperate in order to gain insights into a specific learning environment. This process is conducive to various improvement and modifications that the participants can apply to their respective practices. The primary aim of the thesis was to explore factors affecting the success of such programs and the learning which results. The findings suggest that while mathematical self-esteem is closely associated with mathematical achievement actual changes in mathematical self-esteem might not be easily detectable in programs of such short duration. The strength of the Program seemed to be the 'learning atmosphere' fostered by the instructors as well as in the choice of non-routine tasks. A possible weakness was the lack of clear focus regarding the pedagogical aims of the Program.
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    A comparative study of primary school social studies in three Australian states : Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, 1952-1975
    Reed, R. L (1943-) ( 1976)
    This study is concerned with the way in which Primary school Social Studies curricula have been revised, organized and developed from 1952 to 1975 in three Australian States - Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. As few commercially produced Social Studies courses, or indeed Social Studies units, have been forthcoming in these States, coverage in this thesis concentrates on those syllabus revisions which have been produced by Revision Committees organized by the respective Education Departments in these States. Underlying factors which have been instrumental in Social Studies revisions and their final outcome - a Social Studies Syllabus - have been analyzed by considering those constraints which form a part of the Curriculum Materials Analysis System (1967). The constituent six part cluster questions have been used in horizontal analysis to highlight features of Social Studies courses in the 1950's as compared to those of the 1960's, and the most significant changes which have occurred in the most current revisions. From courses which presented a high degree of uniformity in their emphasis on facts, social living and citizenship, have emerged State revisions which, though differing in format and degree of inclusiveness, reflect attributes commonly associated with 'new' Social Studies.
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    Implementation of recommended language teaching methods in Rajabhat primary schools : Thai teachers' perceptions of the new basic curriculum
    Thitivesa, Duangkamol ( 2008)
    This study is concerned with primary education reform at schools attached to Rajabhat Universities. A set of twelve language teaching approaches (methods) is suggested in the Thai Teacher Handbook for Foreign Language Teachers, as part of the reform in language teaching and learning at primary level. The approaches aim to develop the ability of language use for communication. Rajabhat schools are in the ideal position for the change implementation, due to schools' location on university campuses and administrative structures under the universities. The aim of the study was to probe the teachers' understanding and practice of the new approaches. Two research questions guided the study: 1 To what degree the teachers comprehend the suggested language teaching methods? 2 What are the teachers' perceptions of how they implement the suggested language teaching methods in classrooms? A mixed research method was employed to answer these questions. Questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were used for data collection. The two data sets are brought together by comparing and contrasting the findings, providing triangulation to enrich result interpretation. Data analysis reveals that the teachers have incorporated the suggested language teaching approaches and methods into classroom activities. They are willing to learn how the suggested approaches could be transformed into activities. However, activities students engaged in appeared to emphasize coverage of linguistic elements of target language and analysis of grammatical relationships of the elements. The emphasis on linguistics, rather than development of the ability to relate language form for functional use, derives from unclear understanding of the proposed approaches. Study findings provide evidence that knowledge and skill development for the usage of the methodological concepts of the suggested approaches could lead to the sustained change in language teaching and learning.