Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

Permanent URI for this collection

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 537
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Teachers’ valuing of power distance and their perceptions of interdisciplinary collaboration in a STEM setting
    Yang, Yunying ( 2022)
    Teacher interdisciplinary collaboration (IC) is becoming increasingly important in school-based STEM projects. Understanding the significance of teachers’ power distance value (PDV) when they communicate and collaborate to develop new STEM lesson plans is a major focus of this study. During IC, teachers must build relationships not only with peers in diverse disciplines, but also with those in different positions of power. The ways in which teachers interpret the power disparity that exists within partnerships have received scant attention despite its importance to research on collaboration and teamwork, however. This study was carried out using a concurrent mixed-methods approach (Bell, 2016), which included a questionnaire survey study with a large sample of primary and secondary school teachers (N = 523), as well as a multiple case study with a team of different subject teachers (N = 7) at one upper secondary school, in China. The quantitative study found that teachers with relative low PDV (n = 281) had a perception that the outcomes of their IC were significantly more integrated than their counterparts, that is, teachers with relatively high PDV (n = 242). The finding suggests that teachers with low and high PDV (relatively) have divergent perceptions on whether or not the knowledge exchange amongst teachers improves the outcomes of integrating STEM subjects. The qualitative study delved deeper into how teachers understand power and power disparity in the context of China’s high power distance culture. The results show that teachers with relative high PDV had a preference for a hierarchical, distant working network, while teachers with relative low PDV had a preference for an interactive, joint working network. Future research and practice are needed to improve teachers’ understanding of IC that is sensitive to variations in PDV held by individuals so they can have a more productive experience when working together to achieve STEM integration.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Young children's transmediated semiosis with artworks in residence
    Wren, Julie ( 2022)
    This study investigated how six four-year-old children made meaning when engaged with adult- created paintings and sculptures (static, moving and sound-producing) created by nine professional artists. These prime-source artworks were chosen for their potential to resonate with the children’s predilections, as determined by their teachers and parents. The artworks were installed in five ‘residencies’ in the children’s classroom for a duration of one week each, across two preschool terms. The artists, located in the Perth regions of Western Australia, shared a context reflected in the artwork’s themes and artistic qualities, and which resonated with the children’s social-cultural experiences. Studies in art galleries/museums have shown the effectiveness of hands-on approaches to learning in which children were actively involved in thinking for themselves and constructing their own ideas (Piscitelli & Penfold, 2015). Hence, children were immersed in unique aesthetic experiences through ongoing, repeated viewings, and interpretations of the artworks. Qualitative case study methodology (Stake, 2010; Yin, 2018) was used to document children’s semiosis – how multimodal meaning was made across sign systems. Children generated and expanded meaning cyclically through multimodal representations and communications (Kress, 2010). Meaning-making was socially mediated and transmediated between children’s oral, visual and embodied modes while engaged with the artworks (Suhor, 1984). This study provided an opportunity for a unique collaboration between the teachers, parents (at home) and the researcher, where observations of the children’s activities provided different perspectives that were regularly discussed, probed, verified and documented. Children’s play- based activities in response to the artworks was captured through digital video recordings and researcher field notes, and children’s drawings, paintings and 3-D creations were photographed. Video and photography were transcribed, and data were reduced through indexing, summarising, and coded using QSR NVivo 12, from which themes emerged. The findings revealed the children’s repertoire of sign-making proclivities and encounters were multisensory activities of noticing and forming individual connections with the artworks. Opportunities to view the artworks repeatedly involved perezhivaniya–experiencing of an imagined, but nevertheless emotive struggle for meaning (Vygotsky, 1925/1971). Perezhivaniya were resolved through socially mediated activities such as the zone of proximal development - where the more expert children/adults supplemented and scaffolded other children, and where all individuals were involved in transmediation activities, often through play. The study highlighted the significance of focusing on children’s semiosis, transmediation and social mediation activities in learning and development.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    How Can We Teach/Learn Emotion Words and Complex Abstract Meanings? – A Relational A/r/tographic Conversation In-between Images and Words
    SAJADI, NEDASADAT ( 2022)
    This a/r/tographic doctoral research is a pedagogical, cultural, methodological, and theoretical dialogue between a written exegesis and an a/r/t exhibition. Together, this 50/50 dynamic responds to this research, serving as a contiguous outcome. As an Iranian a/r/tographer I invite the viewer/reader to follow and engage with multimodal discussions by moving in-between the two inter-connected spaces of words and visuals. In this rhizomatic research, I explore the dynamics in-between images and words in communicating the complexities of meaning that are affected by our experiences and, in turn, continuously affect our understandings. I ask, How and to what extent can a/r/tography as a living inquiry contribute to the learning of complex abstract concepts such as emotion words and inter-personal/cultural meanings? Through entangled artmaking/writing, this a/r/tographic inquiry calls attention to uncertainty, process, and knowledge in the making. It introduces Persian miniatures as culturally specific artworks to stimulate learning with the unfamiliar. The entanglement within this arts-based educational research, addresses the overlooked or less discussed gaps which often result from commonly practiced, linear, established, or result-focused systems. Therefore, it offers a chance to interrupt the expected and negotiate meanings through affect. The thesis forms two parts: a written exegesis and creative component. The creative component comprises narrative colour-pencil/B&W illustrations on paper, acrylic painted/collaged paper mache sculptures, prints, and images on foam boards and acetate sheets. The creative outcomes of the research were presented and captured through a physical exhibition held at The University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education, prior to completion, on 1 April 2022. This completion exhibition provided a space of reflection which led to the curation of a final virtual a/r/t exhibition. To create a living and accessible collection/exhibition, all creative works have been photographed, scanned (JPG files), or processed as 3D models and assigned an individual digital object identifier (DOI). These artworks are stored in an online open access repository, called Figshare, and within the Pedestal 3D digital data management platform. As a collective, these digitised artworks were housed and then recorded to an immersive virtual space inside Mozilla Hubs which constitutes the a/r/t exhibition contributing to 50 percent of this doctoral research.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Victoria's change-model to TAFE: Building a framework for tertiary education
    Riordan, Martin Gerard ( 2021)
    This thesis presents the findings of research into institutional change and how structural re-modelling of TAFEs in Victoria may be assessed as fit-for-purpose for institutions operating in tertiary education. Technical and Further Education (‘TAFE’) in Australia developed a distinctive identity during the twentieth century as a college network established by state and territory governments to deliver technical qualified training in skills that were identified as economically important to productivity. Yet institutional arrangements were not static: vocational education that was identified by the Commonwealth and implemented under states and territories, branded as TAFE colleges, grew to dominate Australia's cities and regions for skills training. Irrespective, subsequent Commonwealth policy directed a fundamentally different market-based micro-economic industry-led reform architecture. This involved the reorientation of vocational education in Australia to be funded and regulated under the auspice of micro-economic reform national policy, influenced with support from business lobby organisations managing the impact of industry restructuring with re-training and its costs, and meeting skill needs in a digitised economy. This institutional change triggered incremental transformation across Australia's complex federalism and shared institutional structures, and ultimately impacted TAFEs as state organisations. In the case of Victoria, which was promoted as the centre for national manufacturing, a challenge was not only the institutional implementation of required industry restructuring which had prospered for industry under formerly pre-competition policy protectionist regulation, but management of TAFE organisations under its control. The thesis is focused on empirical case studies which analyses three Victorian TAFEs that registered for higher education provision during these years; tracing the original legislative purpose for TAFE Institutes to better support wider community participation in higher level skills, how these arrangements transpired and their transparency, and the issue of sustainability. The methodology is examined under the lens of intra-organisational empirical case studies, referenced by conversations with organisational actors. The interviews were conducted with past and current TAFE senior executives whose job was to navigate through what became a dramatic period of change covering the decade 2009 to 2019, which heralded the change-over from years of fixed TAFE funding arrangements to open-market competitive vocational education funding. The thesis applies gradual change theoretical modelling to these TAFE Institutes, adopting an empirical research method that records the insights and reflections of that leadership through this change. This intra-organisational analysis seeks to explore the challenges of organisational leaders through changing institutional dynamics, and the extent (or otherwise) of strategic change modelling, while also reviewing outcomes including suitability of TAFE governance. The research question is to explore if, or to what extent, does the conceptual framework of gradual institutional change assist to explain (and model) the policy changes at the Victorian TAFEs during this change environment. The thesis contends this may be a viable framework that may enable predictive modelling of change for TVET institutions, as public and private sector organisations manage their sustainability in a broader competitive tertiary education sector.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Exploring Chinese international student conceptualisation and language use about wellbeing
    Huang, Lanxi ( 2022)
    A significant number of students at the higher education level study abroad for part or all their program. International students face various challenges in their studies, from academic structures that are different from their home country and language barriers to psychological and sociocultural issues. These challenges increase the risk for high levels of distress and physical and mental illness. Support for mental health and wellbeing is becoming a significant concern, with existing supports criticised for often being inadequate or inaccessible. As students’ academic performance and overall overseas experience are highly correlated with their mental health and wellbeing, it is important to identify strategies to better support international student mental health and wellbeing. This begins with the need to better understand how international students perceive, experience, and communicate about and for wellbeing. This thesis focuses on one international student population: Chinese students in Australia. Chinese international students constitute about one-third of all international students in Australia and face both language difficulties and cultural-based stigma towards seeking mental health and wellbeing support. The project includes three studies that explored lay conceptualisations of wellbeing and identified students’ language use about and for wellbeing, how students experience wellbeing, and their perspectives and preferences of activities that maintain and improve wellbeing for themselves and others. A modified prototype analysis approach was applied, which involved an online survey and semi-structured interviews. In the online survey, 123 participants created a list of wellbeing components, rated the listed wellbeing components and indicators, and wrote both high and low wellbeing narratives. Participants also freely reported activities that strengthen their wellbeing. To provide additional depth and understanding, a subset of 30 students was interviewed about their perceptions, language use, and experiences of wellbeing. Study 1 demonstrated that Chinese international students’ conceptualisations of wellbeing are prototypically structured, including several central and peripheral components, such as security, positive relationships, and self-strength. In Study 2, fifty-four meaningful words and phrases were identified that students used to communicate about and for wellbeing, including hobbies, passion, and family. Participants viewed physical illness, mental illness, and negative perspective/emotions as indicative of low wellbeing. Notably, perceptions varied when students wrote or spoke in English versus Chinese. In Study 3, participants indicated that a sense of competence, feeling supported and connected, and low levels of pressure contribute to their wellbeing, and that intrapersonal activities, like personal growth and development, were their primary approach to strengthening wellbeing. Through prototype analysis, thematic analysis, phenomenographic analysis, and language analysis, this dissertation comprehensively explores Chinese international student wellbeing conceptualisations, wellbeing language, and wellbeing experiences. In particular, the findings broaden the conceptualisations of wellbeing for the lay population of Chinese international students, offer a snapshot of the words/phrases used around wellbeing, identify the experiences and pathways that strengthen their wellbeing, and provide new data of population wellbeing through a holistic lens.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Supporting Teacher Practice in Early Childhood Science Education
    Guarrella, Cristina Maria Rosa ( 2022)
    References to the inclusion of science education in early childhood education are emerging in federal, state, and territory policy agendas. Although policy documents emphasise the importance of young children learning process skills typically associated with science, existing mandated frameworks do not explicitly refer to science. This has led to teachers seeking professional learning to better equip them to embed science within an informal curriculum. In response, the Northern Territory (NT) Government commissioned the development of the NT Preschool Science Games. The rollout of the resource in preschools across the NT provided the opportunity to conduct this intervention study. This research aimed to understand how to support teacher practice in early childhood science, with a specific focus on classroom quality, assessment, and playful learning during the implementation of the NT Preschool Science Games. Drawing on bioecological theory, a policy review of early childhood and science teaching learning policy documents is used to establish the broader context in which early childhood science is taught in Australia. A process skills approach to science teaching and learning is articulated, aligned with the emphasis on process skills identified in policy documents. Thereafter, a pilot study and intervention study are presented. The pilot study trialled two new instruments, the SciDoc and Early Childhood Science Padlet, along with a teacher questionnaire. These instruments were then refined and applied in the intervention study. Classroom observations were conducted to measure the quality of classroom interactions that contribute to child learning. Semistructured interviews identified teachers’ assessment practices, and the influences on these practices, during the implementation of the NT Preschool Science Games. Based on the findings, this research recommends the following supports for teacher practice in early childhood science education: 1. inclusion of science content alongside science process skills in the Early Years Learning Framework and all guiding documents; 2. professional learning to equip teachers to facilitate playful science learning; 3. learning progressions of science process skills; 4. implementation of the Assessment for Playful Learning model. Ultimately, when teachers are clear about what science learning is possible within playful experiences, they are better equipped to observe and assess children demonstrating what they know. This can inform authentic scaffolding and contingent planning for playful science teaching and learning.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Conceptualising and Measuring Wellbeing Literacy
    Hou, Hanchao ( 2022)
    Abstract This thesis aims to conceptualise and measure wellbeing literacy, an emergent concept regarding the capability of mindful language use about and for wellbeing. Wellbeing literacy has potential value to theory, measurement and practice in fields including wellbeing science, positive education, and public health. However, prior to this thesis, the concept of wellbeing literacy had not been operationalised or measured. A consensus on what wellbeing literacy is and how it is measured is essential for future research and practice using this concept. This thesis is comprised of three studies conceptualising and measuring wellbeing literacy for the first time. Specifically, Study 1 developed a parsimonious measure of wellbeing literacy, and used it to examine the nomological networks and incremental value of wellbeing literacy. Study 2 systematically reviewed the definitions of literacy, which were used to refine the concept of wellbeing literacy in the final study. Study 3 used a Delphi approach to gather experts’ opinions and adjusted the conceptualisation of wellbeing literacy accordingly. The findings from the overall thesis provided some of the first evidence that wellbeing literacy is a distinct construct from wellbeing and illbeing, and it also predicted significant unique variance in these constructs over and above established predictors, such as resilience and emotion regulation. Then an operational framework of wellbeing literacy was proposed based on the systematic review of literacy and refined according to 26 international experts’ feedback. This framework may be useful in developing other measurement tools of wellbeing literacy, including objective measures that do not rely on self-report. This PhD research makes an original contribution to the field of wellbeing science, positive education, and public health by clarifying what wellbeing literacy is and by conducting preliminary examinations of its use as a measurement tool. Future research could use the measure to explore the relationship between wellbeing and other key variables in wellbeing science, positive education, and public health. The operational framework could be applied in developing other measures of wellbeing literacy or education programs for wellbeing literacy.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The Beauty of a Complex Future: Redefining Teacher Success and Sustainability in Innovative Learning Environments
    Knock, Anne ( 2022)
    After an extensive career in education, this researcher has witnessed a re-imagining of the school experience for students and teachers, observing a shift from the traditional classroom to the innovative learning environment (ILE). Such socio-spatial contexts herald aspirations for sustained pedagogical innovation. This study explores professional change strategies, focussed on ILEs as teachers’ workplaces where teachers are co-located and work as a team. The theoretical foundation of this thesis is situated in complexity (Heylighen, Cilliers, & Gershenson, 2006). It recognises that navigating change in schools is not predictably causal-linear but likely to be iterative, negotiated, and abductive in nature. The research adopted a qualitative multi-methods approach. Firstly, an exploratory single case pilot project explored teacher practice change in ILEs. Next, a multiple case study focused on three schools with ILEs where teacher teams were perceived to have adapted successfully to a shared learning environment. Finally, a retrospective auto-ethnographic account narrated the researcher’s prior experiences of working with teachers in an innovative school. This study identified factors influencing the success and sustainability of workplace change, as experienced by teachers when they transition to working in ILEs. The findings have implications for teacher-teams and principals.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Identifying the nature and sources of L2 Chinese teachers' beliefs about how to motivate secondary school students in Australia: A Q methodology study
    Yuan, Chengwen ( 2022)
    In most Anglophone countries, the lack of motivation of students in the second language (L2) classroom has been recognised as one of the greatest challenges for L2 teachers; however, there have not been many studies addressing L2 teachers’ beliefs about the issue (Lamb, 2019). This study targets teachers who teach Chinese as an L2 for secondary school students in Victoria, Australia. Since Q methodology is a unique method to sort out people’s subjectivity and reveal the underlying complexity that gives rise to subjectivity, Q methodology is employed in this study to investigate the nature and source of L2 Chinese teachers’ beliefs about how to motivate their students. In this study, 25 teachers with diverse backgrounds were recruited as participants, and they were required to complete a Q sort containing 48 statements related to motivational strategies. After Q sorting, each participant also took part in an immediate post-sort interview. The qualitative data obtained from the post-sort interview enriched the descriptions of beliefs drawn from the Q sorts analysis and generated more insights into the sources of beliefs. From the analysis of the Q sorts, four recurring clusters of beliefs are identified, namely, subject-centred, student-centred, effort-promoting and competition-encouraging. All four factors of teachers realise that simply following the structure of any given textbook closely or teaching to the test are not suitable approaches in Australia. However, these teachers demonstrate different opinions on how to highlight students’ efforts, create a fun learning environment and empower students as partners in their learning. Teachers in all four factors are at various developmental stages adapting to contemporary Western pedagogy. No simple cause-and-effect relationship is found between L2 teachers’ beliefs and their native language background. With the data obtained from Q-sorting followed up by post-sort interviews, four clusters of beliefs are shown to have their unique routes of sources. These beliefs emerge from intricate relationships between their L2 learning experience, teacher education experience, teaching experience and their interpretation of the current teaching contexts. The person-in-context view of L2 learning motivation (Ushioda, 2009) and the history-in-person view of L2 investment (Darvin & Norton, 2021) are proved to be equally relevant to the research of L2 teachers’ beliefs. Following the person-in-context view, L2 teachers’ beliefs are closely related to the socio-cultural and socio-educational contexts. Following the history-in-person view, L2 teachers’ prior beliefs, especially those formed in their teacher education programs, are shown to have a greater impact on how they interpret their current teaching contexts. A better understanding of L2 Chinese teachers’ beliefs about how to motivate students can help teachers to better sustain students’ learning motivation. In addition, this research-based understanding of teachers’ beliefs can serve as the basis for L2 teacher educators to develop tailor-made teaching training programs, and professional development programs for teachers in the future.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Can you Hear Their Voices? Young Australians Speak of Their Social Aspirations
    Humphries, Anneleis Shahed ( 2022)
    Young people are both the promise and the guarantee of the future. How adults, communities, and institutions engage—or fail to engage—with young people shapes their attitudes and behaviours, and subsequently the character of future society. Yet we rarely ask young people about the kind of future society they want, and their felt capacity to reify that future. To understand young people's aspirations and how capable they feel to help their community, I undertook a series of workshops with young Australians aged 12 to 15. Participants demonstrated deep thinking about matters of social justice and well-being in relation to both close and distant others. The unique contribution to knowledge of this thesis is twofold. First, the findings highlight a correlation between the way students conceptualised equality, and social relations, the length of their participation in the research, and how capable they felt in reifying the social transformation they envisaged. Participants who saw the possibility of mutualism and cooperation, and engaged across multiple days, also expressed greater confidence in their capacity to be a positive influence in their communities; those who saw their world as characterised by selfishness, competition and individualism, and who participated in culture circles for only one day felt capable of influencing only themselves. Second, these findings would not have been possible without the unique conceptual frame drawn upon. Three theories provided insight into the relationship between participants' conception of the world and their conceptions of themselves. This theoretical framework, along with the findings, offers further evidence of the intimate connection between individuals and the world. Ideologies, hope, agency, and purpose contribute to young people's beliefs about the future and themselves. Futures literature considers how people imagine their future selves, with most reflecting positive personal futures and disintegrating social futures. Literature on community engagement, on the other hand, explores the various ways young people are contributing to their communities, and the potential outcomes of this engagement. Ongoing, systematic community engagement by young people, particularly in early adolescence, seems to be effective in building their individual capabilities at the same time they contribute to the wider community. The theoretical framework draws from three traditions. The first is equality as a quintessential aspect of social justice that supports our understanding of differences between individuals and groups, including systems of oppression which perpetuate existing inequalities. The second theory posits that a person's understanding of the world, informed by their interpretive frames, shapes their attitudes and behaviours. Finally, theories of critical pedagogy show how education can nurture more desirable ways of engaging with the world. Using Freirean culture circles as my research praxis, 81 students from three New South Wales (NSW) high schools were engaged in a series of workshops and surveys. The semi-structured workshops explored their ideals for their personal, local, national, and global futures, examining how students saw themselves contributing to its reification. Two key themes emerged: equality and social relations. In their discussions of equality, gender, race, sexuality, and income were matters of concern. Despite equality being a major theme, some students unknowingly exhibited attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate inequalities. In their discussions of social relations, they spoke about the relationship between individuals and groups. Their assumptions about people and society as either innately conflictual or mutualistic appeared to limit, shape, or create opportunities for themselves and their society. Following discussion about their ideal futures, students revealed their felt capabilities to reify these futures. Students shared the lines of action they felt able to follow, including engaging in social discourse, engaging with and building networks, educating themselves and others, creating a supportive environment, and practising virtues. Those who attended across multiple days expressed much stronger felt capabilities than those who attended for only one day. The findings highlight the importance of adolescents critically engaging in dialogue and meaningful social action. Considering adolescence only from age 15 onwards, as some do, may limit possibilities for social action initiatives, as well as the potential development of opportunities in young people. Younger adolescents also think about the world beyond themselves in meaningful and moral ways. Opportunities should be made available to these younger adolescents to nurture their burgeoning capabilities.