Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Refiguring sustainability education: Reckoning with relationships to place and Country on unceded urban Lands
    Belcher, Fiona Margaret ( 2021)
    Sustainability education is a dominant site for the production of ideas about place and Country. At the international level, Education for Sustainability broadly references social justice; however, place-based pedagogical frameworks neither stem from nor centralise Indigenous concerns and futures. Similarly, in the Australian National Curriculum, the Sustainability cross-curriculum priority is represented as commensurable with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, without the associated foregrounding of sovereign claims. At the same time, First Peoples of the place known as Melbourne have long storied possible futures in which invader/settlers take seriously the protocol of not harming Country. As a white invader/settler researcher, I respond to this tension between sustainability curriculum and sovereignty. This thesis investigates the possibility held in curriculum and its enactment; that of producing in a generation of young people specific ideas about their relationships and responsibilities to place and Country. This thesis is therefore grounded in the question, what relationships to place and Country are produced through the Sustainability cross-curriculum priority in secondary schools on the Country of the Kulin Nations? This thesis is an original contribution to knowledge about the ways white invader/settler logics are produced via sustainability praxis. In doing so, it contributes to a deepened understanding of the relationship between Education for Sustainability and Land education. While the field of Land education identifies place-based education as a site of possibility, this thesis contributes to an understanding of the specific ways these possibilities are delimited by the influence of the priorities and assumptions of Education for Sustainability frameworks on sustainability education practice in Victoria. By employing white possessive logics as a key conceptual framework, this thesis contributes to increasing the theoretical possibilities of Land education. This theoretical contribution enables further analysis of how patriarchal white sovereignty operates through sustainability education to produce incommensurable imaginings of not only the future, but of the past. Curriculum texts alongside secondary school and sustainability hub educators across Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung Country form the sites on which this thesis is located. My research findings emerge from analysis of the material and representational elements of sustainability education on these school grounds, revealed through walking interviews, go-along methods, photovoice, and policy analysis within a critical place inquiry approach. In this context, I find that sustainability education as represented in policy and curriculum reduces the concepts of place and Country to resources, framed by the problematisation of scarce environmental resources between nation states. This policy emphasis on resources is mirrored in classroom settings, whereby students’ relationships to displaced objects, such as single use waste, is framed through a moral lens. The final finding of this thesis is that educators’ impetus for sustainability praxis is for establishing an affective re-connection between students and place. This educational assumption of students’ disconnection amplifies an investment in cultivating an imagined return to love of place. The primary argument of this thesis is that white invader/settler benevolence is produced through sustainability education in secondary schools, while contested relationships to Country are disavowed. Sustainability education at the sites on the Country of the Kulin Nations produces two related affects that stem from the central concept of the environment. First, an investment in displaced objects is cultivated as a way for students to inhabit a moral subject position in relation to unceded Country. This thesis argues that the reduction of place and Country to resource relations enables moral positions to be assigned to consumer choices. As a result, students who choose keep cups and Boomerang Bags are able to inhabit not just an innocent but a moral subject position. Further, invader/settler relationships to place are rendered innocent, framed in terms of a depoliticised love. The depoliticisation of relationships to Country and emphasis on individual relationships to displaced moral objects work in tandem in an attempt to secure patriarchal white sovereignty. This thesis contributes to an understanding of the ways these two affects work in concert to produce benevolent settler subject positions, reinscribing postcolonising processes through sustainability praxis. The implications of this are significant and also Country-specific. In contrast to the language of resources, the affective enactment of Education for Sustainability on Kulin Country reveals the ways that students’ futures and histories are produced to actively deracialise relationships to Country. Such enactments work in an attempt to legitimise white invader/settler replacement of First Peoples across the past, present and future. Despite these attempts, the materiality of Country – such as the extractive histories revealed through landfill – continues to work against this attempted reinscription of relations.
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    Stories of language, culture and race from African Australian children, their caregivers, and educators
    Iser, Rose Mary ( 2021)
    This study responds to ongoing and highly racialised public and political debate surrounding young people from refugee backgrounds, in particular African backgrounds, in Australia. The study investigates how the languages and cultural backgrounds of second-generation African Australian students are understood by educators, students and their families at one primary school in inner-Melbourne. It builds on scholarship that, over many decades, has sought ways of conceptualising the languages and cultures of students who have been marginalised in monolingual classrooms. The application of theories of cultural capital and funds of knowledge in previous research has supported asset pedagogies that value the skills and knowledge brought to classrooms by students from marginalised communities. However, it is argued here that the application of these theories, and specifically their transformative potential, has been limited by the normalised devaluation of marginalised students’ ‘resources’. This study investigates existing arrangements and new possibilities for conceptualising the languages and cultural backgrounds of the African Australian participants. A tri-part theoretical lens employed critical race theory (Matsuda, Lawrence, Delgado, & Crenshaw, 1993), theories of plurilingualism and translanguaging (Garcia, Lin, & May, 2017), as well as the emerging concept of LangCrit (Crump, 2014) to explore racialised understandings of languages and cultures by the educators, caregivers and the children themselves. The theoretical framework was applied to expose racial inequality (Gillborn, 2005; Rowe, 2020), focus on languaging, or language practices that challenge the social and political construction of linguistic codes (Makoni & Pennycook, 2007), and identify how socially constructed categories connect race and language (Crump, 2014). Employing an interpretivist qualitative research design layered with a lens of critical inquiry, data were collected at one primary school in Melbourne that caters for a significant population of second-generation African Australian students. Three cohorts of participants contributed to the study providing multiple perspectives to address the research problem: the educators at the school, the second-generation African Australian children, and their caregivers, with community members providing additional insights and context. Data collection methods involved language portraits, recordings using Garage Band, and in-depth interviews of varying lengths with participants from each cohort. The results of this investigation support the usefulness of the theoretical framework, revealing how narratives reflecting raciolinguistic ideologies in a school are constructed and reinforced as stock stories by the educators. These stories perpetuate deficit beliefs about inferior language acquisition, and sideline home languages as irrelevant to in-school academic pursuits. The students, caregivers and community members’ alternative counter-stories both accept and reject these constructions and signal a profound gulf between school and home. The findings also contribute conceptualisations of language and culture that depart from transactional notions of resources, and the racialisation of languages in schools, and instead honour subjective experiences of languages, cultures and identity. The study reveals the persistence of monolingual approaches to language learning, noting the constrictive implications for students and caregivers, and urges the adoption of approaches to learning aligned with culturally sustaining pedagogy to support the multilingualism of second-generation African Australian students in Australia.
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    Space to act: Conceptual framework analysis of student agency within innovative learning environments
    Donaldson, Nicholas James ( 2021)
    The substantial societal shifts of the 21st century have supported the development and implementation of innovative learning environments (ILEs) and the endorsement of student agency within the field of education. There exists, however, a resonant gap in knowledge regarding the presence and properties of this learner quality within these teaching and learning spaces. This thesis addresses this gap by encapsulating the nature of student agency within ILEs through the qualitative methodological approach of conceptual framework analysis (Jabareen, 2009). Though limited by its theoretical focus and exploration of secondary data, the resultant framework offers a complex conceptualisation of the phenomenon of student agency within ILEs; its psychological antecedents, the environmental features that may support it, its characteristic actions, and its potential constructive contributions. Beyond establishing a foundational platform for future research, these findings also provide educators with the valuable knowledge and tools that allow them to more effectively understand, identify, and nurture this lauded learner quality within modern educational spaces.
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    Change leadership when implementing innovative learning environments
    Osborne, Mark Ian ( 2020)
    The educational architecture that has been built in New Zealand since 2011 has predominately been in the style of innovative learning environments (ILEs). While ILEs potentially offer teachers access to a wider range of teaching and learning approaches and more collaboration opportunities than traditional classrooms they also often require significant shifts in teacher practice to be successful. Leadership is often seen as an important factor in the successful implementation of such environments but there is very little research into the specific change leadership practices principals can employ to successfully transition their schools to ILEs. As part of the Australian Research Council-funded Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change project (ILETC) an analytic autoethnographic study was undertaken to identify the change leadership practices that are most likely to lead to a successful ILE implementation. A literature review was undertaken, the key findings from which were used to develop a conceptual framework. This framework was then used in a series of interactive interviews with New Zealand primary school principals to compare their personal experience (and those of the researcher) with change leadership principles in research literature. This joint sense-making was complemented by a range of other data sources including field notes, workshop artefacts, workshop transcripts, memories and recollections. Two ‘key informants’ (recognised experts in the field) were also used throughout the research process to support sense-making. The findings outline two sets of change leadership principles; a set that are important to uphold throughout the entire change process (persistent principles); and a set that are important (respectively) in the preparing, implementing and sustaining phases of a change (phase-dependent principles). These principles, when intelligently and sensitively applied by school leaders throughout the innovative learning environment implementation, will increase the likelihood a transition to ILEs will be successful, ultimately leading to improved learning and well-being outcomes for teachers and students.
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    Translating neuroscience and psychology into education: Towards a conceptual model for the Science of Learning
    Donoghue, Gregory Michael ( 2019)
    This thesis reports on an empirical comparison between disciplines of educational psychology and educational neuroscience. an integrated conceptual model for the emerging field of the Science of Learning that subsumes both disciplines. After developing a conceptual framework that divides educational phenomena into five discrete layers, and a translation schema, the thesis reports the results of a systematic review of 548 studies in the educational neuroscience literature. To compare this impact with that of Educational Psychology, the thesis reports on two empirical reviews of the educational psychology literature: first, a meta-analysis of 10 well-established learning strategies, and second a meta-synthesis of over 42 learning strategies and their moderators, which formed the basis of a proposed Model of Learning. Finally, the respective strengths and limitations of both disciplines formed the basis for an integrated conceptual model for human learning – the Pedagogical Primes Model for the Learning Sciences. This model provides a means by which all learning-related disciplines (including but not limited to neuroscience) can meaningfully communicate with each other, and in so doing enhance the valid translation of Science of Learning research into educational practice.
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    What drives schools to implement a successful change process that is more inclusive of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) students and staff?
    Moolman, Robert John ( 2019)
    Schools are rarely the spaces of fairness, kindness, inclusion and equality that some perceive them to be. At its heart, this work is one that considers how school leaders understand and react to the discrimination and oppression of lesbian, gay, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals within their environment and, more importantly, what drives engaged, visible school leaders to change these situations. The key research question that is going to be considered is; ‘What drives schools to implement a successful change process that is more inclusive of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) students and staff?’ Flowing from this question are the sub-questions - What is the role of school leadership? What is the role of teachers? What are the significant forces and factors that help or hinder the drive for change? This thesis utilises qualitative research and narrative inquiry using semi-structured interviews to collect data from participants at school sites in Victoria, Australia. The semi-structured interviews are analysed using critical theory, in order to understand motivations, actions and behaviours. Critical theory concepts such as power, oppression, culture, repressive tolerance and leading change have contributed to the analysis. The data chapters in the thesis first consider the broad, wide-ranging idea of culture and environment and how these impact LGBTQ change processes. There is a focus on visible leadership within school spaces and the ability to manage change in a difficult social environment. In the two final data chapters, there is a more detailed description of the factors that enable change and those that hinder it within schools. The conclusion draws together the findings from the data chapters in order to address the research questions. This thesis ends with a section considering the road ahead for LGBTQ inclusive practice. The underlying emphasis of this thesis is to understand what prompts school leadership to move from a position of wanting to do something for their LGBTQ community to overt action, with leaders engaging and driving the change process in a positive and affirming manner. There are schools in the State of Victoria that have adopted overt and clear LGBTQ-inclusive policies or programs, and this work illuminates the way they went about managing the process of implementing and running those policies and programs. The thesis investigates the point that exists between the expectations of diversity and inclusivity, documented by government and education authorities, and the eventual adoption and implementation of school policies or actions focusing on LGBTQ students and staff. The underlying purpose of doing this research is to inspire change within the schooling system and to document the path to success and its benefits. It is envisioned that the research will help schools and education authorities to drive more action in this space. This thesis will assist schools, facing the legal and increasingly social expectations for change and with the prerequisite tools and resources for change, to move beyond a hesitant position and into one of action, so that, one day, schools can indeed become spaces for fairness, kindness, equity, and inclusion.
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    What do 'at risk' boys say about their schooling experiences ? : creating agency for boys' views and feelings about school
    Ward, Michael ( 2008)
    The following discussion outlines the theory and operational methods that inform a general ethnographical study, designed to understand the views and perceptions of three 'at risk' boys relegated to a specialised Victorian state school. The methodology hopes to empower the male students taking part in the study by giving emphasis to the didactic importance of their views, opinions and experiences expressed during a series of interviews in which they participate. It is hoped that the boys will be able to identify areas of education that need improvement, and define real life problems within their own learning experiences, so genuine male learning dilemmas and insights are generated and debated in the research. However, Connell (1989, 1995) characterises boys as `inheritors of an all conquering hegemonic masculinity' and this classic feminist perspective seems to be preventing the evolution of a boys' paradigm in education by diverting attention away from boys' educational issues by asking `which girls' and 'which boys' are specifically disadvantaged. This generic ethnographical study attempts a pro-male research project which holds boy's views, opinions and experiences paramount in the research logic processes, and makes use of key foci descriptors conceptualised in recent government research and programmes to discover how young males experience and dialogue about their schooling lives.
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    Parent professional partnerships in IEP development : a case study of a MAPS process
    Morgan, Philippa Teresa ( 2007)
    The practices, language and behaviours which professionals adopt when they meet with parents prior to Individual Education Program (IEP) planning may have a significant effect on the attitudes and capabilities families bring to the educational setting. During this case study the adult family members of a child with additional needs were observed as they addressed the developmental and programming needs of their child by participating in the McGill Action Planning System (MAPS) and a subsequent Program Support Group (PSG) meeting. Themes indicating attitudes or perceptions that empowered the family towards continued participation in collaborative teams for IEP development emerged in the observational data and were defined through the methods of informant diaries and semi-structured interviews. Less dominant quantitative methods were used to verify that the participant's ongoing attitudes towards parent professional collaboration corroborated with the final themes of flexibility, unification, satisfaction and function.
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    The vertical curriculum meeting the needs of students of high intellectual potential
    Ryan, Maree J ( 2000)
    This pilot project investigated one Victorian Independent School's implementation of the vertical curriculum in Grades Five and Six in over a one-year period in 1998. The study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of the vertical curriculum model for students identified as intellectually Gifted, High (Gifted and Bright) and Mainstream (Average, Low Average and Low) students by reviewing the students' progress in mathematics. Using Progressive Achievement Tests in Mathematics at the beginning and end of the year the identified Gifted, Bright and Mainstream students' progress was monitored to track their mathematical development, consisting of - achievement or progress made. The cohort reviewed consisted of eighty eight students incorporating eleven identified intellectually Gifted students, thirty three Bright students and forty four Mainstream students, as identified by the Raven's Progressive Matrices. The findings indicated firstly that an advanced level of mathematical achievement was found for the identified Gifted students. Secondly, it was found that the vertical curriculum assisted the Mainstream students as they showed significant mathematical progress. The findings indicated that the vertical curriculum provided an equitable educational option for the identified intellectually Gifted, Bright and Mainstream students.
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    Paulo Freire : conscientization. the road to freedom
    Sabto, Gina (1938-) ( 1978)
    Freire's chief concern with regard to the oppressed in Brazil involved a view of education as a tool for social and political change. Conscientization is the - method by which he aimed to achieve change. His programme however, should be seen, not as an isolated effort to liberate the oppressed; it should be viewed in the context of other programmes that emerged in Brazil at the time. These were mainly inspired by radical Catholic action groups and characterised by the need to achieve the process of self-realisation along populist lines, that is without interference and indoctrination. Freire's programme came after exploring the traditional methods of adult literacy and rejecting them as bankrupt. His method involved a problematisation of the themes of the life of the oppressed and a representation of that problematic to them for their identification and critical analysis. This was achieved by means of dialogue and in the course of group meetings where co-ordinators and students held equal. status. Concurrently with dialogue, ABC literacy took place; words arising out of discussions of themes formed the basic material for the ABC course. Much depends on the co-ordinator for the success of the method. Generally Freire's critics focus their attention on him as a potentially manipulative agent and as such, no better than the cruel masters from whom he is attempting to rescue the oppressed. Freire's principles governing his theory and method however, are so clearly enunciated, so tightly knit together, that an internal unity emerges from the programme as a. whole, which in itself, acts as a deterrent to abuse and distortion. Finally, two questions arise from the study of Freire's conscientization: one is whether revolutionary action would naturally follow from it; the other is whether Freire's adherence to absolute authenticity is emphasised to the detriment of an essential aspect of the task, which is the mobilisation of the oppressed into an effective task force to bring about revolutionary change, Both questions are closely linked together. It may be more realistic to view Freirets programme, not as a task achieving revolutionary action itself, but as an effective preparation for it and as such an honest and therefore necessary part of it,