Faculty of Education - Theses

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    Teacher learning in a professional community
    O'Keefe, Brigid ( 1998)
    During recent years teacher appraisal has received increasing attention in educational research and literature. This study observed the development of a teacher appraisal program in a Victorian State Primary School and explored participants' understanding of appraisal processes designed for the purposes of improvement and accountability, and tracked the processes and outcomes. The overall purpose of this study was to investigate the opportunities for teacher learning and growth that these processes made available to teachers. A case study approach was chosen for the investigation with data collected from several sources. A primary source of information was five teachers with the remaining staff a secondary source. Data were collected through observations, interviews, written responses, written document analysis and participant observation. It was found that as a result of the appraisal processes, the school culture became more supportive of teacher learning and growth. Many factors contributed to the process of teacher development. These included supportive leadership and the importance of learning from ones peers. The management of the appraisal processes and the tensions that arose between the separate processes of appraisal are also discussed.
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    Teachers, change and integrated curriculum
    Murdoch, Kathleen Jane ( 1992)
    This study describes and analyses a process of change sought through a professional development program about integrated curriculum. A yearlong, school-based program was planned and carried out by the staff of one school in conjunction with the researcher who acted as an outside agent of change. The study had a number of purposes: (1) to explore the roles developed by an outside agent of change in assisting teachers' planning and teaching of integrated curriculum; (2) to examine the way in which teachers developed and changed in relation to integrated curriculum; and (3) to examine factors which appeared to facilitate the process of change towards the planning and implementation of integrated curriculum. The research design drew from ethnographic and action research methodologies and was based on a naturalistic paradigm. Several data sources were used. Extensive data were gathered from four teachers through interviews, written document analysis and participant observation. Three key informants including teachers and observers of the program provided additional data through interview. The remaining staff presented a third source of data through observation, written responses and self- evaluations. A detailed journal, kept by the researcher throughout the study, served a range of important functions including the diversification and triangulation of data. Final analysis of the data provided insight into the nature. of the role of the outside agent of change. In providing input, facilitating the process of change, responding to and challenging teachers, aspects of this role emerged as multidimensional and interdependent. Success in this role depended on a close understanding of individual teachers; the culture of the school; and the nature of integrated curriculum. Teacher change in relation to the implementation of integrated curriculum varied amongst individuals. Collectively, however, teachers developed a clearer conceptual framework in which to plan. They fine-tuned or re-examined their use of resources, selection of content and attention to children's prior and developing understandings. In facilitating the change process, integrated curriculum emerged as a powerful vehicle through which acknowledged characteristics of effective professional development could be fostered in a purposeful way.
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    Language and thinking in action: how one primary teacher supports her students to enact and articulate their thinking
    Lynch, Christine ( 2007)
    This study investigated how one teacher facilitates dialogue with and between primary-aged students, to assist their thinking, at a time when the introduction of a new curriculum in Victoria is placing explicit demands on teachers to meet rigorous standards in students' thinking. Its aim was to identify exploratory (Mercer 2002) or dialogic interactions (Wells 1999) in the context of problem-based or inquiry learning, so that educators will better understand how language-based techniques and prompts promote students' thinking and learning. A review of the current and relevant literature revealed that classroom-based research focusing on the relationship between language, thinking and learning as theorised by Lev Vygotsky and Michael Halliday, emphasises the important role of the teacher in challenging and extending students' thinking. A qualitative case study of the language generated by the teacher working mainly with a small group of her students was undertaken and discourse analytic techniques were applied to the data. The main findings of the study relate to (i) the teacher's use of some dialogic techniques that supported students' thinking and learning and (ii) alternatively the teacher's under-exploitation of teachable moments to fully promote students' thinking and learning using exploratory language.
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    Teachers and technology: experiences and perceptions of professional development
    Kingston, Adele ( 2001)
    This study investigated professional development to support teachers' use of information and communication technologies in one primary school setting. It explored teachers' attitudes and feelings towards information and communication technologies and their perceptions about professional development to support them in this area. The ways in which this group of teachers are currently utilising information and communication technologies to assist teaching and learning processes were also investigated. Current practice and professional development experiences were explored to discover links, and to investigate participants' perceptions of effective types of professional development to support their use of information and communication technologies. Other support such as access, technical assistance and support from management were also explored to discover their impact on teachers' use of information and communication technologies. An exploratory case study approach was taken and both qualitative and quantitative methods utilised to cater for the richness of the context. Data were collected from three sources; documents relating to professional development for information and communication technologies, a survey of teachers' technology skills and use, and a semi-structured interview. Data management and analysis were computer assisted. The study aimed to discover the types of professional development and the modes of presentation of this professional development that would be most effective in assisting this group of teachers with their use of information and communication technologies. This 'human dimension' is the key to appropriate use of technology, as illustrated by a working party for the Directorate of School Education: �The Working Party considers that attention should be directed to the human dimension, which promises to provide the key to more successful implementation of information technology in schools. It believes the issue should be addressed through structured professional development programs based on information technology and an understanding of such matters as learning, change and the factors that affect school culture.� Directorate of School Education, Victoria (1994, p. 2)
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    The attitudes of teaching college students to the role of primary teacher
    Hopkins, Brian ( 1978)
    The particular problem chosen here was one of 'normative consensus': to what extent were 150 second year students in the State College of Victoria at Geelong in agreement as to the forms of behaviour which could be regarded as appropriate when acting the role of primary teacher? More specifically in this case how much consensus was there regarding the role of the primary teacher in given situations as seen through the students' eyes, and as they perceived the college lecturers and the practising teachers to view this role? The students were asked to complete a set of four role-norm inventories developed by Foskett (1969). Each inventory contained 45 identical questions which examined four main areas of teaching, attitude to pupils (15 items) attitude to colleagues (10 items), attitude to parents (10 items) and 10 items concerning the teacher's attitude to the community. The students answered the inventories from four points of view: - R.N.I. 1 as they thought they ought to behave; R.N.I. 2 as they intended to behave when they began teaching; R.N.I. 3 as they thought the college lecturers would like them to behave and R.N.I. 4 as they thought practising teachers would behave. The norms and expectations were measured on a 5 point Likert-type scale. The data from the inventories were used to obtain the mean and standard deviation for each item. The means were then compared, item by item, to see if significant differences existed between the various role-setting at .01 level of significance. There was one item of significant difference between R.N.I 1 and R.N.I. 2, 12 between R.N.I. 1 and R.N.I. 3 and 21 between R.N.I. 1 and R.N.I. 4. The results indicated that students tended to identify with their college lecturers and to be opposed to the way they perceived teachers to behave, especially in the area of classroom interaction. Various weaknesses of the research methods employed were examined but nonetheless the evidence that the process of teacher training might serve to produce conflict between the novitiate teacher and the school was considered strong enough to warrant further investigation.
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    The structuring of school teaching careers: a study of state primary teacher participation in the Professional Recognition Program
    Edwards, Leona ( 1999)
    The Professional Recognition Program (PRP) was introduced to Victorian state school teachers as a new career structure during the early 1990s. The focus of this research project is one that looks at teachers' perceptions of the newly introduced PRP and career structuring. What are their views based on recent experiences? How well does the PRP meet their needs and aspirations? In order to explore this focus it was decided that the methodology of qualitative research, specifically the case study was appropriate. A single school site was chosen and permission gained from the principal, according to Department of Education requirements. Face-to-face interviewing was selected as a method that would achieve detailed and in-depth revelations. Five teachers who were currently experiencing the PRP were selected. The process involved the taperecording of interviews with each teacher, followed by transcription and analysis. The results consisted of a wealth of information showing an array of similar and contrasting perceptions held by the teachers. The most overwhelming reflection about the new PRP structure was in reference to the significant workload accompanying the new promotion positions. In fact this seemed to be the most significant deterrent for teachers seeking promotion. However, teamwork was seen by most participants to be promoted by the PRP because of the measures that had been put in place. The contingency factor of familial status, in particular the consideration of offspring, was found to influence career outlook. Both horizontal and vertical forms of mobility were valued but it appeared that family commitments were a determining factor over choice of mobility. This study showed support for the PRP, with advantages outweighing disadvantages. It is interesting to note that whilst the goals of the PRP were generally praised, the implementation process was questioned. Further studies that examine the effectiveness of selection criteria, processes of annual review and teacher workload may be of value. By examining such areas the positive features of career structures, such as the PRP, may be multiplied.
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    An investigation into one experienced mainstream classroom teacher's implementation of the early years literacy program
    Ciuffetelli, Patrizia Silla ( 2004)
    Within the last decade in Australia, there has been an increased commitment to improving literacy standards with subsequent focus towards enhancing literacy education in the early years of schooling. This has led to the development of classroom-based literacy programs designed to meet the needs of all learners, including ESL learners. The Early Years Literacy Program (EYLP), a Victorian literacy initiative, was developed and is currently used by early years educators in all Victorian Government Primary Schools as a resource to plan for a strategic and comprehensive approach to early literacy achievement in the first five years of schooling (DET 2002). The study reported in this thesis investigates how one experienced mainstream classroom teacher, who does not have ESL training or receive ESL support, caters for the needs of a group of ESL learners within the Early Years writing program. An aim of this study is to build on the existing limited body of scholarship and identify areas of future research concerning the ways in which the writing component of the EYLP can be implemented to cater for the learning needs of primary ESL learners. As such, this research investigation is significant as it specifically examines the implementation of the writing component of the EYLP and explores the needs of Year One and Two primary ESL learners who entered school with limited English. This is in contrast to recent research that has focussed attention primarily on the reading component of the EYLP and young ESL learners in the early years of schooling. This investigation adopts a case study approach that allows for an in-depth exploration of one mainstream classroom teacher's implementation of the writing component of the EYLP and the detailed investigation of the needs of a group of ESL learners. As part of this study, the mainstream classroom teacher's teaching practice was observed during ten one-hour writing sessions. Other sources of data included a semi- structured interview, stimulated recall notes and samples of ESL students' written texts produced over a ten week data collection period. The findings of the study suggest that while the teacher was able to identify her ESL students areas of weakness in relation to writing, and whilst she recognised some of her students' needs, she often struggled to cater fully and effectively for her ESL students' learning requirements within the daily one hour writing program of the EYLP.
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    Negotiating and enabling change in a primary school: identifying strategies that assist classroom teachers with the teaching and learning of science
    Carr, Helen ( 2006)
    The purpose of this research was to investigate strategies that assist classroom teachers with the teaching and learning of science. The researcher, a classroom teacher and science coordinator at Karingal Heights Primary School (KHPS), decided to conduct the study because of the researcher's desire to improve current practices at KHPS. The researcher's belief that, examining current practices, investigating alternatives and documenting what works for individual teachers are essential elements for successful teaching and learning. The methodology of action research was the most appropriate tool because it allowed for collaboration and reflection. The research period was ten months and involved classroom teachers at KHPS in a process of inquiry and. reflection. Classroom teachers became active participants in identifying strategies that assisted.them with the teaching and learning of science. Finding links to science across the curriculum led to a wider vision of what constituted science and resulted in more science happening at KHPS. Action Research became a strategy that promoted science teaching and learning because it provided classroom teachers with a focused process of investigation and reflection. What emerged was a broader view of science, linked more to the lives and interests of the school community and the conclusion that, although a variety of strategies assist classroom teachers with the teaching and learning of science, collaborative work practices emerged as the most valuable strategy for the classroom teachers at KHPS.
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    Policies in primary teacher training in Victoria 1850-1950
    Biddington, Ralph ( 1978)
    During the nineteenth century, Victoria adopted the British method of educating and training primary teachers for schools of the state. This apprenticeship based system lasted under a variety of guises (pupil teacher system, junior teacher system and student teacher system) until 1951, when it was replaced by a course of previous training at several state teachers' colleges. Most aspects of the system adopted from Britain were introduced in 1852, but they soon underwent a number of changes which made them more suitable for local needs. The supply aspect of the system dominated training because of re-occurring state financial crises. This was despite the vigorous criticisms of many professionals who emerged during and after several teachers' associations were formed between 1873 and 1886. Their criticisms gradually became much less superficial and much more directed at the system's underlying theoretical base. A significant element in the original pupil teacher system was the training institution (normal school) where the young apprentices received more advanced general and professional preparation. The training institutions in Victoria also offered previous training courses for students with some secondary education but with no experience as pupil teachers. Up to 1870, the institutions were affected by shortages of funds and serious denominational disputes, but then, a state funded secular training establishment developed and became the forerunner of the residential teachers' college erected near the University of Melbourne in 1888. These institutions contributed to the growth of a sense of professionalism amongst the colony's primary teachers. After 1900, successive ministers, faced with the opportunity of abolishing the apprenticeship based system, chose short term reforms rather than a system of previous training. However, after a long series of educational misjudgements and frustrations, due mainly to government economies, the moribund apprenticeship system of preparing primary teachers was concluded in 1951, and previous training introduced. Amongst the reasons for the abolition of the student teacher system were the strong political activities of such groups as the Education Reform Association, and the absence after 1948 of the cheap supply advantages the student teacher system and its predecessors had offered. For one hundred years the education authorities had maintained rigid control over the supply and training of its primary teachers. Hence, whenever one of the frequent supply or financial problems occurred, it was usually overcome by a government decision to increase the proportion of apprentices or by other temporary measures which paid little heed to any damage to the quality of the Service.
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    Beginning languages other than English (LOTE) primary teachers: their professional development needs
    Andreana, Concetta ( 1990)
    The study concentrates on the investigation of the professional development needs of beginning Languages Other Than English (LOTE) teachers in Victorian government primary schools. It seeks to formulate system responses which would meet those needs. The literature on the professional education of teachers makes distinctions between induction, training and professional development. During the induction phase a process of professional socialisation is entered into and is an important aspect of this phase. A questionnaire was developed to explore the professional development needs of these teachers from two perspectives: firstly, to define their needs and secondly to identify system responses which would meet those needs. The questionnaire, administered to all LOTE primary teachers currently employed in government schools achieved a response rate of 62%. The background data identify three types of beginning LOTE primary teachers who considered other LOTE teachers in the school, principals and LOTE consultants to be the major source of assistance for them in their first year. Highly supported and appreciated induction activities are: programs designed for the LOTE primary beginning teacher and the informal assistance given by other LOTE teachers at the school. In terms of the identification of professional development needs of LOTE teachers in their first year, responses indicate that the need for information took precedence over the need for opportunities for skill development. This reflects the difference between meeting short term and long term needs. Responses from the questionnaire enabled the development of a list of needs ranked in order of importance. This was then matched with the sources of assistance which were identified by respondents and a checklist was devised. The checklist attempts to guide those interested in the professional development of beginning LOTE primary teachers towards identifying their needs. It also highlights the importance, of a co-ordinated approach by both school-based and non-school-based personnel towards the professional education of beginning LOTE primary teachers.