Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    A study of teachers' experiences of six years of laptop computers in the classrooms of a senior secondary school
    Nicholson, J. A ( 2000)
    This is the report of a study based on a Melbourne Secondary School looking at the use of laptop computers made by the staff in their teaching. Questionnaires were the instrument used to find a measure of the level of penetration and overall acceptance of laptop computers and computer technology by the Teaching Staff. The questionnaire was administered in 1997 and again in 1999. This study looks, with regard to the use of laptop computers by staff, at aspects of the teaching curriculum, administrative tasks and teaching at the classroom level over the two-year period 1997 to 1999. The questionnaire used is a `census' of all staff teaching at Years 9-12 where the laptop program is mandatory in a variety of study areas. The finding of this report is that the program at Goodlands Grammar has, at least in the short term, created a teaching environment that is still working within the traditional curriculum, using computers to achieve traditional outcomes. The computer has not, as yet, become integrated into the classroom program; rather it remains a complicated overlay to the existing curriculum.
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    Leadership and management in three exemplar non-government Australian Christian schools
    Twelves, James Bertrand ( 2000)
    The aim of this study was to identify some of the keys to the success of three non-government Protestant Christian schools, two parent controlled and one church sponsored. An expert panel nominated successful schools. Those with the greatest number of nominations were invited to become case studies. Qualitative methods of in-depth interviewing and document study were employed in each of the three schools. Eleven interviews were conducted, three chairpersons, three principals, three deputies, one school general manager and one sponsoring church general manager. The two research questions focused on a description of the current leadership and management practices and an understanding of the outcomes of the leadership and management in the lives of the students. These questions were developed into a conceptual framework that underpinned the study, namely that the leadership and management styles create distinctive structures in effective schools that in turn lead to the key attributes of success in the three Christian schools. The most significant findings of the research were that a collaborative leadership style dominated the organisations and that the school boards were now concentrating on governance and the implementation of a modified CEO model for their principals. Distinctive enrolment policies were being carefully implemented by committed Christian teachers whose contribution was regarded as the single most important factor that has led to the success of the schools. The teachers' primary objective was to see the lives of the students transformed, which was the central feature of the schools' dynamic vision. It is hoped that this study will be of value to anyone who wishes to see Christian schooling in Australia continue to succeed.
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    The effectiveness of roleplay in changing disadvantaged students' attitude to schooling and to themselves
    Salter, Ylana Rachelle ( 1994)
    This study sets out to examine the relationship between the development of language and social competence. It draws on the theories of language development proposed by Chomsky, Piaget's cognition development and the sociolinguistic notions of Bruner, Vygotsky and Labov. The educational context of the study is that imposed by the policies developed by the Victorian Ministry of Education which requires schools to provide an inclusive curriculum to meet the needs of all students. For many secondary schools, groups of students, especially those who are disadvantaged by social and emotional difficulties place a great demand upon the existing structures and their needs are unfulfilled. A review of relevant literature on social competence and roleplay was undertaken which indicated that a program of communication and roleplay activities may address the needs of these students. Therefore this study has sought to examine the impact of such activities on the level of social competence of a group of disadvantaged students who were aggressive, cynical, disruptive and not participating in school life. This study was undertaken in a mainstream school in the Western Region of metropolitan Melbourne. Students who participated were pretested to establish their attitudes towards the use of aggression and power, established authority and cynicism level. After participating in a program of communication activities and reflective roleplays the students were tested again to determine the level of attitudinal change. The key findings of this study demonstrated that significant attitudinal change occurred in the participants and that they considered themselves to be better able to understand why existing constraints were in place. The study also indicated that a program which utilises roleplay and implemented within the also found that there communication activities can existing school organisation. It also found that there is a need for change in teacher perception and school structure to accommodate students with social/emotional difficulties.
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    Children's perceptions of changes in families
    Ryan, Maureen ( 1991)
    The three studies reported in this thesis take as their subjects over one thousand "ordinary primary school children" from state primary schols in the western region of Melbourne. The sample has not been drawn using methods such as newspaper requests (Burns, 1980), from Parents without Partners groups (Kurdek and Siesky, 1978), from university towns (Franz and Mell, 1981) or through court records (Hess and Camara, 1979; Dunlop and Burns, 1988). The western region of Melbourne is socioeconomically and ethnically diverse and predicted to grow faster than most other areas of Melbourne in the next decades. In essence, these children are that future. Certainly, their perceptions of families and of changes in families will help to shape their own futures. Children have much to say about families as has been noted in studies by Ochiltree and Amato (1985) and Goodnow and Burns (1985). Children in Studies 1 and 2 in this thesis wrote eloquently and often with passion about families generally and about family changes specifically. Previous studies (Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, 1981; Silcock and Sadler, 1980; Wallerstein and Kelly, 1980; Riach, 1983; Ochiltree and Amato (1985) and Cooper (1986) have looked at children's perceptions of families. Some, like Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, (1981) and Cooper (1986) have drawn attention to gender differences; others, like Silcock and Sadler, (1980), to techniques employed in the collection of data. In addition, Selman and his colleagues (1979, 1980, 1986) have focussed on children's developing understanding of social relations. Selman's stages of development of social understanding, like those of Hoffman (1983) for empathy development are based on Piagetian stages of cognitive development. The present studies are an attempt to draw together around a single theme, children's perceptions of families, the impact of a range of techniques for data collection (as Silcock and Sadler, (1980) have suggested is appropriate) and consideration of age/stage differences as defined by Selman et al. Additionally, gender differences are investigated as suggested by Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg -Halton, (1981). In Study 1, a group of forty Grade 5/6 children completed a questionnaire, Children's Perceptions of Changes in Families. Subsequently, this group of forty was divided into a target and a control group. The target group of children took part in an eight week videotape/discussion program with family matters as content while the control group continued with general classroom activities. At the completion of this, children were presented with the responses they had prepared previously to the questionnaire and invited to change these in any way they considered appropriate. Analysis revealed that elaboration occurred in the responses of children in both target and control groups. Statistical analysis revealed very little in the way of differences between the responses made by those children who had taken part in the videotape/discussion program and those who had not. Coming out of this study, however, were gender differences and tendencies for children to describe parents in stereotypic roles which are reminescent of other larger studies (Goodnow and Burns, 1985; Cooper, 1986; Ochiltree and Amato, 1985). Girls, for example, expressed far more interest than boys in the experience of caring for a new baby; boys referred more than did girls to the fights likely to ensue should a new child come into the family. Father's movement from the children's home to live elsewhere was considered unhappy because of his loss as a playmate; in mother's case, it was her inability to continue caring for the children which was noted. Such patterns were revealed in the content analysis of the children's responses to the questionnaire. The children in this first study served as a window into the other studies reported in this thesis in that the researcher spent considerable time speaking with both groups through their two completions of the questionnaire and with the target group during the videotape/discussion program. In addition, statements made by these forty children were used as the basis of Study 3. In Studies 2 and 3, children prepared written responses to the tasks set them. In Study 3, 1118 Grade 3/4 and Grade 5/6 children drawn from twelve state primary schools in the western region of Melbourne were read statements by their teacher and invited, on one occasion, to indicate their thoughts about each statement and, on another, to indicate their feelings. The phrases from which children were invited to select in indicating their responses were based on the definition of problem and expression of feelings components of the Interpersonal Negotiation Strategies Model (Selman et al., 1986b) and were representative of levels of complexity of thought and feeling described in the model. Girls' marked superiority over boys in their choice of feeling responses representing higher levels of complexity was the most significant finding in this study. This finding coupled with findings from Study 2 that girls made significantly more references than boys in their descriptions of families to emotional aspects of families makes gender differences a powerful finding in the studies presented in the thesis. The emotional aspects of families to which girls referred significantly more often than boys in responses to the question, "What is a Family?" were love, care, sharing/belonging, understanding problems/talking. In contrast, boys and younger children (Grade 3/4) referred significantly more often than girls and older children (Grade 5/6) to family structure. The finding that older children made significantly more references than did the younger children to many aspects of families is not surprising and likely to be due to their general experience and superior verbal ability (Jacklin and Maccoby, 1983). The gender differences in the content analysis was reinforced in coding undertaken of children's responses according to levels based on Bruss-Saunders' levels (1978) of social understanding of parent-child relationships. Here, the descriptions written by Grade 5/6 girls were coded as representing highest levels of complexity and the descriptions written by Grade 3/4 boys as representing lowest levels of complexity. In the studies, levels of complexity of children's responses are considered according to theories of cognitive development. In addition, the influence of contextual factors on the thoughts and feelings children express about families are discussed. Questions about the relationship between these two are raised with regard to the capacity children acquire for coping in their present and future families.
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    Parent attitudes to an independent school
    Young, Gordon W ( 1986)
    This thesis examines the attitude of a large, random sample of parents of a single independent school in Melbourne. The School, Carey Baptist Grammar, became co-educational in 1978, partly in response to changes in enrolment patterns. A review of the literature considers trends in parent attitudes and enrolments in government and non-government schools. The present trend in favour of non-government schools in Victoria has important implications for a school such as Carey. The survey reported in this thesis examines the background of Carey Parents, their reasons for choosing Carey, their attitudes to the School's objectives, assessment of the School's performance and whether they believe they are receiving "value for money". A range of specific conclusions and recommendations are reached. The limitations of using the data from this survey for comparison with other schools is discussed.
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    The struggle to achieve : the Vietnamese experience of secondary schools in working class neighbourhoods of Melbourne, 1986
    Mundy, Kieran Graham ( 1990)
    Within the vast scope and complexity of the refugee experience this study deals with a simply defined, yet central issue to the settlement of young immigrants from Viet Nam in Australia. That is, the differing impact of personal factors preconditioning attitudes and values towards education, and school ecology on their educational trajectories and social destinations. To answer this question, the location occupied by this immigrant group within the school system was initially determined, and subsequently the influence of school organizational structure and classroom practice on educational performance in these settings was described and explained. Vietnamese pupils, their teachers and peers in 16 randomly selected government high schools in Victoria, and those persons responsible for the child's welfare in Australia provided rich and varied information for analysis. Detailed interpretation of this comprehensive data-base focused on one school representative of the wider sample. The study found that while educational trajectories and social destinations are largely controlled by the working class location Vietnamese youth occupy in the secondary school system, the impact of this setting is mediated by an exceptional determination, on their part, to escape the influence of multiple social factors which influence the outlooks and achievements of children, whoever they may be, who occupy these sites. Despite an heroic commitment by teachers in these schools and the determination of the Vietnamese to exploit, to the maximum, the limited opportunities available to them, the dependence of these young immigrants and their families on education for social advancement renders them vulnerable to failure. The study demonstrates, that despite the illusion of democratized educational theory and practice that these educational settings suggest, the reality is that educational conservative structures mitigate against social advancement. These institutional barriers, it is shown, operate on two levels. Firstly, the comprehensive curriculum plays a central role by disproportionately directing these young immigrants into the theoretical mathematics and physical sciences, a process consecrating them as an academic elite, while at the same time confirming the lowly position they occupy in the social hierarchy of their school and neighbourhood peers. Secondly, the study demonstrates how academic streaming is an aggravating circumstance coming on top of the other inequalities suffered by all children in these settings. Not only do the out-of-school activities of these young immigrants not support their curriculum placement, but teachers tend to misjudge Vietnamese classroom conformity as scholasticism, not passivity. Thus, rather than viewing this exceptional behaviour in working class settings as an indication of the struggle with which these young people have to cope, teacher definition of their school experience sees it as proof of an effective classroom process and of learning taking place. The study concludes that while the actual relationship that exists between the teachers and Vietnamese youth, and the schools they attend and the neighbourhoods these schools serve, remains unchanged, the price the Vietnamese have to pay for perceived scholasticism is loss of control of their immediate school experience and authorship of their own lives.
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    Making the transition : cultural reproduction in the market-place
    Roberts, D. A ( 1985)
    This work relates to the cultural, economic and behavioural characteristics of two groups of young people who have recently left school and, either embarked upon a career pathway via tertiary education or on to long-term unemployment. Theories of cultural reproduction and anomie were examined in an attempt to account for the pathways that the two groups had taken. Two anomalies were discovered; students from migrant or working-class backgrounds who were succeeding in higher education and some working class unemployed young people who were beginning the slide into the under class. Cultural reproduction theory was found not to exactly or accurately account for outcomes and life chances whereas anomie theory was found to be a reasonable explication for the state of malaise of a number of those young people interviewed.
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    The morning after : a novella based on a study of a drama performance exploring young people's views of teenage pregnancy
    Saunders, Carey ( 2004)
    This thesis is in two parts. Firstly I describe my research, which centred on a Drama performance devised for the 2002 Monash Schools Drama Festival. The performance project was coordinated by myself, as the school Drama teacher, and involved twelve students from Years 9 and 10. The performance focused on the theme of teenage pregnancy and explored some of the difficulties a young girl encounters when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. The story created for the performance project then became the basis for the second part of this thesis, a novella - 'The Morning After'. As a practitioner teacher-researcher, I collected data through interviews with my students and observations of their work in drama as they created the storyline and constructed the performance for the Monash Drama Festival. Through the process of discussion and improvisation, students revealed their perceptions, life experiences, questions and concerns around the issue of teenage pregnancy. These insights were reflected in the play and then this data was analyzed, organized into themes, interpreted and transformed into the novella - The Morning After'. This study reveals a need for more effective forums for discussing sex education and teenage relationships and pregnancy with young people in schools. The Morning After' aims to preserve the story at the heart of the students' play by offering it in fictional form to other young people.
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    How appropriate is appropriation : what understanding do students have of appropriation in the visual arts
    Taylor, Sandra Lizbeth ( 2002)
    This thesis explores how secondary students use and make meaning out of artworks using the technique of appropriation. Appropriation is compared to earlier modernist theories that advocated the new and unique and denigrated simple copying. Modernist theories are then compared to postmodern attitudes where appropriation is considered to be the visual expression of a pluralist society; a society in which imagery can be reworked and adapted to varied purposes. In contemporary society new technologies have also increased the ease and speed of access to and manipulation of imagery. However, in education this technique is often criticised for promoting the reworking of the past at the expense of creative, forward-looking development. A case study was undertaken to investigate the meanings a group of Year 10 students made of this technique. Video recordings and other observations were taken during a series of classes where the students had computer and Internet access. A variety of data was then collected and transcribed from these lessons. This was later analysed in terms of how the students had used appropriation, what results they had achieved and how they felt about related issues. These students provided a number of responses that were sorted into five separate categories. These groupings suggested that most students demonstrated a good understanding of appropriation and used a variety of techniques to obtain imagery. Although some students were critical of their own lack of originality, most students showed a strong interest in imagery that had personal significance. This suggests that appropriation had a role in assisting with development and allowing more inclusive curricula in this visual arts class.