Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Institutional influences on approaches to teaching within a flexible university : a cultural historical investigation
    Mulready, Pamela Anne ( 2010)
    This study investigated the teaching approaches of two business academics located within an Australian university developing its flexible teaching and learning practices over the past twenty years. The interview subjects are highly regarded educators with formative backgrounds in on-campus or off-campus distance teaching. Each has had a long professional relationship with the researcher in her centrally situated position's as an educational developer within the institution. A review of the student learning literature pertaining to teaching and learning approaches in the higher education sector over the last thirty years, shows that "teaching approaches" can influence "student learning approaches"(Ramsden, Paul 2003) and outcomes, (Biggs, J. 2003; Lizzio, Alf, Wilson, Keithia & Simons, Roland 2002) however "institutional influences" upon teaching approaches seems to be substantially overlooked. (Kernber & Kwan 2000) The academics were invited to participate in this study agreeing to retrospectively review and discuss their teaching in three progressive phases of their working history. They were invited to consider their teaching approach using the Approach to Teaching Inventory (Trigwell, Prosser et. al. 2005) in order to reflect upon their personal positioning (Harre September 2004), institutional practice and societal rhetoric in relation to an academic life in various periods of their teaching history. Discursive analysis has been undertaken of the resulting conversations guided by Cultural Historical Analysis Theory, (Vygotsky 1978, Engestrom 1987). This investigation reveals profound institutional influences on the approaches of teachers to their work. Influences on academic life have usually been studied independent of the Higher education teaching and learning literature. This study points to an urgent need to integrate these research interests to inform understanding of material transformative activity for policy makers in higher education.
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    Indigenous dual diagnosis capability: measuring policy effectiveness through a cultural proficiency lens
    Kenny, Pauline Anne ( 2013)
    Background: Recognising the inherent complexities associated with co-occurring alcohol and other drug (AOD) and mental health conditions (‘dual diagnosis’ or ‘comorbidity’), the National Comorbidity Project was introduced by the Commonwealth in 2000, which saw the union of the National Drug Strategy and the National Mental Health Strategy for the first time. The subsequent National Drug Strategy: Australia’s Integrated Framework 2004-2009 was heavily grounded in the promotion of dual capacity i.e. the ability for both AOD and mental health services to respond to those presenting with a dual diagnosis. A ‘No Wrong Door’ philosophy, referring to the provision of appropriate treatment services to presenting clients regardless of where they enter the treatment system, became the ‘push’ from the government as they introduced the National Comorbidity Initiative in 2007. Despite the significant over-representation of Indigenous Australians within our mental health and drug harms data, there is an obvious absence of a dialogue that includes Australia’s Indigenous population in the NCI. The NCI pays no attention to the need for the AOD and mental health workforces to ensure ‘culturally appropriate’ service provision to Indigenous service users. This study investigates the Australian states and territories own policy responses to Dual Diagnosis Capability, specifically as they relate to Indigenous service users. The study seeks to determine the extent to which these policies are culturally proficient. Methods: A systematic review was undertaken of the Australian state and territories that have dual diagnosis policies. In the absence of a national guideline for measuring cultural competence, the state and territory policies were examined and assessed through the lens of the Cultural Competence Continuum and a grading tool was designed specifically for this study modelled on the Dual Diagnosis Capability in Addiction Treatment (DDCAT) tool and the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) Aboriginal Cultural Competence Matrix. The Bridgman and Davis’ Policy Cycle was used as the ‘lens of good policy’. Results: Five Australian states’ and territories’ dual diagnosis documents were evaluated, the results showing very low levels of cultural proficiency. It is apparent that when viewed at a national level, there is little strength in Australia’s dual diagnosis policies from the perspective of how appropriately they reflect the needs of Indigenous Australians with a dual diagnosis. Conclusions: ‘Culturally competent’ service delivery requires particular characteristics as outlined in the Cultural Competence Continuum in order for policy-makers and services to start a process of shifting on this continuum. The results of the study demonstrate that the Australian policies examined do not have these characteristics. In their current form, these policies are not culturally proficient; rather, they are demonstrating attributes of cultural destructiveness, aversion, blindness, and overall cultural incompetence. Until Australian policy sets a directive for standards, not just guidelines, then it will remain difficult to measure true cultural competence in any organisation or larger service system. And arguably, the continued poor health status of Australia’s Indigenous population will ensue.
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    Exploring teacher perceptions of factors that impact on their relationships with students through the lens of mentalisation
    Nixon, Margaret ( 2013)
    The contribution of positive teacher-student relationships to student wellbeing and academic outcomes is widely accepted. These relationships are recognised as essential for developing students’ connectedness to school and engagement in learning. This study investigated the factors that teachers perceive as impacting on their relationships with students, and examined these factors through the lens of mentalisation. A qualitative investigation was undertaken in which eight participants were invited to reflect on their relationships with students. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, a focus group and researcher observation. Two key factors were identified: reflection on relationship experiences and the presence of a safe and supportive environment. Interwoven within each of these factors are the notions of reciprocity and resilience. The findings suggest that the capacity of teachers to develop healthy teacher-student relationships may be enhanced if they are provided with opportunities to make sense of their prior relationship experiences, and work within school cultures and structures that prioritise the value of relationships. This study suggests that teachers can assist students in developing their capacity to more fully participate in this model of relationship by providing students with a safe and supportive environment. The findings also highlight the reciprocal nature of the healthy teacher-student relationship as these relationships may in turn positively influence the teacher’s sense of wellbeing and increase their capacity to meet the challenges of the educational environment with resilience. Mentalisation theory, which incorporates and extends the notions of empathy and mindfulness, provided a valuable framework to examine and interpret the factors that impact on teacher-student relationships. This study has implications for pre-service training and teacher professional learning. Approaches that encourage reflection on the dynamics of relationships and the contribution of one’s own relationship experiences to one’s relationship with students may strengthen a teacher’s capacity to develop healthy relationships with students and may contribute to the teacher’s own sense of wellbeing.
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    The impact of literature circles on student engagement in middle years English
    CLARKE, LOREN ( 2013)
    This project investigated the connection between literature circles and student engagement in middle school English classes. This study shows that literature circles can cause increases in students' behavioural, emotional and cognitive engagement in reading, and English. It adds to existing local and international research into effective middle school pedagogies, student voice, and reading strategies.
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    Empowered parents: book reading practices of Indigenous parents coached in Conversational Reading techniques in Galiwin'ku - a case study
    Cooke, Jessie Louise ( 2013)
    This case study examines the program fidelity of the Conversational Reading element of the Abecedarian Approach Australia (3A) implemented in a remote Indigenous early learning and parenting setting. Program fidelity, in this instance, is measured by adherence to the core functional elements of the program itself, and its adaptability and usability in the unique context of a remote Indigenous community. The case study is set within the Families as First Teachers program in the remote Indigenous community of Galiwin’ku. The Families as First Teachers (FaFT) program is a Northern Territory Department of Education and Training (NT DET) initiative. Along with the primary goals outlined, the case study is intended to inform current practice of parent capacity building in the FaFT program. The study finds that the level of implementation of Conversational Reading is still in the developmental stage at Galiwin’ku. Furthermore, results indicate that a focus on one-on-one coaching might improve implementation by parents in community, particularly in relation to awareness and ability to use the techniques of Conversational Reading to scaffold learning. The study also finds that parent participants value Conversational Reading as something which supports their children’s early learning and development, and that Conversational Reading strategies are used to teach a variety of concepts, including culturally specific knowledge.
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    The role of school principals in implementing data led professional learning teams in Department of Education and Early Childhood Development schools, Victoria.
    Quan, Patricia Anne ( 2013)
    This investigation uses a case study of a Prep-12 college and its attempt to set up professional learning teams. The school is a Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) school based in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. The school in question had been part of a Regional initiative called the ‘Achievement Improvement Zones’ and also participated in the Assessment Learning Partnerships program between the University of Melbourne’s Assessment Research Centre and DEECD. The research was conducted by a participant observer employed by DEECD as a teaching and learning coach at the school. Twenty staff members were interviewed and their data was analysed thematically and compared with reports developed from school visits to professional learning teams in 2009. The role of the leadership team (mainly the principal) was the main focus in examining how the school developed professional learning teams. This was measured against the leadership domains developed by Thomas Sergiovanni (2004). The research concurred with his findings about the domains of leadership in suggesting that three domains (educational, technical and human) are the most important when setting up Professional Learning Teams. In the case of the school under study, the human leadership domain appeared to be the most important.
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    Equity and ELICOS: a case study
    Rampal, Ornella Teresa ( 2013)
    The notion of “equity” has long been a concern for educational systems around the world. However, little attention has been paid to equity in transnational education settings such as Australia’s international education industry and its ELICOS sector. This is despite their significance as major sectors of education. This mixed-method exploratory case study, situated in the critical research tradition, draws on secondary data (N = 425) from assessment records at an ELICOS institution, a survey (N = 28), teacher and student interviews and policy analysis, to unpack the construction of equity in ELICOS and to identify equity issues. In doing so, the extent to which there were differentiated and inequitable outcomes and experiences for different student groups at the case study site was investigated. The study found significantly differentiated academic outcomes between social groups at the case study site. While gender and age did not have a strong relationship with academic outcomes, differences between world region groups were highly significant in the majority of language skills. The student groups “Europe” and “Latin America” ranked the highest in speaking, reading and writing skills, while “Western Asia and Northern Africa” and “South Asia and Other Nationalities” predominantly ranked the lowest. In contrast to the disparities found in academic outcomes, only slight differences were found in the experiences of the student groups. In addition to disparate outcomes, assessment practices and limitations in meeting the needs of disparate-level classes were also identified as equity issues at the case study site. Drawing on a multiplicity of data sources, the study found that the notion of equity forms part of the assemblage of quality in ELICOS; however, policies such as the National ELICOS Standards (2011), the National Code (2007) and the case study site’s own polices, overlook the equity of outcomes and participation in their construction of quality, which consequently supports inequitable outcomes between different social groups to continue to exist and be obscured. The study argues that current constructions of equity in ELICOS may have significant ramifications for the equity of access to tertiary education, permanent residency and employment for ELICOS students and that it may be supporting the reproduction of social inequalities. Consequently, the study calls for ELICOS policy redress to promote the equity of outcomes and participation and it suggests avenues for research and theoretical development that are urgently needed to address equity and quality in international education.
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    Creating the conditions for rich teacher-led whole-class discussions
    Sing, Siew Hoon ( 2013)
    Teacher-led whole class discussion is an important pedagogical tool that is still widely used in classrooms today. This research analysed video recordings of four actual mathematics classrooms to look for segments where rich discussions in mathematics were taking place in order to understand how the teachers created the conditions for those rich discussions. By providing an empirical foundation for the construct of a ‘rich’ discussion, this research hopes to contribute towards greater understanding of the nature, enabling conditions and possible outcomes of a rich discussion. The findings of this research project suggest that teachers play a critical role in creating conditions favourable to the occurrence of rich discussions by their actions or non-actions towards student responses. It is hoped that the results of this research will contribute towards informing both teaching practice and programmes of teacher education.
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    Assessment and reporting mechanisms of Victorian bilingual programs
    CONG, CHAU ( 2013)
    In Victoria twelve primary schools offer bilingual programs and until recently, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) had not provided guidelines or mechanisms for the assessment and reporting of students in these programs. For years, bilingual teachers struggled to find ways to assess and report on the extensive language development that students often develop as a result of their bilingual learning. From 2011, a new bilingual assessment and reporting package aimed for bilingual programs was developed and its use in four bilingual schools was the focus of this research. This study investigated upon past and present practices in assessment and reporting in these four schools as well as the teachers’ and parents’ perspectives around this recently developed assessment and reporting tool. As such, the research explored the assessment and reporting challenges from four individual schools’ point of view, where four different languages were used as the medium of teaching. This study posed the following questions: • What are the characteristics of four long-established bilingual programs operating in four languages in four primary schools in Victoria? • How have four schools offering bilingual education programs, in four different languages, undertaken the assessment and reporting of their students? • To what extent does a newly developed assessment and reporting tool meet the needs of these schools in measuring students’ bilingual language achievement? The research adopted a qualitative methodological approach in which four parallel case studies of four bilingual programs were investigated. Each case study school involved two bilingual teachers and a number of bilingual parents. The parents were asked to complete a questionnaire on their perceptions of the new bilingual report, while the bilingual teachers were requested to complete the questionnaire as well as participate in an interview. The teachers disclosed the ways they collected language assessment data and their opinion on the newly developed bilingual assessment and reporting package. The research discovered that the four bilingual programs all offered immersion bilingual education that had strong focus on biliteracy in their methods of teaching. There was a balance between language proficiency and intercultural understanding as focuses of assessment in these bilingual programs. However, the teachers still questioned the validity of the newly developed bilingual assessment and reporting mechanisms as to whether they could truly reflect the students’ language outcomes and cultural knowledge. The study also revealed that bilingual teachers and parents had diverse attitudes toward the language achievement reporting methods in Victorian schools offering bilingual programs. The research recommended that bilingual education models that are demonstrated by the four case study schools can be replicated at other primary school settings, in Victoria as well as nationally. It also found that to assess language development in an authentic and broad-ranging way, bilingual or language teachers require ongoing and focussed professional development; and the language assessment framework for bilingually educated students needs further development to truly cater for Victorian bilingual programs. The research is significant and important in the area of language assessment for bilingually educated students. It revealed many language assessment and reporting experiences that will resonate for other teachers, principals and parents in many bilingual or language educational settings.
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    Informed consent for children in Saudi Arabia
    Alotabi, Hind Hammad ( 2012)
    Informed consent is considered an integral part of the ethical dimension of research, especially in educational research undertaken with children. The procedures and details of obtaining informed consent from children’s parents have received much scholarship in the field. This study aims at exploring the issue of obtaining informed consent for children in educational research in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The thesis proposes that that there is a gap in obtaining informed consent from parents of children involved in educational research in KSA. Data was collected through a questionnaire, which was completed by six participants who hold graduate degrees in education research. Results indicated that there were clear administrative processes undertaken by the participants to obtain permission to undertake research in early childhood settings, firstly from the Ministry of Education and then the principal of early childhood settings. There were no formal ethics guidelines, protocols, or processes discussed in relation to obtaining informed consent from children’s parents in KSA. Researchers who discussed informed consent from parents and children when conducting research on children were guided by their experience in the United States or the United Kingdom. This was the major reason behind choosing post-colonialism as a conceptual frame for the study. The point being stressed is that there is no harm in importing academic and research practices from the West as long as they do not contradict major religious and cultural practices— something that goes in line with Islam’s encouragement of gaining knowledge. Post-colonial theory supports a way to navigate western concepts of informed consent with KSA’s social and historical beliefs and practices. The study concludes by stressing the necessity of adopting the informed consent procedure in research conducted on children in KSA. The nature and details of this informed consent can be appropriated to fit the social and cultural realties of KSA. It is also recommended that further research be done in this field.