Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

Permanent URI for this collection

Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 15
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    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.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Pedagogical and cognitive usability in online learning
    Karvelas, Voula ( 2013)
    The last decade has seen a sharp – and necessary – increase in attention to the quality of eLearning which has expanded a relatively new area of usability specifically for online learning: pedagogical usability. This research focuses on the usability attributes that contribute to effective eLearning and delineates those pertinent to teaching (pedagogical usability) and those specific to learning (cognitive usability). A multifarious methodology provided the elicitation of data from almost all conceivable and feasible angles of the execution of eLearning in a real-world setting – the main positions being: the pedagogical considerations from the teacher-developers’ planning sessions through to the use of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) by students, as well as an in-depth usability inspection and evaluation of the Learning Management System (LMS) used as the tool for delivery. The project, in essence, put a microscope on the entire process of eLearning. The complementary use of twelve methods of data collection for rigorous triangulation provided a synergic framework that enabled the examination of each stage of eLearning. The analytical framework applied to the data comprised a complex integration of existing models and a specifically devised analytical model that assisted in the deconstruction of all the factors that contribute to pedagogical and cognitive usability. The study introduces the concept of cognitive usability as distinct from pedagogical usability on the grounds that certain features and contributing factors to VLEs are more teacher-driven (pedagogical) while others are more learner-consummated (cognitive). The study found that a VLE’s constitutional design is governed by teachers’ philosophies about teaching and learning and their teaching styles and repertoires which in turn are also governed by curriculum design; the teachers’ lack of techno-pedagogical skills coupled with the limitations of the eLearning platform hold an equally pivotal role in determining the VLE’s pedagogical usability. The study showed a strong relationship between the technical, pedagogical and cognitive usability of a VLE and found that using an LMS to create eLearning is fraught with problems that are rooted in the technical design of the LMS. Since LMSs are a mandatory feature in almost all educational institutions nowadays, the findings of this study are particularly important since so much research focuses on the use of eLearning without specifically addressing the software used to create it. While even a VLE with low techno-pedagogical usability can still facilitate learning outcomes, this study showed that approximately one third of VLE activity is ineffective due to poor LMS design which impacts on the VLE design, leading to low cognitive usability.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Strategies of policy steering: the transnational work of the OECD in education policy
    Wood, Bryan Matthew ( 2013)
    In his thesis, Bryan Wood examined the role the OECD now plays in steering education policies of its member states. He explored the strategies the OECD has developed to enhance its effectiveness, helping to reshape our understanding of teachers' work.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    A breath of fresh air: social marginalisation and wellbeing. Exploring an outdoor pedagogical approach to learning to promote self-esteem and engagement
    CUMMING, FIONA ( 2013)
    This study investigates an alternative outdoor learning strategy used to address issues of engagement and performance in a disadvantaged regional school in Western Australia. Through exploring the impact of such strategies we may gain an insight into the value of such approaches in promoting wellbeing and, in turn, education outcomes. Increasing cases of stress and other mental health related illnesses are a cause for national concern (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010). Interestingly the AIHW (2010) identifies marginalised Australians as a group at risk, having shorter life span than groups of greater economic advantage. Kappos (2007) among others (Maynard, 2007) also offers evidence, which suggests that the reduced contact children have with nature can be linked with a decline in physical, mental and social development. Maller et al. (2005) maintain that contact with nature can act as a vehicle to reduce the burden of mental health and promote mental and emotional wellbeing along with physical wellbeing. A qualitative methodology frames the study design, which used a case study method bounded by a single case school with a timeframe of a 10-week term. Examining a specific outdoor learning approach known as forest schools, the case study’s aim was to explore the impact of this program on self-esteem and engagement and consequently identify emergent themes. The study suggests to me that there is potential for such a program to impact on areas of engagement and self-esteem through group connectedness, belonging and social interactions. This can be particularly important for disadvantaged youth. It was difficult, however, to establish a transfer of benefits in a classroom setting context. Related research in this field and to this study also suggests there is a need for more local research over longer periods of time in order to best examine different contexts of locations and understandings more conclusively.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Educating the reflexive citizen: making a difference or entrenching difference?
    BLACK, ROSALYN ( 2012)
    Young people’s democratic participation is the focus of a growing body of education policies and practices. These purport to enable all young people to be reflexive citizens with the agency to direct their own lives as well as to ‘make a difference’ in ways that improve the democratic fabric of society. These purposes remain both remarkably resilient and under-examined. At an historical juncture when forms of democracy are changing but inequality remains rigidly entrenched, this lack of critique renders some young people particularly vulnerable to governance by educational agendas which have little to do with either democracy or agency. This thesis explores the ways in which young people are constructed as reflexive citizens through their schooling and what this means for young people who are subject to structural or socioeconomic inequalities. It investigates how Australian education policy constructs young people’s democratic participation and what discourses of ‘youth’ and ‘citizenship’ inform this construction as well as how this construction mediates the experience of participation for young people in two Victorian schools located in low socioeconomic communities. Methodologically, this thesis draws on a critical discourse analysis of recent Australian education policy as well as case research in two government secondary schools located in outer Melbourne and rural Victoria. Theoretically, it is grounded in education and youth sociology, drawing on concepts of governmentality, reflexive modernity and critical pedagogy. This thesis reveals the deep ambiguities that accompany some young people’s experience of participation as well as the contradictory forces that shape the practices of educators. It also offers some fresh ways of understanding the role of schools in enabling young people’s democratic participation as well as young people’s capacity to see themselves in enabling ways.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The millennial school: a theoretical basis for curriculum design in a time of educational transgression
    Mundy, Brian Roy (University of Melbourne, 2012)
    This study is an insider, practitioner, case study presented under a narrative framework, occurring within one well regarded and successful school in the western suburbs of Melbourne. It is a study about the relationship between theory, practice and values in a rapidly changing world, based on evidence from my own experience and belief. The thesis examines the changing nature and characteristics of curriculum design and development in a school at the beginning of the 21st century (2000 – 2009). It critically traces my journey as I develop a living curriculum theory of practice to describe the processes used to produce and implement a more holistic curriculum relevant to education today. It describes and analyses the conceptual models and tools used to design, develop and implement that curriculum. The research reflects significant global changes within a local setting. In particular the move to personalization of curriculum, the inclusion of the ‘thinking curriculum’ and a more holistic approach is explored. This has resulted in the development of a learning ‘lattice’ as a model of curriculum along with a number of curriculum design tools. A detailed narrative approach is taken to the transition from one paradigm to the next in what I describe as an educational ‘transgression’ (in the geological sense). The narrative is essentially a single case study organised chronologically into 6 years exploring different elements of this dramatic transition. Extensive use is made of diagrams to both present data and show developing ideas. Future scenarios are also used to explore the directions of the transgression. In this study a ‘living educational theory’ (Whitehead 1989, 1993, McNiff and Whitehead 2005) leads to a ‘living curriculum theory’ for contemporary Australian schools which allows teachers and students to maximise planning and learning in an increasingly complex educational environment in which they face ever growing demands. 21st century curriculum planning characteristics are identified and incorporated into an appropriate curriculum model. A rigorous and systematic approach to sustaining this model is also described. Teachers are seen as designers of curriculum rather than mere implementers. The value of this type of insider practitioner, narrative research is also endorsed.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Creating Indigenous futures: using applied theatre to construct a participatory creative space for Indigenous Australian young people
    Blight, Rosemary Joan ( 2012)
    This thesis investigates the use of applied theatre with disadvantaged Indigenous Australian young people. It examines the characteristics, challenges and opportunities of using applied theatre practices with Indigenous young people in an Indigenous community setting. The research considers the relationship between the fields of applied theatre, participatory forms of qualitative research and Indigenous research. The research responds to the low attendance and engagement of Indigenous young people in education in Australia. Poor rates of school completion combined with high rates of imprisonment means that at least half the Indigenous young people in Australia are underachieving, and are at risk of a future characterized by extreme disadvantage and disconnection from the mainstream. This research began as broad concern with how to reconnect disaffected Indigenous young people with education. Subsequently the research question was reframed as: how can applied theatre be used in the construction of a participatory creative space for Indigenous Australian young people? The study began as an invitation from Nungalinya College in Darwin to the researcher, a non-Indigenous teaching artist experienced in intercultural drama and theatre. Adopting a reflective practitioner stance the researcher explored the central role of applied theatre in building Indigenous young people’s engagement with culturally appropriate creative practices. The study consisted of three applied theatre projects conducted over three years. The first was a one-week Pilot Project in 2006. The second was a five-week intensive program conducted in 2007; the third was two weeks in 2008. The research was a partnership between Trinity College, the researcher-practitioner, who was employed at Trinity College, and Nungalinya College Youth Program. Contact was maintained between the three projects. The researcher became immersed in a new and unfamiliar cultural, social, political and environmental space in order to try to understand the lived realities of the young people. The development of deeper understanding by the researcher of Indigenous perspectives on partnerships, relationships, and cultural safety facilitated the young people’s participation. The researcher found it necessary to adapt applied theatre to incorporate the making of short films as a medium of storytelling and as an initiative of the young people. The building of conditions for participation required complex and sensitive relationships, which evolved through negotiation and collaboration. In a newly constructed creative space the young people had the opportunity to build new narratives to move beyond their habitual patterns and to imagine a different future. As a result of this research, a model for partnerships and for participation is proposed. The researcher identified a range of modes of participation in the creative space and these were subsequently characterized as a continuum from Peripheral to Marginal to Embodied to Active Participation.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Musical futures in the primary (elementary) years
    McLennan, Rebecca Louise ( 2012)
    Music is an important part of young people’s lives for self-expression, enjoyment and identity formation, and it is vital that school music is able to engage all young people. A music classroom approach, Musical Futures has been found to have a positive impact on the re- engagement of young people at the secondary level (Hallam, Creech, & McQueen, 2009, 2011; Jeanneret, 2010; Jeanneret, McLennan, & Stevens-Ballenger, 2011). Years Five and Six (10-12 year olds) are grouped into the middle years of Five to Nine (10 – 15 year olds) who share common engagement needs. This study explored whether Musical Futures could have a similarly positive impact in the upper primary years as it has had in the lower secondary level. The research was a collective case study following two Australian schools which used the Musical Futures approach to music education in Years Five and Six. The study used a mixed methods approach including interviews, focus group discussions, observations and surveys to gather data. The results of the study found that Musical Futures had a positive impact on students’ engagement, musical skills and knowledge and social learning in the two case study schools. The conditions supporting the positive impact were closely aligned with principles of engaging middle years students. The study provided a number of key recommendations for schools considering implementing Musical Futures in the primary years. While it acknowledged that each case is different, the study suggested that the age of primary students should not discourage teachers from using this learning approach in their music classroom.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    The map is not the territory: reconsidering music improvisation education
    Wallace, Michael Edmund ( 2012)
    This paper examines contemporary theory on music improvisation learning and teaching. It highlights how music improvisation education is being reconsidered, and the implications of this reconsideration for academic practice. The aim of the research is to emancipate. In this sense the topic engages critical theory to evaluate literature so as to provide a way forward for music improvisation education. The inductive document analysis undertaken examines a variety of document forms to seek recurring themes and thematic relationships. This qualitative investigation is framed by ecological systems theory/methodology (Borgo, 2007; Clarke, 2005), which sees knowledge as embodied, situated and distributed. Music education centres on the performance of repertoire, often neglecting the creative processes of improvisation and composition. This study finds the dominant improvisation education methods which stem from jazz as limited in scope. Jazz improvisation education commonly centres on patterns and models and a harmonic imperative (chord–scale theory). Such approaches do not holistically embrace the immediacy, preparation, embodiment and social interaction of the improvisation process, which ecological systems theory seeks to acknowledge. In a broader setting, the Dalcroze, Kodály and Orff early childhood methods centre on improvisation as play, perhaps reflecting Piaget’s concrete operational stage. Subsequent levels of music education, perhaps viewing play as immature, neglect the embodied, situated and distributed elements of ecological improvisation. Paynter and Schafer, through their Cagean prioritisation of critical listening, exhibit some elements of ecological systems thinking. I conclude that the educational methods utilised by free improvisers, such as Stevens, Dove, Dresser and Bennink, engage the learner holistically through embodied, situated and distributed practice. It is recommended that such educational methods, which involve community practice, be introduced into music academies to reflect the ecological nature of improvisation.
  • Item
    Thumbnail Image
    Job seekers, traps, and Mickey-Mouse training
    Davis, Sarah Margaret ( 2012)
    Students have become commodities in a new market-driven Australian training system and according to the literature, increasingly subject to poor quality training. Some courses have not been adequate or appropriate for the learning needs of the students, nor industry requirements, and therefore flout the policy goal of a skilled workforce. This thesis aims to explore pathways to employment for African migrant women who undertook a Certificate III course in aged care, but remained unemployed in an area of apparent ‘skills shortage’. Utilising an ethnographic methodology, a small sample of migrant women graduates of aged care Certificate III courses participated in the study – some had been successful and others unsuccessful in obtaining employment in the field. A small sample of aged care team leaders were also interviewed. Sub-standard training qualifications were identified by participants as the biggest barrier to employment. Research findings suggest that fast-tracked, private for-profit training provision is likely to be of poor quality in comparison to public not-for-profit training provision. Findings also indicate that agents of various guises, often with conflicts of interest, have been recruiting students with apparent insufficient and even misleading information about courses. For the long-term benefit of society and the economy, a recognition of the role of well-resourced and funded public training institutions is recommended. If government continues to enable competition for funding between private and public training providers, adequate measures need to be in place to ensure more responsible disbursement of government funds in the training sector. Training providers need to be adequately checked before funds are allocated to them; including for their capabilities such as student support services, partnerships and track record of employment outcomes, but not overly audited and monitored so that professional accountability innovation and quality are stifled. Consumers need to be informed, protected and have bargaining power to be able to compete with the demands of large corporations and international markets. A Labour Market Entry Model (LMEM) is proposed that is a three pronged approach, managed and informed by an ethical local governance structure, of i) policies for quality training ii) career pathway information and iii) work creation for target labour, such as the migrant women, to overcome some of the barriers that they may face and to strategically reduce poverty and related issues in localities where there are concentrations of disadvantage. Until policies and resources are better directed towards a LMEM, partnerships of local agencies should enable residents and employer brokers to clarify career interests and aptitudes along with labour market entry requirements of local employers. They should also raise awareness on how to select a quality training course and determine which training providers and courses should be accepted into community spaces.