Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Investigating the student experience of internationalization at an Australian university
    Marangell, Samantha ( 2020)
    This thesis explores the student experience of an internationalized Australian university through the lens of Internationalization at Home (IaH) practices. Over the last quarter of a century, Australian universities have adapted to an increasingly globalized world by implementing comprehensive internationalization strategies that make the universities more desirable to and more applicable within a global society. A substantial portion of these strategies depend on student-centered actions and activities, such as students interacting with and learning from peers from diverse backgrounds. However, the implementation and effectiveness of these IaH strategies have faced consistent challenges, including negative responses among the student body: resentment towards peers, a lack of intercultural interaction, and consistent frustration with multicultural groupwork. As students’ responses pose some of the key challenges to IaH, understanding students’ experiences of IaH practices would offer helpful insight into how to move forward with IaH. However, research into how students experience an internationalized university is limited, despite the significant role students play in the implementation and success of IaH practices. There is a particular lack of understanding around domestic students’ conceptualizations and experiences of internationalized universities, even though they comprise the majority of the Australian university student population. This thesis aims to provide better understanding of the challenges facing IaH aims by investigating students’ experience of an internationalized university, incorporating both international and domestic students’ experiences. The research study presented in this thesis is guided by the main research question, “What influences students’ experience of an internationalized university?” The study adopts a single-institution case study methodology, and three different faculties within the institution are included to consider different teaching contexts and student populations. A mixed-methods approach is taken, and data are collected through an electronic student survey, one-on-one student interviews, interviews with the heads of each of the three bachelor’s programs, and analysis of university website messaging about the student experience. Findings suggest that students’ experience is influenced primarily by a misalignment between their conceptualizations and expectations of an internationalized university on one hand and their experiences of that internationalized university on the other. Students expect that an internationalized university will offer frequent, natural interaction, often in the form of intercultural interaction with peers or in-class discussion; yet, they do not often find this to be true. This thesis argues for a reframing of the role of interpersonal interaction in shaping students’ internationalized university experience, primarily because it predominates students’ conceptualizations and expectations of an internationalized university. The thesis further argues that such misalignment may partially explain students’ resistance to certain IaH practices. It is thereby proposed that incorporating more interpersonal and intercultural interaction into the formal curriculum and reducing structural barriers to interaction would improve students’ experience of internationalized universities and better support the aims of IaH.
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    ‘Seidauk sai hanesan ami nia mehi’: a study of lecturers’ responses to multilingualism in higher education in Timor-Leste
    Newman, Trent Phillip ( 2019)
    This research is aimed at understanding multilingualism in locally situated institutional contexts in higher education in Timor-Leste. Particular attention is paid to the language planning and workforce development roles played by tertiary educators in the context of postcolonial, social and economic development. This is done through a close study of the beliefs and practices of lecturers teaching in professional fields relevant to the national development of Timor-Leste: agriculture, petroleum, tourism and community development. Guiding research questions focus on these lecturers’ conceptualisations of the communication skills and resources needed by their students for study and work in their respective industries, as well as on their multilingual teaching practices and communication strategies with students. Findings are drawn from empirical data gathered ethnographically from focus groups, interviews and class observations conducted with lecturers from three institutions, one public and two private. A combination of fine-grained sociolinguistic and discourse analysis reveals spectacular diversity in the locally valued and enacted forms and arrangements of multilingualism in these higher education spaces in Timor-Leste. The results of this research detail the specificities of this variation at multiple sociolinguistic scales of analysis: the different industry areas case-studied, the different faculties, departments and institutions where data was collected, and the classrooms of different individual lecturers. Different ‘visions of industry’ are productive of different beliefs about the communicative worlds into which graduates will be entering. Different beliefs about the relative affordances and constraints of the four official and working languages of Timor-Leste (Tetun, Portuguese, English and Indonesian) are productive of different perspectives on the preparedness of students for tertiary study. Lecturers’ own unique plurilingual repertoires, borne of individual educational and biographical trajectories, combined with the material constraints of available teaching and learning resources, limit the multilingual communication possibilities in classrooms. There are, however, powerful examples of lecturers’ significant creative and agentive abilities towards the transfer of expert knowledge in and through a mixture of semiotic forms. This study thus highlights both the hugely challenging position in which lecturers in higher education in Timor-Leste are placed – at the meeting point of diverse and often conflicting pressures – and their role as change agents in the discursive construction of multilingual communication for different fields. Lecturers’ beliefs and practices with regard to multilingual communication are demonstrated to be influenced by a range of competing pragmatic considerations and discursive forces, as well as being themselves productive of particular norms of professional and vocational communication and particular constructions of expert knowledge. Implications of the findings of this study are considered for policy-makers working in language and higher education in Timor-Leste, for those working in workforce development, and for teachers in academic literacies and language support programs in tertiary settings in developing, multilingual contexts.
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    Tertiary music education and musicians' careers
    Hillman, Jenni Anne ( 2018)
    Australian tertiary institutions offer many courses for musicians intent on working in the music industry. There has been, however, limited research into how these courses from different providers contribute to musicians’ careers. The rationale for conducting this research was to provide insights to educators on how they might design courses to meet better the needs of musicians preparing to work in the music industry. A review of the literature highlighted the concerns of educators and academics about the balance in curriculum emphasis between musical expertise and industry practice. This study examined the merits of different pedagogical paradigms through the experiences of graduates from different tertiary music offerings. Using a mixed methods approach and a descriptive, interpretive research design, this study explored the experience of tertiary music graduates and how their learning contributed to establishing their music careers. Data were analysed around three themes, (1) the characteristics of music portfolio careers, (2) tertiary music education experiences and graduate outcomes, and (3) the ongoing professional development needs of musicians for sustaining a music career. The findings demonstrate the formidable challenges of working in a music portfolio career including the self- management of a career in a precarious employment market. Such careers required a mix of work realms such as music practice, teaching and entrepreneurial activities to generate new work. Consequently, career trajectories were found to be necessarily circuitous and “messy” but there is evidence that tertiary music education is a significant intervention in the continuum of learning for a musician’s career. It is argued that there are five broad categories of proficiencies that are required first to establish and then sustain a music career. The pedagogies and course emphases from different tertiary music providers in the Australian state of Victoria contributed in different ways towards musicians’ careers. Furthermore, there were some shortcomings in requisite proficiencies which suggest the potential for further curricular development. This potential lay in both undergraduate courses to better prepare musicians for starting out in their careers, and post-graduate courses to provide further development for the sustainability of musicians’ careers.
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    Governing universities for the knowledge society
    Barry, Damian ( 2018)
    Australia’s higher education system, and its public universities, have been subject to significant external and internal challenges and changes over the past half century or more. Changes in the external environment for higher education are seen in the rapid expansion in access (“massification”), the growth and infiltration off information and communications technologies (primarily the creation of the internet) and globalisation, to name a few. At the same time, the concept of national higher education systems has emerged across the western world creating a new aspect to the consideration of higher education. The combination of changes and trends have irreversibly changed the role and operations of universities. A key governance change has been the introduction of the New Public Management (NPM) paradigm that implemented a new approach by governments to the governance, development and delivery of public services (including higher education) and pushing the provision of those services towards a more market-based and networked approach. The external environmental changes have moved higher education from the societal and economic periphery to now being the centre of a workforce, social and economic development engine and a more market-oriented education service provider. During this period, higher education in Australia has completed a regulation and funding transition from being mainly state based, to now being substantially a national government funded, driven and regulated activity. Despite these significant changes the governance arrangements of Australia’s public universities have remained substantially unchanged. It is contended that higher education in Australia has reached a point where the current approaches to governance are no longer fit for purpose. Much of the research on higher education governance has focussed on issues relating to the loss of power and engagement of academe; the impact of the market-oriented approach on academic work; power within universities; values and culture. It has been summarised as the rise of managerialism. However, very little research has addressed the fundamentals of the governance arrangements. The research has assumed the structures remain relatively unchanged and has not questioned their current utility or efficacy. In this Thesis I seek to address that gap in the research. Using a mixed methods approach combining a detailed literature review, conceptual analysis and interviews with Australia’s higher education leaders, I identify the key challenges facing the governance of Australia’s higher education system and public universities, and then develop a set of proposals to transition the current approaches to a more fit for purpose approach.
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    A framework for quality in international higher education: policy and practice in Chile as a case study
    Jerez, Emeline ( 2018)
    This study investigates the nature of quality in international higher education and develops a comprehensive framework for analysis, using Chile as a case study. Qualitative data is collected through document analysis, questionnaires to international experts and semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in Chile. Based on an adaptive theory approach, the study constructs a framework for quality in international higher education following an iterative process that brings together the previous management theory of quality as continuous improvement and a novel theory emerging from the empirical data. This process yields an expanded and adapted framework for a bounded higher education system. This study enhances our understanding of quality in international higher education and identifies a series of factors and variables that assist in its management in a structured manner.
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    Organisational capacity, leadership and management of Australian research centres of excellence
    Barros de Barros, Fabiana ( 2018)
    Centres of Excellence (CoE) are increasingly adopted by governments world-wide as a mechanism for the funding of science, technology and innovation activities in the knowledge-based society. Behind the adoption of policies for the creation of CoE there are some key underlying strategic rationales, such as fostering scientific excellence, promoting relevance of research to societal problems and building scientific and technological capacities in areas deemed of national significance. Research on CoE is usually performed at the macro science and innovation policy level, and the associated trends of increased selectivity and concentration on the allocation of public funds (Hellstrom, 2013; Hellström, 2017; Orr, Jaeger, & Wespel, 2011) or assessing individual programs across different countries (Aksnes et al., 2012; Beerkens, 2009; Cremonini, Horlings, & Hessels, 2018; Hellstrom, 2011). There is a considerable gap in the literature of studies focused at the micro, organisational level. More specifically, there is a need to understand the fundamental nature of CoE in terms of the organisational capacity required to establish such centres. This study aims to contribute to addressing that gap. It draws upon the long-standing Australian experience in running CoE programs by investigating centres created in the framework of two major governmental programs – the Australian Research Council Centres of Excellence program, and the Cooperative Research Centres program. To investigate CoE organisational capacity, two well-validated frameworks were used as theoretical and analytical lenses: Toma’s (2010) ‘Building Organisational Capacity’ which supported identifying and understanding the nature of CoE key organisational elements; and Quinn et al. (2007) ‘Competing Values Framework’ which facilitated an in-depth exploration of key leadership and management roles. By means of an Interpretive Inquiry, a qualitative multi-method approach served to investigate the CoE organisational setting as the unity of analysis. A sample consisting of six active and long-standing Australian CoE was identified on the basis of a pre-defined, purposive selection criteria aimed at narrowing down the number and diversity of existing centres in a meaningful way. Data was collected through three methods – document analysis, face-to-face semi-structured interviews and observations carried out during site visits. Results allowed for identifying which elements are at the core of building organisational capacity of CoE, given their role in informing and shaping other elements. Findings suggest that symbolic elements such as ‘purpose’ and ‘culture’ play a crucial role in representing and conveying the organisational nature and profile of a CoE and are strongly perceived to influence all other aspects and capabilities of a CoE. Moreover, ‘culture’ has been found to be consistently harnessed as a mechanism to increase the cohesion and performance of CoE collaborative teams. Similarly, given its strong emphasis on collaboration, ‘Governance’ as an element is perceived to have a distinct function and significance depending on the centre orientation. The role of leadership and management (L&M) appears to be critical in building and maintaining CoE organisational capacity. This study shows that the appropriateness of organisational capacity and L&M approaches depends on the profile of a CoE which, in turn, is determined by the nature of the problem tackled and the purpose and use of knowledge and technology produced at the centre.
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    Co-creation in higher education
    Dollinger, Mollie Margaret ( 2018)
    As higher education continues to grow, diversify and respond to increasing accountability, the task of maintaining value in the higher education system becomes more challenging. To address this, researchers have begun exploring how students can shape their own student experiences through participatory design frameworks, such as co-creation. In this dissertation, the nature of student-staff co-creation in higher education will be explored through ten unique case studies across Australian universities. Findings relating to the nature of co-creation, including antecedent, barriers, and benefits will be discussed. A model of co-creation for higher education will also be presented to help guide future exploration in the area.
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    University curriculum reforms in Vietnam 1986-2015: knowledge, specialisation and social order
    Nguyen, Thi Kim Quy ( 2018)
    This thesis provides a new detailed curriculum focused account of an important reform period in Vietnamese higher education policy. It sets out to explore questions of knowledge, specialisation and social order in relation to changing iterations of education policy for higher education in Vietnam between 1986 and 2015, a period of significant changes of higher education policy, as Vietnam aimed to incorporate a stronger market economic agenda and outcomes in its higher education curriculum. More specifically, the study is concerned with knowledge and its relation to the problem of specialisation and social order in successive curricular reforms in Vietnam during the period under study. To achieve these aims, the study employs a particular approach in the sociology of education, one that is grounded in the Durkheimian tradition. In doing so, the thesis has attempted to address this issue in a fresh way from major approaches to curriculum analysis and reform in contemporary educational research. This approach, while acknowledging that the influences of socio-political factors are not to be downplayed in shaping curriculum discourse, argues that how curriculum knowledge is built and modified also depends on its epistemological basis. The evidence base for this research draws on official policy documents supplemented by semi-structured expert interviews. The thesis researches the details of three different phases of major policy change to analyse what the policies say about aims and key agendas of each reform phase and how they set up organisation and structure of curriculum. In doing this it attends to aims and tensions regarding issues of knowledge modernization on the one hand and social order on the other. The analysis approach is both interpretive and critical. Finally, the study draws on Emile Durkheim’s argument on the moral nature of specialisation as one possible way of reflecting on the epistemic and moral tension evident in the reform period. Overall it is argued that successive university curriculum reforms between 1986 and 2015 involve (1) an uneasy attempt on the part of the policymakers to try to put together the American-European style while maintaining a consistent ‘red’ approach, each with unsatisfactory results; (2) an epistemic paradox between a neo-conservative ‘red’ approach in which knowledge from certain disciplines was treated as fixed on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a set of generic approaches in which any forms of knowledge were assumed to be as valid or invalid as any other as long as they served the pragmatist goal of economic development, and (3) a regulative paradox between moral authoritarianism and industrial authoritarianism, both of which deny the sui generis moral nature of specialisation in the Durkheimian sense. One of the key implications from the study is that the reforms did not seem to generate curriculum approaches, both epistemic and moral, that truly reflect an increasingly differentiated society both in terms of work and values. Through this, the study problematizes any curriculum reform attempts that disregard the intrinsic autonomy of education and knowledge by equating these categories with socio-economic interests.
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    The desired employer traits of prospective and early career business academic staff in Australia
    Abell, Daniel Thomas ( 2018)
    Attracting talent is an increasing concern for Australia’s universities, particularly given the ageing academic workforce, increase in student enrolments, and increased local and global competition. This research commences with the premise that location may play a crucial role in attraction, and that regional universities may face significant challenges in attracting talent. This may be especially the case for business schools that find themselves in a particularly competitive market. Using human resource management theory regarding organisational attraction, along with employer branding theory, this research investigates two key research questions: • What are the desired employer traits of prospective and early career business academics in Australia? • What can Australian regional universities do to enhance their attractiveness to prospective and early career business academics? Using an exploratory sequential mixed methods approach, within a pragmatic, realistic philosophy, utilising adaptive theory, and the researcher’s insider perspective, the findings of this research contributed to university employer branding theory by identifying nine key employer traits that universities need to pursue to enhance their employer brand for prospective and early career academic staff: • Job allows for work/life balance • Job allows for autonomy • Secure/permanent/tenured employment • Opportunity provided for career growth, promotion and professional development • Expert colleagues to learn from/work with • Culture that is friendly and positive where leaders behave like coaches/mentors • Performance / support / opportunity in research • Reputation / status / rank of my discipline / school / department For regional universities seeking to enhance their attractiveness, the desired employer traits are consistent, though respondent answers to the question of what would improve their attractiveness suggest that these organisations should endeavour to enhance the reputation/status/rank of the university, and consider the provision of higher salaries. The results are analysed for any variance in segmentations that would allow targeted employer branding, and discussed in context with other studies. Implications for practice are then discussed, with recommendations that regional university schools of business and law: • Develop and invest in a differentiated employer brand; • Examine the configuration of academic work; and • Endeavour to build a regional high-performance learning organisation. Ultimately, the thesis tells us that regional universities face significant challenges in the attraction of academic staff. The convergence of desired employer traits for attraction to both regional and other universities suggest that differentiation is necessary in order to be attractive. It contributes to the theoretical frameworks used by reinforcing the value of work/life balance; emphasising that academics desire autonomy and job security; providing evidence of the importance that academics place on investment in their career growth, promotion and professional development; highlighting that academics value learning from and working with expert colleagues; having the support and opportunity to undertake research; and the importance placed on the reputation, status and rank of their discipline, school or department. Opportunities for future research include a longitudinal analysis of the respondents to test for changes in the importance of employer traits over time working in the vocation, a study of attraction to universities for other disciplines and/or a study of attraction to regional universities for academics in other countries. It would also be valuable to further investigate employer branding within the Australian higher education context from the organisation’s perspective, through research with human resource management professionals and leaders across universities.
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    Remaking the university curriculum: what counts as knowledge in new forms of online learning
    O'Connor, Katherine ( 2017)
    The purposes of a university education and the knowledge it should seek to impart are today very much in question. Teaching within universities is becoming increasingly focused on generic instrumental and vocational agendas, and there are strong drives to improve teaching and make greater use of online technologies in response to a widening student body. The significance and implications of these trends for different aspects of university work have been widely debated, but there has been little attention to the changing dynamics of curriculum making and the assumptions at work in how subjects are being put together. Within this context, this thesis investigates the question ‘what counts as knowledge in new forms of online learning’. It focuses on the differences and similarities evident in the purposes, assumptions and constraints recognised by those working in different kinds of knowledge fields; and on the coherence of the conceptions of knowledge at work within the framing and development of new online initiatives and subjects. The thesis approaches these questions through a qualitative study of online initiatives developed at two Australian universities. The research draws on traditions of curriculum inquiry and policy sociology to focus on how those responsible for the development of the new online initiatives and subjects grapple with questions of knowledge and its teaching in their aims and practices. It considers the institutional policy framings informing the new online initiatives and undertakes case studies of the curriculum development of particular subjects, drawing on interviews with policy leaders and lecturers, and analyses of policy documentation and curriculum materials. For the policy leaders, the thesis shows that while their rhetoric is concerned with students’ own knowledge constructions, their approach positions curriculum content as settled and predefined. For the lecturers, it highlights significant differences in how those located in disciplinary and professional fields conceptualised knowledge and approached their curriculum development, but also that these orientations were undermined to an extent in the process of working with the new platforms. It shows the lecturers’ practices here led to more ‘instructivist’ rather than ‘constructivist’ teaching, and a greater emphasis on knowledge as a defined body of content to be taught. The thesis uncovers three problems arising in current university developments. One is the neglect of the differences between disciplines and professional knowledge fields, and the ways in which the different purposes and orientations of these fields shape curriculum development. A second is the neglect of the conditions required to encourage constructivist teaching practices online, including in relation to questions of substance. And a third is the neglect of the complex relations between curriculum and pedagogical form in building what counts as knowledge. The thesis explores the effects of these policy blindspots on lecturers’ practices of curriculum making and on the forms of education made possible as a result. In doing so, it opens up some new ways for researchers and institutional leaders to engage with questions of knowledge and curriculum within higher education.