Faculty of Education - Theses

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    The impact of testing on students: Australian students' perspectives on NAPLAN and internal assessments
    Dowley, Mark William ( 2019)
    National and state testing policies have become an increasingly common feature of the policy landscape in education, both in developed and developing countries. Testing policies can generate a range of emotional responses among students, including high levels of stress. Alternatively, students’ emotional responses may not be discretely associated with large-scale standardised tests, but instead generalise to any testing situation. This study aimed to compare student responses and perceptions of assessment in both NAPLAN and internal tests. This study used an anonymous survey to gather data from 206 Year 7 and Year 9 Australian students on their perceptions of the importance their parents and teachers placed on doing well in tests, and their own self-reported responses to both NAPLAN and their internal tests. We found that the students in this study placed more value on internal tests than NAPLAN and students were also more likely to be confident in internal tests and bored for NAPLAN. A small percentage of students reported negative physical responses, such as crying or feeling sick to both types of tests, however, there were no significant differences between NAPLAN and internal tests in the number of students reporting negative physical responses. Furthermore, individuals who placed a high value on a given assessment and have greater emotional stability were more likely to experience positive responses to assessment. The findings suggest that NAPLAN does not cause significant negative responses in the majority of students. Implications for schools and policymakers are discussed.
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    The Vincenzo vitale piano school: myth or method?
    Ferrari, Viviana Nicoleta ( 2019)
    Abstract: The Vincenzo Vitale Piano School (VVPS) is unique among piano schools. It was formed in 1928 by Vincenzo Vitale (1908-1984) whose teachings have persisted to this present day. Its distinctiveness is marked by its conception of interpretation and technique as fundamentally indivisible and its physiologically grounded approach to piano playing. There are, however, as many facts as myths about the School in circulation. Given the fragmented state of knowledge about the School, it is a research priority to demystify the School and develop an accurate and pedagogically useful account of its methods. The oral, practice-centred approach inherent to the School’s pedagogy, although well- suited to the cultivation of pianists whose practice followed the School’s guiding principles, proved ill-suited to the reliable promulgation of this knowledge beyond the School’s early cohorts. The fractured state of knowledge on the School’s identity, values, principles, and practices created the risk that this knowledge could be lost altogether. It is the aim of this investigation to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the VVPS through an examination of its identity, values, principles and practices. Such an investigation is intrinsically interdisciplinary, and, to this end, this research employs and triangulates findings gleaned through a qualitative and multidisciplinary approach. Through the use of the Ferrari Model (2019), this investigation has demonstrated that the VVPS is a dynamic living reality, not a myth.
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    What effect does the coaching model of professional development have on the building of teacher capacity?
    Guedes, Bartolo Alexandre Martinho ( 2018)
    The purpose of this study is to examine the influence of the GROW coaching model of professional development on the capacity building of teachers in an educational context. Teachers have a significant impact on student outcomes and it is crucial to build their capacity to maximise their influence in the classroom. The provision of professional development is seen as a fundamental component of supporting teachers in building their capacity as educators, to implement strategies in the classroom, and to maximise their influence on students. Schools, government and the educational community at large have long made concerted efforts to build teacher capacity, aiming to reduce the large variance between teachers’ effects on student outcomes. The provision of coaching in various forms has been found to support the implementation of strategies in the classroom. This study aims to examine the influence of the GROW coaching model to develop teachers’ skills, knowledge and dispositions to build their capacity as educators. The study examines the implementation against the elements set out in Guskey’s Five Critical Levels of Professional Development Evaluation Model to understand the factors and conditions that foster implementation. The study utilised a criterion purposive sampling approach (Patton, 1990) and involved 24 coaches and coachees total. Participation in the study was voluntary and no incentives or reimbursements were offered for participation. A range of data was gathered and examined; the research design incorporated a mixed-methods approach that applied three complementary data collection tools including survey, interview and observation. The analysis of the data was conducted to inform the findings. The data collected through the open-ended online questionnaire and interview research instruments provided opportunities to explore, in closer detail, the responses of participants to key questions. These questions centre on identified coaching variables of teacher learning and how these are manifested in their practice both in and outside of the classroom. These responses provide an important insight into what changes may occur in teacher pedagogy and teacher disposition, evidenced through changes in the classroom environment and the teachers’ thinking processes. A thematic analysis based on Braun and Clarke’s (2006) 6-step framework was undertaken to systematically analyse the data. The codes were set according to elements highlighted by the Guskey model (2000), targeted on both teacher practice and student behaviours, changes in teacher professional practice outside the classroom showed changes in their dispositions as a teacher and reflections on their practice. The findings revealed that the GROW coaching model supported the professional development of educators to build their capacity as teachers across the areas of skills, knowledge and dispositions. The GROW coaching model supported teachers to implement various strategies in their classrooms. Factors that affected the program included: (a) the time set aside for teachers and coaches; (b) the relationship and level of trust between the coach and coachee; (c) the program and content knowledge of the coach; (d) the culture of the school; and (e) the allocation of coaches and how they were selected. The relationship between coach and coachee emerged as a key factor in the success of the program, and together with the allocation of coaches impacted on participants, especially when challenging their dispositions through “professional conversations”. The GROW model’s process and “sequence of questioning” raised awareness of teaching practices and provided a way for teachers to receive feedback on the implementation of strategies in the classroom. Further attention to the impact of the GROW coaching model for teacher capacity building and its effect on student outcomes is needed to better understand the relationship between “professional conversations”, coaching and impact on student outcomes. In the future, equal attention should be afforded to understanding the behaviour of teachers as they implement strategies in the classroom, and how professional development programs can best support their capacity building.
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    Pre-service education of the Australian Visual Communication Design teacher: Perceptions and practices of teacher educators
    Rickards, Emmalie Kate ( 2019)
    Each year in the Australian state of Victoria, approximately 12,000 senior secondary school students enrol in the subject of Visual Communication Design, its curriculum unique to Victorian schools and liberating design from its popular pairings with Visual Arts or Technology studies. However, as a learning area offered under the umbrella of The Arts, Visual Communication Design is predominantly delivered by Visual Arts specialists, who may or may not have been exposed to understandings of design in their previous studies or teacher training. In fact, only one Victorian tertiary institution specifically prepares teachers of Visual Communication Design, with all others embedding design pedagogical training alongside Visual Arts in pre-service teacher education programs. Of interest then, is the nature and extent of Victorian design teacher training when merged with art teacher education, and most significantly, the role of the teacher educator in shaping conceptions of best practice design pedagogy. This thesis, therefore, investigates how teacher educators’ perceptions of design, design pedagogy and the subject of Visual Communication Design have shaped Visual Arts and Design teacher education programs, and the extent to which teacher candidates are prepared for the enactment of Visual Communication Design curriculum. As a qualitative, cross-case analysis, it examines the lived experiences and personal ideologies of three teacher educators working in Victorian institutions, their insights gathered during hour-long semi-structured interviews, and illuminating the teacher educator’s significant influence on the nature of pre-service design teacher training. Despite sharing an appreciation for design as a distinct formal language, each of the teacher educators interviewed for this study reject the notion of explicitly cultivating design pedagogical content knowledge amongst teacher candidates, choosing instead to facilitate student-led inquiry into perceived areas of need, and nurture general teaching attributes of benefit across Arts domains. Their stories also reveal multifarious understandings of design and Visual Communication Design curriculum, problematic assumptions of subject content knowledge pre-existing amongst student cohorts, and a tendency to downplay rather than deconstruct art and design’s distinct methodologies. In response, I argue that limited exposure to design pedagogical content knowledge in Visual Arts and Design teacher education compromises teacher candidates’ capacity to evolve ‘classroom ready’ understandings of Visual Communication Design pedagogy and curriculum. I also call for recognition in teacher education of art and design’s discrete methodologies, for debate about both their fusion and division in secondary education, and for teacher educators to model informed notions of design and design pedagogy whilst building a culture of practice for future teachers of Visual Communication Design. This study draws from ideas of effective design instruction in higher education, cognitive apprenticeship theory, Shulman’s concepts of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and signature pedagogies, Dewey’s laboratory model of teacher training and Schon’s theory of reflective practice. The adoption of complexity theory as its framework acknowledges not only the dynamic conditions that govern how and what teacher educators teach, but also the complexity characterising design’s exchange with art both in and beyond Victorian teacher education.
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    Teaching Geoscience Out-of-Field with Digital Technologies: Understanding Agency through Positioning Theory
    Rochette, Emily Elizabeth ( 2019)
    The professional rights and duties science teachers ought to attend to as skilled members of the profession are evident from roles specified by initial teacher education, registration authorities, subject-specific teachers’ associations, education policy and state- mandated curriculum documents. Of particular interest are the assumptions made by stakeholders within and beyond the community of professional educators about both digital technologies and teachers’ capacity to incorporate them into their practice. Research literature suggests that teachers’ use of digital technologies varies considerably and depends on a number of factors (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2013; Inan & Lowther, 2010; Somekh, 2008; Waight, Chiu, & Whitford, 2014; Zhao & Frank, 2003). In addition, for multi-disciplinary subjects like general science the accepted reality is that teachers may be highly accomplished in some areas but not others (Carlsen, 1992; Kind, 2014; Nixon, Campbell, & Luft, 2016; Nixon & Luft, 2015; Sanders, Borko, & Lockard, 1993). Geoscience is a sub-discipline of science largely taught by non-specialists (King, 2008, 2013, 2015) or science teachers teaching out-of-field (OOF) (Hobbs, 2015). This qualitative research sought a more empowering and useful understanding of teachers’ lived experience teaching with digital technologies in the Australian state of Victoria. Positioning theory (Harre & van Langenhove, 1999) was the overarching philosophy and methodology for the research design. Ten science teachers from an inner- city school in Melbourne were invited to reflect on their lived experience teaching with digital technologies. Constructivist grounded theory coding procedures (Charmaz, 2014), pronoun grammar analysis (Muhlhausler & Harre, 1990; Redman, 2013a; Redman & Fawns, 2010) and the positioning triad (Harre & van Langenhove, 1999) were the analytical tools used to methodically code data to better understand extent to which teachers perceived themselves to be permitted and/or empowered (Foucault, Martin, Gutman, & Hutton, 1988) to act autonomously before, during and after teaching geoscience with digital technologies. Prior to offering teachers support to teach OOF with digital technologies, two notable conclusions emerged from the data analysis. First, teachers did not make connections between their institutional and subject-specific duties to utilize digital technologies. Second, without a formal program of digital experiences for students and teachers’ varying degrees of personal and professional history utilizing digital technologies, the sign systems (Foucault et al., 1988) were not yet in place for most of these teachers to identify the pedagogical possibilities for digital technology use. Notably early-career teachers who trained as scientists could not be assumed to intuitively draw on their transferrable skills to teach for technology-enabled learning (Brantley-Dias & Ertmer, 2013; Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2013). In addition, most teachers did not readily identify their existing digital practices as transferrable and linked to teaching OOF. Four teachers participated more extensively by teaching a year nine geoscience unit designed to support their personal and pedagogical growth to use digital technologies in the OOF area. External and internal factors that both strengthened and compromised teachers’ evolving sense of personal agency are identified and explained. Notably, science teachers cannot be grouped as homogeneous users of and teachers with digital technologies. Teachers’ interpretations of their professional rights and duties to utilize digital technologies must be understood for effective, differentiated professional growth to occur across both subject-specific and institutional expectations. The range and complexity of competencies for which teachers are personally and professionally accountable are explained and the research is shown to make unique contributions to the fields of OOF teaching, digital technology use in education, better understanding the experiences scientists who became teachers and research methodology. The Explicit Personal Pragmatic Approach (EPPA) to professional learning is a three- dimensional model offered that illustrates the relationships between subject-specific and institutional expectations placed on teachers. The EPPA may also hold value if applied to other occupations where workplace professionals change roles and are required to continually refine their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts. Finally, recommendations are made for implementing school-wide use of digital technologies which may have international implications, particularly in a time when a variety of stakeholders rely on teachers’ digital technology use to help combat global health issues.
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    Translating neuroscience and psychology into education: Towards a conceptual model for the Science of Learning
    Donoghue, Gregory Michael ( 2019)
    This thesis reports on an empirical comparison between disciplines of educational psychology and educational neuroscience. an integrated conceptual model for the emerging field of the Science of Learning that subsumes both disciplines. After developing a conceptual framework that divides educational phenomena into five discrete layers, and a translation schema, the thesis reports the results of a systematic review of 548 studies in the educational neuroscience literature. To compare this impact with that of Educational Psychology, the thesis reports on two empirical reviews of the educational psychology literature: first, a meta-analysis of 10 well-established learning strategies, and second a meta-synthesis of over 42 learning strategies and their moderators, which formed the basis of a proposed Model of Learning. Finally, the respective strengths and limitations of both disciplines formed the basis for an integrated conceptual model for human learning – the Pedagogical Primes Model for the Learning Sciences. This model provides a means by which all learning-related disciplines (including but not limited to neuroscience) can meaningfully communicate with each other, and in so doing enhance the valid translation of Science of Learning research into educational practice.
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    Collaborative Problem-Solving and Academic Performance of Adolescents: The role of activity achievement emotions
    Camacho Morles, Jesus Leonardo ( 2019)
    This thesis examined the relative incidence, origins, and influence of achievement emotions in academic performance, including collaborative problem-solving (CPS). A theoretical model was tested to investigate whether individual differences in the intensity of achievement emotions experienced by students while completing CPS tasks would be linked to their effort regulation, which in turn, would predict CPS social and cognitive performance. It was also hypothesised that students’ achievement emotions would influence their levels of participation, responsiveness, and perspective-taking during the activity affecting, in turn, their final social CPS performance. The sample consisted of 100 adolescent dyads (n = 200) who completed a series of five computer-based CPS tasks while self-report questionnaires measured their enjoyment, boredom, and anger responses. Regression analysis revealed that enjoyment was associated with higher performance on both social and cognitive CPS tasks by predicting participants’ effort and social interactions between problem-solving partners during the CPS tasks. This contrasted with the experience of negative emotions, including boredom and anger, which was associated with lower motivation to invest effort, which in turn was linked to more reduced cognitive CPS task performance. These findings expand existing knowledge by highlighting the importance of commonly experienced discrete achievement emotions in predicting complex students’ abilities such as the critical skills for 21st-century schooling: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity, grouped within CPS.
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    Developing defensible criteria for public sector evaluations
    Roorda, Mathea Bendino Shulamith ( 2019)
    Criteria convey dimensions of quality and goodness as relevant for a program and its context. They also provide the first of two value premises from which one can reason to an evaluative judgement (the other value premise being standards). Selecting and justifying relevant criteria is critical to defensible evaluative reasoning, especially so in evaluations of publicly funded programs. Yet to date, much of the theory on evaluative reasoning has been at a general level, with little focus on the individual elements of reasoning, including the development of defensible criteria. The aim of this study was to identify characteristics of defensible criteria for program evaluations. It also sought to understand how criteria are currently managed in Australian and New Zealand program evaluations. The study exemplified research as an emergent process, with findings from an initial phase of the research informing the development of an evidence-informed tool for establishing defensible criteria. The study contributes to closing a significant gap in research on evaluation, specifically as it concerns valuing. Three characteristics were identified as important for developing defensible criteria. Two of these - inclusion of all relevant dimensions of value and authoritative sources - are required to justify criteria. A third, full description, has a role in supporting the first two characteristics, as it is only when abstract value terms are explicitly defined or described that criteria can be assessed for comprehensiveness and authoritativeness. The first phase of the study included an in-depth systematic examination of criteria development in Australian and New Zealand program evaluation. This occurred through a survey of 137 evaluators and a review of 47 published evaluation reports. It found that explicit criteria are not routinely included in evaluation reports. The survey research provided empirical evidence that a critical element of evaluative reasoning is weak in Australian and New Zealand program evaluations. The findings provided an evidence-based platform from which to develop a theory-informed framework for developing defensible criteria. In the second phase of the study, a conceptual framework was developed that makes several novel and significant contributions to the field of evaluation. It provides a way for practitioners to engage with value theory and specifically normative ethical principles which deal with conceptions of good and bad. The conceptual framework was developed into a criteria matrix tool, along with a handbook to support evaluation practitioners to engage with normative ethical perspectives. Initial field testing provided proof of concept that the tool could support evaluators to identify dimensions of value that might otherwise be ignored.
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    Transnational networks and teacher professional learning: A case study of the Australia-Asia BRIDGE School Partnerships Project in India
    Khan, Atiya ( 2019)
    The quality of teacher professional development in India is at best uneven, despite Government’s efforts to promote reforms in this area. However, recent trends in globalization and communication technologies have opened up new possibilities for teacher professional learning. In this study, the potential of transnational networks for teacher professional learning in India is explored through an illustrative case study of the Australia-Asia BRIDGE School Partnerships Project. Based on data collected from interviews with teachers and principals from eight BRIDGE participating schools in the Delhi region, as well as observations and analysis of relevant documents, the study attempts to identify how and why teachers participated in the BRIDGE program; provide an account of their experiences; and determine the ways in which it shaped their professional practice. Data suggests that while the teachers and principals had positive attitudes towards the program, they viewed it to be mainly useful in ‘internationalizing’ teaching practices and student learning. Moreover, it seems that only those schools that were already ‘transnational’ in their dispositions, aspirations, and arrangements could take advantage of such networks. This implies that programs, such as BRIDGE, might contribute to the prevailing unevenness of teacher professional development opportunities in India.
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    Supporting social skills development through a targeted intervention using cooperative videogames in a Special Development School
    Harrison, Matthew John ( 2019)
    Students with autism and Down syndrome can experience a range of social-emotional challenges manifesting from differences in social understanding and norms. While there are existing social skills interventions, until now the use of videogames and gamer culture as tools for facilitating the development of these skills has been largely unexplored. In spite of a wealth of research investigating principles of cooperative game design, there is limited reported research that specifically focuses on digital games-based learning for students with social emotional challenges. The research reported here sought to address this gap in the literature. A design research methodology was used to develop a new social skills intervention that built upon the interest of participants in videogames. Working with the teaching staff and five students at a Special Development School, ten iterative versions of an intervention were planned, implemented and evaluated. Data generated during the implementation of each version were inductively analysed, to investigate the relationships between the social skills performance in the physical and virtual environments, interactions with the teaching staff, and the role of game design in creating the conditions for player interaction. The analysis of this data informed modifications to the social skills being prioritised by this intervention, as well as the methods of instruction used to teach these skills and increase their frequency of performance. Findings from this study offer insights to both educators and videogame designers. The data led to the identification and refinement of 18 teaching strategies for optimising the acquisition and performance of social skills during cooperative gameplay. Strategies were identified for encouraging participation in group play, supporting students to consider perspectives of others on fairness, and for assisting students in recognising when to give instructions and share information. In addition to the teaching strategies, 39 game design recommendations for creating the ideal conditions for game-based collaboration were developed. The recommendations relate to leveraging player identity within the team to increase collaboration, specific rules of play that increase interactions between players, the characteristics of level design conducive to social skills performance, and games features that enable all players to be included. These teaching strategies and game design principles provide new understandings of how cooperative multiplayer games can serve as tools for social skills interventions, and how the systems of intervention can be optimised to take advantage of the affordances offered by these tools.