Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    “We need to provide structure, but with open arms": An Exploration of Intent and Practice of Social Learning Design by University Teachers and Learning Designers
    Whitford, Thomas Saffin ( 2023-03)
    The student benefits of social learning in online environments are widely recognised, yet explicit design for social learning is often overlooked during development. This study explored the intent and practice of designing for social learning in online subjects by university teachers and their associated learning designers. The aim was to investigate the relationship between intention and practice to design for social learning. The study also sought to identify factors that influence design participants’ social design practice. For this qualitative study, multiple data collection methods were used to examine four online subjects at a single university in Australia. Semi-structured interviews provided insight into design participants’ perceptions of designing for social learning. Analysis of planning documents and expert review of online subjects allowed comparison between intention and practice. Goodyear’s (2005) framework describing the problem space for educational design was used to guide data analysis. This multi-case analysis suggests three main findings. Firstly, teachers and their associated learning designers have an intentionality to design for social learning, however this is not always implemented in practice in online subjects. Secondly, the influence of the organisational context shaped the design process with institutional pressures identified, which impact efforts to implement social learning designs. Thirdly, the study highlighted the importance of collaboration between teacher and learning designer when designing for social learning. This relationship was influenced by the teacher’s own expectations, experience, and expertise of designing and developing online subjects. Contribution from this study is an enhanced conceptual framework describing the problem space for educational design. This includes greater regard and awareness of the people and technology which impact designing for learning. This study also contributes to the development of a broader typology for social design indicators which were found to be consistently observable. It provides insights on the importance of the learning designer and teacher relationship - to ensure planned and intended activities eventuate through a more positive, collaborative and efficient dynamic. Study findings have significant implications for institutional processes and operational practices that aim to partner teachers with learning designers, and to develop online subjects that meet the intentions of educators in a more collaborative fashion. The resulting outcome of the design process are subjects with potentially greater social outcomes for teachers and students, enriching the learning experience for all.
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    Examining Teacher Knowledge, Beliefs and Practice of Geography Inquiry in Australian Secondary Schools
    Lee, Shu Jun ( 2022)
    Despite an international turn towards using inquiry as a core approach for teaching and learning in school geography, there is limited understanding of how jurisdictions represent knowledge and pedagogy in the intended geography curricula, and what teachers what teachers in these jurisdictions know and believe about geography inquiry and how they actually enact it. This study set out to address these research gaps on teaching geography through inquiry and to explore the intersections between inquiry and subject knowledge in the intended and enacted geography curricula. Taking Victoria one of the most populous states of Australia as a case, the central research question was “What are the knowledge, beliefs and practice of geography inquiry amongst secondary teachers in Victoria?” Employing mixed methods research, the study comprised three phases of investigation. The first phase made use of document analysis to compare secondary geography curriculum documents from six international jurisdictions including Australia. This global context provided the backdrop for understanding the secondary geography curriculum documents from Victoria. The second phase surveyed the state’s secondary teachers about their beliefs, knowledge and practice of teaching geography through inquiry. The third phase employed case studies research exploring in-depth the practice of three teachers in three different school settings in metropolitan Melbourne. An extensive literature review led to the development of an original analytical framework which guided the analyses of the data. In the final discussion, the analyses from all three phases are considered together with the goal of refining and extending existing theory. Overall, this study’s findings suggest that the knowledge for teaching geography through inquiry is a dynamic collection of rich and situated knowledge constructed through experiences and social interactions in and with practice. At the same time, teachers’ beliefs are deeply intertwined in these experiences and interactions. Powerful professional knowledge for teaching geography through inquiry therefore is generated in and through teachers’ curriculum-making of high epistemic-quality geography inquiry lessons. As a contribution to the powerful knowledge debate, this study argues that the nature of knowledge in geography is such that geography inquiry is key to experiencing and developing powerful knowledge in geography. Additionally this study argues that everyday knowledge contributes to the construction of new specialised knowledge in geography. Powerful geography inquiry teaching practices that enable students to make epistemic gains during inquiry learning therefore include maintaining a stance that values and builds on students’ everyday knowledge, providing opportunities for all students for epistemic access, activating students’ commitment towards and effort in assuming epistemic agency, and enabling students to make epistemic ascent through purposeful use of dialogue and questions. This study concludes by proposing a model for ‘enacting powerful teaching of geography through inquiry’ which both augments concepts of pedagogical content knowledge and incorporates concepts of powerful knowledge and knowing.
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    Examining the relationship between teacher reading content knowledge, pedagogy and children’s learning experiences
    Picker, Kellie Anne ( 2022)
    Teacher reading content knowledge research spans decades and covers an array of issues from perceptions about knowledge to student achievement. Teacher reading content knowledge is developed during initial teacher education and extended through professional development, as it has been identified as an integral component of quality teaching and national teacher standards. However, despite this recognition, to date there is limited understanding about how teacher reading content knowledge is operationalized in early years classrooms for teaching children how to read. Since children’s proficiency in reading is developed during the first three years of schooling and teachers have the biggest influence on their learning, it seems logical that research would provide evidence about what reading content is taught in the early years of formal schooling, and how it is taught. The aim of this thesis is to examine the teaching of reading by teachers classified as having different levels of teacher reading content knowledge. The analysis was undertaken with three separate but related studies. The first involved measuring teachers’ reading content knowledge and validating the measure, to identify teachers with varying levels of reading content knowledge. The second and third studies used a mixed-methods approach to analyze the differences in what and how reading was taught in the classrooms of teachers identified as having high and low levels of teacher reading content knowledge. Findings from these studies provide quantitative and qualitative insights into the different ways teachers with high and low levels of teacher reading content knowledge teach reading. Teachers with high levels of reading content knowledge taught all aspects of the science of reading supported with pedagogical interactions that encouraged children to take risks by thinking beyond facts, as learning was based on need and moved from a surface to deep level. Whereas teachers with low levels of reading content knowledge taught all aspects of the science of reading apart from morphology. This teaching reinforced pedagogical interactions that developed child dependency and elicited factual and literal understanding to allow the teacher to move through the lesson. Results from these studies were outlined in terms of their practical implications, which suggest the need to establish minimum levels of teacher reading content knowledge and the development of preservice and in-services courses that helps teachers achieve these levels.
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    Teaching together, working together, and being together: Teacher collaboration in Innovative Learning Environments
    Bradbeer, Christopher John ( 2020)
    For New Zealand primary school teachers, the spatial transition from traditional to Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) also contains an underlying assumption that increased pedagogical and professional collaboration will be commensurate. However, for many teachers, collaboration has previously constituted a ‘visited activity’, conducted away from the interface with students and the act of teaching, providing little experience upon which to draw. Working through theoretical perspectives on both teacher collaboration and educational space, and within the case study context of early-adopter primary schools, this thesis contributes to educational research by investigating and analysing the theoretical background, conceptual underpinnings, and enacted experiences, of teachers collaborating in ILEs. The study uses data collected from qualitative semi-structured interviews with individuals and groups, practice observations, and documentation to produce four major findings. Firstly, insights into the nature of teacher collaboration in ILEs, according to how they have been envisioned, rationalised and realised. Secondly, insights into enacted approaches to teaching and learning in ILEs, highlighting four factors: pedagogical intention, collaborative practices, joint teaching strategies, and structural components e.g. shared language. Thirdly, demonstrated links between teacher collaboration and space, found to be a profoundly spatial phenomenon that is experienced via multiple proximities, relationalities, and visibilities. Fourth and finally, a model through which to support the theorisation of teacher collaboration in ILEs: Terrains of teacher collaboration in primary school ILEs. This model theorises that teacher activities are the product of working together, teaching together, and being together. It highlights the nature of the terrain between rhetoric, rationale, and implications, and the everyday realities of enactment. Here the imperative is one of explication – and the need to make explicit the implicit. The study provides important implications for educational theory and practice. Practically, the findings assist school leaders and teachers to recognise, reflect on, and respond to aspects of teacher collaboration in ILEs. The study provides language and a model through which to assist this professional learning. Theoretically it draws attention to the centrality of space and spatiality in teacher collaboration and forms a starting point from which to begin further theoretical work.
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    Curated learning: a pedagogical approach to maximise learning environments for students’ deep learning
    Villafranca, Ethel ( 2019)
    Globally, billions of dollars have been allocated in developing highly adaptable, technology-infused, and connected learning spaces, called Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs), capable of accommodating a variety of pedagogical practices intended to equip students with skills and competencies critical for thriving in this rapidly changing world. However, research indicate that teachers are unable to fully maximise the potential of these ILEs. In contrast, many museums appear to have considerable success at intentionally manipulating learning environments and adapting pedagogy to suit intended learning outcomes. Understanding these museum practices may prove valuable in helping school teachers use ILEs better. Two case studies were conducted to draw out strategies of museums in capitalising features of the learning environment to promote students’ deep learning. Twenty-eight individuals from nine purposely selected institutions across Australia and New Zealand participated in this research. Thematic analysis of data from 42 observations and 25 interviews resulted in a proposition of a pedagogical approach, Curated learning, that leverages the interdependence between pedagogy and the built environment. Curated learning has the potential to help teachers use features and elements within their learning environment in ways that support students in developing deep learning competencies that, ultimately, will help them succeed in their academic, professional, and civic lives. This research is embedded within an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project, called Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change (ILETC), that investigates how school teachers across Australia and New Zealand can utilise ILEs to improve pedagogy that leads to students’ deep learning. Specifically, this research contributes to a growing body of international research on the effective use of ILEs and pedagogy. Furthermore, equipping teachers with the capacity to maximise ILEs will magnify the value of the financial investment and help them prepare students to thrive in this highly competitive and rapidly changing world.
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    The pedagogy of engagement: classroom management vs. facilitating learning
    Berry, Amy Elizabeth ( 2019)
    This thesis explored the way upper primary teachers think about student engagement and how they operationalise the concept within their classrooms. Student engagement has been frequently linked to academic success, and improving the engagement of students continues to be a priority for policy makers and practitioners alike. Despite an abundance of research, it remains questionable whether researcher conceptions of student engagement adequately represent the way teachers experience the concept. Teachers' perspectives on student engagement and their engagement-related practices were investigated over two studies using an exploratory sequential mixed methods design. In Study One, in-depth interviews were conducted with 16 teachers to explore their beliefs about student engagement in learning. Teachers described six qualitatively different forms of engagement and disengagement, as well as a complex process for facilitating student engagement within lessons. A typology of engagement and a pedagogical framework for engaging students were proposed based on the findings. Study Two sought to test the validity of the typology as a representation of teachers' descriptions of student engagement and its usefulness in coding teachers' engagement-related interactions within observed lessons. Four teachers were interviewed and four lessons observations for each teacher were conducted. In addition, 72 students within those classrooms were surveyed to explore their perceptions of aspects of the learning environment, including their understanding of teacher expectations for student engagement. Qualitative analysis of interview and observation data revealed that teachers varied in their expectations for student engagement within lessons, their views on the role of peers in student engagement, and in the frequency with which they intervened within lessons to facilitate different forms of student engagement. Quantitative analysis of survey data suggest that students in different classrooms perceive different expectations for how they will engage in learning experiences. A model is proposed for thinking about the pedagogy of student engagement, providing an alternative vantage point from which to explore the concept, one that is grounded in the real-life experiences of teachers facing the ongoing challenge of engaging students in classroom learning experiences.
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    Cracking open pedagogy: learning 'in' intense environments
    Healy, Sarah Maree ( 2019)
    What if a purpose of pedagogy was to create environments where intense experiences of learning can occur? This research is an inquiry into how affect-intense pedagogies work and the work that they do. It focuses on pedagogic affect as produced in the situated, sociomaterial practices of three more-than-human environments that create the conditions for intense learning to occur—an outdoor sculpture event in the Hauraki Gulf (Aotearoa New Zealand), a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Course at a human pathology museum (Sydney, Australia), and a fight squad at a Taekwondo club (Melbourne, Australia). What transpires is a multi-site ethnographic case study of pedagogic affect in which I engage with empirical material through a combination of conventional and experimental approaches, whereby arts-based practices act to enliven research(er) thinking-doing. In this space between convention and invention, a Deleuzian inspired rhizo-cartography unfolds. Pedagogic practices are ‘found’ to occupy in-between spaces or ‘cracks’ that produce affect-intensive learning encounters. These practices and encounters are recast as constituting a minor pedagogy which is, in turn, imbricated in a Spinozist ethics of affirmation as taken up by Deleuze and Braidotti. Pedagogy that enacts an affirmative ethics is conceptualised as being inextricably connected to practices that increase the affective capacity of learner-bodies. In this inquiry, pedagogies that cultivate the capacity to affect and be affected involve stepping into a crack, where tinkering, experimenting, (un)knowing and caring take place through an approach that blends critique and creativity. I propose that creating the conditions for minor pedagogies to flourish in everyday learning encounters can generate affirmative change in all kinds of ordinary, localised contexts – schools, community sites and elsewhere – that create the conditions to learn intensely.
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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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    Cultural diversity and drama education within an Australian context
    Ferrara, Patrizia Giovanna ( 2019)
    Across Australia and internationally, the number of young people from diverse cultural backgrounds entering schools has increased. This has led to a greater complexity in pedagogy, curriculum and student populations (Banks, 2011). This thesis entitled Cultural diversity and drama education within an Australian context is a qualitative research project that methodologically involved a reflective practitioner study (Schön, 1983). The researcher developed and taught an educational unit of work entitled Cultural diversity and drama. The unit of work comprised eight lessons and was taught to a junior secondary drama class at a coeducational independent school. Central to this study were the experiences of the culturally diverse drama students engaging in the drama curriculum. Through the reflective practitioner’s own culturally diverse perspective, this study was also an examination of the drama teacher. As part of the reflective practitioner research, a combination of data was collected that included observation of drama classes, reflective practitioner journal, student journals, field notes, written documents and interviews with drama staff and students. The key findings of this study revealed that the drama students identified and discussed their own ethnic identities. It was found that trust facilitated the advancement of the unit of work between the reflective practitioner, drama students and drama teacher. The study revealed that embodied learning about cultural diversity enabled the drama students to generate their own contemporary meanings of themselves, others and of Australia. In this study it was found that stories about refugees can effectively engage drama students to understand and enact people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
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    'Ways of seeing': the positioning of the visual in subject English curricula, 2000 - 2017
    Reid, Catherine Frances ( 2018)
    The proliferation of visual texts in the lives of young people since the turn of the twenty-first century has created new opportunities and demands for curriculum developers. Since 2000, subject English curricula in Australia have acknowledged the importance of students’ engagement with visual texts, yet systematic approaches to the positioning of viewing and the visual in curriculum documents are not always evident. With the inclusion of less traditional texts such as graphic novels in the senior English text lists in recent years (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, 2014), the explicit addressing of the visual from the early to the final years of compulsory schooling has become crucial. This thesis presents analyses of four mandated curriculum iterations in the Australian state of Victoria from 2000 to 2017 focusing on the positioning of the visual in subject English. In revealing these positionings, some of the understandings about what subject English in the twenty-first century is, and should do, are interrogated. Aspects of Gee’s Building Tasks of Language (2010, 2011, 2014) have been drawn on to frame this analysis. Theoretical frameworks linked to subject English and literacy pedagogy have also been used to identify and analyse the positioning of the visual in subject English, and in turn, to posit aspects of what constitutes ‘English’ in the selected curricula.