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ItemEducating the next generation of communication designers: Addressing environmentally sustainable design principles and practices in Australian undergraduate communication design curriculum.Miceli, Maria Luisa ( 2021)Mitigating the impacts of anthropocentric environmental degradation is both an individual and collective responsibility. This research considered the role of higher education in advancing environmental sustainability (ES). The purpose of this study was to specifically investigate the way environmentally sustainable design principles and practices (EDSPP) were being addressed in undergraduate communication design (CD) courses in Australia. This multi-case study comprised of five Australian universities, each representing a single case. Each case was divided into two communities. Community One – represented the executive and senior leaders who set the strategic direction of the university, this strategic direction was identified through publicly available documentation. The second community, Community Two – represented teachers within the communication design faculty. These teachers were interviewed to understand: their philosophy in relation to ESDPP; what influenced their pedagogical decisions and how these values were implemented in their teaching practice. The findings demonstrated that ES was recognised by Community One through the university’s values and goals, yet ES activities were often limited to facilities management. The majority of teachers in Community Two recognised the importance of EDSPP in CD; however, they reported that attempts at embedding these practices into their units were often challenging. The study identified three main factors – eco-anxiety, holistic understanding of the course, and effective leadership concerning ES, most prevented progressing ESDPP in undergraduate CD courses. These challenges meant that EDSPP rarely progressed beyond arbitrary material choice inclusions within projects, rather than consideration for the critical relationship between communication design and consumerism and the changing nature of the CD profession. These one-dimensional material aspects, while important, remain superficial and shallow and may hinder the trajectory toward deeper behavioural changes that would promote a paradigm shift. This transformation may require a meaningful endorsement of environmental sustainability as a university value and a concrete plan to drive structural and course content change that would support teachers in undertaking this paradigm shift.
ItemInterrogating quality Indicators of students' online learning in Australian higher educationEl-Ayoubi, Mona ( 2021)The growth and proliferation of online education is one of the incisive radical transformations that has taken place in the higher education sector recently. Given the increasing centrality of online learning, it is imperative to have appropriate quality measures capable of effectively gauging the learning quality outcomes of students in the online environment. This research addressed the following two overarching questions: To what extent can students’ Student Experience Survey results predict outcome measures such as student pass rate, dropout rate and overall satisfaction? How effective are Student Experience Survey results in measuring online learning quality in Australian higher education? This study focused on the case of online undergraduate education at Australian universities and primarily drew on extensive empirical evidence, and systematic analysis of a significant amount of SES data. This analysis was complemented by a focused set of semi-structured interviews conducted with academic staff working in quality assurance in Australian universities. The research utilised a sequential mixed-methods approach combining analysis of secondary data (Student Experience Survey) and collection and analysis of primary data interviews. This approach offered the opportunity to contextualise the Student Experience Survey data and interrogate it for insights into the practical considerations and dimensions of online learning quality within universities. A framework to assess different aspects of learning quality was developed from the items in the survey and consisted of four groupings: curriculum, learner support, learner engagement, and technology. The analysis of student responses to the items in these groupings applied the principal components of factor analysis. Specifically, the research examined these factors to determine if they could predict student performance outcomes of pass rate, dropout rate, and overall satisfaction as effective quality measures. This analysis presents observations of student responses to individual items across disciplines, institutions, and academic year levels. When SES responses of student perceptions were examined, this study identified a critical disconnect between the positioning of the Student Experience Survey as a central measure of learning quality and the outcomes of those learners as a population. The key finding is that the Student Experience Survey responses were not related to pass rates and dropout rates. The second critical finding is that students’ perceptions of engagement and curriculum had no relation to these same outcomes. This finding is irrespective of students’ academic year level, their discipline, or the institution they attended. The study has implications for institutions and government bodies to evaluate existing metrics said to measure online learning quality. This study questions the ultimate purpose of student surveys and concludes that using student satisfaction to evaluate online learning quality through the Student Experience Survey instrument is ineffective in predicting or measuring outcome achievement. As such, institutions must invest in alternative and/or different approaches for assessing learning quality. This study provides substantial evidence base analysis of a large population in the Australian higher education online context. Further, it contributes to widening understandings about the limitations of student experience surveys in measures of learning quality. The study has implications for institutions, academics, and policymakers and provides opportunities for the reconceptualisation and the redevelopment of learning quality metrics beyond the Student Experience Survey.
ItemBeing an effective teacher: what do teachers in different contexts conceptualise? A contextualised study for improving teacher effectivenessWilkie, David Jeffrey ( 2021)Effective teachers achieve far more in terms of student outcomes than do less-effective teachers. There are educational, social and economic reasons as to why high learning outcomes for students are needed system-wide, and effective teachers are necessary for the success of endeavours to improve educational systems. System-wide efforts to improve overall teacher effectiveness, however, have had only limited success, and school-level effects emerge as important. The work of teachers in schools is multifaceted and complex, and there are subsequent complexities in considerations of teacher effectiveness and ways to improve it. Research has identified that individual attributes of teachers and school-level, environmental factors impact upon the effectiveness of teachers. Further knowledge and shared understanding of how teachers can become more effective, individually and collectively, continue to prove necessary. There is little research into how teachers and school leaders conceptualise being an effective teacher in their own working context, and what enables their effective work, and what impedes it. This qualitative study investigated the ways practising secondary school teachers and school leaders conceptualised being an effective teacher in the environment in which they worked. Contextualised enablers of teacher effectiveness and impediments to teacher effectiveness were also explored. A multiple case study of three schools was designed. Participant schools were purposively selected to provide substantial contextual variation – one government school, one Catholic school, and one independent school were each a case explored. Five-to-six voluntary participants in each school were selected, each one a practising teacher, or a school leader who also had an active teaching role. Semi-structured individual interviews were utilised to produced rich, contextualised data on the attributes, knowledge, and behaviours necessary to be effective as a teacher at the school. Data evidenced that teachers’ own conceptualisations of being an effective teacher aligned with established research, yet with notable contextual variation in some emphases in the descriptions. Participants described detailed, contextualised knowledge of their working environment and what they understood was enabling effective work by the teachers at their school, and what impeded effective work. Contextualised collective teacher efficacy and the impact of a school ethos were evidenced to enable teacher effectiveness. Unintegrated, time-intensive managerial and policy directives impeded teacher effectiveness.
ItemThe preparation and development of middle leaders in Victorian secondary schoolsCooper, Peter Anthony Hope ( 2021)Middle leaders in schools provide a critical link between senior leadership and teaching staff. Employing a multi-perspective case study methodology, this study looked at the common themes facing middle leaders at three Victorian secondary schools, Catholic, government, and independent, with regard to their preparation for leadership, their professional and personal development in the role, how their role is perceived by those to whom they report and those they lead, and how they determine if they have been successful in their role. At each school, the following staff members were invited to participate in the study: senior leaders, middle leaders, and teachers. The middle leaders involved in this research were actively involved in leading pastoral, academic, and/or co-curricular departments within a Catholic, government, or independent school. Semi-structured interviewing was used for the purpose of collecting their responses. The participants’ responses were analysed, and emergent themes described. A total of 56 themes with 78 sub-themes emerged from the study, covering the dimensions of preparation, development, perception, and success in leadership. Common themes raised by middle leaders were professional learning, the support provided in their role, career progression, their ability to influence school direction, level of autonomy in the role, departmental management, professional relationships, and their support of students’ achievement. The study indicates that middle leaders’ measurement of success in the role was primarily linked to student achievement in academic and social domains. A leadership development model is offered to support aspiring and current middle leaders.