Faculty of Education - Theses

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    The Internet of Toys: Exploring multimodal learning in the lifeworlds of young children
    Ling, Li ( 2023-09)
    Young children are growing up with an array of playthings including those in the category of the Internet of Toys (IoToys). They are not only playing with certain Internet-connected items that are manufactured to be children’s toys, but also turning many Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as smartphones and tablets, into their playthings. To provide a clear and comprehensive interpretation of what the IoToys might be, and to enable future research on the IoToys to be conducted in a systematic and holistic way, a new conceptualisation of the Internet of Toys is proposed in this work. Based on this novel conceptualisation, an online survey and five case studies were conducted following a convergent mixed methods design, in order to explore young children’s play practices with their IoToys in the home settings and to determine any associated influences on children’s play and learning. Additionally, some elements influencing young children’s play choices with the IoToys were investigated. A total of 730 Chinese parents/caregivers from four different schools participated in the survey. Descriptive analyses and correlational analyses were conducted to analyse the survey data. Five families with six children participated in the case studies. Each participant family was visited on five to eight occasions, with interviews and observations being conducted over a period of four months. Thematic analysis was then employed to analyse the data generated from the case studies. The findings from this research reveal that the IoToys items, with their range of activities, were very popular among young children. Because of the ubiquitous nature of the IoT devices, a majority of the children started to play with the IoToys at a young age. The qualitative data suggested several similarities among the children’s play practices with the IoToys, and demonstrated that the children could acquire varied knowledge from their free play with their IoToys. What the children may learn from their IoToys play was largely determined by the specific content of the play activities conducted (e.g., games and cartoons) rather than the devices themselves. The survey explored whether there existed a relationship between the IoToys play at home and academic performance at school. The data from the case studies and those from the survey together showed some elements that may influence children’s play practices with their IoToys, such as their parents’ mediation strategies and attitudes, and the parents’ own IoToys play habits. Several challenges associated with the children’s IoToys play were revealed, such as a consideration of what is now regarded as being age-inappropriate content in social media. The findings have important implications for future research and make a significant contribution to the current debates in the research literature about digital play. Finally, valuable suggestions for families about IoToys possibilities and for the toy industry about design can also be obtained.
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    The preparation and development of middle leaders in Victorian secondary schools
    Cooper, 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.