Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    The vertical curriculum meeting the needs of students of high intellectual potential
    Ryan, Maree J ( 2000)
    This pilot project investigated one Victorian Independent School's implementation of the vertical curriculum in Grades Five and Six in over a one-year period in 1998. The study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of the vertical curriculum model for students identified as intellectually Gifted, High (Gifted and Bright) and Mainstream (Average, Low Average and Low) students by reviewing the students' progress in mathematics. Using Progressive Achievement Tests in Mathematics at the beginning and end of the year the identified Gifted, Bright and Mainstream students' progress was monitored to track their mathematical development, consisting of - achievement or progress made. The cohort reviewed consisted of eighty eight students incorporating eleven identified intellectually Gifted students, thirty three Bright students and forty four Mainstream students, as identified by the Raven's Progressive Matrices. The findings indicated firstly that an advanced level of mathematical achievement was found for the identified Gifted students. Secondly, it was found that the vertical curriculum assisted the Mainstream students as they showed significant mathematical progress. The findings indicated that the vertical curriculum provided an equitable educational option for the identified intellectually Gifted, Bright and Mainstream students.
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    A study of teachers' experiences of six years of laptop computers in the classrooms of a senior secondary school
    Nicholson, J. A ( 2000)
    This is the report of a study based on a Melbourne Secondary School looking at the use of laptop computers made by the staff in their teaching. Questionnaires were the instrument used to find a measure of the level of penetration and overall acceptance of laptop computers and computer technology by the Teaching Staff. The questionnaire was administered in 1997 and again in 1999. This study looks, with regard to the use of laptop computers by staff, at aspects of the teaching curriculum, administrative tasks and teaching at the classroom level over the two-year period 1997 to 1999. The questionnaire used is a `census' of all staff teaching at Years 9-12 where the laptop program is mandatory in a variety of study areas. The finding of this report is that the program at Goodlands Grammar has, at least in the short term, created a teaching environment that is still working within the traditional curriculum, using computers to achieve traditional outcomes. The computer has not, as yet, become integrated into the classroom program; rather it remains a complicated overlay to the existing curriculum.
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    Leadership and management in three exemplar non-government Australian Christian schools
    Twelves, James Bertrand ( 2000)
    The aim of this study was to identify some of the keys to the success of three non-government Protestant Christian schools, two parent controlled and one church sponsored. An expert panel nominated successful schools. Those with the greatest number of nominations were invited to become case studies. Qualitative methods of in-depth interviewing and document study were employed in each of the three schools. Eleven interviews were conducted, three chairpersons, three principals, three deputies, one school general manager and one sponsoring church general manager. The two research questions focused on a description of the current leadership and management practices and an understanding of the outcomes of the leadership and management in the lives of the students. These questions were developed into a conceptual framework that underpinned the study, namely that the leadership and management styles create distinctive structures in effective schools that in turn lead to the key attributes of success in the three Christian schools. The most significant findings of the research were that a collaborative leadership style dominated the organisations and that the school boards were now concentrating on governance and the implementation of a modified CEO model for their principals. Distinctive enrolment policies were being carefully implemented by committed Christian teachers whose contribution was regarded as the single most important factor that has led to the success of the schools. The teachers' primary objective was to see the lives of the students transformed, which was the central feature of the schools' dynamic vision. It is hoped that this study will be of value to anyone who wishes to see Christian schooling in Australia continue to succeed.
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    Vision and practice in Catholic schools
    Purdey, Carmel M ( 2000)
    This research examined the way in which a group of principals, teachers and parents from three Catholic primary schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne perceive the translation of vision into practice in their schools. This paper provides an account of the background literature examined, the methodology used, the data collected and conclusions drawn.
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    Introducing a computer corner in an early intervention setting for young children with speech-language concerns
    Rahmani, Michele ( 2000)
    This study investigates a process for introducing a computer corner, as an innovation, in an Early Intervention Centre catering for children with speech-language concerns. Parents attend the Centre with their children and play a major part in the teaching/learning process. This study documented the process of introducing the computer corner as one of the learning areas available to the children, and the parents were invited to participate in the research. As the process evolved through the stages of planning, initiation, implementation and reflection, parents were involved in ongoing recording of their observations of the children. It was facilitated for the parents to express their feelings and positions regarding the innovation through formal and informal discussions. The parents were asked to complete a set of questionnaires early in the initiation phase of the process and these were repeated towards the end of the implementation stage in order to note changes in the parents' perspectives and use of the innovation. Seventeen parent participants completed the questionnaires and the implementation process. The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM), (Hall, Wallace and Dossett, 1973) was used to assess progress that participants made as they implemented the innovation. The process investigated was found to be successful as a model for introducing an innovation. All participants showed changes in their acceptance of the computer corner, and in the way that they progressed through stages of concern about and their levels of use of the computer. The computer corner was very popular with the children. Over fifty percent of the parents and children together accessed the computer with a medium to high frequency. Computer literacy levels were well enhanced as both parents and children contributed to the process.
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    Where are they now ? : an investigation into the vocations and lifestyles of the University High School Acceleration Program 1988 cohort
    Tarr, Jennifer L ( 2000)
    This study investigated the current vocational and lifestyle situations of the 1988 intake cohort of the University High School Acceleration Program (UHS AP) in Melbourne, Australia. There were three main. reasons: to ascertain whether the participants' current situations were predicted by the literature in gifted education; to ascertain whether the current outcomes were predicted by the stated aims of the UHS AP and to invite respondents to reflect on their secondary schooling. A target cohort of 22 from the 1988 AP intake was selected after consultation with the co-ordinator of the UHS AP. The investigation sought factual information such as current occupation and personal circumstances and also ascertained current attitudes to particular aspects of their accelerated secondary schooling. This was done using a self-administered questionnaire incorporating a variety of question formats. Seventeen members of the cohort completed the questionnaire, providing information about: their current vocational status and influential factors for this; their current personal circumstances and feelings about these; their proudest achievements; their plans for the future and their current feelings about their experience in the UHS AP. This study is a follow up based on Dr Betty Murphy's 1994 thesis, which studied the first ten cohorts of the UHS AP. Her findings were employed in the analysis of the results. Vocational and lifestyle circumstances varied, as predicted by the literature. Reported satisfaction with their experience of acceleration was high, although suggestions for improvement in both curriculum and counselling were made. An attempt was made to link matters raised in the responses with the initial aims and objectives of the UHS AP. While there was a good correspondence between these objectives and reported outcomes, the objectives do not emphasise the same aspects of acceleration which the participants valued - namely the strong friendships they developed and the chance to be themselves.
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    Peer appraisal : as envisaged, enacted, perceived, and experienced : a case study of a catholic secondary college
    Miles, Victor J ( 2000)
    This study explores the dimensions of a peer appraisal process in a secondary Catholic College. The purpose of the peer appraisal process is to enhance the teaching and learning environment within the school. It aims to help to create a dynamic learning environment by affirming areas of teacher strength and achievement, by identifying aspects of professional development that will contribute to continual growth and forward planning. The study examined, through a retrospective case study, the purpose, the process and the experiences of the participant teachers. Through the examination of the theoretical model as designed by Iwanicki (1981) this study used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodology to compare the essential characteristics of this theoretical model with that of the College's model as envisaged and enacted. The findings of the study provide a rich illumination of the shared and unique experiences and perceived outcomes as told by the appraisees. In some aspects the College's model is congruent with the theoretical model, however significant areas of mismatch arose and are discussed as issues. These issues include: 1. Collaboration between appraisee and mentor. 2. Written documentation of the process. 3. Professional commitment to the process. 4. Impact on teaching and learning. 5. Professional responsibility and reform. They are discussed in the light of the findings.
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    The Melbourne Anglican Retreat House 1947-1997
    Whelan, Lynette M ( 2000)
    The purpose of the study was to document a history of the Melbourne Anglican Retreat House and to investigate briefly the place of reflection and reflective practice in Retreat House programs. As an historical investigation, the study used both primary and secondary sources including fifteen oral interviews. An analysis of the use of oral history as a research methodology has been included. In 1885 a Church of England Diocesan Mission to the Streets and Lanes was established to provide Christian outreach to the inner areas of the city of Melbourne. The Mission was staffed by volunteers, including a small band of women under the direction of Sister Esther, the founder of the religious order, the Community of the Holy Name. This community later provided staff for the House of Mercy in Cheltenham which was a home for women and girls from 1892 - 1946. The study focused on the period from 1947 following the conversion of the House of Mercy to the Retreat House, until the withdrawal of the Sisters in 1997. In an Epilogue attention has been drawn to the possibility of eventual sale of the property and a relocation of the current team ministry. The brief investigation into reflection and reflective practice concludes with a recommendation for further, more detailed research.
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    Cognition and metacognition of gifted and average preadolescent males
    O'Mullane, Phebe Anne ( 2000)
    Recent conceptions of giftedness as domain-based cognitive precocity have focused on superior processing speed and power, advanced abstract reasoning, and metacognitive insight as key factors in distinguishing gifted from average cognition. This empirical research studied sixteen matched pairs of gifted and average 10 and 12 year-old males to explore the extent to which these variables might explain differences between gifted and average cognitive and metacognitive development. Utilising Piaget's developmental theory of cognition as a theoretical foundation, and his Methode Clinique as procedural framework, it examined 1/ cognitive speed and ability during problem-solving in three domains: verbal, logical-mathematical and spatial, and 2/ general metacognitive awareness in gifted and average preadolescents. Results revealed statistically significant cognitive differences between gifted and average students, but findings were not consistent across domains. In general, gifted students solved problems faster in the verbal and logical-mathematical domains, but not in the spatial domain. They demonstrated superior performance and higher levels of abstract reasoning in all three. Notably, gifted 10 year-olds outperformed not only the average 10 year-olds (their chronological age peers) but also the average 12 year-olds (their mental age peers) in terms of speed in two domains, as well as accuracy and use of formal operations in all three. The gifted students used qualitatively different problem solving strategies from those used by average students. Metacognitive differences followed a similar pattern except for response time. Gifted students tended to solve metacognitive problems more slowly, possibly reflecting their more complex and varied metacognitive strategies, and their greater metacognitive awareness. Their generally higher level of metacognitive awareness was usually, but not invariably, associated with formal reasoning, particularly in the verbal and logical-mathematical domains. Conversely, average students with high metacognitive awareness were likely still to use concrete reasoning in verbal problem solving and transitional reasoning in the other two domains. The finding that gifted students as young as 10 years were using formal reasoning in up to three domains, while average students were still concrete or transitional problem solvers, supported the definition of giftedness as precocious cognitive development in preadolescence. Gifted students' early between-stage transition and subsequent rapid within-stage movement toward consolidated formal reasoning suggested that there might be a differentiated cognitive development for gifted, as distinct from average individuals. While results provided some evidence of domain-specific giftedness characterised by formal reasoning in only one domain, the more common use of formal reasoning in two or more domains by gifted students supported the hypothesis that their differentiated cognitive development promotes domain-general giftedness.
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    Making connections from the classroom to professional context : using problem-based learning to enhance engineering education
    Roberts, Pamela ( 2000)
    Problem-based learning (PBL) is presented as an educational reform that is particularly relevant for professional education programs. This study investigated the use of PBL to enhance the quality of students' learning in Professional Skills, a first year engineering subject at Swinburne University of Technology. The major aims for Professional Skills are to develop students' communication skills and to provide them with an introduction to the engineering profession. PBL was selected because of the use of a professional context to demonstrate the relevance of learning and the approach to developing students' abilities for self-directed and life-long learning. PBL requires different understandings and approaches to teaching and learning than are typical of existing practices in engineering education. An action research method was used to guide the development of curriculum and teaching practices because of the role of action research in providing support for teachers to improve their educational understandings and practices. The study examines two action research cycles of curriculum development, teaching and learning during 1995. Qualitative research methods were used to investigate teachers' and students' experiences of teaching and learning to inform the progressive curriculum improvement and evaluation. The findings from the study provide insight into both the characteristics of PBL that enhance the quality of students' learning and strategies that contribute to an on-going process of supporting change and improvement in curriculum and teaching practices. Students identified four thematic issues that were central to their motivation and engagement in learning. These issues were: being able to see the relevance of their learning to their future careers, collaborative learning in class and their project teams, their opportunities for active involvement and input into learning decisions, and a supportive learning environment in which they received guidance and feedback on their progress. Teaching and learning in the PBL curriculum was a new and challenging experience for both engineering teachers and students. The collaborative action research process assisted teachers to develop the skills and confidence to utilise new approaches to teaching and learning. The relevance of these findings to achieving the cultural change advocated by the 1996 Review of Engineering Education (lEAust 1996) is examined.