Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses
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ItemStudent views of talk interactions in learning: a case study of year 8 girlsRYAN, JOANNE ( 2013)The aim of this study is to identify student attitudes to classroom talk interactions, specifically class discussion, to ascertain whether students view these contexts as opportunities for learning. The study also sought to isolate the ways students recognise talk as helping them to learn. Further, it is aimed to inform the pedagogical practice of teachers to assist them to co-construct, with students, class discussions that are more productive. Data was collected for the study from two cohorts of Year 8 girls over consecutive years, interview data from students and also interviews with four Year 8 learning area teachers. In the embedded sequential mixed-method design employed in this research, each data set gave rise to the next which sought to explicate and expand the themes emerging from the previous data set. Relationships of significance were found between enjoyment, learning, participation, teacher style (questioning and timing) and classroom culture and a conceptual model was developed which attempted to diagrammatically represent those relationships. The results also indicate the essential role of responsibility as key to class discussion. Responsibility for the success of a class discussion, one in which learning takes place, was found to be shared jointly by students and teachers. The findings for the study recommend a whole school approach to articulating and consistently and consciously applying mechanisms identified to generate more effective class discussions.
ItemMeasuring the development of professional learning teamsRobertson, Pamela L. ( 2012)In many schools, groups of teachers are meeting regularly with the intention of improving their practice so they can enhance the learning of their students. These groups, often known as professional learning teams or professional learning communities, have been shown to be an effective means of changing classroom practices and improving student learning (Bolam, McMahon, Stoll, Thomas, & Wallace, 2005) Team activities such as interpreting evidence of student learning, examining the effectiveness of teaching and assessment strategies, and collaboratively planning teaching are integral to the process, as is creating a culture of engagement that increases the involvement of teachers in these collaborative practices. The purpose of this study was to design an instrument to measure the degree to which professional learning teams engage in activities that have been identified as improving the teaching practices of members and enhancing the learning of their students. The study took a criterion-referenced measurement approach and utilised item response modelling (Rasch model) in the analysis. This study produced two online questionnaires for teachers; one that concentrated on the activities undertaken by the team and the other that measured the engagement of teachers in the functioning of the team. It showed that it is possible to distinguish between the sophistication of functioning of professional learning teams and to distinguish between the engagement of teachers in the functioning of professional learning teams. It was possible to describe different levels of sophistication and engagement which can be used by researchers investigating professional learning team functioning. These levels have been combined into two developmental progressions. It is hoped that teachers will be able to use these progressions to enhance the functioning of their teams.
ItemLying on the floor: young peoples' approaches to creativity in the music classroomBOYLE, ROSEMARY ( 2012)In recent times, the importance of fostering creativity in music education has been at the forefront of discussion and writing about music curricula. By asking students to explore their creativity in the music classroom we allow them to investigate their originality and help them to become more expressive, self-assured, and independent individuals. However, adolescents are often inhibited in their quest for self-expression. Although there are studies looking at the processes involved in creative music activities for kindergarten, primary and tertiary students, less attention has been paid to fostering creativity in secondary students. And because the notion of creativity has many interpretations, this study includes a review of literature exploring perceptions of this concept. As my pedagogy is situated in student centered music education, it also traces the growth of this movement. The aim of the study is to explore the inhibiting factors that impinge on adolescents who are asked to produce creative musical responses. The setting is a unique rural school, with a mixed population of Australian and international students, that offers education leading to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. This action research involves semi-structured interviews, students’ reflections on these music activities as well as my participant observations. The analysis of the data is used to review current classroom practices and inform new teaching directions.
ItemEstablishing an online community of inquiry at the Distance Education Centre VictoriaJackson, Luke Conrad ( 2013)The Distance Education Centre Victoria (DECV) is a government-funded, co-educational school, with approximately 3000 students who, for a variety of reasons, are undertaking one or more subjects at the DECV. Despite the availability of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), many students at the DECV remain physically and socially isolated from their peers. The DECV recognises that student collaboration has the potential to bridge this divide. This mixed method case study focused on two year 11 courses and one year 12 course, which were redesigned to utilise online components, including discussions and group projects, to attempt to establish an online Community of Inquiry in keeping with the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison, Anderson,& Archer, 1999). This framework provides a guide for developing courses that utilise the online environment to go beyond teacher-to-student communication and establish collaboration and a sense of connectedness between students. According to Garrison et al. (1999), a successful online Community of Inquiry is one in which each student is engaged by set tasks (“cognitive presence”); feels challenged and supported by the teacher (“teaching presence”); and feels part of the community (“social presence”). A student who feels that all three forms of presence are adequately covered by an online course is more likely to perceive their educational experience as positive and worthwhile. The three teachers who participated in the study received two Professional Development sessions in May 2010, focusing on developing and delivering courses in line with the CoI framework. They were interviewed at the end of first semester (June 2010) to ascertain the degree to which they believed their students had collaborated with one another and demonstrated a sense of connectedness during six months’ worth of regular DECV work. They were interviewed again after second semester (December 2010), after teaching their adapted courses. The nine students who participated in the study were surveyed, using the CoI Survey Instrument, which has been validated in large-scale trials (Arbaugh et al., 2008), in order to assess the extent to which a Community of Inquiry (Lipman, 1991) had been established in each online course. These surveys were conducted twice: at the end of first semester (June 2010), when they had engaged in the DECV’s typical course work for six months; and at the end of second semester (December 2010), after participating in online activities designed to establish a community of inquiry within their online classroom. The second survey was followed by a half-hour interview with each student. All interview data were subjected to thematic analysis. Student surveys were analysed using descriptive strategies and the Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test, a non-parametric test designed for comparing pairs of results that may not represent a normal distribution or be derived from an equal-interval scale. Survey results suggested that the adaptation of these three courses in line with the CoI framework had resulted in significant improvements in students’ perception of teaching presence. When interviewed about their experience, the majority of students confirmed these survey findings, and added that they also felt a higher level of cognitive and social presence in second semester. These findings were echoed by the teachers in their post-intervention interviews, although they reported having difficulty in getting some students to collaborate with their peers due to schedule clashes, and students’ lack of experience in working as members of a team, as well as varying degrees of social phobia and illness. The greatest gains in social presence were seen in classes in which students had an opportunity to meet each other face-to-face on at least one occasion throughout the year. Because of the reported effects of a limited number of face-to-face meetings, this study suggests that courses that use a blend of online and face-to-face interaction may be most successful in realising the aims of the CoI framework and ultimately establishing an online Community of Inquiry. Further research needs to be conducted in order to demonstrate whether the experience of these students and teachers could be replicated, or improved, if a greater number of teachers were to utilise the CoI framework as a model for redeveloping their own online courses. Further research is also required to investigate whether video conferencing is an effective substitute for face-to-face contact, for students who are unwilling or unable to attend face-to-face classes/meetings.
ItemEnglish language development in remote Indigenous Australian children: song making, music software, text production and communityWOOLLEY, NOLAN ( 2012)In a remote Australian Homeland Learning Centre for Indigenous children the lone teacher conducted a qualitative investigation of how music authoring software can be used to generate student interest in writing texts for songs. Working against odds that included limited or no electricity, no internet connection, fluctuating student attendance rates and lack of equipment, the teacher used his own MacBook computer and GarageBand software to encourage students to sing the texts/lyrics they had written and ultimately mix them down with pre-recorded music samples. This qualitative study presents an ethnographical investigation of the school and its children, and an auto-ethnographical narrative of the researcher’s experiences. In doing so it documents teaching and literacy learning sessions during one school term. Data were collected as samples of written text, my own annotated notes and journal entries, and mp3 files of student songs amongst other items. The study showed two key things: First, apparently disengaged students can produce meaningful and sustained written text as long as the curriculum is structured around teaching and learning strategies that cultivate student collaboration. Second, multimedia has the power to promote student engagement, improve attendance and foster a sense of student wellbeing if used in culturally appropriate ways. Taking a broader view, purposeful, expressive and culturally appropriate writing activities combined with multimodal text production were shown, in this case, to affect a positive change in student attitude and literacy development.
ItemMusical futures in the primary (elementary) yearsMcLennan, Rebecca Louise ( 2012)Music is an important part of young people’s lives for self-expression, enjoyment and identity formation, and it is vital that school music is able to engage all young people. A music classroom approach, Musical Futures has been found to have a positive impact on the re- engagement of young people at the secondary level (Hallam, Creech, & McQueen, 2009, 2011; Jeanneret, 2010; Jeanneret, McLennan, & Stevens-Ballenger, 2011). Years Five and Six (10-12 year olds) are grouped into the middle years of Five to Nine (10 – 15 year olds) who share common engagement needs. This study explored whether Musical Futures could have a similarly positive impact in the upper primary years as it has had in the lower secondary level. The research was a collective case study following two Australian schools which used the Musical Futures approach to music education in Years Five and Six. The study used a mixed methods approach including interviews, focus group discussions, observations and surveys to gather data. The results of the study found that Musical Futures had a positive impact on students’ engagement, musical skills and knowledge and social learning in the two case study schools. The conditions supporting the positive impact were closely aligned with principles of engaging middle years students. The study provided a number of key recommendations for schools considering implementing Musical Futures in the primary years. While it acknowledged that each case is different, the study suggested that the age of primary students should not discourage teachers from using this learning approach in their music classroom.
ItemThe map is not the territory: reconsidering music improvisation educationWallace, Michael Edmund ( 2012)This paper examines contemporary theory on music improvisation learning and teaching. It highlights how music improvisation education is being reconsidered, and the implications of this reconsideration for academic practice. The aim of the research is to emancipate. In this sense the topic engages critical theory to evaluate literature so as to provide a way forward for music improvisation education. The inductive document analysis undertaken examines a variety of document forms to seek recurring themes and thematic relationships. This qualitative investigation is framed by ecological systems theory/methodology (Borgo, 2007; Clarke, 2005), which sees knowledge as embodied, situated and distributed. Music education centres on the performance of repertoire, often neglecting the creative processes of improvisation and composition. This study finds the dominant improvisation education methods which stem from jazz as limited in scope. Jazz improvisation education commonly centres on patterns and models and a harmonic imperative (chord–scale theory). Such approaches do not holistically embrace the immediacy, preparation, embodiment and social interaction of the improvisation process, which ecological systems theory seeks to acknowledge. In a broader setting, the Dalcroze, Kodály and Orff early childhood methods centre on improvisation as play, perhaps reflecting Piaget’s concrete operational stage. Subsequent levels of music education, perhaps viewing play as immature, neglect the embodied, situated and distributed elements of ecological improvisation. Paynter and Schafer, through their Cagean prioritisation of critical listening, exhibit some elements of ecological systems thinking. I conclude that the educational methods utilised by free improvisers, such as Stevens, Dove, Dresser and Bennink, engage the learner holistically through embodied, situated and distributed practice. It is recommended that such educational methods, which involve community practice, be introduced into music academies to reflect the ecological nature of improvisation.
ItemJob seekers, traps, and Mickey-Mouse trainingDavis, Sarah Margaret ( 2012)Students have become commodities in a new market-driven Australian training system and according to the literature, increasingly subject to poor quality training. Some courses have not been adequate or appropriate for the learning needs of the students, nor industry requirements, and therefore flout the policy goal of a skilled workforce. This thesis aims to explore pathways to employment for African migrant women who undertook a Certificate III course in aged care, but remained unemployed in an area of apparent ‘skills shortage’. Utilising an ethnographic methodology, a small sample of migrant women graduates of aged care Certificate III courses participated in the study – some had been successful and others unsuccessful in obtaining employment in the field. A small sample of aged care team leaders were also interviewed. Sub-standard training qualifications were identified by participants as the biggest barrier to employment. Research findings suggest that fast-tracked, private for-profit training provision is likely to be of poor quality in comparison to public not-for-profit training provision. Findings also indicate that agents of various guises, often with conflicts of interest, have been recruiting students with apparent insufficient and even misleading information about courses. For the long-term benefit of society and the economy, a recognition of the role of well-resourced and funded public training institutions is recommended. If government continues to enable competition for funding between private and public training providers, adequate measures need to be in place to ensure more responsible disbursement of government funds in the training sector. Training providers need to be adequately checked before funds are allocated to them; including for their capabilities such as student support services, partnerships and track record of employment outcomes, but not overly audited and monitored so that professional accountability innovation and quality are stifled. Consumers need to be informed, protected and have bargaining power to be able to compete with the demands of large corporations and international markets. A Labour Market Entry Model (LMEM) is proposed that is a three pronged approach, managed and informed by an ethical local governance structure, of i) policies for quality training ii) career pathway information and iii) work creation for target labour, such as the migrant women, to overcome some of the barriers that they may face and to strategically reduce poverty and related issues in localities where there are concentrations of disadvantage. Until policies and resources are better directed towards a LMEM, partnerships of local agencies should enable residents and employer brokers to clarify career interests and aptitudes along with labour market entry requirements of local employers. They should also raise awareness on how to select a quality training course and determine which training providers and courses should be accepted into community spaces.
ItemDeveloping thinkers in English for Academic Purposes programmesMunro, Barbara ( 2012)This thesis is a theoretical enquiry, which focuses on some of the problems already identified by empirical research related to developing thinking in learners enrolled in English for Academic Purposes programmes in Australia (EAP). Rather than researching through an empirical study to identify already highlighted or further problems related to developing thinking, this thesis seeks to illustrate how the previously identified problems can impact on attempts to develop better thinking in EAP. To highlight the reality of these problems, an example of an attempt to develop thinking through a discussion is taken from my own teaching. After identifying three main problems, the thesis seeks to illuminate possible solutions based upon synthesised and selected ideas from prominent literature in the thinking movement in general education. The solutions are not empirically proven, they will be discussed in terms of suggesting ways to improve the attempts of developing better thinking in EAP. Firstly, by suggesting a change in the way thinking is viewed. Secondly, by introducing views that will help formulate solutions to the problems related to developing thinking. Thirdly, by contributing ideas for developing thinking that are usable for teachers and may provide a platform for further empirical research into how better thinking can be developed in EAP in Australia. This thesis seeks to answer two questions: 1. What are some of the issues in seeking to develop higher order thinking in students enrolled in English for Academic Purposes programmes in Australia as identified in literature? 2. How can we develop better thinkers in EAP programmes?
ItemEngagement and autonomy: their relationship and impact on reading comprehension for junior-secondary English literature studentsWatson, Jennifer Louise ( 2012)A qualitative, inductive design explored the effects of two differing approaches to teaching comprehension of narrative texts on students’ task engagement and text enjoyment, and comprehension. Using one junior-secondary, mixed ability English class in a suburb of Melbourne (Victoria) the study compared and contrasted an approach allowing considerable student autonomy with one that is teacher-directed. It considered for which students, and under what circumstances, one might be more constructive. A grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2006) was used to derive analytic theories from the particular situational and social context. The results demonstrate a complex relationship between engagement and comprehension. They highlight that academically weaker students can be more engaged by increased autonomy, and academically more able students can be disengaged by greater autonomy and prefer the more ‘predictable-to-them’, authoritative approach to instruction. Furthermore, the students’ views of knowledge and their corresponding efficacy beliefs can contribute to the extent of their engagement and ensuing achievement. It is proposed that teachers consider, more explicitly, students’ attitudes toward instruction. Additionally, by diversifying and allowing choice of both the activities to assist comprehension and the ways comprehension is assessed, teachers may be better able to facilitate students’ potential.
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