Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Uneasy lies the head : the repositioning of heads of English in independent schools in Victoria in the age of new learning technologies
    Watkinson, Alan Redmayne ( 2004)
    This study explores the discursive practice of six Heads of English in Independent Schools in Victoria during a period of major cultural change. This change has been associated with huge public investment in New Learning Technologies and shifting perceptions and expectations of cultural agency in communities of practice such as English Departments in Schools. In this social milieu tensions exist between the societal rhetoric of school management and marketing of the efficacy of NLTs as educational realities and discursive practices at a departmental level, embodying and embedding academic values and attainments. In their conversations with the author, the Heads of English reveal much about themselves and the nature and distribution of their duties and responsibilities within the local moral order of their schools and with their individual communities of practice. A model is developed of the dual praxis of the Heads of the Heads of English, mediated by autobiography and historically available cultural resources in a community of practice. As agents concerned to both maintain and transform their local culture of English teaching, and consequently the whole school culture, the Heads of English account for themselves as responding to their own `sense of place' in their own community of practice, but also the `structure of feeling' of the period by which their achievements and standing are known. This study of the persons of the English co-ordinators draws upon both Positioning Theory and critical realism to reveal the dynamic nature of both their identity and the social organization of English teaching in schools.
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    The theory of educational inequality in Australia, 1900-1950
    McCallum, David ( 1985)
    This thesis investigates the terms in which the problem of educational differences was posed by Australian intellectuals during the first half of the twentieth century. The investigation seeks to understand the social and historical limits of research into social differences in education, and makes problematic the degree of relative autonomy of this inquiry from the prevailing social and political arrangements which it sought to address. It attempts to demonstrate how the historically evolved. social norms of a particular class, in respect of participation in school and the acquisition of a positive disposition to school, became enshrined in official and scientific discourses on education as the natural and normal attributes of childhood and youth. The thesis examines the texts of leading figures in education and others who became interested in educational problems in their role as social commentators and critics. As a rule, these intellectuals advocated more schooling for greater national productivity and a more informed citizenry, adjustments to the curriculum in accordance with the 'needs' and expected life trajectories of different social groups of children, and finally, a more efficient alignment of school selection and ability. Along these lines, education was to play a major role in achieving the 'democratic ideal'. While there were arguments about the methods and criteria for achieving these goals, there existed in parallel an almost complete unanimity and consensus among these writers as to the questions to be raised. Whether as academics, educational researchers, bureaucrats,. politicians or scientists, they believed Australia had been inadequately served by its education system and that substantial reassessment and adjustment was required, in anticipation of a 'new order' to come. At the same time as the resources of the State were being mobilized to create a system of schools based on this vision, a science of education was emerging which permitted the school population to be ranked and allocated, along apparently scientific lines. Psychology became concerned with the problem of individual differences in the State school population, and developed in such a way that State schooling, and the posing of the problem of school differences, played a mutually ratifying role. The system of private grammar schools largely remained immune to psychological inquiry. Psychological reasoning pre-figured a solution to social differences in virtue of its overall affirmation of the particular form of State schooling offered (specific practices of school organization in line with 'normal' performance, divisions of knowledge into yearly packages), but also by the material and cultural demand to regulate the length and type of schooling in the post-primary stages. The science of natural differences among individual pupils served the administrative problem of selection into a differentiated school system, and ultimately permitted the social distribution of participation and achievement to be represented as the product of individual differences.
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    Initiating formal evaluation practices in Victorian secondary schools: a meta-evaluation of whole-school and part-school evaluation strategies
    Lambert, Faye Charlotte ( 1987)
    The purpose of this meta-evaluation was to investigate the merit of an apparent shift in evaluation policy on the part of the present government from whole-school evaluation with external validation and input to internal part-school evaluation as alternative strategies for initiating formal evaluation practices in Victorian secondary schools. While the study provides an overview of the strategies and outcomes pertaining to both approaches to evaluation, it focuses specifically on the implications of the scope of evaluation for the planning process in schools, the role and impact of the use of external expertise and the significance of staff perceptions on the process of evaluation and its outcomes. Data was collected using qualitative research methods and a retrospective study of eight carefully selected case study schools was carried out. Four of these schools had completed whole-school evaluations and the remaining four had completed part-school evaluations. While informal observation and document collection constituted an important part of the research strategy, heavy reliance was placed on data emerging from one-to-one interviews with individual members of staff across different levels of the school hierarchy. This methodology was adopted because it was believed to be the most effective way of discovering the more sensitive, less tangible outcomes related to evaluations, and because the attitudes and perceptions of staff towards evaluations represented an important outcome of the evaluation in their own right. A basic premise of this research is that the effectiveness of school-based evaluation initiatives in bringing about school improvement will be largely dependent upon the willing support of the staff who are called upon to participate in the evaluation and in any change initiatives which flow from it. While caution should be exercised in generalising from the findings of a limited number of case study schools to all schools, the findings support the general trend towards initiating formal evaluation practices via part-school evaluation strategy. However, they also underline the need for schools to initiate evaluation studies in ways which will ensure that they contribute effectively to, and become an integral part of, school development. In response to this need, an alternative model or approach to evaluation is proposed.