Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    The Vincenzo vitale piano school: myth or method?
    Ferrari, Viviana Nicoleta ( 2019)
    Abstract: The Vincenzo Vitale Piano School (VVPS) is unique among piano schools. It was formed in 1928 by Vincenzo Vitale (1908-1984) whose teachings have persisted to this present day. Its distinctiveness is marked by its conception of interpretation and technique as fundamentally indivisible and its physiologically grounded approach to piano playing. There are, however, as many facts as myths about the School in circulation. Given the fragmented state of knowledge about the School, it is a research priority to demystify the School and develop an accurate and pedagogically useful account of its methods. The oral, practice-centred approach inherent to the School’s pedagogy, although well- suited to the cultivation of pianists whose practice followed the School’s guiding principles, proved ill-suited to the reliable promulgation of this knowledge beyond the School’s early cohorts. The fractured state of knowledge on the School’s identity, values, principles, and practices created the risk that this knowledge could be lost altogether. It is the aim of this investigation to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the VVPS through an examination of its identity, values, principles and practices. Such an investigation is intrinsically interdisciplinary, and, to this end, this research employs and triangulates findings gleaned through a qualitative and multidisciplinary approach. Through the use of the Ferrari Model (2019), this investigation has demonstrated that the VVPS is a dynamic living reality, not a myth.
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    Teaching Geoscience Out-of-Field with Digital Technologies: Understanding Agency through Positioning Theory
    Rochette, Emily Elizabeth ( 2019)
    The professional rights and duties science teachers ought to attend to as skilled members of the profession are evident from roles specified by initial teacher education, registration authorities, subject-specific teachers’ associations, education policy and state- mandated curriculum documents. Of particular interest are the assumptions made by stakeholders within and beyond the community of professional educators about both digital technologies and teachers’ capacity to incorporate them into their practice. Research literature suggests that teachers’ use of digital technologies varies considerably and depends on a number of factors (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2013; Inan & Lowther, 2010; Somekh, 2008; Waight, Chiu, & Whitford, 2014; Zhao & Frank, 2003). In addition, for multi-disciplinary subjects like general science the accepted reality is that teachers may be highly accomplished in some areas but not others (Carlsen, 1992; Kind, 2014; Nixon, Campbell, & Luft, 2016; Nixon & Luft, 2015; Sanders, Borko, & Lockard, 1993). Geoscience is a sub-discipline of science largely taught by non-specialists (King, 2008, 2013, 2015) or science teachers teaching out-of-field (OOF) (Hobbs, 2015). This qualitative research sought a more empowering and useful understanding of teachers’ lived experience teaching with digital technologies in the Australian state of Victoria. Positioning theory (Harre & van Langenhove, 1999) was the overarching philosophy and methodology for the research design. Ten science teachers from an inner- city school in Melbourne were invited to reflect on their lived experience teaching with digital technologies. Constructivist grounded theory coding procedures (Charmaz, 2014), pronoun grammar analysis (Muhlhausler & Harre, 1990; Redman, 2013a; Redman & Fawns, 2010) and the positioning triad (Harre & van Langenhove, 1999) were the analytical tools used to methodically code data to better understand extent to which teachers perceived themselves to be permitted and/or empowered (Foucault, Martin, Gutman, & Hutton, 1988) to act autonomously before, during and after teaching geoscience with digital technologies. Prior to offering teachers support to teach OOF with digital technologies, two notable conclusions emerged from the data analysis. First, teachers did not make connections between their institutional and subject-specific duties to utilize digital technologies. Second, without a formal program of digital experiences for students and teachers’ varying degrees of personal and professional history utilizing digital technologies, the sign systems (Foucault et al., 1988) were not yet in place for most of these teachers to identify the pedagogical possibilities for digital technology use. Notably early-career teachers who trained as scientists could not be assumed to intuitively draw on their transferrable skills to teach for technology-enabled learning (Brantley-Dias & Ertmer, 2013; Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2013). In addition, most teachers did not readily identify their existing digital practices as transferrable and linked to teaching OOF. Four teachers participated more extensively by teaching a year nine geoscience unit designed to support their personal and pedagogical growth to use digital technologies in the OOF area. External and internal factors that both strengthened and compromised teachers’ evolving sense of personal agency are identified and explained. Notably, science teachers cannot be grouped as homogeneous users of and teachers with digital technologies. Teachers’ interpretations of their professional rights and duties to utilize digital technologies must be understood for effective, differentiated professional growth to occur across both subject-specific and institutional expectations. The range and complexity of competencies for which teachers are personally and professionally accountable are explained and the research is shown to make unique contributions to the fields of OOF teaching, digital technology use in education, better understanding the experiences scientists who became teachers and research methodology. The Explicit Personal Pragmatic Approach (EPPA) to professional learning is a three- dimensional model offered that illustrates the relationships between subject-specific and institutional expectations placed on teachers. The EPPA may also hold value if applied to other occupations where workplace professionals change roles and are required to continually refine their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts. Finally, recommendations are made for implementing school-wide use of digital technologies which may have international implications, particularly in a time when a variety of stakeholders rely on teachers’ digital technology use to help combat global health issues.
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    Translating neuroscience and psychology into education: Towards a conceptual model for the Science of Learning
    Donoghue, Gregory Michael ( 2019)
    This thesis reports on an empirical comparison between disciplines of educational psychology and educational neuroscience. an integrated conceptual model for the emerging field of the Science of Learning that subsumes both disciplines. After developing a conceptual framework that divides educational phenomena into five discrete layers, and a translation schema, the thesis reports the results of a systematic review of 548 studies in the educational neuroscience literature. To compare this impact with that of Educational Psychology, the thesis reports on two empirical reviews of the educational psychology literature: first, a meta-analysis of 10 well-established learning strategies, and second a meta-synthesis of over 42 learning strategies and their moderators, which formed the basis of a proposed Model of Learning. Finally, the respective strengths and limitations of both disciplines formed the basis for an integrated conceptual model for human learning – the Pedagogical Primes Model for the Learning Sciences. This model provides a means by which all learning-related disciplines (including but not limited to neuroscience) can meaningfully communicate with each other, and in so doing enhance the valid translation of Science of Learning research into educational practice.
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    Collaborative Problem-Solving and Academic Performance of Adolescents: The role of activity achievement emotions
    Camacho Morles, Jesus Leonardo ( 2019)
    This thesis examined the relative incidence, origins, and influence of achievement emotions in academic performance, including collaborative problem-solving (CPS). A theoretical model was tested to investigate whether individual differences in the intensity of achievement emotions experienced by students while completing CPS tasks would be linked to their effort regulation, which in turn, would predict CPS social and cognitive performance. It was also hypothesised that students’ achievement emotions would influence their levels of participation, responsiveness, and perspective-taking during the activity affecting, in turn, their final social CPS performance. The sample consisted of 100 adolescent dyads (n = 200) who completed a series of five computer-based CPS tasks while self-report questionnaires measured their enjoyment, boredom, and anger responses. Regression analysis revealed that enjoyment was associated with higher performance on both social and cognitive CPS tasks by predicting participants’ effort and social interactions between problem-solving partners during the CPS tasks. This contrasted with the experience of negative emotions, including boredom and anger, which was associated with lower motivation to invest effort, which in turn was linked to more reduced cognitive CPS task performance. These findings expand existing knowledge by highlighting the importance of commonly experienced discrete achievement emotions in predicting complex students’ abilities such as the critical skills for 21st-century schooling: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity, grouped within CPS.
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    VCAL: growth and performance
    Debrincat, Cornelia ( 2015)
    This thesis examines a major curriculum innovation that was introduced into the upper secondary curriculum in the Australian state of Victoria in 2002 – the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). Victoria is the only state in Australia which has developed a separate senior secondary certificate, a vocational certificate to sit alongside the general Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). The VCAL claims to be a comprehensive attempt to anchor vocational learning within the secondary school environment in Australia. The aim of this study is to investigate whether the VCAL has delivered on its promise to provide an educational opportunity for students for whom the VCE is not appropriate; an opportunity to experience success and move into appropriate pathways into further education and training and employment. It is important to assess the educational impact a vocational program like the VCAL has had within the senior secondary curriculum. To see this in context, the research literature on vocational and applied learning in schools is examined through various approaches that are used in the delivery of vocational and applied learning to school-age students internationally and in Australia. The research focuses on two main models of differentiation – whether they are predominantly school-based or employment-based and the age at which differentiation into academic and vocational programs occurs. The research also examines the effectiveness of these programs and their impact on school retention, student engagement and their ability to create effective pathways into a range of destinations, including further education, training and employment. The story of vocational education and training (VET) in the Australian state of Victoria is seen in an historical context as the researcher explores the history of curriculum change in Victoria over many decades, leading to the senior secondary offerings available today. The thesis concludes that the VCAL has on the whole been successful in engaging the VCAL students who participated in this study. It has also provided strong pathways in apprenticeships. However, pathways into employment in particular, full-time employment are less than optimal. The VCAL also continues to face many challenges, particularly in terms of perceptions and ownership at a local level. The thesis argues for a new educational philosophy and a redefinition of upper secondary curriculum to place VCAL as a credible alternative to the VCE. It argues for a redesign of the VCAL program requiring all VCAL students to enrol in the VCAL as an apprentice or trainee. Finally, it argues for a whole school approach and commitment to the VCAL program with strong leadership support and active involvement in the VCAL program.
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    Developing defensible criteria for public sector evaluations
    Roorda, Mathea Bendino Shulamith ( 2019)
    Criteria convey dimensions of quality and goodness as relevant for a program and its context. They also provide the first of two value premises from which one can reason to an evaluative judgement (the other value premise being standards). Selecting and justifying relevant criteria is critical to defensible evaluative reasoning, especially so in evaluations of publicly funded programs. Yet to date, much of the theory on evaluative reasoning has been at a general level, with little focus on the individual elements of reasoning, including the development of defensible criteria. The aim of this study was to identify characteristics of defensible criteria for program evaluations. It also sought to understand how criteria are currently managed in Australian and New Zealand program evaluations. The study exemplified research as an emergent process, with findings from an initial phase of the research informing the development of an evidence-informed tool for establishing defensible criteria. The study contributes to closing a significant gap in research on evaluation, specifically as it concerns valuing. Three characteristics were identified as important for developing defensible criteria. Two of these - inclusion of all relevant dimensions of value and authoritative sources - are required to justify criteria. A third, full description, has a role in supporting the first two characteristics, as it is only when abstract value terms are explicitly defined or described that criteria can be assessed for comprehensiveness and authoritativeness. The first phase of the study included an in-depth systematic examination of criteria development in Australian and New Zealand program evaluation. This occurred through a survey of 137 evaluators and a review of 47 published evaluation reports. It found that explicit criteria are not routinely included in evaluation reports. The survey research provided empirical evidence that a critical element of evaluative reasoning is weak in Australian and New Zealand program evaluations. The findings provided an evidence-based platform from which to develop a theory-informed framework for developing defensible criteria. In the second phase of the study, a conceptual framework was developed that makes several novel and significant contributions to the field of evaluation. It provides a way for practitioners to engage with value theory and specifically normative ethical principles which deal with conceptions of good and bad. The conceptual framework was developed into a criteria matrix tool, along with a handbook to support evaluation practitioners to engage with normative ethical perspectives. Initial field testing provided proof of concept that the tool could support evaluators to identify dimensions of value that might otherwise be ignored.
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    Investigating the effect of mathematics problem context on the performance of Year 10 students
    Almuna Salgado, Felipe Javier ( 2016)
    This thesis is to revisit and scrutinise a possible effect of problem context familiarity, context engagement, and levels of context use on the performance of Year 10 students in PISA and PISA-like problems. Two research phases (i.e. a quantitative phase and a qualitative phase) shaped the design of this study. These research phases adhere to the mixed methods explanatory sequential design. The quantitative phase investigated whether an alteration of students' context familiarity and context engagement influenced the students' performance when solving PISA and PISA-like problems—that were controlled, to the best extent possible, in their textual and problem core features. There were two experiments that differed in the criteria for choosing the problem contexts (expert judgement vs students judgment). Then, students' performance was compared at different levels of context use. Later, the relationship between students’ performance and degrees of context familiarity, degrees of context engagement, and levels of context use was examined, principally using an ordinal logistic regression model. The qualitative phase used stimulated recall interviews to understand how students interpreted and experienced context familiarity and context engagement as well as the students' behaviours towards the accessibility of problems and the solution methods to the problems, and therefore students’ performance. The results of the quantitative phase showed that more familiar and engaging contexts did not improve students’ performance in either experiment, that the performance decreased as levels of context use increased, and that neither higher degrees of context familiarity nor higher degrees of context engagement affected the students' performance but higher levels of context use did. Added to this—and as part of the research work involved in the quantitative phase— a system to classify mathematical problems in terms of levels of context use was developed theoretically and validated statistically. Main results of the qualitative phase indicated that although students appeared to have a well-established understanding of context familiarity this was not strong enough to influence the use of the problem context as a resource to solve a problem that required the students’ interaction with the real-world context.
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    Transnational networks and teacher professional learning: A case study of the Australia-Asia BRIDGE School Partnerships Project in India
    Khan, Atiya ( 2019)
    The quality of teacher professional development in India is at best uneven, despite Government’s efforts to promote reforms in this area. However, recent trends in globalization and communication technologies have opened up new possibilities for teacher professional learning. In this study, the potential of transnational networks for teacher professional learning in India is explored through an illustrative case study of the Australia-Asia BRIDGE School Partnerships Project. Based on data collected from interviews with teachers and principals from eight BRIDGE participating schools in the Delhi region, as well as observations and analysis of relevant documents, the study attempts to identify how and why teachers participated in the BRIDGE program; provide an account of their experiences; and determine the ways in which it shaped their professional practice. Data suggests that while the teachers and principals had positive attitudes towards the program, they viewed it to be mainly useful in ‘internationalizing’ teaching practices and student learning. Moreover, it seems that only those schools that were already ‘transnational’ in their dispositions, aspirations, and arrangements could take advantage of such networks. This implies that programs, such as BRIDGE, might contribute to the prevailing unevenness of teacher professional development opportunities in India.
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    Supporting social skills development through a targeted intervention using cooperative videogames in a Special Development School
    Harrison, Matthew John ( 2019)
    Students with autism and Down syndrome can experience a range of social-emotional challenges manifesting from differences in social understanding and norms. While there are existing social skills interventions, until now the use of videogames and gamer culture as tools for facilitating the development of these skills has been largely unexplored. In spite of a wealth of research investigating principles of cooperative game design, there is limited reported research that specifically focuses on digital games-based learning for students with social emotional challenges. The research reported here sought to address this gap in the literature. A design research methodology was used to develop a new social skills intervention that built upon the interest of participants in videogames. Working with the teaching staff and five students at a Special Development School, ten iterative versions of an intervention were planned, implemented and evaluated. Data generated during the implementation of each version were inductively analysed, to investigate the relationships between the social skills performance in the physical and virtual environments, interactions with the teaching staff, and the role of game design in creating the conditions for player interaction. The analysis of this data informed modifications to the social skills being prioritised by this intervention, as well as the methods of instruction used to teach these skills and increase their frequency of performance. Findings from this study offer insights to both educators and videogame designers. The data led to the identification and refinement of 18 teaching strategies for optimising the acquisition and performance of social skills during cooperative gameplay. Strategies were identified for encouraging participation in group play, supporting students to consider perspectives of others on fairness, and for assisting students in recognising when to give instructions and share information. In addition to the teaching strategies, 39 game design recommendations for creating the ideal conditions for game-based collaboration were developed. The recommendations relate to leveraging player identity within the team to increase collaboration, specific rules of play that increase interactions between players, the characteristics of level design conducive to social skills performance, and games features that enable all players to be included. These teaching strategies and game design principles provide new understandings of how cooperative multiplayer games can serve as tools for social skills interventions, and how the systems of intervention can be optimised to take advantage of the affordances offered by these tools.
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    Investigating higher education productivity and its measurement in Australia
    Moore, Kenneth Scott ( 2019)
    Introduction: This PhD dissertation focuses on higher education institutional productivity. Universities across the globe have met the 21st century with pressure to demonstrate performance and value for money. Yet common institutional performance indicators are the product of controversial choices about what data sources to consider and how data should be treated. Any individual performance indicator may be challenged on the basis of the data used to construct it. This situation raises the question: how should university performance be measured and demonstrated? Methods: This thesis reviews the literature on higher education performance and productivity and documents a research program whose findings offer a novel characterisation of university productivity. Methods focus on developing productivity measures that are fit-for-purpose in context. Primary data comes from the Australian higher education system. The thesis uses a design science methodology to guide enquiry and to structure a multi-method research program that incorporates quantitative and qualitative methods. The research revolves around the development of a quantitative productivity measurement model that is iteratively tested to inform performance and productivity assessment in the Australian higher education context. Qualitative research is undertaken in the form of interviews. The interviews solicit feedback from Australian higher education experts and stakeholders. Participants provide information about the strengths and limitations of the measurement model and its results in context, as well as about opportunities for improving performance and productivity in the Australian system. Findings and contribution: Findings make theoretical, technical, and practical contributions. They have implications for both policy makers and institutional leaders. Findings provide insight on relationships between teaching and research, specialisation of the academic workforce, and the role of performance measures in decision-making. Limitations include the study's intentional focus on dynamics and trends at the institution level, meaning that inter-departmental phenomena and discipline-specific phenomena are not captured. Also, due to the inconsistency of data available on service and engagement, this pillar of higher education is not included as part of academic productivity assessment.