Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Towards a model for colleague support : matching support to needs and contexts
    Rogers, William A (1947-) ( 1999)
    This thesis explores the issue of colleague support in schools observed in five case site schools over several years. The study sought to ascertain how colleagues perceive, rate, utilise and value colleague support and the effect of colleague support across a school culture. The research study is predominantly qualitative using participant observation and interviews, over several years. The interviews are based on an earlier pilot study (conducted in 1995-96) and a later survey of each of the five case site schools that make up this research study. The thesis outlines how colleagues describe, value, and utilise colleague support and proposes a typology of support based in grounded theory. This typology asserts that schools have definable `colleague-shape; based in characteristics and protocols of support that have an increasing degree of school-wide consciousness. The typology, and emerging protocols, it is hoped, have both a descriptive and diagnostic facility and an adaptive utility. This thesis concludes with a chapter on adaptive facility proposing suggestions, arising from this study, that might increase a school's conscious awareness and use of colleague support.
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    Children's perceptions of changes in families
    Ryan, Maureen ( 1991)
    The three studies reported in this thesis take as their subjects over one thousand "ordinary primary school children" from state primary schols in the western region of Melbourne. The sample has not been drawn using methods such as newspaper requests (Burns, 1980), from Parents without Partners groups (Kurdek and Siesky, 1978), from university towns (Franz and Mell, 1981) or through court records (Hess and Camara, 1979; Dunlop and Burns, 1988). The western region of Melbourne is socioeconomically and ethnically diverse and predicted to grow faster than most other areas of Melbourne in the next decades. In essence, these children are that future. Certainly, their perceptions of families and of changes in families will help to shape their own futures. Children have much to say about families as has been noted in studies by Ochiltree and Amato (1985) and Goodnow and Burns (1985). Children in Studies 1 and 2 in this thesis wrote eloquently and often with passion about families generally and about family changes specifically. Previous studies (Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, 1981; Silcock and Sadler, 1980; Wallerstein and Kelly, 1980; Riach, 1983; Ochiltree and Amato (1985) and Cooper (1986) have looked at children's perceptions of families. Some, like Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, (1981) and Cooper (1986) have drawn attention to gender differences; others, like Silcock and Sadler, (1980), to techniques employed in the collection of data. In addition, Selman and his colleagues (1979, 1980, 1986) have focussed on children's developing understanding of social relations. Selman's stages of development of social understanding, like those of Hoffman (1983) for empathy development are based on Piagetian stages of cognitive development. The present studies are an attempt to draw together around a single theme, children's perceptions of families, the impact of a range of techniques for data collection (as Silcock and Sadler, (1980) have suggested is appropriate) and consideration of age/stage differences as defined by Selman et al. Additionally, gender differences are investigated as suggested by Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg -Halton, (1981). In Study 1, a group of forty Grade 5/6 children completed a questionnaire, Children's Perceptions of Changes in Families. Subsequently, this group of forty was divided into a target and a control group. The target group of children took part in an eight week videotape/discussion program with family matters as content while the control group continued with general classroom activities. At the completion of this, children were presented with the responses they had prepared previously to the questionnaire and invited to change these in any way they considered appropriate. Analysis revealed that elaboration occurred in the responses of children in both target and control groups. Statistical analysis revealed very little in the way of differences between the responses made by those children who had taken part in the videotape/discussion program and those who had not. Coming out of this study, however, were gender differences and tendencies for children to describe parents in stereotypic roles which are reminescent of other larger studies (Goodnow and Burns, 1985; Cooper, 1986; Ochiltree and Amato, 1985). Girls, for example, expressed far more interest than boys in the experience of caring for a new baby; boys referred more than did girls to the fights likely to ensue should a new child come into the family. Father's movement from the children's home to live elsewhere was considered unhappy because of his loss as a playmate; in mother's case, it was her inability to continue caring for the children which was noted. Such patterns were revealed in the content analysis of the children's responses to the questionnaire. The children in this first study served as a window into the other studies reported in this thesis in that the researcher spent considerable time speaking with both groups through their two completions of the questionnaire and with the target group during the videotape/discussion program. In addition, statements made by these forty children were used as the basis of Study 3. In Studies 2 and 3, children prepared written responses to the tasks set them. In Study 3, 1118 Grade 3/4 and Grade 5/6 children drawn from twelve state primary schools in the western region of Melbourne were read statements by their teacher and invited, on one occasion, to indicate their thoughts about each statement and, on another, to indicate their feelings. The phrases from which children were invited to select in indicating their responses were based on the definition of problem and expression of feelings components of the Interpersonal Negotiation Strategies Model (Selman et al., 1986b) and were representative of levels of complexity of thought and feeling described in the model. Girls' marked superiority over boys in their choice of feeling responses representing higher levels of complexity was the most significant finding in this study. This finding coupled with findings from Study 2 that girls made significantly more references than boys in their descriptions of families to emotional aspects of families makes gender differences a powerful finding in the studies presented in the thesis. The emotional aspects of families to which girls referred significantly more often than boys in responses to the question, "What is a Family?" were love, care, sharing/belonging, understanding problems/talking. In contrast, boys and younger children (Grade 3/4) referred significantly more often than girls and older children (Grade 5/6) to family structure. The finding that older children made significantly more references than did the younger children to many aspects of families is not surprising and likely to be due to their general experience and superior verbal ability (Jacklin and Maccoby, 1983). The gender differences in the content analysis was reinforced in coding undertaken of children's responses according to levels based on Bruss-Saunders' levels (1978) of social understanding of parent-child relationships. Here, the descriptions written by Grade 5/6 girls were coded as representing highest levels of complexity and the descriptions written by Grade 3/4 boys as representing lowest levels of complexity. In the studies, levels of complexity of children's responses are considered according to theories of cognitive development. In addition, the influence of contextual factors on the thoughts and feelings children express about families are discussed. Questions about the relationship between these two are raised with regard to the capacity children acquire for coping in their present and future families.
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    The struggle to achieve : the Vietnamese experience of secondary schools in working class neighbourhoods of Melbourne, 1986
    Mundy, Kieran Graham ( 1990)
    Within the vast scope and complexity of the refugee experience this study deals with a simply defined, yet central issue to the settlement of young immigrants from Viet Nam in Australia. That is, the differing impact of personal factors preconditioning attitudes and values towards education, and school ecology on their educational trajectories and social destinations. To answer this question, the location occupied by this immigrant group within the school system was initially determined, and subsequently the influence of school organizational structure and classroom practice on educational performance in these settings was described and explained. Vietnamese pupils, their teachers and peers in 16 randomly selected government high schools in Victoria, and those persons responsible for the child's welfare in Australia provided rich and varied information for analysis. Detailed interpretation of this comprehensive data-base focused on one school representative of the wider sample. The study found that while educational trajectories and social destinations are largely controlled by the working class location Vietnamese youth occupy in the secondary school system, the impact of this setting is mediated by an exceptional determination, on their part, to escape the influence of multiple social factors which influence the outlooks and achievements of children, whoever they may be, who occupy these sites. Despite an heroic commitment by teachers in these schools and the determination of the Vietnamese to exploit, to the maximum, the limited opportunities available to them, the dependence of these young immigrants and their families on education for social advancement renders them vulnerable to failure. The study demonstrates, that despite the illusion of democratized educational theory and practice that these educational settings suggest, the reality is that educational conservative structures mitigate against social advancement. These institutional barriers, it is shown, operate on two levels. Firstly, the comprehensive curriculum plays a central role by disproportionately directing these young immigrants into the theoretical mathematics and physical sciences, a process consecrating them as an academic elite, while at the same time confirming the lowly position they occupy in the social hierarchy of their school and neighbourhood peers. Secondly, the study demonstrates how academic streaming is an aggravating circumstance coming on top of the other inequalities suffered by all children in these settings. Not only do the out-of-school activities of these young immigrants not support their curriculum placement, but teachers tend to misjudge Vietnamese classroom conformity as scholasticism, not passivity. Thus, rather than viewing this exceptional behaviour in working class settings as an indication of the struggle with which these young people have to cope, teacher definition of their school experience sees it as proof of an effective classroom process and of learning taking place. The study concludes that while the actual relationship that exists between the teachers and Vietnamese youth, and the schools they attend and the neighbourhoods these schools serve, remains unchanged, the price the Vietnamese have to pay for perceived scholasticism is loss of control of their immediate school experience and authorship of their own lives.
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    Toorak College, 1874-1958 : the survival of a girls' private school in Victorian society
    Robinson, Jeffrey Travers ( 1986)
    As one of the oldest of Victoria's privately-owned girls' schools, Toorak College illustrates the influence of the principal in cultivating a clientele whose interests the activities of the school reflected and by whose support its survival was determined. Independent of church or corporation, Toorak College began in 1874 as a boys' school in Douglas Street, Toorak, and was converted to a girls' school in 1897. By 1919, transferred to a gracious building set in expansive formal gardens on the highest point of Glenferrie Road, Malvern, Toorak College presented to the public the appearance of a flourishing school. Ever sensitive to the expectations of a clientele that valued the practices of English education, its principals introduced practical subjects as advocated by Michael Sadler and critically considered the principles of the New Education Fellowship and the Dalton Plan. With the depression, 1929 - 34, and the war, 1939 - 45, the college, whose ownership had been transferred from its principal to a private company in 1927, entered a period of uncertainty. After eighteen months in uncomfortable temporary quarters, the school was transferred to a site on the Mornington Peninsula. The Company's financial resources were strained by the purchase of two properties and the remoteness of Frankston made the attraction and retention of competent staff difficult. By 1932, with its enrolment severely reduced, the college might have closed but for the efforts, little short of heroic, of the Directors and the Misses Hamilton. Gradually the school recovered, supported by a loyal constituency united by appeals to the school's longevity, the product of a fabricated claim of a foundation in 1854. Indeed, the ability of the principal to establish the solid standing of the school in the public esteem has been of greater importance in ensuring Toorak College's continuation than have its fine buildings or a curriculum in which serious scholastic studies were advanced at the expense of a training in the social accomplishments.
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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.
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    Parents in the classroom
    Hall, J. M. ( 1987)
    The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of the presence of parents in the classroom on children, parents, and teachers. The study took the form of a sequenced set of action research style interventions in an outer-suburban secondary school and an inner-city primary school. Attitudes of parents of students in year 7 to creativity, frustration, control, play, and teaching/learning were measured with Strom's Parent as a Teacher inventory, P A A T. Achievements of the children in word knowledge, comprehension, spelling, and maths were measured with tests of ACER. There were some significant correlations between attitudes of parents and achievements of their children. For example, attitudes of mothers to control and the achievement of their children in maths were very highly correlated (N=105, p=.001). After one year of secondary schooling, there was no significant difference between the entering and final achievements of the year 7 students in this study in comprehension and maths (N=123). End-of-year scores of students for word knowledge and spelling were below the scores that would have been expected of students one year younger (N=175, 174). The numbers in these comparisons differ because of absences from school. Classroom experiments were conducted with parents in classrooms in a junior secondary and a primary school. "Parents" means adults who may be parents, other relatives or friends of the students, or friends of the school. In year 7, three different treatments for six weeks were compared, namely, two parents for two classroom periods a week (T), two parents for four periods a week (F), and no parents (Z). There was a significant interaction between mathematical aptitude and treatment (p=.021) such that at the low level of aptitude, achievements in maths with treatments F and T were superior to treatment Z. Also, with the low and medium levels of aptitude combined, treatment T was superior to treatment F (p=.038). With respect to attitude to learning maths, treatment T was superior to treatment F at both the low and medium levels of mathematical aptitude. However the effect on post attitudes was not significant. The attitudes of students in one grade 2 and two composite grades 3/4 were measured to sixteen items that were related to their school and TV. Coincident with the presence of parents in the classrooms of grade 2 and two composite grades 3/4 , there was an increase in positive attitudes of students to eight items in which there was a high level of teacher/parent involvement (HTPI) compared with eight low TPI items (grade 2, N=26; grades 3/4, N=50). In grades 3/4, the presence of parents in the classroom over a period of eight weeks had useful cumulative effects on time on task, teacher stress, and inappropriate class behaviour. Parents, students, and teachers in this study recommended that experience with parents in the classroom should be expanded.
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    Teacher training in Carlton: the predecessors of the Institute of Education
    Garden, Donald S. (1947-) ( 1992)
    On 1 January 1989 the Melbourne College of Advanced Education and the Faculty of Education at the University of Melbourne were amalgamated to form the Institute of Education within the University of Melbourne. Although the two institutions had in various forms resided on adjacent campuses in Carlton/Parkville for several decades, both devoted to teacher education, they brought together different educational cultures. Melbourne CAE was descended from a long line of government-controlled teacher training institutions which had operated at first in Melbourne and from 1889 at Carlton in the corner of the University campus. Melbourne Teachers College was for most of this history the main institution for the training of teachers for Victorian government primary schools, but also played a significant role in the training of most types of teachers until the Second World War. It had little independence and was used largely as an instrument of policy by the Education Department and its political masters, subject to the vagaries of changing policies and economic conditions. These also affected the conditions and status of the teaching profession, which in turn impacted on the appeal of the profession and therefore on the socio-economic and gender mixture of recruits to the College. After 1945 teacher education became fractured into several geographically spread and more specialized colleges, and MTC was joined on its campus by a new Secondary Teachers College. During the 1950s and 1960s MTC and STC essentially ran pragmatic courses which churned out large numbers of teachers to fill places in the burgeoning number of schools. The two colleges merged in 1972 and gained independence from the Department in 1973. After much tossing and turning in the tertiary sector, in 1983 the Carlton college was amalgamated with the Institute of Early Childhood Development as Melbourne CAE. The University of Melbourne commenced its formal involvement in teacher education in 1903 when a liaison was established with MTC. For three decades MTC and the Faculty (as it became in 1923) shared their senior officer, administrative links, courses and students. The closeness was a two-edged sword for the University, for while greatly assisting the Faculty's work it also brought a substantial and frustrating degree of Education Department influence. The links were broken in the late 1930s, against the University's will, but thereafter the Faculty enjoyed greater intellectual and administrative freedom, and pursued its own course development. It came increasingly to be involved in theoretical and research studies, and to look down (with some justice) on its Department-dominated, less intellectually-oriented college neighbours. During the 1950s-1970s the Faculty was also under great pressure to meet the demand for teachers, and as a result somewhat lost its way as an intellectual and educational force. Throughout their history the institutions were influenced by diverse professional and community attitudes, philosophies and needs - how children should be raised, how schools are best organized, the most appropriate moral and instructional content of education, the attributes required in a teacher, and how teachers are best trained and/or educated. Rising standards of living and new technology, and the demands of the labour force, produced different occupational needs. All of this contributed to changing community expectations of schooling and teacher education.
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    Henry Lowther Clarke and educational policy in the Anglican diocese of Melbourne 1903-1920
    Blackler, Stuart Edward ( 1990)
    The episcopate of Henry Lowther Clarke as fourth Anglican Bishop and first Archbishop of Melbourne in the years 1903 to 1920 saw the most explicit and comprehensive formulation and application of educational policy in the Melbourne Diocese prior to or since that period. In the tertiary sector, there were moves made to establish a Faculty of Divinity at the University of Melbourne, the foundation of the Melbourne College of Divinity and provisions for the theological training of non-matriculated ordination candidates. In the secondary sector of education, thirteen schools were established, acquired or, in some manner, brought under the aegis of the Anglican Church. There was a particular emphasis on the founding of schools for girls. Attempts were made to establish a bureaucratic structure to monitor the acquisition of schools and religious instruction within them. The movement for the introduction of Bible reading integrated into the programme of the State's primary schools continued, having been strongly active during the episcopates of James Moorhouse (1876-1886) and Field Flowers Goe (1887-1901). In the parishes of the diocese, Archbishop Clarke initiated a review of the Sunday School system with teacher training and a common syllabus receiving particular attention. Clarke was also central in the encouragement of the foundation of Anglican free kindergartens in the inner-city region of the diocese. Yet these achievements were not entirely consistent with Clarke's stated objectives. Major influences affecting the partial success of the achievement of objectives are seen in: - the experiences, assumptions and personality of an expatriate bishop elected at the age of fifty; - the nature of Anglicanism in Victoria: its demography, divisions within on issues of churchmanship, its concept of a constitutional rather than absolutist episcopacy, the widespread acceptance of voluntarism and limited financial resources; - the extent of a secularist approach in Australian thought, both in an ideological sense and in the pragmatic sense congruent with the experience of ecclesiastical divisions and antipathy; overt sectarianism, in particular the lack of unanimity or harmony in and between Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant faith and order. The widespread sectarianism during the First World War which centred upon Archbishop Daniel Mannix highlights this influential factor. Thus, while describing and recognising the achievements in Anglican educational activity in the years 1903 to 1920, the failure to achieve explicit objectives has to be evaluated and recognised as part of a complexity of factors, not all of which were appreciated by Henry Lowther Clarke.
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    Spiritual health: its nature and place in the school curriculum
    Fisher, John W. ( 1998-04)
    As spirituality first appeared in Australian curriculum documents in 1994, it was important to establish how educators thought it related to student well- being. In this research a description and four accounts of spirituality - spiritual rationalism, monism, dualism, and multidimensional unity - were developed from available literature. The literature also revealed four sets of relationships important to spiritual well-being. These were the relationships of a person with themself, others, environment, and Transcendent Other. The model of spiritual health proposed here claims that these four sets of relationships can be developed in corresponding Personal, Communal, Environmental and Global domains of human existence, each of which has two aspects - knowledge and inspiration. Progressive synergism describes the inter-relationship between the four domains. The quality of relationships in the four domains constitutes , spiritual well-being in each domain. Spiritual health is indicated by the combined effect of spiritual well-being in each of the domains embraced by a person. The principles of grounded theory qualitative research methodology were used to investigate the views of 98 teachers from a variety of schools near Melbourne. Feedback from 23 Australian experts, on the researcher’s definitions, is discussed. To encompass all the teachers’ views of spiritual health, to the initial categories of Personalist, Communalist, Environmentalist and Globalist, a fifth category was added for the small group Rationalists, who embraced the knowledge, but not the inspiration/transcendent aspects, of the first three domains of spiritual well-being. All the teachers believed spiritual health should be included in the school curriculum, most rating it of high importance, two-thirds believing it should be integral to the curriculum. The teachers’ major curriculum concerns focussed on Self, Others, the Transcendent, or Wholeness. Investigation of those teacher characteristics seen as important for promoting spiritual health, with associated hindrances and ideals, showed variation by gender, personal view of spiritual health, major curriculum concern, teacher and school type. Greatest variation was noticed when comparing school type. State school teachers emphasised care for the individual student from a humanistic perspective. Catholic school teachers were concerned for the individual, with religious activities being implemented by dedicated teachers. Other Christian school teachers focussed on corporate, not individualistic, activities, and emphasised relationship with God. Other non-government school teachers emphasised tradition, with attendant moral values. Implications of these variations on school choice are discussed. Principals’ behaviour, speech and attitude were considered by the teachers to be vital in providing opportunities for spiritual development in schools. A 30-item Spiritual Health Measure (of Humanistic and Religious Aspects of Spiritual Health) was developed using the researcher’s model of spiritual health and data from 300 UK teachers. The SHM should be useful as a diagnostic for individuals or groups to provide base data from which to plan enhancement of their spiritual health. This thesis contains an analysis of how well the Victorian Curriculum & Standards Framework provides guidelines for promoting spiritual health. A position of responsibility, called Spiritual Facilitator, is proposed to help ensure that the rhetoric about spiritual well-being is put into practice in schools.
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    The counselling needs of parents of children of high intellectual potential (CHIP)
    ALSOP, GLENISON ( 1994)
    The study reported in this dissertation examines the experiences of parents of children of high intellectual potential (CHIP) in their interface with three contexts, those of support networks (family and friends), community resources and education professionals. Its premise is that by comprehending such contextual experiences the need of these parents for counselling support could be better understood. Although the literature associated with families of the intellectually "gifted" abounds with recommendations regarding counselling, the definition and reporting of these needs has been largely anecdotal and inferential. Reporting of clinicians has suggested what are the issues of primary concern. Research evidence has not been collected to substantiate these observations. Furthermore, issues reported as being of primary significance for potential family dysfunction have relied on an interpretation of intra-family dynamics. Counselling literature has largely ignored these families in contextual settings and relationships. Two survey instruments were developed. A questionnaire collected empirical data on parental experiences in relation to assistance and attitudes within support networks, to assistance and attitudes from community resources (including professionals other than those associated with teaching), and to assistance and attitudes in relation to educators. A semi-structured interview schedule was also developed to compile information about how individuals felt about their experiences, and the impact on their sense of competence and confidence as parents of CHIP. A sub-sample of personality data was also collected using the 16PF to relate objective data on personality to subjective inference. Triangulation of data suggested exceedingly negative experiences for parents of CHIP within all three support contexts. Parental responses to these interactions varied. The most damaging was that associated with the educators of their children. The responses of these parents suggested that their experiences had had an adverse effect on them and their sense of competence and personal effectiveness. The 16PF data confirmed the predictable personality of parents who would persist in the negative environment in Victoria. The findings associated with school movement exceeded the State norms by a factor of five. The continuing difficulties faced by this group of parents was further demonstrated in additional movement of children from schools even after the collection of the survey data for the thesis. The findings suggest that there is potential for personal and family dysfunction among this population in situations where the usual support systems and productive relationships with professionals are absent. This study therefore offers strong evidence of the need for counselling support of parents of children of high intellectual potential.