Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Examining Teacher Knowledge, Beliefs and Practice of Geography Inquiry in Australian Secondary Schools
    Lee, Shu Jun ( 2022)
    Despite an international turn towards using inquiry as a core approach for teaching and learning in school geography, there is limited understanding of how jurisdictions represent knowledge and pedagogy in the intended geography curricula, and what teachers what teachers in these jurisdictions know and believe about geography inquiry and how they actually enact it. This study set out to address these research gaps on teaching geography through inquiry and to explore the intersections between inquiry and subject knowledge in the intended and enacted geography curricula. Taking Victoria one of the most populous states of Australia as a case, the central research question was “What are the knowledge, beliefs and practice of geography inquiry amongst secondary teachers in Victoria?” Employing mixed methods research, the study comprised three phases of investigation. The first phase made use of document analysis to compare secondary geography curriculum documents from six international jurisdictions including Australia. This global context provided the backdrop for understanding the secondary geography curriculum documents from Victoria. The second phase surveyed the state’s secondary teachers about their beliefs, knowledge and practice of teaching geography through inquiry. The third phase employed case studies research exploring in-depth the practice of three teachers in three different school settings in metropolitan Melbourne. An extensive literature review led to the development of an original analytical framework which guided the analyses of the data. In the final discussion, the analyses from all three phases are considered together with the goal of refining and extending existing theory. Overall, this study’s findings suggest that the knowledge for teaching geography through inquiry is a dynamic collection of rich and situated knowledge constructed through experiences and social interactions in and with practice. At the same time, teachers’ beliefs are deeply intertwined in these experiences and interactions. Powerful professional knowledge for teaching geography through inquiry therefore is generated in and through teachers’ curriculum-making of high epistemic-quality geography inquiry lessons. As a contribution to the powerful knowledge debate, this study argues that the nature of knowledge in geography is such that geography inquiry is key to experiencing and developing powerful knowledge in geography. Additionally this study argues that everyday knowledge contributes to the construction of new specialised knowledge in geography. Powerful geography inquiry teaching practices that enable students to make epistemic gains during inquiry learning therefore include maintaining a stance that values and builds on students’ everyday knowledge, providing opportunities for all students for epistemic access, activating students’ commitment towards and effort in assuming epistemic agency, and enabling students to make epistemic ascent through purposeful use of dialogue and questions. This study concludes by proposing a model for ‘enacting powerful teaching of geography through inquiry’ which both augments concepts of pedagogical content knowledge and incorporates concepts of powerful knowledge and knowing.
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    Examining the relationship between teacher reading content knowledge, pedagogy and children’s learning experiences
    Picker, Kellie Anne ( 2022)
    Teacher reading content knowledge research spans decades and covers an array of issues from perceptions about knowledge to student achievement. Teacher reading content knowledge is developed during initial teacher education and extended through professional development, as it has been identified as an integral component of quality teaching and national teacher standards. However, despite this recognition, to date there is limited understanding about how teacher reading content knowledge is operationalized in early years classrooms for teaching children how to read. Since children’s proficiency in reading is developed during the first three years of schooling and teachers have the biggest influence on their learning, it seems logical that research would provide evidence about what reading content is taught in the early years of formal schooling, and how it is taught. The aim of this thesis is to examine the teaching of reading by teachers classified as having different levels of teacher reading content knowledge. The analysis was undertaken with three separate but related studies. The first involved measuring teachers’ reading content knowledge and validating the measure, to identify teachers with varying levels of reading content knowledge. The second and third studies used a mixed-methods approach to analyze the differences in what and how reading was taught in the classrooms of teachers identified as having high and low levels of teacher reading content knowledge. Findings from these studies provide quantitative and qualitative insights into the different ways teachers with high and low levels of teacher reading content knowledge teach reading. Teachers with high levels of reading content knowledge taught all aspects of the science of reading supported with pedagogical interactions that encouraged children to take risks by thinking beyond facts, as learning was based on need and moved from a surface to deep level. Whereas teachers with low levels of reading content knowledge taught all aspects of the science of reading apart from morphology. This teaching reinforced pedagogical interactions that developed child dependency and elicited factual and literal understanding to allow the teacher to move through the lesson. Results from these studies were outlined in terms of their practical implications, which suggest the need to establish minimum levels of teacher reading content knowledge and the development of preservice and in-services courses that helps teachers achieve these levels.
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    Teaching together, working together, and being together: Teacher collaboration in Innovative Learning Environments
    Bradbeer, Christopher John ( 2020)
    For New Zealand primary school teachers, the spatial transition from traditional to Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) also contains an underlying assumption that increased pedagogical and professional collaboration will be commensurate. However, for many teachers, collaboration has previously constituted a ‘visited activity’, conducted away from the interface with students and the act of teaching, providing little experience upon which to draw. Working through theoretical perspectives on both teacher collaboration and educational space, and within the case study context of early-adopter primary schools, this thesis contributes to educational research by investigating and analysing the theoretical background, conceptual underpinnings, and enacted experiences, of teachers collaborating in ILEs. The study uses data collected from qualitative semi-structured interviews with individuals and groups, practice observations, and documentation to produce four major findings. Firstly, insights into the nature of teacher collaboration in ILEs, according to how they have been envisioned, rationalised and realised. Secondly, insights into enacted approaches to teaching and learning in ILEs, highlighting four factors: pedagogical intention, collaborative practices, joint teaching strategies, and structural components e.g. shared language. Thirdly, demonstrated links between teacher collaboration and space, found to be a profoundly spatial phenomenon that is experienced via multiple proximities, relationalities, and visibilities. Fourth and finally, a model through which to support the theorisation of teacher collaboration in ILEs: Terrains of teacher collaboration in primary school ILEs. This model theorises that teacher activities are the product of working together, teaching together, and being together. It highlights the nature of the terrain between rhetoric, rationale, and implications, and the everyday realities of enactment. Here the imperative is one of explication – and the need to make explicit the implicit. The study provides important implications for educational theory and practice. Practically, the findings assist school leaders and teachers to recognise, reflect on, and respond to aspects of teacher collaboration in ILEs. The study provides language and a model through which to assist this professional learning. Theoretically it draws attention to the centrality of space and spatiality in teacher collaboration and forms a starting point from which to begin further theoretical work.
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    Curated learning: a pedagogical approach to maximise learning environments for students’ deep learning
    Villafranca, Ethel ( 2019)
    Globally, billions of dollars have been allocated in developing highly adaptable, technology-infused, and connected learning spaces, called Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs), capable of accommodating a variety of pedagogical practices intended to equip students with skills and competencies critical for thriving in this rapidly changing world. However, research indicate that teachers are unable to fully maximise the potential of these ILEs. In contrast, many museums appear to have considerable success at intentionally manipulating learning environments and adapting pedagogy to suit intended learning outcomes. Understanding these museum practices may prove valuable in helping school teachers use ILEs better. Two case studies were conducted to draw out strategies of museums in capitalising features of the learning environment to promote students’ deep learning. Twenty-eight individuals from nine purposely selected institutions across Australia and New Zealand participated in this research. Thematic analysis of data from 42 observations and 25 interviews resulted in a proposition of a pedagogical approach, Curated learning, that leverages the interdependence between pedagogy and the built environment. Curated learning has the potential to help teachers use features and elements within their learning environment in ways that support students in developing deep learning competencies that, ultimately, will help them succeed in their academic, professional, and civic lives. This research is embedded within an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project, called Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change (ILETC), that investigates how school teachers across Australia and New Zealand can utilise ILEs to improve pedagogy that leads to students’ deep learning. Specifically, this research contributes to a growing body of international research on the effective use of ILEs and pedagogy. Furthermore, equipping teachers with the capacity to maximise ILEs will magnify the value of the financial investment and help them prepare students to thrive in this highly competitive and rapidly changing world.
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    The pedagogy of engagement: classroom management vs. facilitating learning
    Berry, Amy Elizabeth ( 2019)
    This thesis explored the way upper primary teachers think about student engagement and how they operationalise the concept within their classrooms. Student engagement has been frequently linked to academic success, and improving the engagement of students continues to be a priority for policy makers and practitioners alike. Despite an abundance of research, it remains questionable whether researcher conceptions of student engagement adequately represent the way teachers experience the concept. Teachers' perspectives on student engagement and their engagement-related practices were investigated over two studies using an exploratory sequential mixed methods design. In Study One, in-depth interviews were conducted with 16 teachers to explore their beliefs about student engagement in learning. Teachers described six qualitatively different forms of engagement and disengagement, as well as a complex process for facilitating student engagement within lessons. A typology of engagement and a pedagogical framework for engaging students were proposed based on the findings. Study Two sought to test the validity of the typology as a representation of teachers' descriptions of student engagement and its usefulness in coding teachers' engagement-related interactions within observed lessons. Four teachers were interviewed and four lessons observations for each teacher were conducted. In addition, 72 students within those classrooms were surveyed to explore their perceptions of aspects of the learning environment, including their understanding of teacher expectations for student engagement. Qualitative analysis of interview and observation data revealed that teachers varied in their expectations for student engagement within lessons, their views on the role of peers in student engagement, and in the frequency with which they intervened within lessons to facilitate different forms of student engagement. Quantitative analysis of survey data suggest that students in different classrooms perceive different expectations for how they will engage in learning experiences. A model is proposed for thinking about the pedagogy of student engagement, providing an alternative vantage point from which to explore the concept, one that is grounded in the real-life experiences of teachers facing the ongoing challenge of engaging students in classroom learning experiences.
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    Cracking open pedagogy: learning 'in' intense environments
    Healy, Sarah Maree ( 2019)
    What if a purpose of pedagogy was to create environments where intense experiences of learning can occur? This research is an inquiry into how affect-intense pedagogies work and the work that they do. It focuses on pedagogic affect as produced in the situated, sociomaterial practices of three more-than-human environments that create the conditions for intense learning to occur—an outdoor sculpture event in the Hauraki Gulf (Aotearoa New Zealand), a Zombie Apocalypse Survival Course at a human pathology museum (Sydney, Australia), and a fight squad at a Taekwondo club (Melbourne, Australia). What transpires is a multi-site ethnographic case study of pedagogic affect in which I engage with empirical material through a combination of conventional and experimental approaches, whereby arts-based practices act to enliven research(er) thinking-doing. In this space between convention and invention, a Deleuzian inspired rhizo-cartography unfolds. Pedagogic practices are ‘found’ to occupy in-between spaces or ‘cracks’ that produce affect-intensive learning encounters. These practices and encounters are recast as constituting a minor pedagogy which is, in turn, imbricated in a Spinozist ethics of affirmation as taken up by Deleuze and Braidotti. Pedagogy that enacts an affirmative ethics is conceptualised as being inextricably connected to practices that increase the affective capacity of learner-bodies. In this inquiry, pedagogies that cultivate the capacity to affect and be affected involve stepping into a crack, where tinkering, experimenting, (un)knowing and caring take place through an approach that blends critique and creativity. I propose that creating the conditions for minor pedagogies to flourish in everyday learning encounters can generate affirmative change in all kinds of ordinary, localised contexts – schools, community sites and elsewhere – that create the conditions to learn intensely.
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    Acting with care: how actor practice is shaped by creating theatre with and for children
    Andersen, Jennifer ( 2017)
    Research has investigated the backgrounds, dispositions and skills of artists working with children in both school and in out-of-school contexts (Ascenso, 2016; Brown, 2014; Galton, 2008; Jeanneret & Brown, 2013; Pringle, 2002; Pringle, 2009; Rabkin, Reynolds, Hedberg, & Shelby, 2008; Waldorf, 2002). Actors make a significant contribution to this work but few studies focus in depth on how they create theatre with and for children. Incorporating constructivist, phenomenological (Van Manen, 1990) and case study methodologies, this research investigates the practice of nine actors who create theatre with and for children in diverse contexts. Drawing on document analysis, surveys, semi-structured interviews and performance observations, the research explores two key questions: What characterises the practice of actors who create theatre with and for children? and How is actor practice shaped by working with children? This thesis explores actor practice in relation to being, doing, knowing and becoming (Ewing & Smith, 2001). Shaped to be outward facing and ‘pedagogically tactful’ (Van Manen, 2015), actor practice gives emphasis to four key qualities: listening, reciprocating, imagining and empathising. When creating theatre with and for children, pedagogically tactful actors are guided by a sense of care and respect. This thesis adds to the discourse about artists working with children, making actor practice visible and drawing attention to their beliefs, goals, motivations and acting techniques.
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    Engaging young writers in self-regulated learning: an examination of teaching practices and learning processes
    Clifton, Elisabeth ( 2017)
    One approach currently promoted to support substantial increases in student learning is the development of self-regulated learning SRL (Hadwin & Oshige, 2011; Winnie, 2014a; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011). However there is limited research into SRL as an event that happens in real time, particularly examining how co-regulated learning leads to SRL or how young writers acquire SRL skills (Perry & Rahim, 2011). This study investigates how Year 1 writers can be supported to SRL. This study employed a case study methodology and focused on three teachers and nine students during writing lessons over thirty-five weeks. Microanalytic observations involved a brief questioning prior to, during and after writing, and occurred on four occasions throughout the study period to examine how students set goals, planned strategies, used strategies, and self-evaluated what they had achieved (Cleary, Callan, & Zimmerman, 2012; DiBenedetto & Zimmerman, 2013; Hadwin & Oshige, 2011; Zimmerman, 2008). Following the observations, an interview was conducted with each teacher. These interviews operated as directed conversations that enabled an in-depth exploration of particular issues arising from the observations and the analysis of data. Directly following observations, writing samples from the students were collected (nine samples per term, thirty-six in total). A Year 1 writing analysis tool developed by Mackenzie, Scull, and Bowles (2015) was used to analyse these samples. Constructivist grounded theory method was used to structure the collection and analysis of interview, observation and work sample data (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007; Charmaz, 2000, 2014). The analysis of findings revealed that the teacher participants used specific processes and practices to support their students to engage in SRL. It is proposed that the supporting practices observed could be suitably defined as three core learning processes that supported Year 1 writers to engage in SRL. The core processes identified were: • An intentional learning process • Socially structured regulation of learning • Metacognitive regulation of learning These three processes were theoretically positioned to explore how they impacted on students’ engagement in SRL. The overall conclusion was that each process operated differently with specific functions. The findings illustrated that teachers implemented an intentional learning process to focus and clarify student understanding and to guide students to engage in self-assessment and use of their own feedback loop. This process functioned to support intentional learning by providing opportunities for purposeful learning, conceptually focused learning, self-assessment and connection making. There was also evidence of socially structured regulation of learning implemented by teachers to systemise the students’ learning, to engage them in peer-supported learning and to scaffold learning. This process functioned to provide opportunities for challenging but manageable learning, co-regulated learning and scaffolded learning. Metacognitive regulation of learning identified as the third process, was used to prompt students to use metalanguage strategies such as goal setting, strategy planning/use and reflecting upon learning. To begin the construction of a substantive theory, a synthesis and conceptualisation of the above findings was conducted. It was proposed that the three core learning processes identified during the study could be interrelated to support Year 1 writers to engage in SRL, and when suitably aligned, could function to provide a transparent learning process resulting in a synergy of learning. To conclude findings, a guiding principle for designing instruction was presented. This serves to illustrate how key learning processes can be aligned to support Year 1 writers to SRL.
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    Videogames, distinction and subject-English: new paradigms for pedagogy
    Bacalja, Alexander Victor ( 2017)
    At a time when the proliferation of videogame ownership and practice has led to greater attention on the consequences of increased engagement with these texts, schools and educators are engaged in active debate regarding their potential value and use. The distinctive nature of these texts, especially in contrast to those texts which have traditionally dominated school environments, has raised questions about their possible affordances, as well as the pedagogies most appropriate for supporting teaching with and through these texts in the classroom. While much has been written about the learning benefits of videogames, especially in terms of opportunities for the negotiation of self (Gee, 2003), there has been less research addressing the impact of applying existing English subject-specific pedagogies to their study. In particular, there are few case-study investigations into the suitability of subject-English classrooms for the play and study of videogames. The project utilised a naturalistic case-study intervention involving eight 15-year-old students at a co-educational school in the outer-Northern suburbs of Melbourne. Data was collected during a five-week intervention in an English classroom context at the participants’ home-school. This involved the teacher-researcher leading a series of learning and teaching activities informed by dominant models of subject-English (Cox, 1989), Cultural Heritage, Skills, Personal Growth, and Critical Literacy, that focussed on several popular videogames. Data was analysed using Bourdieu’s theory of practice (1977) to reveal a social reality at the centre of this intervention co-created by a dialectical relationship between the habitus of students (especially in terms of their videogame, school and gendered identities) and the field of the classroom, with its own historically constituted and legitimised/authorised ways of being and doing textual study, as realised by the teacher. Mediating this relationship were the intrinsic features of videogames. The findings are presented through a Framework for Videogame Literacies in Subject-English which synthesises the relationship concerning past and present approaches to textual study in the subject, and the need to embrace what Locke terms, an “informed and critical eclecticism” (2015, p. 25). Firstly, the study found that the inclusion of videogames in subject-English provided the material for rich, rigorous and authentic learning experiences. Much of this can be achieved through the appropriation of existing paradigms of subject-English and their associated pedagogical practices, resisting the privileging of any single component of the framework and instead encouraging an awareness of the different purposes which each part serves. Secondly, analysis demonstrated the ways in which dominant approaches to the subject must evolve in response to the unique design features and intrinsic textual practices associated with these texts. Lastly, the study revealed that attempts to bring these texts into English classrooms will need to negotiate the disciplinary forces which organise these spaces, in terms of both the habitus of students, and the historically constituted structures which establish what is possible in such places. This work contributes to the field of research examining videogame literacies in classrooms, especially in terms of the impact of bringing technologies typically engaged for entertainment into subject-English learning contexts. The study suggests that future research is needed to test the efficacy of the Framework, and to identify ways for teachers to respond to inevitable developments in the design features of videogames so that current and future iterations of videogames can be incorporated into schools for rigorous learning and teaching.
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    Teaching the live: the pedagogies of performance analysis
    Upton, Megan Joy ( 2016)
    Theatre as an artform is ephemeral in nature and offers a lived, aesthetic experience. Attending theatre and analysing theatre performance is a key component of the study of drama in senior secondary education systems in Australia, and in many international education systems. The senior secondary drama curriculum in Victoria offers a unique context for analysing live theatre performances. Lists of performances are prescribed for teachers and students to select from and attend. The year prior to the lists being created, theatre companies are invited to submit productions for consideration. The written curriculum determines that students write a written analysis of one production. This task assesses students’ knowledge, skills and understanding of what they experience at school level, and they are assessed again in an end-of-year‘ high-stakes’ examination, the results of which contributes to students’ overall graduating academic score. Methodologically, this study used case study methods to investigate the pedagogies of performance analysis, selecting four cases as a collective case study approach. Over a period of fourteen months the study investigated how the lists of performances were generated, how teachers and students selected a performance to attend, how teachers taught the analysis of live theatre performance to senior drama students in a high-stakes assessment environment, and critically examined the role of theatre companies within these processes. The data comprised document analysis, participant observation, field notes, semi-structured individual and focus group interviews, and researcher reflective journal. Specifically the study examined pedagogy and how teachers’ pedagogical choices moved the written curriculum towards enacted and experienced curriculum. It explored what influenced and impacted these pedagogies in order to consider what constitutes effective pedagogies for teaching the analysis of live theatre performance within the research context and, more broadly, wherever the analysis of theatre performance is included in senior drama curricula. The findings indicate that while the teachers who participated in the study sought to create rich educational experiences for their senior drama students, they needed to take a reductive approach and employ teaching strategies that reinforced capacities relevant to the exam rather than those that engaged with the live arts experience or recognised and incorporated the embodied practices of drama education. Consequently, the study questions the purpose of examining performance analysis. The study also revealed how theatre company practices impact the teaching of performance analysis. As a way to structure an effective pedagogy for teaching performance analysis the study recommends that a purposeful, structured and sustained community of practice be established between curriculum authorities, theatre companies and schools. It is one that acknowledges the four stages of pedagogy identified and is a model that has potential application in curriculum where performance analysis is part of studying drama and theatre.