Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Social area indicators and educational achievement
    Ross, Kenneth N (1947-) ( 1982)
    This study was concerned with the development and validation of a national indicator of educational disadvantage which would be suitable for guiding resource allocation decisions associated with the Disadvantaged Schools Program in Australia. The national indicator was constructed by using a series of stepwise regression analyses in order to obtain a linear combination of census based descriptions of school neighbourhoods which would be highly correlated with school mean achievement scores. A correlational investigation of the properties of this indicator showed that it was an appropriate tool for the identification of schools in which there were high proportions of students who (1) had not mastered the basic skills of Literacy and Numeracy, (2) displayed behavioural characteristics which formed barriers to effective learning, and (3) lived in neighbourhoods having social profiles which were typical of communities suffering from deprivation and poverty. A theoretical model was developed in order to estimate the optimal level of precision with which indicators of educational disadvantage could be used to deliver resources to those students who were in most need of assistance. This model was used to demonstrate that resource allocation programs which employ schools as the units of identification and funding must take into account the nature of the variation of student characteristics between and within schools. The technique of factor analysis was employed to investigate the dimensions of residential differentiation associated with the neighbourhoods surrounding Australian schools. Three dimensions emerged from these analyses which were congruent with the postulates of the Shevky- Bell Social Area Analysis model. The interrelationships between these dimensions and school scores on the national indicator of educational disadvantage presented a picture of the 'social landscape' surrounding educationally disadvantaged schools in Australia as one in which there were: high concentrations of persons in the economically and socially vulnerable position of having low levels of educational attainment and low levels of occupational skill, low concentrations of persons living according to the popular model of Australian family life characterized by single family households, stable families, and separate dwellings, high concentrations of persons likely to have language communication problems because they were born in non-English speaking countries.
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    The Language Development Project, Phase II : a case study in co-operative curriculum development and the role of formative evaluation
    Piper, Kevin ( 1985)
    The Language Development Project was a major initiative in national curriculum development, the first of its kind in language education in Australia. The study focuses on three major themes or constructs underlying Phase II of the project, its developmental phase and explores their implications for national curriculum development in the Australian federal context and for English language education in Australian schools. As such it is essentially an exercise in construct evaluation, a formative approach to the evaluation of outcomes. Central to the conception of Phase II of the Language Development Project was a view of language and learning inherited from Phase I of the project and encapsulated in its tripartite model of language education learning language, learning through language, learning about language. Equally central to the work of the project was a view of curriculum development predicated on the belief that there was a need for a national approach to language education and that this national approach could best be achieved through a co-operative effort involving the centre (CDC) and the States and Territories. Underlying this co-operative model was a commitment to school-based curriculum development and to involving teachers in the development of curriculum materials. The most important feature of these central constructs was that they were developing models, based on the assumption that curriculum development, at least in the language area, is an evolutionary process, moving through exploration and discovery towards definition. This open-ended, emergent quality, together with the co-operative nature of the project, placed particular demands on the design of an evaluation which would be responsive to the changing needs of the project at the national level while respecting the autonomous nature of the component projects. The study analyses the development of these three major constructs - the tripartite model of language education, the cooperative model of curriculum development and the collaborative evaluation model - as they were exemplified in the experience of the project examines their relationship to the wider context of practice, and explores their implications for the development of a practical framework for the English language curriculum the resolution of ambiguities in the co-operative model of curriculum development and the development of a reconstructed model for the formative evaluation of co-operative national programs.
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    The decentralisation of curriculum decision making in Australia : developments and effects in three states
    Sturman, Andrew (1948-) ( 1988)
    The decentralisation of educational decision making and the involvement of a wider range of participants in decision-making processes have been key features of the administration of education in Australia over the past two decades. Among the arguments supporting reforms to the centralised education systems in Australia was the belief that decentralisation would lead to the development of curricula more suited to the needs of students. However, the relationship between changes in the control of curriculum decision making and the nature of the curriculum has not been well researched. This study was designed to address this deficiency. The freedom of teachers to make decisions about the curriculum is constrained by many factors. These can be grouped into a number of 'frames': the system, school, community and individual. The system frame refers to the influence of educational offices and assessment authorities; the school frame is concerned with the role of different school-based personnel such as administrators and faculty coordinators; the community frame refers to the participation of parents or other community members; and the individual frame is concerned with how individual teachers' values or epistemologies might translate into curriculum practices or preferences. These frames relate to different types of decentralisation that have emerged to a lesser or greater extent in Australia: regionalisation, school-based decision making, teacher-based decision making and community participation. This study sought to address the effects on the curriculum of types of decentralisation by examining the relative influence of the four frames. Three States, which had experienced different degrees of decentralisation, were selected for historical and current comparison and within each a number of schools were selected for case study. The schools were grouped according to their administrative and curricular styles, and according to teachers' perceptions of the influence of the community. Within schools, teachers were grouped according to their epistemological views. Data were collected through the administration of questionnaires and through interviews with teachers and administrators. The analyses revealed that in the program in practice there were considerable similarities in teachers' responses. Notwithstanding this, the system, school and individual frame were important influences on the curriculum. There was little evidence that the community was directly affecting curriculum decision making, although this frame did have an indirect influence. In the ideal program, the State differences were reduced and the school differences almost completely disappeared. On the other hand, teachers' epistemological views continued to be associated with the curriculum variables measured and teachers argued that the community should have somewhat greater influence than it had in practice. Among the findings reported, it was found that teachers in the most centralised system, in more tightly coupled schools and with a 'technicist' epistemology were, compared with their counterparts in decentralised systems, in loosely coupled schools and with an 'hermeneutic' epistemology, more likely to favour what might be called traditional curriculum structures and teaching practices.
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    The role of an early childhood educator in children's emerging literacy
    Reynolds, Bronwyn ( 1996)
    During the two years of this semi longitudinal study, one early childhood educator reflected on and developed her practice. The particular focus of this study was the pre-school children's literacy development and how best this could be facilitated and supported. Action Research was chosen as the most suitable research methodology which enabled the investigation to develop in an iterative manner. In the first instance an analysis of the literature concerning children's early learning, their literacy development and the role of the adult during these early years was reviewed. The next stage involved a critical evaluation of both the provisions and resources for literacy in the pre-school classroom under investigation and also the most appropriate role for the teacher in relation to these children's emerging literacy. While the focus of this study has been the development of the teacher's knowledge base and practice, it was also possible to monitor the literacy development of the children from ages three to six years. In addition, highly favourable results were obtained by those children who took part in the study when they were compared with others who did not after the start of formal schooling. Consideration has also been given to the role of parents of these children in the pre-school environment and their role with respect to childrens emerging literacy.
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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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    The adaptation of the Irish Christian Brothers' education system to Australian conditions in the nineteenth century
    Greening, William Albert ( 1988)
    This thesis argues that the Irish Christian Brothers successfully adapted their denominational system of education to Australian conditions in the nineteenth century. Initially, the Brothers brought an elementary system which they extended to superior or advanced education to provide the lower middle-class Catholics with opportunities for upward social mobility. The commitment of the Christian Brothers to denominational education suited the Catholic bishops in Australia, so the adaptation to the needs of the Church required little or no change in the policies of the religious order. By the end of the century, the Catholic Church in the colonies had taken a course of action to set up a denominational system completely separate from the State; the Irish Christian Brothers and other religious orders presented the bishops with the means of pursuing such a course. The first small contingent of Brothers arrived in Sydney in 1843 but remained only four years, mainly because of a difference of opinion between the Irish order and the English Benedictines. When the second mission of Christian Brothers arrived in Melbourne in 1868, they brought with them a system of education which was thoroughly religious and which had been already adapted to meet the needs of the poor in Ireland since 1810. Their system was mainly derived from the French de la Salle Brothers' educational system (as set out in Conduite des Ecoles, 1733). As most of the Melbourne Catholics were of Irish descent and were poor, both Goold and the Irish Christian Brothers believed that the system would readily adapt to Australian conditions. In this sense, the process of adaptation was relatively uncomplicated. In Ireland, the system had evolved from being in direct opposition to the national system to being an independent system based on specially prepared textbooks and on pedagogical methods developed by the order. In the colonies, the system in a constant state of evolution. (From Introduction)
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    The historiography of Australian education: the production and reception of four major texts, 1951-1978
    Bannister, Helen ( 1985)
    This study is an inquiry into how historical knowledge is produced, socially defined and legitimated. The inquiry is conducted through the medium of four major history of Australian education texts initially produced at Melbourne University and used as texts in the first History of Australian Education course in the Faculty of Education at Melbourne University. The texts are J.S. Gregory 'Church and State and Education in Victoria to 1872', R. Fogarty 'Catholic Education in Australia 1806-1950', A.G. Austin 'Australian Education 1788-1900' and G.M. Dow George 'Higinbotham: Church and State'. The thesis is divided into two parts: Part I is a critical reading of each of the four texts uncovering the organizing theoretical pre-suppositions which these historical works share in common, namely theories of the liberal state. In demonstrating how theory organizes these historical works some of the processes of the production of history are revealed; in particular the selection and interpretation of sources. Part II is a history of the reception of each of the texts and reveals the processes by which the texts are made available for consumption and are socially defined and legitimated. The processes of production and reception are not separate and distinct; however, it is more convenient to consider the two processes more or less separately and hence the division of the thesis into two parts. Part I is a formal/theoretical analysis of the texts which draws selectively on the structuralist criticism of Althusser and the early Macherey to develop a mode of critical reading appropriate to understanding the processes of production of historical texts. Part II, the historical analysis of the texts' reception during the period 1951 to 1978, demonstrates how the various contexts in which the texts have been inscribed activate definitions of the texts' value, truth and significance and place them in a hierarchy of other historical works. Bourdieu's notion of an intellectual field provides a framework for understanding these processes by which a field of the history of Australian education is constructed and seeks legitimacy as 'good' history. However, the methodology for such an analysis is drawn from the work of the later Macherey, Renee Balibar and their English counterpart, Tony Bennett. (From Chapter 1)
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    The impact of the National Training Reform Agenda and workplace rearrangement on staff development in Australian academic and state libraries
    Bridgland, Angela C. ( 1997)
    In Australia, the combination of a changing workforce profile, the changing nature of work and industrial agreements and the changing role of education and training gave rise to the National Training Reform Agenda (NTRA). The main aim of the NTRA is to increase the competitiveness and productivity of Australian industry through industry responsive reform of the vocational education and training system. The development of a National Framework for the Recognition of Training (NFROT) and nationally endorsed industry competency standards, along with The Training Guarantee Act (1990), were intended to ensure that the Government’s major reform program for education and training for Australian industry took effect.
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    Provision for the education of Catholic women in Australia since 1840
    Lewis, Constance Marie ( 1988)
    An historical perspective of the Religious Orders of women which entered the Catholic education scene in nineteenth-century Australia, and an appraisal of their adaptation to the forces within Australian society which influenced their provision for the education of Catholic women in this country as they operated under the powerful direction of the bishops.
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    The place of religion in commercial television in Australia from 1956 to 1978
    Tasker, D. H. ( 1980)
    This subject could be treated in different ways. In this thesis it is treated historically. The matter under examination is the failure of religious programming to find a secure, prominent and effective place in commercial television despite the apparent advantage of having the authority of the Broadcasting and Television Act (1956) and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to support it. In particular, Section 103 stated that: A licensee shall telecast from his station Divine Worship or other matter of religious nature during such periods as the Board determines and, if the Board so directs, shall do so without charge. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board further specified in its Programme Standards, 1956 that station time and reasonable facilities should be provided free of charge to the churches, that time should be allocated among the various denominations in proportion to the number of adherants and that such arrangements should be made by mutual agreement between the commercial licensees and representatives of the churches. However, as the Royal Commission on Television had predicted in 1955 the question of control over licencees assumed pre-eminent proportions. Its recommendation that the Control Board should have a reserve of authority was not incorporated into the Act with the result that the Board was not empowered to enforce its Programme Standards. Even when it was apparent that the commercial licensees were resisting the attempts of the Control Board to administer the Act, the Liberal-Country Party Government refused to give any support to the Board. The thesis argues that the development of religious television in Australia was seriously impeded because the Broadcasting and Television Act gave the Control Board no power to enforce either Section 103 or the Programme Standards relating to Section 103. It is argued that the Liberal-Country Party Government consistently supported and protected commercial vested interests because it took for granted that the public interest in commercial television was best served by its being a successful business enterprise free to develop popular programming within a free enterprise system. Against the Board's advice, broadcasting legislation moved relentlessly towards self-regulation in programming for commercial licensees. S116 of the Constitution which stated that The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion or for imposing any religious observance of or prohibiting the free exercise of any religion and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth, was frequently used as an argument by commercial licensees against the legality of mandatory religious programmes. The question of whether S103 contravened S116 was never tested but the possibility of contravention further weakened the authority and the power of the Board. The Board itself, especially because of the ineptitude of its Religious Advisory Committee, and its failure to clarify the place and purpose of religious programmes in a pluralist society became a major cause of tension between the church agencies and the commercial licensees. The thesis further argues that the churches' agencies demonstrated a paternalistic attitude to television by attempting to impose their requirements, values, views, objectives and standards, all of which were characteristic of their particular denominations and incompatible with each other, without giving proper consideration to the nature of the medium or the needs of the audience. They therefore had little hope of dealing with a hostile industry. Such fragmentation also made it impossible to find the resources to compete with secular programmes. The churches also accepted the privileged position of being free to pursue their own vested interest in a commercial enterprise rather than to develop another concept of community television in the public interest. Nor were the churches able to resolve the basic theological dilemma of what image or concept of religion should be presented on commercial television. However, even if the churches had been able to present a form of Christianity that met the approval of all denominations, whether liberal or conservative, the question of its proper role would have remained. For religion to have a secure, prominent and effective place in commercial television the churches will have to establish a relevance not simply to the community but to the community by means of television. That is almost certainly beyond the resources of the churches in Australia and may be beyond the combined resources of the licensees, the Broadcasting Tribunal and the churches.