Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Rater consistency and judgment in the direct assessment of second language writing ability within the certificates in spoken and written English
    Smith, David R ( 1998)
    The introduction of competency-based models of language and literacy education in Australia has, to a large degree, coincided with an increased emphasis on direct assessment as the most common means of evaluating second language writing ability within the Adult Migrant English Program. The key problem in directly assessing writing ability is having two or more raters arrive at a similar judgment or rating for the same piece of writing. While there is a long tradition of research on rater consistency and judgment in the holistic assessment of writing ability, similar research on the direct assessment of second language writing ability within the context of competency-based language and literacy education is almost non-existent. This study aims to determine the degree to which the performance criteria designed to assess second language writing ability within the Certificates in Spoken and Written English can ensure acceptable levels of rater consistency, and to describe the decision-making behaviours and strategies used by raters when reading for the purposes of assessment. The think-aloud verbal reports of six experienced ESL raters assessing three texts written by intermediate level adult ESL learners were transcribed and subjected to a rigorous interpretive analysis. In terms of rater consistency, analysis of raters verbal reports indicated that while there was generally a high degree of rater consistency at the overall performance or text level there was considerably tess agreement at the level of individual performance criteria. Analysis of the data revealed that raters adopted distinctive styles or approaches to reading for the purposes of assessment and that raters interpreted and applied the performance criteria statements in a range of different ways. These findings have significant implications not only for the development of competency-based assessment procedures but also for the training of raters. v11
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    Defining the characteristics of a good middle school teacher in an Australian setting
    Douglas, Linda Jane ( 1995)
    The purpose of this study is to. identify the characteristics of a middle school teacher that define that teacher as a good teacher in the eyes of their Australian colleagues. A model of the good middle school teacher was developed from the North American literature. This formed the basis for interviews with Australian teachers who have been identified as good middle school teachers by their school community. This has led to the establishment of a model based on the responses from the Australian teachers. The focus centred on the characteristics of the teacher but at times has included reference to curriculum and other structures within the school. The report's results reflect the Australian teacher's approval for child centred teaching but with a subject focus. The teachers feel a need for teachers to retain a passion for a subject area in order to inspire and enthuse their students, but doing this within a context of a curriculum focussed on young people and their needs. This study clearly suggests the strong link between teaching philosophy and curriculum and the need to cater towards the needs of both the staff and students in order to educate successfully.
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    Museum exhibitions : the development and application of a cyclic evaluation model
    Stanton, Janeen Cynthia ( 1995)
    This thesis makes a contribution to exhibition evaluation by providing a cyclic model designed to encourage museum professionals to adopt museum exhibition evaluation within an Australian context. The rationale for the thesis is that museums rarely, if ever, undertake systematic evaluations of exhibitions or attempt to understand the nature of the visitor experience. This, it is argued, is firstly because of the lack of appropriate methodological tools and models which can be applied to the museum setting and secondly because of the poor culture of evaluation currently existing within museums. The model incorporates both front-end, formative and summative evaluation within the various stages of the process of developing an exhibition. It proposes the formulation of hypothesis about visitor behaviour and exhibition design issues which can be tested out in future exhibitions, and encourages the sharing of findings within the museum profession. It suggests that Australia should develop, through evaluation studies, its own body of knowledge about visitor behaviour as the visitor experience within an Australian context may be quite different to that in other countries. The Cyclic Evaluation Model was developed by the writer of the thesis both through her role as a facilitator of exhibitions and her study of evaluation taking place in the museum environment in western countries. One stage of the model (Summative Study) has been used to evaluate a specific museum exhibition. Only time will tell if it will be adopted by the museum professsion, and only if and when it is adopted can any assessment be made as to its effectiveness in encouraging the profession in Australia to embrace evaluation techniques.
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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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    Effective Catholic secondary schools : the findings of two case studies
    Sheehan, Mark Gregory ( 1996)
    This study utilises both qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate school effectiveness in Catholic secondary schools. While some researchers, both in Australia and overseas, tend to rely on quantitative methods when they examine school effectiveness, the current study adopts a case study approach, involving both qualitative and quantitative methods. In adopting this approach, the researcher's aim is to investigate and portray the various factors or processes in schools, which are perceived to make them effective. This process approach differs from that of many researchers, who have adopted an "outcomes" approach in investigating school effectiveness in Western education over the past thirty years, and thus sheds additional light on the various factors within schools which contribute to their overall effectiveness. Also, as this study is focused specifically on Catholic secondary schools it illustrates some of the more specific factors operating within this context. The major finding of the study is that there are several pivotal factors which influence the effectiveness of a Catholic secondary school.
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    Human capital : a case study of the AMEP
    McElgunn, Barry ( 1995)
    This study is an investigation of the Human Capital Approach to education in Australia. It examines whether or not the Commonwealth Government is steering education towards the incorporation of policies that invest greater emphasis and resources into human beings as contributors to economic productivity than it invests in their cultural and aesthetic value. The study incorporates the philosophies of the Human Capitalists and how successive Commonwealth and State Governments apply these philosophies in education policy formulation - particularly the provision of English language to adult migrants through the Adult Migrant Education Program in Victoria. The methodology used is a questionnaire of closed and open-ended questions distributed to AMEP teachers. The researcher duly followed up the questionnaire with interviews of four AMEP teachers in an endeavour to shed more light on the reasons behind the responses given by teachers in the questionnaire. The researcher undertook an analysis of the responses in order to investigate whether or not the Commonwealth Government gives primacy to economic objectives of the migration program over its social, cultural and linguistic objectives. The findings are that the AMEP teachers surveyed believe that the Commonwealth Government does emphasize economic objectives over all other objectives of the migration program. A Human Capital approach to education, reflected in the application of Economic Rationalism, is apparent in Australia's education system according to AMEP teachers surveyed and that such has been the case since the late 1970s. The literary works of Schultz, Smith, Dawkins, Piore, Crittenden, Benovat, Green, Pusey, Kennedy, Marginson and Grubb are included in this study. These works form the literature review of the Human Capital approach. As well, the Reports chaired by Karmel, Williams, Kirby, Fitzgerald and Campbell, and a variety of Commonwealth Reports and Working Party Papers into various aspects of education in Australia are represented in an investigation of the application of the Human Capital approach to education in Australia's main education policies. The findings of this research are that the Human Capital approach to education is influencing the AMEP and that this has wider implications for the national education system in Australia. Almost all AMEP teachers surveyed believe the AMEP no longer follows its own National Plan, in which it spells out its aims and objectives, but pursues the Commonwealth Government's primary objective of pursuing the economic aims and benefits of the migration program.
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    Standing strong or standing weak? Equal opportunity, violence against women and the school curriculum : a case study
    Ollis, Debbie ( 1994)
    Despite violence against women becoming a very public issue in recent years, remarkably little material on this subject has so far found its way into the school curriculum. This thesis examines a set of curriculum materials called Standing Strong, which specifically aims to help students make sense of violent and sexually abusive relationships. The thesis outlines and evaluates the materials in light of their ability to achieve one of the major objectives of recent equal opportunity policy, namely, to help achieve "equality between the sexes, and...improv(e) the conditions of life for girls and women...taking account of their cultural, language, and socio-economic diversity...". (Commonwealth Schools Commission, 1987: Recommendation 2, p. 25). The evaluation takes two main forms, one theoretical, the other empirical. The theoretical evaluation draws upon recent post structuralist and constructionist feminist writings. The empirical evaluation is undertaken by drawing upon the research findings derived from in-depth interviews with 24 young women who had used the Standing Strong materials during their secondary school education. The thesis argues that Standing Strong is flawed theoretically, and that this is likely to hamper its usefulness in practice. The research data confirm this pessimistic conclusion. The thesis concludes by reflecting on whether a focus on education might be more of a hindrance than a help to the development of a meaningful and effective solutions to violence against women.
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    A context-based evaluation of the Australian overseas student policy
    MacKinnon, Valerie J ( 1991)
    In this thesis, the implications of "exporting" Australian higher educational services to overseas countries are explored. Since the introduction of the Overseas Student Program (OSP) in 1985, courses have been "marketed", often quite aggressively, by Australian colleges and universities. In most cases, overseas students have responded by coming to study in Australia in existing courses. The cultural implications of the policy are evaluated using a hypothetical case - Hong Kong Registered Nurses undertaking a post-graduate Public Health Nursing course in an Australian higher education institution to prepare for work with the Vietnamese in Hong Kong's refugee camps. The evaluation is based on an application of Dunn's jurisprudential metaphor and transactional model of argument to a consideration of the contextual and cultural issues which arise from a consideration of the impact of the course. Following an examination of the relevant policies in Australia and Hong Kong as applied to three pertinent contexts, several shortcomings of the OSP are identified. Based on a study of the refugee context, comparative education issues including cross-cultural cognition, and the experiences of overseas students studying in Australia, it is concluded that an existing course would not be appropriate; students could have serious difficulties coping with a second language, and with living and studying in a foreign country. More importantly, however, it was shown that an Australian curriculum would not equip the nurses for their roles in the camps. Arguments developed from the hypothetical case were found to be generalizable to the export of other professional courses, and the relevance of many other course offerings was questioned. It was concluded that Australian institutions needed to be aware of the cultural difficulties experienced by students while studying, and the relevance of the course offerings, if their courses were to be viable in the new international climate of aggressive marketing of education overseas. Failure to do so could have far reaching implications for Australian higher education and Australia's relations with countries in the Asian region.
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    God loveth adverbs (and careth not how good but how well): an attempt to reconcile some of the dichotomies inherent in the evaluator's use of the values criteria
    Evans, Teresa ( 1997)
    While 'values�free' evaluation is no longer an acceptable model, many fears, prejudices and confusions remain. These include the fear of imposing values on individuals in society, the confusion arising from a seeming plethora of values, and the place values ought to occupy in a good evaluation model. A number of dichotomies and dualities arise from these discussions and in an attempt to resolve these I have formulated a model where values are the central concern of the evaluator. To reach this conclusion I have used a logic that I argue is appropriate to the field of study. Using this logic, I have defined and described values as 'guiding principles' and argued that it is not only possible to identify certain foundational values in a society, but that shared values are one identifying characteristic of a society. I further discuss 'superstructure values', that is those values that are justified by the foundational values, as an explanation of the apparent diversity of values in society. Having identified some foundational values of a modern, Western democracy, I apply these to program evaluation theory and construct a diagrammatic representation of the relationship between certain key elements. Finally, this theory is applied to two real public programs, Jobskills and Workfare.
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    Private and public providers in the open training market
    Anderson, Damon ( 1994)
    This thesis examines the nature, role and significance of private training provision from an intersectoral perspective, and in the context of the emerging training market in Australia. In so doing, it explores and charts the terrain of a hitherto neglected sector of post-secondary vocational education and training (VET). The report begins by examining the historical and policy context in which private providers have assumed unprecedented importance. It traces the emergence of the 'open training market' (OTM) as the central organising principle of the National Training Reform Agenda, and defines the underlying principles and forces shaping its development. This analysis establishes the link between the OTM and the rise to prominence of private training providers and argues that the OTM is transforming the structure and balance of the post-secondary VET sector. The lack of prior research on private training providers and the private/public interface in the VET sector is highlighted in a review of relevant international and Australian literature. Various taken-for-granted assumptions about the nature and contribution of private providers are identified. Major gaps are identified in our knowledge about private training providers and the development of training markets. The nature and extent of private training provision is then examined on the basis of information collected via national surveys of training authorities. A detailed comparative analysis of the structure, culture and educational profile of private and public providers is undertaken on the basis of six major case studies of commercial and TAFE colleges. This analysis provides the basis for identifying the distinguishing characteristics of private and public provision. It examines their relative positions in the training market, factors affecting their growth and development, and major trends in the training market. The views and perspectives of providers and clients on the private/public alternatives and barriers to the effective implementation of the training market are explored. A series of key policy issues are identified and the implications of adopting a market-based approach to the provision of VET are examined. The thesis concludes that a parallel private training sector is undergoing formation in Australia. It argues that while certain key differences persist, the roles and relationships of private and public providers are being altered in some fundamental ways by the transition to an OTM, and that the nature of VET itself is being redefined in the process. In view of these trends and the potential implications of the shift to a fully fledged market paradigm, serious questions are raised about the current directions of government VET policy.