Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    The academic achievements of language centre students at a secondary college
    Warrick, Geoff ( 2001)
    What are the academic achievements of adolescent new-arrival English as a Second Language (ESL) students at secondary schools in Victoria, Australia? Research on Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) students in Australia has tended to neglect new arrival ESL students. To examine the academic achievements of this important subgroup of NESB students, the current study will highlight the academic achievements of a cohort of Victorian Language Centre students at a Secondary College over six years with interruption to schooling in their first language (L1) as the key variable linked to academic achievement in their second language (L2). Victorian Language Centres provide new-arrival ESL students with the English skills they need to start their secondary educations in L2. The current study examined the academic achievement of two groups of Language Centre students, those who completed their Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) and those who left the Secondary College prior to completing VCE. Their academic results were summarised into spreadsheets for quantitative analysis. Subsequent to the quantitative analysis interviews were conducted with four ESL students from the Language Centre currently completing their VCE studies to provide further insight into the factors that enabled them to do their VCE. Results indicate that the academic achievements of this cohort of ESL Language Centre students are poor and that interruption to education in Ll had a major impact on the students' ability to achieve academically at the Secondary College. The study suggests that L1 education is the key variable influencing the student's ability to acquire the academic language skills necessary to meet the academic demands of secondary education, particularly the VCE. Other factors such as support for learning and strong motivation were found to help students overcome difficulties encountered in their secondary education. However, students who were unable to overcome these difficulties left the College prior to completing VCE. It was concluded that the majority of Language Centre students faced uncertain economic futures once they left the Secondary College. The results of the study suggest that Language Centre students need more support and assistance to enable them to complete VCE or to access educational alternatives to the VCE. This study also suggests that more research into the effect of L1 education on L2 education be conducted as this was found to be the key variable in the students' ability to acquire the academic language skills necessary to meet the academic demands of VCE.
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    Another world like here : futures studies and early childhood education
    Page, Jane M (1963-) ( 1995)
    This thesis examines the discipline of futures studies and its potential for application in early childhood education. The need for an increased futures-orientation in education is established by a survey of the overwhelmingly negative commentaries of youths on the topic of the future. These comments, it is argued, point to a vacuum of understanding about the future which educators should seek to counterbalance. This task should be particularly emphasised by early childhood educators since they share a commitment to the central objective of laying foundations for life-long learning. Futures studies offers a useful methodology for this task. The thesis examines the major tenets of futures studies and its translation into primary and secondary educational settings. The applicability of futures studies to early childhood education is established by demonstrating the many principles which futures studies and early childhood education share in common. A futures-focused curriculum need not involve the educator in any radically new philosophical and educational frameworks. It, rather, provides a means of extending and re-articulating existing developmental objectives from the vantage point of new perspectives. The thesis resolves the issue of whether or not futures concerns are beyond the reach of four and five year olds by examining how pre-school children conceive time and the future. Young children are seen to possess many of the qualities which futures studies seek to re-instill in adults and older children. The educator should seek to capitalize on this by combining the positive aspects of children's innate perceptions of future time with the more abstract 'adult' understanding of time. A research project on pre-school children's attitudes towards the future sheds further light on their understandings of the future while also enabling their own opinions on the topic to be heard. The thesis then defines the principal objectives of a futures-focused curriculum and translates them into practical learning experiences. It concludes by exploring the implications of the findings contained in the thesis for early childhood education and by discussing some of the ways in which the educators themselves might come to terms with the issues articulated in this study.
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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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    Egan's stage theory : an exploratory study of its use in the analysis of science textbooks
    Valmadre, Christopher Charles ( 1985)
    Kieran Egan (1979) has challenged educationists to consider the need for a Theory of Development which is specifically Educational. Such a need is discussed and examined in the context of science teaching. Egan's Theory was applied to the selection of science text material for a group of eleven and twelve year old students. The students' responses to the materials were compared with Egan's descriptions of certain developmental stages, particularly of his Romantic Stage. The author concluded that Egan's theoretical proposition assisted in interpeting certain student behaviour and preferences. Possible classroom uses of Egan's theory are discussed, implications for text usage and design are outlined, and some areas of research are suggested.
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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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    Social ideologies in two sets of multicultural curricular materials
    Hampel, Bill ( 1980)
    The large increase in the non-British proportion of Australia's population since 1945 has created a demand for greater recognition in schools of cultural difference and a re-affirmation of the goal of equality of educational opportunity. Marxist theories of ideology, hegemony and the State are employed to examine whether 'multicultural' curricular materials which are ostensibly advocating a critical appraisal of the society and subscription to these pluralist goals, are not soliciting support for dominant ideologies. The thesis questions whether they are not acting to reproduce the social order to the detriment of the ethnic minorities they are purporting to serve. The first of the two sets of curricular materials examined, Ethnic Australia, develops a Eurocentric view of exploration and inter-ethnic relations favourable to the needs of .capitalist economic growth. Its criticism of prejudice is unrelenting, but it does not extend it to an adequate analysis of the social conditions which might have generated discrimination and conflict. In its presentation of Italian and Greek cultures, it highlights and reinforces those attitudes and behaviours which are most conducive to an acceptance of competitive individualism under capitalism. The materials entitled Australia : A Multicultural Society, show the benefit of widespread consultation with educators and ethnic groups. They offer a view of culture and a picture of the material circumstances of Greeks and other migrants in Australia which accords with the most recent and carefully conducted research. In delivering a sustained attack on the inadequate provision for migrants in this country, they expose children' to a variety of ideological perspectives gleaned from the media, ethnic communities and the peer culture. Reservations are expressed about the capacity of materials with a liberal reformist ideology to develop in school students a critical awareness of the more intractable social structural barriers to the achievement of social equality and acceptance of cultural difference. Finally, there is brief discussion of the problems of construction and dissemination of critical curricular materials in a publicly funded educational system.
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    The cognitive styles, learning strategies and vocational interests of South-East Asian and Australian students
    Fallon, Felicity R. ( 2003)
    Many factors are involved in the way an individual gains an understanding of Mathematics. Their cognitive style, i.e. way they code information for further processing in the brain, is one of these. The learning strategies that they use when a mismatch exists between their preferred style and the material presented to them is another. Riding and Rayner (1998) have developed a model for the whole learning process which contains two dimensions of cognitive style, the Wholist/Analytic and the Verbaliser/Imager dimensions. In the same way as individuals have different preferred cognitive styles, they also express different vocational interests. Holland (1985) developed a model for describing and assessing these vocational interests, the RIASEC model. Cultural factors may influence both an individual's preferred cognitive style and their vocational interests. This study investigates the effect of cultural factors in both these areas, looking particularly at the cultures of South-East Asia and Australia and the cognitive styles and vocational interests of students undertaking a first year university Mathematics course. Cultural differences were found in both areas. Students from South-East Asia (27 males and 17 females) tended to have a more visual cognitive style than Australian students (27 makes and 16 females), particularly when they learnt to read first in a character-based language. In accordance with the values of their Confucian-heritage background, the students from South-East Asia scored more highly on Holland's Conventional scale than did Australian students. In this study, support was also found for several aspects of Riding's Cognitive Control Model. One of these was the use of a Complementary cognitive style as a learning strategy when a mismatch occurred between an individual's preferred learning style and the material presented to them.
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    A new wave of migrants in our classrooms: teenage refugees from south Sudan and their perceptions of learning English in Australia
    Beattie, Jane Marion Alison ( 2005)
    Worsening civil conflict in Sudan since the turn of the century has directly led to a dramatic increase in the number of Sudanese refugees arriving in Australia. Teachers are now faced with the challenge of creating an effective learning environment for a new group of migrants with whose needs, experiences, attitudes and approaches to learning they are largely unfamiliar. New and ongoing research is imperative so that teachers may appreciate the learning needs of a people whose individual and cultural experiences are so different from those of migrants from Eastern Europe and Asia who have preceded them in their move to Australia. This study aims to investigate and gain insight into the ways in which teenage refugees from south Sudan, now living in Melbourne, experience the learning of English as a second language (ESL) in Australian classrooms. The research also aims to understand their major cultural and individual characteristics, and to ascertain how these qualities shape their perceptions of learning ESL. The research takes the form of qualitative study, which involves observation of the student participants in their natural classroom setting, followed by individual interviews with seven Sudanese learners and two of their classroom teachers. Through a collection of individual case studies, this research explores the perceptions of the English language learning experiences of the seven participants. Adopting a grounded theory approach to the study allows the researcher to follow leads presented by the data, without being bound by rigid hypotheses. Based on relevant literature and previous studies, a number of initial assumptions about the Sudanese as learners were identified at the outset of the study. The findings of this research, however, contest and therefore problematise these earlier conclusions. Results indicate the observed learning behaviour of participants, as well as the insights gained through their interviews, may not be not consistent with the current stereotype of the Sudanese learner in Australia. In other words, findings indicate that the classic stereotype of the Sudanese learner is not accurate for this age group. Because of this, a disparity exists between students' expectations of pedagogy, and their teachers' actual styles and practices. It is intended the findings may offer teachers a better understanding of the Sudanese experience. Further, it is hoped that these new insights will and identify areas of classroom pedagogy that can be improved in order to create a more effective learning environment which addresses the needs of their newest group of students.