Faculty of Education - Theses

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    Students, computers and learning : a conversation with the cognitive apprentices and their learning tools
    Marshallsea, Colin ( 1998)
    Wertsch (1991) asserts the mind "extends beyond the skin", that is, it is socially distributed and is a function of activity involving cultural tools. From this perspective the mind is unlimited in the sense that it is developed and inseparable from tools of mediation of which the computer is a corporeal thing that extends out into the material world. The computer as a means of mediation can be invisible yet powerfully influential in shaping thought and communication.. In this small-scale case study in an academic independent school a representative focus group of year 9 students suggests to the Author, their school's computer specialist, that their teachers are not to be providing mediated learning with computers. The students who are the metaphoric "cognitive apprentices" feel the school as an institution has not 'grasped the idea.' Bryson and De Castell (1994, 215) observed that " ... the divisive playing field of educational technology is populated by various teams who are telling altogether different 'true stories,' each having different settings, characters and plots ..." The new age believers and the non believers were not listening to the users. Hargreaves (1996) offered a parallel critical assessment, after Plummer (1983) and Wood (1991), of the use of "voice" in contemporary educational research. He stressed the need for active participant voices outside conventional conversations, from different contexts, different positions and particularly the marginalised. In both educational practice and research, student's voice has frequently been considered " a nuisance; literal noise in the instructional system" (Cazden 1986, 448). However, if teachers and schools as agents of parents and society are to embrace computers as cognitive tools, and accept them into the educational context as a means to gaining one or more educational ends, then there is need to research the voices of the cognitive apprentices on their learning with computers. The collaborative nature of the ethnographic research was grounded in the mutual regard of the researcher and the practitioners (students) as change agents in their own school. Central to the research was the development and exploration of a clue structure to understand how student practitioners saw computers being used in their classrooms. The initial core questionnaire asked the students to position their opinion of the school's , and their teachers' use of computers in the provision of the curriculum on a continuum between; "Are computers instructional tools used by teachers to impart knowledge to you", or, "Are computers used as cognitive tools to afford students' opportunities to construct representations of their knowledge and understandings of the concepts being taught ?
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    Does hands-on experience promote autonomous use of computer pods in science teaching ?
    Weller, Jacolyn ( 2009)
    We have ingrained into our teaching ideology that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an essential component of modern education. The computer pod was suggested in the early 2000's by the Department of Education, Employment and Training (DEET) as the means of providing students with access to ICT, but neither the method to harness nor how to direct innovation for best practice were indicated. A literature review by Hennessy and Osborne (2003) provided information on the available ICT tools for Science teaching and suggestions exist for the merits of using computer pods in Culbertson's (1999) reflections on nine studies and Owen's (2003) discussions of English teaching, but rarely was there a merger between the fields of computer pods and Science teaching. Professional development within a department where teachers create their own tasks provides a method of computer pod integration when slotting the tasks into the curriculum. This provides a future teaching document incorporating computer pod usage. The process of creating activities provides a training opportunity for developing accessible resources. The hands-on experience of Science teachers developing their own tasks for sharing aligns with self-help and effective resource management. Impediments exist for teachers in the form of time, equipment, availability, booking requirements, a philosophy that a 1:1 student: computer ratio is essential, comfort zone, student management and supervision. Incentives such as: students being keen, comfortable, suited to this learning style and capable users in this environment, who knowledge share with their teachers provide balance to the impediments. This artefact (the computer pod) is acknowledged as a rich component of learning, particularly in promoting group work, where students build their knowledge together. The results of interviewing five Year 8 Science teachers before and after the research year, where pro-noun analysis was used, generated the findings that Science teachers automatically expand their comfort zone in this environment and acquire the desire to experiment via a transition into the classroom with the activities they have specifically created. Individual teachers ventured further and used tasks developed by others for shared use, while others limited their involvement. This research provided a spectrum of responses, which exhibits variability of success and enhances the reliability of the results when presenting individuals as a range within a small sample. A broad picture even though it had a small focus group. The generated direction was an ownership component was generated in what an individual has created for themselves, which gives the incentive to test it out and simultaneously motivates autonomous integration into teaching strategies. This process has potential applications to others; whether it is other Science teachers, faculties within schools, individual teachers or more broadly, where ownership of the artefact enables the individual to confidently step forward with what becomes part of their skill acquisition and comfort zone.
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    A cross-age comparative investigation of students' attitudes towards computers as a tool to support learning in years 7-12 science classes
    Waddington, Carolyn ( 2000)
    This thesis documents a cross-age comparative investigation of students' attitudes towards computers as a tool to support learning in Years 7 - 12 science classes. The study was set at the secondary school campus of an independent girls' school in Victoria. The secondary school is broken into three relatively autonomous groups, the Junior Secondary School (JSS), the Middle School (MS) and the Senior School (SS). Data was collected by a survey administered to 1215 students in Years 7 -12 science classes. Results of the survey were analysed using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and post hoc Bonferonni analyses. This study aimed to investigate the ways computers are used in science classes. Word processing and the internet were the most common computer uses across the school. A comparison of students in JSS, MS and SS's preferred frequency of use of computers in science classes was undertaken. JSS students preferred to use their computers more frequently in science classes when compared to MS and SS students. An investigation of the uses of computers in science classes that students found beneficial to their learning of science concepts was undertaken and compared across the three school groups. Students' attitudes towards computers as tools to support learning in the science classroom was investigated. The majority of students in all school groups felt the computer was a beneficial support for learning when completing assignment work and was a beneficial tool for presentation. However, it depended on the number of years of computer experience in science classes as to whether students felt the computer was of benefit to their learning of theory or practical work. Aspects of computer use at school in general, that students liked or disliked was determined. The stage of the curriculum that students were currently in, was the major determinant for the students' attitudes towards the use of computers as a support for learning.
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    The impact of information technology on the development of literacy skills in a secondary school
    Radi, Odette ( 2001)
    This study reports on a relationship between the increased use of Information Technology (IT), in both domestic and school environments and the development of literacy in reading comprehension and vocabulary skills in a sample of 52 students in a junior high school. The study was prompted by a perception based on my own personal observation as a classroom teacher in the computer studies area, that the increased availability of personal computers was coinciding with a decline of literacy skills demonstrated in submitted written work by my students. Other teachers also expressed their concern that students were displaying more interest in using IT and a coinciding reduction in reading and writing in class. The study reveals that a majority of students has access to personal computers at home and that they spend more time playing computer games than they do reading the kind of variety of printed text that would benefit the development of their basic comprehension, vocabulary and writing skills. Some correlations were found between high computer use and low scores on Progressive Achievement Tests in Reading (Vocabulary and Comprehension) as well as with low scores on other written exercises. These findings indicated that a high use of personal computers impacts on the development of literacy in reading (comprehension and vocabulary) and writing skills. The parents of the children studied were also surveyed and their comments indicated that the majority felt that their children spent more time on computers than they did on reading any type of printed text or practising their handwriting skills. Despite this, parents were convinced of need for the computer technology in their domestic environment for the educational development their children require. A majority of teachers who were interviewed also expressed their concern at how students were not developing literacy skills at this age. They felt that the acquisition and the development of basic literacy skills should occur at this stage of schooling. It was felt that it was crucial that students, growing up in the "Information Age", developed language literacy skills as well as computer literacy skills. Further study on a wider scale is necessary to specifically identify whether the decline in language literacy is directly tied to the advancements in Information Technologies and their increased use by students. In reality there may be a transformation of literacy that is occurring faster than society and schools can adapt to it. Literacy is a relative concept that must be set in the context of economic and social demands.
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    Relationships between modernism, postmodernism, new technologies and visual culture in Victorian secondary visual arts education
    Potts, Miriam L ( 2001)
    This study investigates relationships between computer technologies, modernism, postmodernism, visual culture and visual arts education. The literature research focuses on relationships between modernism and new technologies, modernism and postmodernism, postmodernism and new technologies and art education and computer technologies. The field research consisted of three 'semi-structured interviews with secondary visual arts teachers in metropolitan Melbourne, Victoria. I investigated selected teachers' perceptions of the extent to which they addressed computer technologies, modernism, postmodernism and visual culture in their visual arts curricula. Initially I aimed to discover the extent that they included computer technologies and postmodern theories into their visual arts curricula. I used a combination of research methods when undertaking this study and in particular when analysing the field research findings. The deductive method of Orientational Qualitative Inquiry was combined with the inductive method of grounded theory. Whilst investigating relationships between postmodernism and new technologies using Orientational Qualitative Inquiry I found that modernism impacted upon both postmodernism and computer technologies. I then used grounded theory to document the interrelationships between modernism, postmodernism, visual culture, new technologies and arts education. This study was limited by several factors, including the following. Firstly, I limited the investigation to only three participants. Secondly, there were flaws inherent in the combination of inductive and deductive research methods. Most significantly, I was limited by the fact that the three interviewees worked in modern institutions. The relationships between modernism and new technologies encountered in section 2.1 were echoed by the interviewees' comments, particularly in sections 4.1 and 4.2. The interviewees held strong modern values such as a belief in progress and the importance of originality. The investigations surrounding postmodernism and visual culture in sections 2.2 and 2.3 were less well established in the field research. However, these were still present, especially in section 4.3. Finally, the traditions of the incorporation of computer technologies established in Australian and American visual arts education in section 2.4 were continued by all three participants in chapter four and summarised in section 5.1. By exploring relationships between modernism, postmodernism, visual culture and new technologies in visual arts education I found that modernism and postmodernism are not mutually exclusive but rather deeply interconnected.
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    Computer based learning in tertiary education and industry : the Australian experience
    Staples, Rodney ( 1988)
    This study describes the influence of information technology on the changing nature of tertiary education and industrial training. It describes an historical precedent for the present changes, and suggests that computer-based teaching and learning has a role in helping society cope with these changes. The study examines the pedagogical background for using computers in teaching and learning, and describes how this use has evolved around the world and in Australia. It also considers the economic implications of using computers in teaching and learning, both in macro-economic terms and as an influence on the administration of organisations implementing computer-based teaching and learning. From an Australia-wide survey of practitioners in computer-based teaching and learning, the study examines the state of development in Australia in 1988. It demonstrates a considerable experience base in academia and in industry, but it also identifies some weaknesses in the experience. In particular it show the difficulty some users have justifying computer-based teaching and learning against other forms of training; ambivalence about the importance of self-paced learning; ambivalence about the importance of learner response, evaluation and certification; little support from organisations in which users work; and little access to business and marketing skills for marketing the product of research and development in computer-based teaching and learning. The study identifies four necessary and sufficient conditions for the successful development of computer-based teaching and learning. It suggests that it is the lack of people with skill and experience, not lack of physical resources which is holding development back. Development can, it suggests, be speeded by enlightened administrations supporting innovative development; by motivating individuals to contribute to development; and by establishing a centre of excellence in which such development is encouraged. Finally, it suggests that we are leaving behind a cottage industry model of computer-based teaching and learning development, and entering an era of large scale production of useful resources.
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    What are the blockers/facilitators for a science coordinator to integrate datalogging into science teaching
    Weller, Jacolyn ( 2002)
    This project investigates a coeducational Secondary College Science Department that decided to introduce datalogging as a teaching tool. Datalogging is the electronic recording of data during an experiment using sensor probes. Decisions concerning the introduction of datalogging involved the science teaching staff, the laboratory technician and the Science Coordinator, all stakeholders in this process. This investigation was developed with the hindsight of a Literature Review, which provided the advice of others' experiences and catalogues the introduction in a case study format. Action research strategies were invoked through a series of focus interview questions, which provide a 'snap-shot' of the perceptions. From here a collaborative Change Management strategy of introducing datalogging into science teaching was produced. The factors that inhibited or prevented the use of datalogging in teaching were considered to be 'blockers'. Through interview questions the teachers and the laboratory technician were asked what they felt blocked their use of datalogging. The time required to become comfortable, familiar, confident and experiment with the equipment arose as the major concern for all teachers prior to using datalogging in science teaching, while the laboratory technician had more physical impediments. The technology capable participants did not encounter major hindrances. There was a constant limitation of equipment due to its expense, which was a factor accepted by all and where innovation in teaching style was required to overcome this impediment. However, all felt that visual 'memory-jogs' of the availability and uses of the equipment would encourage use. The factors that contributed to datalogging use were the 'facilitators'. These included a well rounded, informative and ongoing professional development strategy involving all staff members sharing knowledge combined with a laboratory technician who was conversant with the equipment, constantly promoting and encouraging usage and aiding the process. Throughout the project constant active problem solving emerged as a strategy by teachers whenever a 'blocker' was suggested. The advantage of collegial sharing through professional development was also recognised by staff and thought to integrate well when developing technology as a teaching tool. The process overall was time intensive due to lack of time in the working week when people are at different stages in embracing change and technology. Consequently whatever was learnt by individuals was regarded as worth sharing professionally.
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    Information technology : policies and practices
    McLennan, Kathleen V ( 1998)
    This paper suggests that policy is the appropriate planning structure through which schools are empowered to act when new conditions arise that impact upon education. Further, that policy on the part of the Government and Departments provides indicators for schools about prioritising those conditions. Policy in action is often triggered by events which pre-empt policy in planning, and that such is the case with Information Technology (I.T.) The paper recounts the research undertaken within a rural regional area where access through Information Technology might be seen to have added value to students and teachers. The purpose was to establish a benchmark of readiness for the impact on schools of Information Technology. The findings are grouped according to the nature of the schools, the current practices of those schools which did have policies in place, and the expectations and perceived requirements of schools which did not currently have a final policy in place. The paper examines current uses of programs delivered by satellite, and those opportunities offered by the Internet. It also examines the way in which decisions are made about obtaining basic information, seeking assistance and managing the balance between school income and school technology. It seeks information on the needs for professional development, and conditions which affect decision choices. The findings are related back to current literature, and some recommendations are highlighted which should be included in further research. A collection of considerations has been included, along with a list of relevant Internet /World Wide Web sites suitable for education. A copy of the questionnaire is also included.
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    Computer-assisted instruction in history
    Mthembu, Cecilia Wo ( 1987)
    The usefulness of computer-assisted instruction in the teaching of history is evaluated in this thesis. A number of evaluation schemes were reviewed and one, the MicroSift checklist, was applied in the assessment of some history programs used in schools in Australia. The MicroSift checklist was used within the context of Scriven's evaluation of software. Further evaluation of several of the programs was undertaken in two Melbourne Secondary Schools using Stake's Countenance Model. Questionnaires were administered to students and staff in both schools. Some evidence was found that the history programs had been well received in the schools. Comments have been made about the successfulness of employment of computers in Australian schools, and some recommendations offered for the development of appropriate software for South African use.
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    Slave, master, tool, stalking horse or silver bullet? : the transformational potential of computers in English teaching
    Tellefson, Vivienne ( 2000)
    The study that follows is a 'down the track' case study of the impact on one teacher of the English/LOTE Unit of the professional development program Computers Across the Secondary Curriculum (CASC). Its aim was to examine the effect of learning technology on the teacher's pedagogic beliefs and practices. This was achieved by examination of the teacher's selection, planning, staging and scaffolding of learning and her metaphors for teaching and for technology. The effect of the introduction of the computer in the classroom on teacher student relationships was explored from the teacher's perspective. As the study developed it came also to examine the psychological relationship between teacher and computer, the potential of learning technologies to re-imagine the English curriculum and the role of human agency in transforming the structures and icons of the discipline. Data was collected through in-depth conversations and augmented by classroom observation, analysis of teacher curriculum materials, and teacher reflection. The study is highly situated. It does not seek to offer epistemic claims beyond its own setting. In this context it transfers focus from descriptive to normative research. It aims to add to the dialogue about what constitutes good English teaching through computers, and to advocate the importance of dialogic practitioner research within this quest. Finally it seeks to open a conversation to which others may choose to connect.