Faculty of Education - Theses

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    An examination of the role of the Bridging into sciences program within the Victorian TAFE sector
    Thompson, David C ( 2002)
    The intention of this study was to examine and describe the role of the Bridging Into Sciences (BIS) program, a course of study conducted within the Victorian TAFE educational sector. BIS was originally developed in 1985, as a means of providing basic grounding in biology and chemistry for mature-age students seeking entry into health science-related university courses. Since that time, it has undergone several curriculum additions and changes, TAFE re-accreditations and was now taught a four different Victorian TAFE institutes. The updated BIS program was designed to form a link between unemployment and academia, providing a suitable entry point for individuals without suitable academic background. Like the old course, the new BIS version was intended to provide learners with vital underpinning theoretical knowledge and practical skills in both mathematics and the sciences, facilitating articulation into courses of science-orientated study, at a higher level of sophistication. However, unlike the old course, the new BIS program proposed to offer learners multiple exit points, and hence, multiple academic destinations. But was the new BIS program version fulfilling its intended aims, philosophies and intentions ? What sort of students undertook BIS studies ? Was the program able to provide multiple exit point for those successfully completing it ? Were students able to successfully undertake the BIS program and fulfil their specific academic goals ? If so, in which courses of study were they able to articulate into ? Were all students successful in completing BIS ? If not, why not ? Were the aims and philosophies of those teaching in the program consistent with those of the course designers ? Could the program be improved ? If so, how ? Overall, was a true and accurate 'picture' of the role of the Bridging Into Sciences program within the TAFE sector ? A desire to address these questions and formulate true and accurate insight of how BIS was operating, provided the impetus for, and aim of, this study. To achieve this aim, data from all four TAFE institutes was sought. To establish a 'rich and thick' understanding of how the program was operating, both qualitative and quantitative data collection methodologies were employed. Data was collected from three different sources - curriculum documents, ex-students and teaching staff members, via three different methods. First, relevant curriculum materials were collected and carefully examined. This established the program content, as well as overall aims and philosophies. Second, a questionnaire was designed, trialled and mailed to a select group of ex-BIS students - those having been enrolled in 1997. The mail out survey was to gather demographic information, as well as solicit opinions about their BIS experiences, from a cohort of individuals comprising of those who had successfully completed the program, and those who had not. In doing so, a 'snap-shot' of BIS, from a student prospective, would be obtained. Raw data generated was subsequently analysed using the SPSS computer software. Third, a number of teachers instructing in the BIS program, were interviewed in 'face-to-face' fashion. Teacher responses were tape recorded during interview and were later transcribed and analysed. The findings of the study revealed that in 1997, the BIS program was undertaken by students who were typically Australian-born, English-speaking females, aged somewhere between mid twenties to thirties and had at least one child. Members of the group were also likely to have completed at upper secondary school and were specifically involved with the BIS program to gain entry into either a TAFE or university course. Although almost 70% of BIS students were successful in completing at least one module, financial difficulties and seeking employment were the two main reasons for individuals having to discontinue their BIS studies. Of those successfully completing the program, almost two-thirds were found to be engaged in some form of post-BIS academic endeavor. BIS teachers were found to be a group of highly experienced professionals, averaging almost five years of involvement in the program. It was their collective belief that whilst the program was providing students with vital underpinning theoretical knowledge and practical skills, it also developed self-confidence and personal empowerment. In doing so, it was able to prepare students for studies at higher levels, both from theoretical and practical perspectives. Collectively, they agreed that the overall program was successful in achieving its aims, philosophies and objectives.
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    What is a quality rubric? : curriculum design, state frameworks and local assessment of secondary science
    Stewart, Jen ( 2009)
    In explicating Science the science teacher is likely to say, 'I have reached Chapter 9!' Bureaucracy has its own logic and State curriculum writers have pushed for results that looked rational: results that could codify, sort and explain to their masters. The schools and universities have responded. The rubric has recently entered the teacher lexicon as a quasi professional tool for instructional planning and student assessment in the public domain as a response to central accountability requirements in relation to mandated curricula and standards of student and teacher performance. The rubric is characteristically a grid which defines any piece of instruction, a list of anticipated educational attainments, stated as criteria, against levels or standards of attainment, stated as descriptors. The rubric has become a public statement, a quasi contract written by groups of teachers in a school that identifies what can be expected in terms of teaching behaviours and student learning, in the name of a school or the state. But how would the quality of a rubric be discussed or assessed in relation to science education? The study explores the use of rubrics to support situated cognition and social constructivist science teaching. This thesis does not investigate the question of educational 'quality' per se. It does not set out to prescribe or stipulate ideals. Nor does it recommend how teachers ought to use rubrics to measure or assess such ideals. Rather it is an ethnogenic study of the judgements made about the qualities of the rubrics designed and used by science teachers and a particular group of students in an inner urban secondary school. The students in this study are enrolled in the Select Entry Accelerated Learning program at Hill View Secondary College which seeks to engage them in higher levels of educational involvement and attainment.
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    Negotiating and enabling change in a primary school: identifying strategies that assist classroom teachers with the teaching and learning of science
    Carr, Helen ( 2006)
    The purpose of this research was to investigate strategies that assist classroom teachers with the teaching and learning of science. The researcher, a classroom teacher and science coordinator at Karingal Heights Primary School (KHPS), decided to conduct the study because of the researcher's desire to improve current practices at KHPS. The researcher's belief that, examining current practices, investigating alternatives and documenting what works for individual teachers are essential elements for successful teaching and learning. The methodology of action research was the most appropriate tool because it allowed for collaboration and reflection. The research period was ten months and involved classroom teachers at KHPS in a process of inquiry and. reflection. Classroom teachers became active participants in identifying strategies that assisted.them with the teaching and learning of science. Finding links to science across the curriculum led to a wider vision of what constituted science and resulted in more science happening at KHPS. Action Research became a strategy that promoted science teaching and learning because it provided classroom teachers with a focused process of investigation and reflection. What emerged was a broader view of science, linked more to the lives and interests of the school community and the conclusion that, although a variety of strategies assist classroom teachers with the teaching and learning of science, collaborative work practices emerged as the most valuable strategy for the classroom teachers at KHPS.
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    The Public understanding of techno-science in a rural community: culture & agency
    Campbell, Alasdair C. ( 2003)
    This is an ontological inquiry into the public understanding of techno-science, held by adult members of a local school community. In this light, it seeks to establish a platform from which to reassess conventional assumptions about the curriculum and cultural agency of science teaching. The inquiry is rooted in dissatisfaction with a current transformational model of science teaching, which is defined solely in terms of the transfer of ideational possessions to the students in science classes. Both teachers and students are agents in their own and others' symbolic life worlds. Their identities are constructed in a dual praxis, a dialogue between self as product and self as process in every day conversation in established communities. The study draws on the work of Coulter on Dialogical Research, Harre on the analysis of social episodes, Latour, Rechwitz & Schatzki on the place of the material in theories of culture, of Harvey, Ratner on Agency and Community . Through dialogues with persons in a rural community served by the author's school, the thesis explores the public understanding of techno-science within the community and considers whose interests the school education in science best serves. The centrality of "community" is claimed in characterising a model of embodied cultural change over centrally imposed change. It is proposed that change is a "two-way" interaction where the individual "agent" both socialises & is socialised by the cultural structures that exist, and where the "artefact" is the "knot of reasoning" at the centre of personal identity formation "actor-networks" (ANT - Latour). It suggests that society empowers or does not empower - through the processes of recognising, and allocating control of empowering artefacts to persons as agents working within a social & cultural framework of responsibilities and duties. The thesis offers a new transformational model of social action, which suggests renewed attention in research & practice should be given to ontologies of the mind and person of the agent and the mediating function of "community" in the future restructuring of the public education of science if it is to serve its broader function in cultural transformation within the small rural community of Erehwyna, or anywhere.
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    Researching teacher agency in primary school science: a discursive psychological approach
    Arnold, Jennifer Lynne ( 2004)
    This ontological study is concerned with analyses of the problem of the scientific reform of the primary school curriculum. It was conducted at a time when a solution was sought through State mandated curriculum and standards specification and primary teacher accountability. The case study developed as an interactive ethnography (Woods 1996) written from the point of view of the facilitator of a whole school science curriculum project. The focus of the enquiry emerged as an exploration of social episodes in the life of two experienced Early Years teachers engaged in the yearlong project. Discursive psychology became the theoretical framework for the analysis of the primary teachers' professional identity formation in their professional work=place conversations with the author. Pronominal coding has been used to mark the teachers' psychological location in their storylines of the implementation of enquiry-based science education in their classes. In the teachers' accounts they simultaneously position themselves in their acts and actions and in the local moral order of duties and responsibilities. A significant disparity is shown to exist between the ontologies of the primary teachers' and research accounts, which present mental state analyses of teachers' lack of confidence or reluctance to teach science related to limited scientific understanding. The. study offers a schematic model of social action that theorizes human agency as, developing and functioning within the interactional nexus of local community settings. The community operates in the lives of these teachers not as a latent, abstract concept; instead it gives ideological differences and teachers' understandings of themselves significance in everyday educational practices.