Faculty of Education - Theses

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    An exploratory study of teachers' planning in secondary social science
    Toomey, Ron ( 1976)
    For approximately the last twenty-five years Tyler's classical model has formed the basis of much curriculum planning. Stated in bare outline the model involves the following logical operations: (a) state objectives (b) select experiences (c) organize experiences (d) evaluate. Over time, this approach has been refined although its fundamental principles are still recommended to teachers by many authorities for the rational planning of courses, units and lessons. In view of a body of literature suggesting that some teachers plan differently from the classical approach, initially a view intuitively supported by this investigator, this study sought to explore the planning models used by some secondary social science teachers. Four teachers for study were identified. Insight into their methods of planning were obtained by interview, by simulated unit development and by classroom observations. The study raises a number of issues deserving closer examination. While it appears that some teachers may consider objectives to be central to the planning process, notwithstanding a disagreement about how specifically they should be stated, others view objectives as being peripheral or of little consequence. This latter group concentrate more on planning around the experiences and content to be presented to the students which, nevertheless, reflect their general intentions. An analysis of these respective approaches, when translated into classroom practice, suggests the usefulness of examining to what extent stating specific instructional objectives results in closed and terminal learning patterns. Additionally, how far teachers are sufficiently clear about their intentions and how much learning is enhanced when specific objectives are avoided in the planning process merit closer study. Comparatively speaking, judgements about any merits or limitations of planning with or without specific objectives require , extensive analysis of learning outcomes. A research pattern for such an analysis is explored in this study.
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    Attitudes of teachers to the objectives of mathematics education in the junior secondary school
    McNaughton, Allen E. ( 1976)
    At the same time as "New Maths" was being gradually introduced, secondary schools in Victoria became largely responsible for their own curriculum. This devolution of responsibility was coupled with a serious questioning of the meaning and purpose of secondary education itself, and an increasing awareness of other relevant factors such as how children learn, but secondary mathematics teachers have been so occupied with the new mathematical content demanded of them that other considerations have tended to be disregarded until very recently. The pressures that have increasingly been acting on secondary mathematics teachers have created confusion about the aims of the subject at the junior secondary level. Some teachers have retained the narrow academic aims of the past, while others have rejected these completely. Most, however, have reached a compromise. Five "innovative" and five "conservative" high schools in the Melbourne Metropolitan area were chosen subjectively by an informed panel. From each of these ten schools, two "junior level" and two "senior level" mathematics teachers were selected. Each of these forty teachers completed a Likert-type attitude questionnaire designed to establish their attitude towards narrow academic objectives at the junior secondary level. It was found that there was no significant difference in attitude between teachers of senior and junior levels, nor between teachers at conservative or innovative schools. There were, however, differences in attitude to the aims of junior secondary mathematics within each school of relatively large proportions. The lack of significant differences in attitude between schools indicates that they may be more alike than their reputation suggests, at least as far as mathematics education is concerned. Perhaps of greater concern is the effect on pupils of teachers with different attitudes towards their teaching. The fear that autonomy of schools has tended to become freedom for individual teachers to act alone in curriculum matters is reinforced by these results.
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    Form 4 attitudes to science and the choice of a science and in particular physics in Form 5
    Doig, Graeme R. ( 1976)
    Although the more recent curriculum writers have stressed the importance of affective outcomes in science education, students who study physics come to enjoy it less. Also, the proportional and absolute enrolments in physics have continued to decline. A review of the research literature suggested that attitudes to science are a factor in the choice of science and physics study. Attitudes to the science oriented concepts science and physics, scientists, science career and science teacher are pervasively unfavourable. Furthermore, student perceptions of science and physics suggested that the physical sciences were avoided because of certain inherent characteristics (physical science traits) and the absence of humanitarian, social and freedom connotations (non-science traits). Several research studies implicitly supported the hypothesis that favourable attitudes to science oriented concepts and physical science traits were associated with a science study preference whilst favourable attitudes to non-science traits were associated with a non-science study preference. The purpose of the present study was to explicitly examine the assertion that form 4 student attitudes to the above three classes of concepts were associated with the preference to pursue a form 5 science subject and in particular physics. Two identical sets of research hypotheses were formulated for the preference to pursue Science versus No Science and Physics versus No Physics. A questionnaire was administered to 385 form 4 Victorian secondary students in August 1974. The questionnaire elicited student responses to twenty two concepts using a form of\the semantic differential (Osgood, Suci & Tannenbaum, 1957) and their form 5 study preferences. Student attitudes were determined using the D (distance) statistic for profile congruence (Osgood, Suci & Tannenbaum, 1957) using the marker concepts Things I Like and Things I Dislike. The DLike and DDislike concept profiles were separately subjected to a multivariate analysis of variance procedure (Clyde, Cramer & Sherin, 1966) with Expressed Preference for Form 5 Study and Sex as the independent variables. Within the former independent variable, there were two orthogonal contrasts. These were Science versus No Science and Science (Physics) versus Science (No Physics). The two contrasts were necessarily taken together for the set of Physics versus No Physics research hypotheses. In general, the results based on the DLike profiles supported the assertions that student attitudes to science oriented concepts and physical science traits were associated with the preference for a future science subject and in particular physics. However, student attitudes to non-science traits were not associated with the preference to avoid science and physics. The results based on the DDislike profiles were consistent but less pervasive than the DLike profile data. The substantial disparity in the number of significant findings for the DLike and DDislike profile data further suggested that subject choices are made on the basis of "likes" rather than "dislikes". The overall findings of the research investigation presented a tentative picture of subject choice. Prospective science science and in particular physics students have an affinity for ("likes") and their non-science counter-parts an indifference to (rather than "dislikes") science in general and the nature of the physical science curriculum. Furthermore, since such preference groups did not differ in their attitudes to non-science traits, it may be argued that prospective non-science students are indifferent to their actual subject choices. However, this argument could not be overstated. The implications of the research investigation are that attitudes to science (in general) and the nature of the physical science are an important factor in a future choice of science and in particular physics. If future physical science enrolments are to increase, then the attitudes of those students who avoid science and physics must be nurtured. This may be effected through incorporating additional dimensions into the physical science curriculum and the consideration of teacher behaviour on student attitudes to science.
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    Distinguishing the science content taken by grade 12 students
    Cross, R. J. ( 1977)
    The population of grade 12 students in Australian secondary schools has been steadily increasing over the past two decades. For most of this period the percentage of students at this level choosing science-type courses has been decreasing, and recently the actual number taking physics and chemistry has declined in some states. This study aimed to find a set of variables that would maximize the prediction of grade 12 student science content. Emphasis was directed toward identification of science talented students not opting for high science content in grade 12, and, equally as important, those of low science ability who select predominantly science courses at this level. It was proposed that the variables could be measures of any area likely to be related to the criterion. For example, factors associated with the home, the school, and personal measures were all included. The variable set was then searched for that combination returning optimal criterion prediction. Attention was focussed on six main units of analysis viz males, males of higher science ability, males of lower science ability, females, females of higher science ability, females of lower science ability. The data in each unit was subjected to both discriminant (stepwise and direct) analysis and a process similar to a stepwise regression procedure called the Automatic Interaction Detector (AID). AID employs a branching process using variance analysis to subdivide the sample into subgroups which maximize dependent variable value prediction. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) conducted a series of tests on a stratified random sample of grade 12 students throughout Australia in 1970. The results, held at ACER, included measures of some 418 variables thirty four of which were selected for this investigation. Included in this group were the results of the four Commonwealth Secondary Scholarship Examination (CSSE) ability tests taken two years earlier. Analysis units were formed on the basis of sex and CSSE - Science score. The results indicate successful science content prediction is possible with the personal or internal variables of science interest, attitudes and abilities, consistently being of greatest importance. The participating external variables vary depending on the unit of analysis. The non-monotonic "State" and "Type of School" factors are predominant in AID analyses.
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    Origins and development of general science in Victoria 1942-1962
    Boyd, Lawrence Charles ( 1976)
    This thesis is a detailed study of the teaching of General Science in Victorian secondary schools during the period, 1942-1962. The beginnings of the General Science movement can be traced to investigations into science education in England in 1918. However, many ideals of the subject date back to the nineteenth century. Hence some time has been spent in researching the aims and practice of science teaching in England during these earlier stages. Similarly, it has been necessary to study early science curricula in Australia. This background allowed an analysis of effects that Nature Study courses, university science subjects and any unique aspects of Australian education may have had on the origins and implementation of General Science. Syllabuses, courses of study, examination papers and examiners' reports have been thoroughly studied to determine the nature and direction of teaching that took place. In particular, the effect of subject content, examinations, text books and teaching methods has been researched. Hence it has been possible to analyse critically the origins and evolution of General Science. This retrospective study has not only allowed close scrutiny of the ideals and actual classroom practice of the time; it has also afforded valuable insight into essential guidelines that are necessary for general curriculum evaluation and development. Many of these guidelines remain relevant today, even though some thirty years have elapsed since the first General Science course was adapted in Victoria.