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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    Articulating the theatre experience : ways in which students respond to the theatre experience, individually, collectively & within the context of the curriculum
    Upton, Megan ( 2005)
    This thesis investigates how a class of senior Drama students experience the event that is theatre performance. The theatre experience is at the very heart of this study, both as a personal one, and as it is framed within the parameters of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) Drama Curriculum. Five themes emerge from the study: the role of cultural contexts; the role of prior experience; knowing versus not knowing measuring the theatre experience; and the impact of curriculum and assessment criteria on student responses. The findings of the study suggest that the subject of Drama provides entry into an aesthetic world that is not necessarily accessible through other subjects. It indicates that a range of cultural contexts and prior experiences create a frame through which students experience new theatre performances. The study indicates that the immediate and transient nature of a performance text is inherently difficult to measure but rather, relies on the measuring of the memory of that experience. Finally, the study suggests that there is a gap between the process through which students make meaning from their experiences, and the process by which the curriculum asks them to respond to the aesthetic experience that is theatre. The implications of this investigation are that the teaching of theatre text and the design of curriculum documents needs to more carefully acknowledge the cultural framing, prior experiences, and personal aesthetics that students bring to that experience. Further, it asks Drama educators to consider whether aesthetic experiences are indeed assessable and, if so, how that can be achieved in ways that acknowledge the complex nature of responses to a text that exists only in the memory of those who have seen it.
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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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    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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    Issues of curriculum transition from secondary to tertiary drama education
    Mustafa, David R ( 2005)
    This case study aims to explore issues of curriculum transition for those students moving from secondary to tertiary study in drama and theatre studies. Its purpose is to examine the relationship between first year tertiary drama and theatre studies courses and VCE Drama/Theatre Studies, and whether these tertiary courses are meeting the needs of those students who have this particular VCE study as their foundation. As a means of investigating this issue, a group of first year tertiary students was selected as participants after they had enrolled in the unit Body, Text and Performance offered by the School of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne through the Theatre Studies stream. Other participants included the coordinating lecturer, as well as the tutors delivering the practical component of the curriculum. This qualitative study seeks to examine the nature of this unit through the responses and attitudes of both students and staff. As a secondary drama teacher, VCAA Examiner and Auditor, the researcher has witnessed directly the marked improvement in senior drama education since the introduction of VCE in 1991. This study seeks to ascertain to what extent tertiary courses have responded to these changes in the VCE and whether curriculum at this level is informed by students' previous experiences, knowledge and learning from their secondary senior schooling.
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    Evaluating a peer mediation program : the perspectives of key stakeholders
    Ryan, Susan ( 2006)
    Peer mediation has developed as a popular means of responding to and managing conflict in schools. Advocates of peer mediation assert that it is an effective method of encouraging students to resolve conflict constructively and can encourage responsible citizenship. This study emerged as a result of the researcher's involvement in a peer mediation program in a large regional girls' secondary college. The study explored the perspectives of key stakeholders (students, teachers and parents) on the impact of the peer mediation program and sought to establish what benefits, if any, were derived from the existence of the program. Specifically, the research focused on whether the program was supported, accepted and used by the school community and whether the perceptions of the program were congruent amongst different stakeholder groups. The study also investigated what outcomes were experienced by the trained mediators themselves. Factors which might encourage or limit students' use of the program were also explored. Data was collected prior to the training of a specific cohort of mediators and in the following year from key groups: the trained students, other students within the school setting, staff and parents. The findings indicate that the presence of a peer mediation program was seen to have a considerable positive effect on school climate by teachers and parents and that, in many cases, it produced positive outcomes for students. The most meaningful outcomes of the specific study, however, appeared to be the benefits for the trained mediators themselves, in terms of the development and enhancement of self confidence and life skills. The implications of the findings for the peer mediation program in the case study school and for other schools implementing peer mediation programs are discussed in this report.
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    Teacher beliefs about mathematical problem solving in Free Wesleyan Church secondary schools in Tonga
    Sweeney, Damian F ( 2001)
    It is clear from the literature that attention should be paid to teachers' beliefs about how the mathematics classroom operates and about the nature of mathematical problem solving. The introduction of a mathematical problem-solving curriculum which ignores these aspects is likely to be frustrated. This research seeks to learn more about the use of mathematical problem solving by Tongan teachers and what these teachers consider to be good teaching of mathematics and mathematical problem solving. Five mathematics teachers in the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga education system were interviewed about their beliefs using the Kelly Repertory Grid technique through Enquire Within software. Surveys were also conducted of the material produced for schools by the Tongan Government's Ministry of Education. It was found that the Ministry of Education has implemented a minimal problem-solving curriculum throughout the Kingdom and that the beliefs of the majority of teachers interviewed were compatible with this minimalist model. Recommendations for the Free Wesleyan Church's Education Department are made on possible approaches to fulfilling the Ministry of Education's stated aim of preparing students to apply the principles of mathematics to unfamiliar situations.
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    The influence of information and communication technology (ICT) on secondary school students' development in Japanese handwriting skills
    Kandori, Shizuka ( 2008)
    For twenty years, researchers have suggested that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilitates language learning by motivating students (e.g. Rodrigues and Rodrigues, 1986; Phinney, 1989; Pennington and Brock, 1992; Felix 2001). In particular, research concludes that ICT positively changes students' attitudes towards writing, because it reduces the fear of making mistakes. Despite considerable research on the value of ICT in the learning of European languages and ESL, few studies have been conducted on its use in Japanese classes (Chikamatsu, 2003), especially at the early secondary level. Yet it is often said that Japanese is one of the most difficult languages for English native speakers to learn (Chikamatsu, 2003), and its writing system is regarded as the most complex in the world (Sproat, 2000). Hence ICT might be expected to facilitate learning the three different sets of symbols used in combination to write Japanese, but it is not commonly used by secondary students for this. In this study, the aim was to document and analyse the achievements of beginner level school learners of Japanese when ICT was introduced for learning basic Japanese using mainly the phonetic Hiragana syllabary. Following methods created by Chikamatsu (2003), the effectiveness of using ICT was determined by comparing the speed and accuracy of students' answers in vocabulary tests, and interviewing them about their learning processes using ICT. The results show that, while the use of ICT motivated students' learning and assisted the weaker students to speed up their writing and to write more correctly, the excessive use of ICT had a negative influence on students' handwriting skills, an ability required in final year examinations as well as in real life. Thus students in the experimental group who used only the computer produced more errors when transferring to writing Japanese by hand. Findings therefore suggest that computers should only be used as a supplementary tool in class to stimulate students' learning.
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    Self-perception and academic performance in mathematics: a study of a group of normal technical (nt) students in a girls' school in Singapore
    Ho, Su Ching Eunice ( 2008)
    Self-perceptions of students are determinants of healthy psychological development and school success. Research on the associations between students' self-perceptions and their academic performance is of great importance in the educational realm. There have been limited studies investigating students' self-perceptions in Singapore. Hence, this study aims to examine students' perceptions of Mathematics, academic and general self. It sought to provide insights in relation to how these self-perceptions correlated with each other, and academic achievement with particular focus on Mathematics. Students' sentiments on the Normal Technical stream were also explored. A mixed methods approach was used for data collection. Quantitative data were derived from a questionnaire and students' Mathematics and overall academic results. The self-perception scores were measured by Self-Description Questionnaire - II (SDQII) to yield three scores: Mathematics, Academic-school and General Self-perceptions. Qualitative data was obtained from a group interview using semi-structured questions. The study involved thirty-seven students from the Normal Technical stream in a girls' school in Singapore. Eight students were involved in the group interview. Insights were gained about how students perceived Mathematics, academic school, general self and streaming. Firstly, the study found that Mathematics self-perception correlated strongly with Mathematics performance. Secondly, statistical evidence indicates that students had higher means for self-perceptions than academic achievements. Thirdly, evidence suggests that students' perception of academic-school is strongly correlated to their general self-perception. Finally, students resented the stigma that is attached to the Normal Technical stream, which regarded them negatively. Implications for practice and further research in the three areas of self-perception and academic achievement are also discussed.
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    How may the use of an abstract picture language affect student learning of energy and change
    Fry, Margaret C. ( 2002)
    The teaching of `Energy' as a topic in school science has often been found in the professional and research literature to be incoherent and scientifically inconsistent. Boohan and Ogborn's `Energy and change' booklets are an attempt to outline a new way for teachers in junior science classes to talk about processes that drive everyday changes from the weather to a car moving. They have sought, around the central idea that change is caused by differences, to use easy language and find coherent ways to describe thermodynamic ideas. They developed a set of abstract pictures to make these ideas intelligible. In this phenomenological classroom-based study the experiences afforded two Year 8 classes and their teachers in the same school in Melbourne by the use of Boohan and Ogborn's abstract picture language are investigated. One teacher took a didactic/empirical approach. He taught from his architectonic conceptual map of energy and followed the standard textbook development of forms of energy punctuated by the recommended experiments and teacher demonstrations to illustrate various changes in form. The abstract pictures were used principally in discussion as summative and interrogative tools towards a clarification of the teacher's conceptual overview. The other teacher took a co-constructive experiential approach. She did not use a class text. The Boohan and Ogborn materials were used as gestural tools in the sense of presenting the gist of the embodied understanding- purposes and meaning- of teacher and students. There were some teacher demonstrations but no practical work. The picture language icons functioned as mediating tools in class conversations towards a perception not that certain predefined teacher concepts had been attained but rather individuals had attained confidence to go on from that juncture. The students' responses to the picture language, in class interaction and group interviews, revealed major similarities across these teaching approaches. Many saw the abstract picture language to be a powerful and economic representational or iconic device that afforded them a means of engaging their own embodied socio-cultural understanding of energy and change phenomena. Some were confused by the purpose and meaning inscribed in the icons. Both teachers felt professionally challenged in the employment of the materials and only partly satisfied by their different enactments. Both were engaged and curious about the intellectual, sensational and aesthetic dimensions of their and their students' experience.