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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    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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    Use of computers in mathematics teaching and learning : transition from grade 6 to year 7
    Swarup, Lakshmi K. W ( 2001)
    Over the past ten years computer resources within Victorian schools have improved. Adequate level of facilities and resources has enabled teachers and students to use computers in the teaching and learning of mathematics. However it appears that computer skills acquired during primary years are not always the basis for further and continuous development of skills in the early years of secondary schooling. Research shows that during transition from grade 6 to year 7 there is need for stability and a sense of continuity in the adolescents' education and this applies to the area of mathematics as well. To gain further insight, this research investigated the use of computers in mathematics in a group of feeder primary schools and their linked secondary school. The study initially investigates whether the computer skills introduced in primary schools were known or built upon in secondary schools. The research then makes recommendations to the network of schools involved concerning continuity in teaching and using computer skills in the teaching and learning of mathematics during the transition years. This study was qualitative and involved parents, students and teachers. Questionnaires, interviews and classroom observations were used to obtain data. Recommendations include the need for continuous communication between grade 6 and year 7 mathematics teachers to form and maintain links regarding the development of computer skills, the need to develop a common goal for all grade 6 teachers in terms of teaching computer skills to prepare students for secondary school and finally, the need to increase computer literacy of primary and secondary mathematics teachers and make hardware and software available and accessible to all.
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    New tools for an old craft : introducing information and communication technologies to Victorian schools
    Sestito, Raymond ( 2001)
    Many teachers in Victorian schools are using information and communication technologies (ICT's) in their teaching. This study investigates the relationship between the use of ICT's and teachers' work practices. The first part of the thesis (sections one and two) outlines the prevailing stories associated with ICT's and the various perspectives on technology. Different perspectives of technology are explored to show how they influence what we believe can be achieved with the use of ICT's in the classroom. The second part of the thesis (sections three and four) uses actor network theory (ANT) to build a local network of teachers and machines. The aim is to show that the relationship between teachers and ICT's may be better conceived as a 'sociotechnical' network of people and technical objects. The work concludes by examining the political implications of a sociotechnical network on the practices of teaching and explores the available opportunities for teachers to re-fashion their craft.
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    French LogoWriter language and foreign language learning
    Miach, Catherine Mary ( 1996)
    This study examines the possible effect of the French version of LogoWriter programming language on the French language proficiency of students in year seven who are studying French as a foreign language. It adds to the computer assisted language learning (CALL) debate by studying the place of an artificial language (French LogoWriter) in the second/foreign language classroom. It also examines other possible factors which may influence language learning and suggests further areas of study in foreign language learning and computer technology.