Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    Uneasy lies the head : the repositioning of heads of English in independent schools in Victoria in the age of new learning technologies
    Watkinson, Alan Redmayne ( 2004)
    This study explores the discursive practice of six Heads of English in Independent Schools in Victoria during a period of major cultural change. This change has been associated with huge public investment in New Learning Technologies and shifting perceptions and expectations of cultural agency in communities of practice such as English Departments in Schools. In this social milieu tensions exist between the societal rhetoric of school management and marketing of the efficacy of NLTs as educational realities and discursive practices at a departmental level, embodying and embedding academic values and attainments. In their conversations with the author, the Heads of English reveal much about themselves and the nature and distribution of their duties and responsibilities within the local moral order of their schools and with their individual communities of practice. A model is developed of the dual praxis of the Heads of the Heads of English, mediated by autobiography and historically available cultural resources in a community of practice. As agents concerned to both maintain and transform their local culture of English teaching, and consequently the whole school culture, the Heads of English account for themselves as responding to their own `sense of place' in their own community of practice, but also the `structure of feeling' of the period by which their achievements and standing are known. This study of the persons of the English co-ordinators draws upon both Positioning Theory and critical realism to reveal the dynamic nature of both their identity and the social organization of English teaching in schools.
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    The Victorian Certificate of Education : the change process and teacher practice
    Mouritz, Peter Damian ( 1995)
    There are two key issues in this study. Firstly, to examine the extent to which teacher practice has changed during the first year of implementation of the Victorian Certificate of Education's Year 11 Legal Studies study design - Unit 1 - Criminal Law and Civil Law. The second key issue is to explore the extent to which any change in teacher practice is due to the new course and the manner in which it was implemented. For this study I have used a case study approach with a series of cross-case techniques when analysing the data. Three cases were selected for study. Several different methods of data collection were employed. Specifically, external observation, systematic interviewing, collection and analysis of documents and checklists were used on a regular basis. To develop the cross-case synthesis I adopted cross-site analysis techniques as suggested by Miles and Huberman (1984) in their text Qualitative Data Analysis: A Sourcebook of New Methods. In order to plan this study, an overview of some of the key writings in this area was undertaken. Specifically, key writings on implementation and the process of implementation in relation to teacher practice were reviewed. This process is explored through the examination of several theories and models on implementation. How teachers perceive a change to existing curriculum programmes and the extent to which that curriculum leads to a modification in teacher practice is examined in detail. Particular attention is paid to the range of variables and interventions that can lead to a modification in teacher practice. The major findings and conclusions drawn from this study indicate that the teachers' pedagogical judgments, plans and decisions reflected a reasonably narrow collection of educational goals. These goals were shaped, in the main, by the realities of their classroom environments. The teachers prioritised most matters on a cost benefit ratio. This was particularly evident in relation to the intervention strategies. They also underwent a period of uncertainty about the change which compounded their reluctance to move away from established classroom practice and adopt certain teaching techniques that complemented the flexible nature of the study design. Decisions regarding teacher practice, therefore, were orientated around 'tried and true' techniques that met a number of preconditions. Specifically the need to balance the competing academic needs and interests of their students; student willingness to cooperate and feel comfortable with the teaching style adopted; perceptions of what the new content and assessment offerings required, and the limitations of time dominated their decision-making process. The end result was a general reluctance to discard established methods of teacher practice given these classroom 'realities'. The major findings, therefore, indicate that an educational change in terms of a modification to teacher practice was difficult to achieve.
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    Problem based learning and information and communications technology: can problem based learning improve year 9 students' motivation to learn ?
    Di Pilla, Janet ( 2009)
    This study investigated the use of Problem Based Learning (PBL) as a teaching and learning strategy in Year 9 (15 year olds) Information and Communications Technology (ICT) classes. Researchers (Ahlfeldt, Mehta & Sellnow, 2005; Hmelo-Silver, 2004; Colliver, 2000; Albanese & Mitchell, 1993) claim that PBL improves the educational motivation of tertiary students through its use of small groups working collaboratively to solve a real problem. Researchers also claim that PBL requires a high level of maturity (Drinan, 1997) and that secondary school students lack the necessary social skills to work effectively in a team (Achilles & Hoover, 1996). It is reported that Year 9 students have a low rate of engagement with their learning and a decreased level of motivation to learn (Cole 2006, Weiss, 2003; Johnson, Crosnoe & Elder 2001, Woods, 1995; Lumsden, 1994). Hence, this study was undertaken to see if PBL could be used at Year 9 level to motivate students while maintaining the required curriculum outcomes. Student motivation was assessed by administering Martin's Student Motivation Scale (SMS) (Martin, 2002) at regular intervals throughout the year in two Year 9 ICT classes. These two classes were run using different mixes of traditional teacher-directed classrooms and PBL classrooms. Additional attitudes and activities, considered important to students' motivation to learn, were assessed using the Samford Attitudes and Activities Assessment Scale (SAAAS). This study found that PBL was a teaching and learning strategy that enabled the required educational standards to be addressed. Results from the SMS and SAAAS showed that the introduction of PBL into these Year 9 ICT classrooms led to improvements in student Motivation, Learning Attitudes and Learning Activities as measured by the SMS and SAAAS while achieving the required curriculum outcomes for Year 9 ICT. This study also found that the use of PBL over an extended period of time maintained these positive effects.