Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses
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Investigating how students receive, interpret, and respond to teacher feedback
Feedback has been studied extensively in relation to its impact on student learning and is established as a high impact intervention on achievement, emotions, confidence, and motivation. In order to be effective, feedback must be timely, actionable, related to learning goals, and provide advice as to next steps in the student’s learning. Yet research has also demonstrated the significant variability relating to the influence, with research suggesting that effective strategies vary based on the characteristics of the learner. However, the research is dominated by a focus on the giving of feedback and far less on how students receive feedback. Studies into student perceptions of feedback is lacking with little known about how the information provided is listened to, or received, along with the emotional responses that feedback may stimulate, and how this may influence learning. The aim of this thesis is to investigate student perceptions of teacher feedback, and to develop a deeper understanding of how students receive, interpret, and respond to it. Employing a cross-sectional research design using multi-methods, this study consisted of a large-scale questionnaire in which students responded to various feedback samples and gave insights as to their perceived usefulness and how each might engage the student. A smaller sample of students then participated in semi-structured interviews based on the themes that emerged from the survey data, providing insights as to how students respond to, make sense of, and apply feedback. Findings give insights into a range of feedback processes. Firstly, learners assign their own meaning to the feedback regardless of whether the information provided to them is explicit or not. Secondly, they assign this meaning based on prior feedback experiences, capacity to self-reflect, or through dialogue with teacher or peers. Thirdly, the emotional affect of the information provided influences its effect on learning. Finally, students have clear views about what constitutes effective feedback practice to enhance learning.
The Curious Child: Engaging very young audiences in the arts
While artists and producers are showing increasing interest in developing artistic works for very young children, there is much uncertainty about how to write and perform for this audience. Policy and research in this field remain overwhelmingly focused on school-aged children and youth, and accessible examples of practice are all but non-existent. Focusing on participant-observations of integrated arts performances for children aged birth to eighteen months, this research aims to contributes to a better understanding of the ways in which artists can support very young children’s engagement in these works. To achieve this aim, I have designed and undertaken a study that explores the field both broadly and intimately (Stake, 1981), and which balances the “gazing in” at my own experience with iterant “gazing out” towards literature and data (Tedlock, 2005). A progressive focusing research strategy (Patton, 2002; Stake, 1981) was followed, through which varying levels of breadth and intimacy were deemed appropriate at different times. This involved undertaking a field mapping study; reviewing theory and research from the fields of engagement, sociology of childhood, early childhood education, arts education, art and aesthetics, and child development; engaging in self-study; and identifying and more closely examining exemplary teaching-artist practices. Through a combination of reflective narrative and analytic discussion, I demonstrate how teaching-artists can best support very young children’s engagement by focusing their practices on interactions, environment, learning and development, the image of the child, and art and aesthetics.
Examining the knowledge, use, and reception of verbal coach feedback across high performance sport environments
An academic interest in the teaching skills of sports coaches emerged in the 1970s, and has since expanded into a sizeable body of coach observation literature in which coach behaviours are recorded and analysed. A consistent finding in these studies is that verbal coach to athlete feedback represents one of the most common coach behaviours observed. Given its prevalence, understanding and harnessing the power of coach feedback to improve athlete outcomes appears an important endeavour in enhancing coach effectiveness. However, there are several gaps in the evidence base related to coach feedback that require further exploration. For example, relatively little is known about the ways in which coaches provide verbal feedback across various settings typical of a high performance sporting environment: during competition, and during video-based feedback meetings. A major criticism of feedback research in other fields is that it considers feedback given, but fails to account for the reception and subsequent action on feedback by a receiver such as a student or athlete. Importantly, in order to influence coach practice, more information is needed about the knowledge and beliefs that coaches hold about the provision, reception, and evaluation of verbal feedback. This thesis sought to address gaps in the literature related to coaches’ knowledge about feedback, the influence of context on the provision of feedback, and athlete reception of feedback, using coaches of team sports working at the high performance level. A mixed-methods approach was adopted to undertake the three studies that make up the thesis. In Study 1, eight high performance coaches were interviewed about their knowledge and beliefs about feedback provision, reception, and evaluation. Coaches were able to articulate a range of ideas about feedback, including tailoring their feedback to the individual needs of their athletes, and allowing athletes to self-organise and develop autonomy through finding their own solutions. In Study 2, six coach-athlete dyads were observed in individual video-based feedback meetings. Athlete recall of feedback and athlete characteristics hypothesised to influence the reception of feedback were considered. Major findings included the notion that feedback given does not equal feedback received, with up to 94% of feedback not recalled by athletes at a one-week retention interval. Coach feedback was largely positive, descriptive, and task-focussed. In Study 3, verbal in-game feedback provided to athletes across an entire season of Australian Rules football was observed and analysed. In this context, coach feedback was primarily negative, prescriptive and controlling. Feedback increased in frequency during periods where the score was close, became more positive/less controlling in winning quarters, and more negative/more controlling in losing quarters. Major conclusions from this thesis include the finding that what coaches know about feedback does not always reflect how they provide feedback; instead, feedback varies widely based on the context in which it is given. This variation between contexts may represent an area for improving coach practice, but may also be seen as a necessity by coaches for adapting to the environment in which feedback is given. A major area for future research and coach education to consider is the notion that feedback given does not equal feedback received, and that methods for evaluating feedback reception should be explored.
School Camping as Curriculum: Using Schwab’s commonplaces to investigate how teachers at a school camp and a school understand curriculum, to consider the curricular status of school camping
As curriculum is a fundamental element of education, occupying the attention of teachers, and constituting most of their work, it is important to understand the ways those engaged in its practice perceive curriculum, and whether it affects the scope of their work. With space in the crowded Victorian Curriculum at a premium, and a push to narrow and control subject matter by neo-liberal governments globally, it is a matter of importance to those practicing in the domain of school camping, as to whether their contribution to education is considered curriculum. In-depth, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and examination of artefacts were used to gather data from two groups of teachers - one at a school camp and one at a primary school. The purpose of investigating the primary school, combined with a review of selected curriculum literature, was to provide a reference point from which to view school camp teachers understanding of curriculum. To display and analyse the data, Joseph Schwab’s commonplaces of curriculum (subject matter, student, milieu, teacher, and curriculum-maker) are employed. As topics which must be included in any discussion of curriculum, the commonplaces provided a framework for understanding how curriculum is perceived by teachers and in the literature. Five traditions of curriculum are used as perspectives from which to view the data, focusing on two in particular. As it is a close representation of the situation in Victoria, Australia, the location of the two research sites, the data is viewed from the perspective of the systematic tradition. It is also viewed from the perspective of the deliberative curricularist, as this is closer to the way the informants understand curriculum and the way it is enacted at the School Camp. This study makes a number of contributions in the field of curriculum. By listening to the voices of teachers at a primary school and a school camp, an understanding of the practical way they perceive curriculum is developed. Detail was added to Schwab’s commonplaces by developing aspects which reflect themes, relevant to the places in which the data was collected, demonstrating the practical applicability of Schwab’s work. Relevance of scope of curriculum to students, rather than its subject matter breadth, emerges as an important aspect of curriculum to teachers. Raising awareness of the influence of curriculum traditions on teachers work was an unintended contribution of the study, as was demonstrating the practical role Schwab’s commonplaces offer as a framework for teachers to reflect on and develop an understanding of curriculum. This has the potential to assist teachers in their efforts to release the potential of curriculum in the service of their students. Determining that school camping is curriculum represents the major contribution of this study.
Understanding Teacher Competence in Multiple-Choice Test Item Writing for English Reading and Listening Skill Tests: A Case of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teachers in Vietnamese Higher Education Settings
This study investigated Vietnamese English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers’ judgements of their competence in multiple-choice test item writing for English reading and listening skill tests. The current study sought to construct and empirically calibrate a developmental framework that operationalises Vietnamese teacher competence in multiple-choice test item writing for English reading and listening skill tests. The framework defines this competence as a continuum of competencies in terms of major tasks performed by Vietnamese EFL teacher item writers and delineates typical observable behaviours indicating their competencies at varying levels along a developmental progression. It also sought to examine to what extent teacher engagement in professional learning, their educational and professional background characteristics predicted their judgements of their competence in multiple-choice test item writing for English reading and listening skill tests. For each of the three constructs explored, a scale was developed or adapted for the teachers to self-assess their level of competence in multiple-choice test item writing for English reading and listening skill tests and to self-report their engagement in self-regulated professional learning and access to formal induction and training. One hundred and fifty EFL teachers from various tertiary institutions in Vietnam responded to self-reported measures of their competence in multiple-choice test item writing for English reading and listening skill tests and their engagement in professional learning through an online survey. The results of both the classical test and item response theory analyses demonstrated that each of the scales had satisfactory measurement properties. The teachers’ self-reported responses were further explored using multiple regression analysis procedures. Four factors were determined to be the most significant predictors of Vietnamese teachers’ judgements of their competence in multiple-choice test item writing for English reading and listening skill tests (i.e., teachers’ engagement in self-regulated professional learning, teachers’ access to institutional induction and training, their pre-service training in TESOL and their English language proficiency). Teachers’ self-regulated and deliberate professional learning and institutional induction and training were confirmed to be the most powerful mechanisms for predicting Vietnamese EFL teachers’ judgements of their competence in multiple-choice test item writing. Pre-service training in TESOL degree retained a moderate influence on the variance of the teacher competence while no evidence of a relationship between length of work-related experience and the competence was detected. It was also revealed that English language proficiency was a significantly positive factor associated with Vietnamese teachers’ self-perceived competence in multiple-choice test item writing for English reading and listening skill tests. The findings had direct implications for theoretical models of multiple-choice test item writing for English reading and listening skill tests, policy-related issues for developing teachers’ capability in multiple-choice test item writing, training and practice of EFL teacher item writers in Vietnamese higher education settings.
Bɛ ŋme anfooni karimbu ka sabbu: accessing out-of-school children’s perspectives of literacies in northern Ghana through collaborative digital photography
Literacy is simultaneously a practice in which people engage daily and a global education policy challenge. Formal education contexts, such as schools, are generally viewed as the sites for developing literacy. Similarly, those that have been, or are going, to school are viewed as literate. When literacy and schooling are conflated, the understanding of literacy is narrowed. This has relegated 63 million primary school-age children to being considered out-of-school and, therefore, non-literate. This narrow understanding and hypothesis of literacy as a school-based skill has mobilised international advocacy and development efforts to achieve universal primary education and literacy targets. Ethnographic approaches to literacy research have challenged practices and policies of literacy as autonomously schooled, uncovering everyday literacy events and practices in which people engage outside of school. This study seeks to access and understand the literacy experiences of out-of-school children in order to support their literacy development. To support the development of out-of-school children’s literacy, it is important to understand the ways in which literacy is embedded in their everyday worlds. This case study seeks to access the perspectives of ten out-of-school children, from two rural communities in northern Ghana, of their understanding and practice of literacy. A collaborative digital photography methodology was developed to access the children’s perspectives during their enrolment in a nine-month Complementary Basic Education program. The study demonstrates different configurations of literacy in the two communities, and how each child negotiated their understanding and practice of literacy in their community. It also finds that methodologically, visual research can access out-of-school children’s perspectives through collaborative digital photography. This visual knowledge of children’s literacies has the potential to inform the creation of relevant and meaningful curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment to progress their literacy learning. Appropriate interventions can be designed when a nuanced understanding of children’s practices, knowledge, and understandings are taken into account. This will help to accelerate the goal to achieve universal primary education and meet literacy targets in those hardest to reach places.
Evaluation for Evidence-Based Performance Management: Understanding and Measuring Performance Managers’ Perceptions
A common claim is that high-performing organizations use evidence-based practice to manage staff performance, herein called performance management. The literature showed that the implementation of performance management policies is crucial because even well-designed performance management models fail if they are not implemented as intended (Armstrong, 2015). Given that behavior can be mediated by perception, this thesis focused on the perceptions held by implementers of performance management that might mediate their implementation of performance management policies. This is important because, despite the research on evidence-based performance management, there remains a gap in understanding and measuring the perceptions held by the implementers. Moreover, there is a sizeable gap between performance management research and practice due to a plethora of obstacles like poor access to reliable research. Three sequential research stages were conducted focusing on item generation, scale development and scale refinement and validation, respectively. An initial set of 130 items was developed, based on a thematic analysis in the narrative literature review and a scoping literature review study (Stage 1). These items were reduced to a set of 55, then 41 items in Stages 2 and 3, respectively, using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, Cronbach’s alpha calculations and examination of conceptual importance of data from a combined 589 survey respondents. Furthermore, the effect of several antecedent factors was tested using multivariate analysis of variance. The thesis findings enhanced the extant understanding by presenting perception of performance management as a broad concept encompassing two higher order factors (Perception of Efforts and Perception of Results) and eight lower order factors (perception of Performance Evaluation, Documentation, Organizational Support, Supervisory Support, Climate, Turnover, Critical staff Withdrawal and New staff Withdrawal). The findings also added to the literature on the effect of antecedent factors, particularly age, work role, organizational size, industry sector and workforce experience. Finally, the thesis further narrowed the gap between research and practice by creating a theoretically grounded and empirically validated performance management perceptions scale for organizations to use in in evidence-based performance management.
Investigating the Impact of a Flipped Classroom Approach for a Teacher and Students in Year 9 in the Topic of Linear Equations
Access to technology in secondary education has increased substantially over recent years, affording new opportunities for teaching and learning. A technology-enabled flipped classroom is one approach that can be implemented when technology is readily available. This research investigated the impact and efficacy of a technology-enabled flipped classroom in secondary mathematics for the students and teacher. Students’ understanding of solving linear equations, their attitude to mathematics and experiences in the flipped classroom were investigated. The experiences and perspectives of the teacher in implementing a flipped classroom for the first time were also explored. Comparisons between two teaching approaches (flipped and nonflipped) were made through a 4-week linear equations topic in two separate Year 9 classes taught by the same teacher. A quasi-experimental design with a control (nonflipped, n = 23) and experimental (flipped, n = 22) group was utilised. Students’ understanding of solving linear equations was determined through pre- and post-testing using online diagnostic assessments (SMART tests; Specific Mathematical Assessments that Reveal Thinking). A pen-and-paper (delayed) assessment was also provided to students 3 weeks after the topic, which paralleled the items from the SMART tests. Students’ attitudes were gathered by pre- and post-topic surveys using a prevalidated instrument (Mathematics and Technology Attitudes Scale). An open-ended student survey furthered insight into student experience and perspective for the flipped group. The teacher’s experiences and perspectives were gathered through three semistructured interviews before, during, and after flipped classroom implementation. Qualitative analysis showed similar improvement to student understanding in the flipped and nonflipped groups directly after the linear equations topic. Delayed testing revealed a greater retention of understanding in the flipped group. Quantitative analysis of student attitude found no significant difference (p > .05) for all subscales measured between the flipped and nonflipped groups before and after the linear equations topic. Thematic analysis of student responses in the flipped group revealed favourable perceptions of the flipped classroom for most students. The teacher experiences highlighted a favourable perception of the flipped classroom, highlighting an increased capacity to support student needs, with reduced stress in the face-to-face classroom. The benefits of the flipped classroom were noted to have come at the expense of substantially increased planning time for the teacher. The results of this mixed-methods research provide insight into the efficacy of a flipped classroom in an Australian secondary mathematics classroom context, with practical implications and recommendations for future research outlined.
Investigating the student experience of internationalization at an Australian university
This thesis explores the student experience of an internationalized Australian university through the lens of Internationalization at Home (IaH) practices. Over the last quarter of a century, Australian universities have adapted to an increasingly globalized world by implementing comprehensive internationalization strategies that make the universities more desirable to and more applicable within a global society. A substantial portion of these strategies depend on student-centered actions and activities, such as students interacting with and learning from peers from diverse backgrounds. However, the implementation and effectiveness of these IaH strategies have faced consistent challenges, including negative responses among the student body: resentment towards peers, a lack of intercultural interaction, and consistent frustration with multicultural groupwork. As students’ responses pose some of the key challenges to IaH, understanding students’ experiences of IaH practices would offer helpful insight into how to move forward with IaH. However, research into how students experience an internationalized university is limited, despite the significant role students play in the implementation and success of IaH practices. There is a particular lack of understanding around domestic students’ conceptualizations and experiences of internationalized universities, even though they comprise the majority of the Australian university student population. This thesis aims to provide better understanding of the challenges facing IaH aims by investigating students’ experience of an internationalized university, incorporating both international and domestic students’ experiences. The research study presented in this thesis is guided by the main research question, “What influences students’ experience of an internationalized university?” The study adopts a single-institution case study methodology, and three different faculties within the institution are included to consider different teaching contexts and student populations. A mixed-methods approach is taken, and data are collected through an electronic student survey, one-on-one student interviews, interviews with the heads of each of the three bachelor’s programs, and analysis of university website messaging about the student experience. Findings suggest that students’ experience is influenced primarily by a misalignment between their conceptualizations and expectations of an internationalized university on one hand and their experiences of that internationalized university on the other. Students expect that an internationalized university will offer frequent, natural interaction, often in the form of intercultural interaction with peers or in-class discussion; yet, they do not often find this to be true. This thesis argues for a reframing of the role of interpersonal interaction in shaping students’ internationalized university experience, primarily because it predominates students’ conceptualizations and expectations of an internationalized university. The thesis further argues that such misalignment may partially explain students’ resistance to certain IaH practices. It is thereby proposed that incorporating more interpersonal and intercultural interaction into the formal curriculum and reducing structural barriers to interaction would improve students’ experience of internationalized universities and better support the aims of IaH.
What are the challenges for STEM education in the Australian context?
The introduction and implementation of STEM Education internationally and in Australia was centred around governments’ concern for future economic growth and prosperity within a highly technology driven and global environment. Attention was also drawn to decreasing student enrolments in the physical sciences, higher level mathematics and engineering and technology-based courses and, the under-representation of females in tertiary engineering and, physical and computer sciences in schools and higher education. The literature review identified who led the introduction of STEM education and the multiple approaches available for its implementation. This qualitative empirical study investigated the challenges facing STEM education in the Australian context. It was underpinned by a curriculum development framework and presented using a narrative inquiry approach. Data was collected and analysed from a document analysis, a Delphi study and semi-structured interviews. A document analysis of thirty-two selected international and Australian documents related to the introduction and implementation of STEM education was undertaken to identify themes common to these documents. The selected documents were representative of government policies and programs, published research and reports from business, industry and professional associations and organisations. Five common themes were identified. A Delphi study was conducted with eleven participants with a diverse range of experiences and positions in STEM education and the STEM disciplines from across Australia. The Delphi study sought to determine the purposes of and requirements for STEM education and whether a vision for STEM education in Australia in the Australian context could be constructed. The semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten Delphi study participants and with an additional six selected participants. The interviews explored how the participants’ conceptualisation of STEM Education shaped their approach to the implementation and future of STEM education in the Australian context. The study found three key challenges facing STEM education in the Australian context. The first challenge is that people have very different conceptualisations of STEM education which then hinders the design or implementation of STEM education programs. The second challenge is the establishment and sustainability of partnerships of people interested in STEM education to develop programs to implement STEM education that are inclusive of all Australian students. The third challenge is the use of local contexts to better engage students in STEM education programs that are also relevant to global issues within the context of increasing accountability against set national and international standards.
Exploration of Stress-Related Factors and Sleep Disturbance and Implementation of an Insomnia Intervention
Insomnia, which is highly prevalent and on the rise, can adversely impact health and wellbeing, therefore identifying those at risk and developing optimal preventative and therapeutic programs is important. While many factors, including stress, can contribute to insomnia, knowledge concerning specific risk factors is limited. Further, despite the effectiveness of cognitive and behavioural therapies for insomnia (CBT-I), not everyone responds well to such treatments and therefore improvements are needed. With the broad objective of enhancing knowledge concerning insomnia risk factors and exploring the utility of including tailored strategies targeting these when delivering CBT-I, this research involved three studies, each comprising adult convenience samples recruited from the Australian general population. The first study (N = 242), which employed a cross-sectional survey design, explored the interrelationships between perceived stress, cognitive arousal (arising from general and sleep-related rumination), emotion dysregulation, adaptive change as operationalised through the Adaptive Change Model (ACM), vulnerability toward stress-related sleep disturbance (i.e., sleep reactivity), and insomnia. Together, high perceived stress, cognitive arousal, and emotion dysregulation, and low adaptive change contributed significantly to sleep reactivity. In turn, high sleep reactivity, perceived stress, cognitive arousal and emotion dysregulation were associated with insomnia symptomatology. Similarly, high sleep reactivity, perceived stress, cognitive arousal and emotion dysregulation were associated with lower capacity for adaptive change. While there was also evidence of an association between low adaptive change and insomnia, the strength of association was less strong. For the second study (N = 101), processes identified in Study 1 as contributing most significantly to sleep disturbance (i.e., high sleep reactivity, perceived stress, cognitive arousal, and emotion dysregulation) were used to define three vulnerability-risk groups (Low, Medium, and High) and then explore the trajectory of their respective sleep experience over a six-month interval. A direct relationship between sleep disturbance and vulnerability-risk was evident whereby higher vulnerability levels were associated with higher levels of insomnia symptomatology and vice a versa. While vulnerability level and respective sleep patterns were relatively enduring, reductions in vulnerability-risk corresponded to improvements in sleep. For the third study (N = 10), an individually-tailored small-group intervention was delivered to young-adult participants (n = 5) experiencing sleep problems. The intervention incorporated CBT-I with additional strategies for stress management and ruminative tendencies, alongside skills-training to promote adaptive change. Relative to no-treatment matched controls (n = 5), the intervention group demonstrated meaningful improvements in their sleep alongside evidence of greater use of the ACM’s Support factors and a more adaptive response to stress. Together, the research findings implicate sleep reactivity and various cognitive-emotional vulnerabilities as important predisposing risk factors for acute sleep disturbance and chronic insomnia, while higher capacity for adaptive change may offer some degree of protection. Cognitive and behavioural therapies incorporating stress management, psychoeducation around the processes of adaptive change, and addressing general as well as sleep-related rumination may help prevent insomnia and improve treatment outcomes.
Exploring pre-service teachers' perceptions of preparedness for teaching in Indonesia
The current study aims to explore pre-service teachers’ perceptions of preparedness for teaching in Indonesian contexts through the lens of English language student teachers. Accordingly, two questions were addressed to elaborate the focus of this study: (1) What factors impact on pre-service teachers’ sense of preparedness for teaching in Indonesia?; and (2) How do these factors influence pre-service teachers’ perceived preparedness for teaching in Indonesia? A convergent mixed-methods approach was employed to accomplish the purpose of this investigation: two sets of data, quantitative and qualitative, were considered equally important. The quantitative data were collected through a Likert-scale survey, while the qualitative data were collected with an open-ended survey, interviews and pre-service teachers’ personal written reflections about their experiences in the teacher education program. A cohort of final-year students who were enrolled in a four-year undergraduate English language teacher education program in Yogyakarta, Indonesia participated in this project. The two sets of data were examined separately and then triangulated. The statistical analyses suggested factors that potentially influence pre-service teachers’ perceived preparedness for teaching, namely motivation towards the teaching profession, professional self-efficacy, personal beliefs about the teaching profession, and perceptions about the contribution of the teacher education program. Much of the findings from the statistical analyses were convergent with those of the thematic analysis of the interviews and open-ended survey questions. Additionally, the thematic analysis revealed the participants’ perseverance, resilience and commitment to teaching, particularly from the interviews. Those personal aspects unveil the importance of personal dispositions in pre-service teachers’ professional development. In conclusion, it is suggested that pre-service teachers’ sense of preparedness for teaching is shaped through the connectedness between personal, social, and academic dimensions. Each pre-service teacher brings their personal foundations, which include motivation, beliefs, and attitudes, into the teacher education program. Their interactions with diverse experiences during their coursework and teaching practicum have shaped their professionalism, including their self-efficacy in teaching, commitment for teaching, as well as their perseverance and resilience.