Postgraduate Awards 2011


Dr Angela Fitzgerald

Beliefs, knowledge and practices of effective science teachers

PhD thesis, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

Teachers are key players in the reinvigoration Angela Fitzgerald of science education. Unfortunately, the spotlight is often shined on the shortcomings associated with teaching and learning in science. If the status and quality of science education in schools is to improve, efforts need to be made to better understand the classroom practices of effective science teachers.

In a step towards better understanding, the doctoral study gathered evidence examining what two effective primary teachers were doing to promote student engagement in science over a term long sequence of lessons. Evidence of their effective science teaching was gathered primarily through a video-based approach and was supplemented with teacher and student interviews, and student work samples.

Several themes were identified as characterising the practices of these two teachers. These themes form the basis of a conceptual model, which was developed to highlight the various components contributing to effective primary science teaching practices. In teasing out these components, this presentation will examine how the teachers_ beliefs, knowledge and practices, as well as the contextual factors inherent in their classroom environments, influenced how and why they teach science in the ways they do. While care must be taken in generalising from two cases, these findings have implications for primary science teachers, teacher educators and curriculum developers.


Ms Anne Harris

An investigation of the relationship between emotional literacy and bullying

MEd thesis, Murdoch University

Presentation Abstract

Anne HarrisThis research was designed to investigate the relationship between emotional literacy and bullying. Very little research has been done into the role that emotional literacy may play in helping a student avoid being the victim of bullying behaviours.

A mixed method approach was undertaken to investigate the relationship between emotional literacy and bullying. Results showed that of the students who reported being bullied; almost one in four assessed themselves as having below average levels of emotional literacy. On the other hand, of the students who rated themselves above average in emotional literacy; only one in ten reported being bullied.

The focus of our anti-bullying programs needs to remain on campaigning against bullying and changing such anti-social behaviours by working with bullies and bystanders. However, there is also room to continue to investigate what it is that bullies target in a victim. Working with victims of bullying who have been assessed as possessing low emotional literacy could prove to be an effective way of empowering victims and reducing the incidents of bullying in schools.


Dr Deborah Margaret Southwell

Leadership in Australian higher education: Lessons from female educational leaders

PhD thesis, Edith Cowan University

Deborah Margaret SouthwellPresentation Abstract

While there is evidence of an increasingly feminised workforce in Australian academia and an increasing number of women leaders in higher education, a far higher proportion of males than females still fill leadership roles. Several recent studies have set out to examine and analyse the leadership styles of women leaders in higher education in order to better understand and inform models for women who aspire to positions of leadership in higher education. There has been little research, however, on the question of the personality of leaders, their developmental characteristics or how certain people grow up to be leaders. This paper focuses on the findings from one subsidiary question: What factors led to these women becoming leaders? Early influences that emerged and the approach of the female leaders to their careers is examined. Implications and possible application of this study to female aspirants to educational leadership in higher education are discussed.


Dr Elisabeth Tchacos

Attitudes and opinions of Aboriginal youth to suicide in the Goldfields region of WA

PhD thesis, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

Elisabeth Tchacos The purpose of the research was to develop a better understanding of the cultural, behavioural, and social aspects of Aboriginal youth with respect to youth suicide among the Aboriginal people of the Goldfields region of Western Australia. Face-to-face interviews were performed with Aboriginal Youth (aged 15-24), Parents and Service Providers from five towns (Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Coolgardie, Laverton and Leonora) using a protocol developed with an Aboriginal reference group. Results indicated drugs and alcohol abuse, lack of opportunity and poor home environment rated highly as problems facing youth. While suicide was not raised as a major problem amongst any groups, approximately half of the youth had some personal experience of suicide within their communities. They suggested improvements could be made if more opportunity for work existed and if there was a greater opportunity to have someone to talk to. Service providers also advocated a need for greater parent education and involvement in the lives of their children.

These findings offered the opportunity to gain a greater insight into the thinking of Aboriginal youth in the Goldfields to the problems they face, the prevalence of suicide and suicide ideation, and some possible practical strategies that could be developed to help minimize risk in these communities.


Ms Wahiza Wahi

Wahi, W., O’Neill, M. & Chapman, A. (2011). Investigating English language academic literacy for employability of undergraduate students: A case in a Malaysian public university. In A. Pandian, S. A. M. Mohamed Ismail & C. H. Toh (Eds.), Teaching and learning in diverse contexts: Issues and approaches. (pp.90-101). Malaysia: School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Best Postgraduate Publication, Edith Cowan UniversityWahiza Wahi

Presentation Abstract

Global forces dictate that to compete in the international market and to adapt to different work demands and requirements, English language proficiency is an advantage for graduates. There is an increasing concern about the quality of Malaysian graduates in this regard. Informed by theories of literacy as a social practice, this paper reports the preliminary findings of a group of Malaysian undergraduate students’ perspectives on their English language academic literacy competencies and practices in the context of prospective employers’ expectations for English language proficiency. Employing a qualitative case study approach, this paper draws on data gathered from focus group and individual interviews with the students and supplemented by classroom observations. The findings illustrate that, linguistically, the students were not sufficiently competent in English to be able to ‘market’ themselves and to adequately meet the demands of employment. The research also provides insights into students’ problems in acquiring English as a second language.