Postgraduate Awards 2013

Dr Annamarie Paolino

Annamarie PaolinoThe Orff-Schulwerk approach to effective teaching of Italian to upper primary students

PhD thesis, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

Since the second half of the twentieth century, Italian has been the second language spoken in Western Australia. In the primary school sector, there are over two hundred Italian teachers engaged with primary students. Many Italian teachers also use music/song as a pedagogical tool. The first part of the research examines the extent that music/song is used in primary Italian classes, as well as how and why they are used. The second part of the research centres on the use of the Orff-Schulwerk approach as an integrated music approach to teaching Italian. The research examines the success of a trialled intervention with a group of upper primary Italian language teachers, as well as exploring the support that is required to support Italian as a second language specific to upper primary contexts.

The research findings conclude that the novelty of the Orff-Schulwerk approach is considered effective in the teaching and learning of Italian. However, the research also highlights a number of constraints, which need to be addressed if teachers are to provide students with a rich and engaging curriculum.

Dr Eunice Sari

Eunice Sari Teacher professional development in an online learning community: A case study in Indonesia

PhD thesis, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

Over the past decade the rapid pace of technological innovation has changed society and the way teaching and learning are conducted. These changes have been difficult for teachers, requiring substantial amounts of professional development. In Indonesia, the government has implemented various pathways to improve the professionalism of teachers. Nonetheless, there are still a large number of teachers who struggle to access the professional development support provided by the Indonesian government. This is particularly the case for teachers in rural and remote areas, because many of the current practices still focus on teacher-centred approaches instead of collaborative approaches, and often only in face-to-face interaction. Research has shown that an online learning community can support teacher professional develoment and facilitate collaboration among teachers. Online learning promotes active and collaborative learning processes and gives opportunities for teachers to engage in reflective practice that can lead to transformative professional development. This presentation looks at the results of a study that set out to develop and implement an online learning community to support the current practices in Indonesia. The study investigated the facilitating and inhibiting factors of implementation, and analysed how it supported teachers within the Indonesian context.

Ms Debra Sayce

Debra SayceProfessional and personal needs of beginning principals in Catholic schools: The first five years

EdD thesis, The University of Notre Dame

Presentation Abstract

This research explores the professional and personal needs of newly appointed principals in Catholic education in Western Australia. The research is based on qualitative data collected through semi-formal interviews of thirteen beginning principals within the first years of their principalship. These principals are men and women responsible for secondary or primary schools. Their schools are located in metropolitan, country or remote areas of the state.

The theoretical perspective that was adopted for this study lies in the interpretivist epistemology of symbolic interactionism. The research design of case study was chosen in this inquiry because it is consistent with a symbolic interactionist approach. The method of data collection utilised within this study included face-to-face interviews, document search and field notes. This research utilised Miles and Huberman’s (1994) interactive model of data management and analysis: data reduction, data display and verification / conclusion drawing. Using qualitative analysis techniques, findings emerged around three areas: technical, socialisation and self/role awareness.

Tracey JonesDr Tracey Jones

FLOTE-ing and sinking: Teacher participation in on-line professional development

PhD thesis, Murdoch University

Truncated Thesis Abstract

This study examines the engagement of two groups of teachers, in successive years, with an online professional development program designed to support teachers in facilitating the learning of languages other than English. The study examines the factors that impacted the teachers’ ability to engage with the FLOTE online professional development programme. In particular, the study identifies what aspects of the program encouraged or supported teachers, and what aspects hindered teachers. It also examines the impact of personal factors on the capacity of teachers to be successful in complete the FLOTE online programme.

The findings of this study identify a number of factors that supported and hindered participants’ engagement with the FLOTE programme. These include ICT competence, experiences and expectations of professional development, as well as personal factors. However, the most critical factor to emerge from the study relates to the capacity for teacher participants to be self-directed and autonomous in their own learning. The study shows that the low level of programme completion reflects the inability of most participants in this study to take responsibility for their own learning.

Dr Shireen Maged

Teacher education for cultural diversity

PhD thesis, Curtin University

Dr Ying Tao

Yaing Tao, Mary Oliver and Grady Venville. (2012). A comparison of approaches to the teaching and learning of science in Chinese and Australian elementary classrooms: Cultural and socioeconomic complexities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(1), 33-61.

Best Postgraduate Publication in Education, The University of Western Australia

Presentation Abstract

Globalised tends in science curriculum reform usually have constructivist underpinnings and include student-centred and inquiry-based pedagogies that originate in western countries. However, few of these reforms are rigorously evaluated in the context of the educational settings of adopting countries. The purpose of this presentation is to explore the impact of the adoption of western oriented approaches to curriculum reform in China, a country where education is traditionally strongly influenced by Confucian philosophy. The research design was a multiple case study with Year 6 students in three Chinese and three Australian primary schools (n=245). Methods of data collection included student questionnaires and interviews to ascertain their understandings of science, interviews with teachers and classroom observations. The findings indicated that socio-economic status in both countries was an important factor impacting on the implementation of the curriculum reform. Students in higher socioeconomic status schools in both countries participated more frequently in classroom activities consistent with reform documents compared with children in medium and low socioeconomic schools. However, the socioeconomic disparity was more apparent in China. We speculate that Confucian educational traditions in China provide viable alternative approaches and that this may result in widening the achievement gap.