Postgraduate Awards 2014
Dr Lisa Bell
Investigating the use of teacher action research based on students’ perceptions of the learning environments to improve secondary high school classrooms
PhD thesis, Curtin University
This presentation reports on research investigating how student perceptual data, utilised as part of a targeted professional development activity, could be used to help to guide classroom improvements and contribute to teacher development and growth. The research involved the use of a multi-method design and was comprised of two concurrent and interrelated investigations. The first investigation developed and validated two instruments, one to assess the learning environment and another to assess student attitudes and academic self-efficacy beliefs. Quantitative data collected over a three-year period from a sample of 10,345 secondary students in 684 classes across 29 Western Australian schools were analysed to determine the validity and reliability of the two instruments. The results demonstrated that both instruments have strong construct validity when used with secondary high school students.
The second investigation examined the ways in which teachers used this data from the two instruments to reflect, plan and implement strategies for improvement and whether this was a worthwhile model for teacher professional development. The findings suggest that the data generated has the potential to provide teachers with valuable information which can be used to assess their classrooms and to assist their improvement efforts. The findings also show that when implemented as part of a formalised teacher professional development activity, student feedback contributes to the development of reflective practices, which are considered to be central to good teaching practice.
Dr Glenda Cain
Service learning as a way of developing pre-service teachers’ knowledge, perceptions and cultural awareness of Aboriginal education
PhD thesis, The University of Notre Dame Australia
This research explored service-learning as a way of developing pre-service teachers’ pedagogical literacy skills and cultural perceptions with regard to Aboriginal education through involvement in an Aboriginal educational setting. The purpose was for pre-service teachers to gain a better understanding of Aboriginal education whilst developing their own literacy knowledge and instructional skills. Service-learning was the teaching method chosen as it involves experiential learning with structured opportunities for critical thinking and reflection. A qualitative approach was favoured whereby investigations occurred in a naturalistic setting. The approach was fundamentally phenomenological in nature in that pre-service teachers’ attitude, knowledge and pedagogy of Aboriginal education prior to, during and at the completion of a teaching experience within an Aboriginal educational setting, was explored in an ideographic fashion.
During the teaching session, pre-service teachers assessed, planned and tutored Aboriginal students for two hours per week for ten weeks, and then participated in a service-learning tutorial on site for one hour after each tutoring session. Data were collected using observations, interviews and reflective journals. Analysis of the data enabled the researcher to identify the impact of the service-learning experience on pre-service teachers’ knowledge, perceptions, cultural awareness and pedagogy of Aboriginal education. It is hoped that the research will provide further insight into how service-learning can be used as a pedagogical strategy within a teaching course.
Dr Rose Carnes
Unsettling white noise: Yarning about Aboriginal education in Western Australian prisons
PhD thesis, Murdoch University
Feeling powerless I asked, “what can I do that might be helpful, that might help make any kind of difference?” She smiled and said “Finish that PhD and go and tell people what you have learned”. This is the directive from Daisy, one of the participant-teachers in this research. So that is what I am doing. This presentation relates the lessons I learned and the ultimate story told by participant-teachers in this research. I listened to Aboriginal people who had been incarcerated along with family members and people who had taught in prison education. The lessons and story go beyond prisons and can be applied in many institutional settings. Aspects of the story consider the context of education, challenges for Aboriginal people and those in prison, the ongoing impact of intergenerational trauma and the unquestioned nature of ‘white noise’. The story will be told largely in the voices of the teachers who also identify achievable ways for institutions such as prisons and schools to themselves be transformed. The power of this research is that in the process and the telling I am not the expert; I am a conduit who is myself being transformed by the various messages I have received.
Dr Kathryn Shine
Schoolteachers in the news: A historical analysis of coverage in The West Australian newspaper
PhD thesis, The University of Western Australia
The standardised testing of school children has been the subject of significant news media attention in many developed countries around the world. This presentation reports on an analysis of recent news coverage of National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests in three major Australian newspapers, with a particular focus on the portrayal of schoolteachers. Research in this area is important because news media coverage is known to influence educational policy and public perceptions of teachers and schools. Teachers themselves have reported concerns about the nature of news media coverage of education and its effect on their relationships with family, friends and the broader community. Overall, this study found that teachers were presented as strongly opposed to NAPLAN and the publication of test results, yet the newspapers themselves supported the tests as an important accountability measure. Teachers were regularly depicted as trying to undermine the testing system through teaching to the test and cheating. They were portrayed as generally inadequate as teachers and were blamed for perceived failings in the education system. These findings point to implications for journalism training, and for teacher recruitment and retention.
Learning and living in English
PhD thesis, Murdoch University
This study was born out of reflection on my own journey of English language learning. My knowledge of English has been built through my ‘lived-experiences’ of academic and social discourses that I encountered as a postgraduate student learning and living, in English, in Australia. I decided I wanted to be able to use my experiences almost as a touchstone for an investigation of the experiences of others like me. In order to do this, my PhD study was constructed, and presented, so that the experiences of the researcher – me – run parallel to those of others who are like me. This qualitative case study investigated how the knowledge and experiences of English language learning, impacted academic engagement and second language socialisation. It also examined how the use of explicit instruction in language learning strategies (LLS) influenced continued language development, academic engagement and fuller socialisation within the Australian community. The findings of the study identified areas of difficulty for the participants and evaluated the effectiveness of the strategy program in supporting students to overcome these difficulties. What is different about this study is that, through the utilisation of a range of theoretical perspectives to inform and enact strategy training and use, a new theoretically cohesive model has been developed that can be assistive in addressing issues associated with both academic discourse socialisation and second language (L2) socialisation more generally.
Dr Siew Yee Lim
Identifying affective domains that correlate and predict mathematics performance in high-performing students in Singapore
PhD thesis, The University of Western Australia