Postgraduate Awards 2015

Dr Shane Glasson

Developing Tomorrow’s School Leaders: The Western Australian Catholic Education Aspiring Principals’ Program

PhD Thesis, The University of Notre Dame

Presentation Abstract

Atrophy of the aspirant pool traditionally available to fill principalship vacancies is an emerging issue for the Western Australian Catholic education system. To address this issue, the system convenes a two-year, 23-day principal preparation program: The Aspiring Principals Program. This article reports the outcomes of PhD research, conducted through the University of Notre Dame Australia, which explored the program’s efficacy. The research concluded in 2014 and involved the eight aspirants who commenced the program in January 2011 and graduated in December 2012. Specifically, four aspirant perceptions were explored before, during and upon completion of the program: Catholic principalship role components and the capabilities required for effective performance; factors enhancing and diminishing interest in principalship; and self-efficacy to commence principalship. As a result of the research, an integrated model of principal preparation, designed to enhance aspirant self-efficacy to commence principalship and the breadth and quality of the aspirant pool, is proposed for the consideration of local, national and international program designers.


Dr Susan Main

Enhancing Teaching Through Professional Learning: Case Studies of Professional Learning to Improve Reading Instruction for Year 2 Students with Reading Difficulties in One Australian State

PhD thesis, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

Reading is internationally recognised as a mediating factor in the life outcomes of individuals and the reported poor literacy performance of Australian children on international assessment studies is an ongoing concern. Within the continuum of reading development, there are some children who experience more difficulty than their peers in acquiring reading skills. These children are at even greater risk of poor life outcomes if they do not receive appropriate instruction. Research demonstrates that professional learning is an effective way of enhancing teachers’ knowledge and practice and, therefore, the performance of their students. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the efficacy of a professional learning program designed to improve teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and practices in reading instruction. The study identified the elements necessary to help teachers engage in professional learning including; use of assessment data to make programming decisions; implementation of effective reading instruction; and if necessary, challenging teachers’ beliefs about reading instruction.


Dr Bich Nguyen

“Anh Nam, the attach file is my report for trip to KL”: An investigation into the emergence of a new variety of English in written Vietnamese business communication

PhD thesis, Curtin University

Presentation Abstract

English has a long history in Vietnam and in the last two decades, particularly for business communication, it has developed with an unprecedented speed. Despite this ascendancy, there is an absence of research regarding English in Vietnamese business correspondence. The current study is an in-depth investigation of this with a particular focus on the written features of English, reflecting the importance of written documents in this context. This research was framed within the theoretical perspectives of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). 303 business texts from various business sectors composed by Vietnamese writers were collected. They were then analysed with regard to four SFL variables: speech functions, mood, modality and terms of address to establish the nature of the interpersonal written features developing within Vietnam. The findings of the study indicate that the writers employed several linguistic strategies (e.g., using Vietnamese kinship terms and Vietnamese lexis) and non-linguistic strategies (e.g., using emoticons and written giggling) to establish a close relationship with their correspondents. Relationship building was also reflected in the employment of politeness strategies to achieve positive politeness effect. These results suggest that SFL is a useful theoretical framework and analytical tool to uncover how English is employed in different socio-cultural contexts to enact social meaning-making processes.


Dr Teresa O’Brien

Assessing the impact of teachers’ technology, pedagogy and content knowledge, and beliefs, in a regional vocational education and training context

EdD thesis, Murdoch University

Presentation Abstract

This presentation examines the knowledge and beliefs that teachers have about teaching with technology in a regional vocational education and training (VET) institute in Australia. Vocational teachers must demonstrate teaching expertise (pedagogical knowledge) as well as industry expertise (content knowledge) to work with diverse learners in different contexts. Recent surveys have revealed that teachers’ use of technology within the VET sector is not effectively incorporated nor has it been embraced in pedagogically defensible ways. Thus there is a need for teachers to embrace technology knowledge commensurate with industry and workplaces and to integrate it more effectively into their pedagogy.

Through the lens of the TPACK (technological pedagogical content knowledge) framework, this study examined teachers’ beliefs about the nature of knowledge (epistemology) and beliefs about effective ways of teaching and learning (pedagogy). Using a mixed-methods approach, this research sought to understand how VET teachers’ knowledge and beliefs influenced their technology integration practices. The study found that teachers’ beliefs had a significant impact upon their use of technology. In particular, their epistemological beliefs were reflected in their perceptions of students and thus shaped their decisions about integrating technology into their teaching.


Ms Michele Delacretaz

Newly graduated midwives transcending barriers: Mechanisms for putting plans into action

Best postgraduate publication, The University of Western Australia