Postgraduate Awards 2018

Ross Mackenzie

Primary educators’ knowledge of grammatical concepts as mandated in the Australian Curriculum (English): Comparison of Pre and Inservice Teachers

MPhil Thesis, Curtin University

Presentation Abstract

Frustrated by perpetual media and government attacks on the perceived lack of teacher knowledge with respect to grammar, I decided to go out and prove the critics wrong. Overcoming reticence expressed by supervisors on testing teachers (Does any teacher really want to know how they would go on a primary level NAPLAN Language Conventions Test?), I developed a test on grammar terminology derived from the National Curriculum: English and primary level NAPLAN questions. Drawing upon the skills and attributes developed while teaching children excluded from mainstream settings, I bribed, begged and duped 69 pre-service and 47 in-service teachers into participating in the questionnaire so that comparisons could be made on what teachers actually know about what they are required to teach in WA primary schools. These findings were placed within a qualitative paradigm that explored similarities and differences regarding their values and beliefs with respect to grammar, what it is and whether and how it should be taught. In this presentation, you are invited to share in my journey of ill-founded faith in teacher knowledge of grammar. As teachers, we must face limitations of our knowledge and embrace failure so that we can then reinvigorate and reclaim teacher expertise.


Dr Andrew Jones

Lost in translation? – The “integration of theory and practice” as a central focus for senior schooling Physical Education Studies

PhD Thesis, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

This paper shares theoretical insights and empirical findings from research in Western Australia (WA) that explored the concept of ‘integrated theory and practice’ in the context of the introduction of a new examination physical education course at senior secondary level. Focusing on the Physical Education Studies course in WA, the research foregrounded the concept of policy enactment and used Arnold’s (1979) framework of learning in, through and about movement as a critical frame to investigate the specific notions of integration that were embedded in the official curriculum text and expressed in pedagogical practices in schools implementing the new course. The paper reports case study findings from investigation of the pedagogic meanings that teachers gave to ‘integrated theory and practice’. Data illustrates the varied meanings teachers gave to ‘integration’ and the differences consequently arising in their curriculum planning, teaching and assessment practices associated with the new PES course. Analysis of data informed identification of opportunistic, structured, and investigative ‘integrated’ pedagogies. Discussion pursues the conditions enabling different pedagogical practices to emerge from the new Physical Education Studies course and explores the implications of the different approaches for the learning opportunities provided to students. The paper presents a case for further engagement with the pedagogical expression of Arnold’s framework by curriculum developers, researchers, teacher educators and teachers.


Craig Butler

A soldier’s journey: An arts-based exploration of identity

MEd Thesis, Murdoch University

Presentation Abstract

The creation, development and maintenance of various military identities provide an opportunity to study the impacts of education on identity development. Taking an auto-ethnographic approach and based on the developing theory of funds of identity, I applied an arts-based method and a thematic analysis of seven of my military-related self-portrait drawings and accompanying descriptive texts. By identifying the funds of knowledge that I have been exposed to during various educational programs and internalised as part of my identity development, I found there are two forms of military identity work that I have conducted, a more personal ‘warrior/soldier’ identity work and pragmatic or utilitarian ‘community of practice’ identity work. This study has shown that military identity is more complex than any singular notion of ‘a’ military identity. Multiple military identities develop as a result of continual tension and negotiation between a military member and the military organisation in response to the organisation’s education systems. The presentation concludes with discussion on the role of formalised or structured education and training in identity development and the further development of funds of identity theory.


Kirsten Hancock

Hancock, K. J., Lawrence, D., Shepherd, C. C. J., Mitrou, F., & Zubrick, S. R. (2017). Associations between school absence and academic achievement: Do socioeconomics matter? British Educational Research Journal, 43(3), 415-440.

Best postgraduate publication in education, The University of Western Australia

Presentation Abstract

This study examined how the association between increased student absence and lower achievement outcomes varied by student and school-level socioeconomic characteristics. Analyses were based on the enrolment, absence and achievement records of 89,365 Year 5, 7 and 9 students attending government schools in Western Australian between 2008 and 2012. Multi-level modelling methods were used to estimate numeracy, writing and reading outcomes based on school absence, and interactions between levels of absence and school socioeconomic index (SEI), prior achievement, gender, ethnicity, language background, parent education and occupation status. While the effects of absence on achievement were greater for previously high-achieving students, there were few significant interactions between absence and any of the socioeconomic measures on achievement outcomes. While students from disadvantaged schools have, on average, more absences than their advantaged peers, there is very little evidence to suggest that the effects of absence are greater for those attending lower-SEI schools. School attendance should therefore be a priority for all schools, and not just those with high rates of absence or low average achievement.


Dr Chow Chiu Wai

Chow, C. W. & Chapman, E. (2017). Construct Validation of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire in a Singapore High School Sample. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 7(2), 107-123.

Best postgraduate publication in education, The University of Western Australia

Presentation Abstract

In this study, the construct validity of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) was assessed. Participants were 441 Year 11 students in Singapore. Three separate confirmatory factor analyses were conducted for each section of the MSLQ (motivation and learning strategies). Results indicated that the original factor structures proposed by the instrument developers produced the best model fit. Cronbach α coefficients were also acceptable for all but one of the individual scales. Correlations with the Revised Learning Process Questionnaire – Two Factor and physics achievement scores also aligned with the theoretical basis of the MSLQ. These results confirmed the potential utility of this instrument for assessing the motivation and learning strategies of secondary students in Singapore.