Western Australian Institute for Educational Research

15th Annual Research Forum at Edith Cowan University

Forum 2000 Abstracts

Listed alphabetically by first author [ Schedule ] [ Proceedings ]

F.3 Using critical ethnographies in a study of science classroom learning environments in Taiwan and Australia

Jill Aldridge
Curtin University of Technology

This paper reports the use of multiple methodologies in investigating social and cultural influences on classroom learning environments in Taiwan and Australia. This interpretive study investigated teachers', students' and researchers' understanding of the nature of the learning environment using interviews with participants (to provide insights into responses to a questionnaire and the social and cultural influences on perceptions of the learning environments) and narrative stories written by an Australian and a Taiwanese researcher (to highlight the different lenses brought to the study by researchers from different cultures). The article focuses on critical auto-ethnographies written by researchers from Taiwan and Australia. Examination of these auto-ethnographies provides the means to examine one of the researcher's shift in conscious understanding, as she moved away from an attitude of Orientalism, towards a critical awareness of her own culture and the education system within her own country. This shift in attitude is described within the framework of crossing boundaries in which existing cultural borders, conceived by the Australian researcher, were challenged and redefined.

F.6 Publishing online: Coming ready or not

Roger Atkinson and Clare McBeath
Murdoch University and Curtin University of Technology

Publication of research findings in journals and conference proceedings is crucially important for academics and postgraduate research students. As readers we study the research literature to find relevant information, as writers we seek to obtain the widest readership for our work and as reviewers or editors, many of us make some contribution to the standards of scholarly publishing.

However, the nature of scholarly publishing is changing rapidly as Internet delivery begins to overtake traditional, paper based delivery. Online publishing is enabling challenges to the dominance of the major commercial publishers. Many professional societies are using online methods to rejuvenate and sustain their journals. Academic conferences frequently provide the full proceedings online, whilst limiting their printed versions to abstracts only.

This presentation outlines some strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in online publishing, with particular reference to professional societies and libraries. Small societies such as the Institutes of Education in Australia can use online publishing to ensure viability for their journals and conference proceedings. Although the battle with commercial publishers will be hard fought, libraries have opportunities to reduce subscription costs and give access to a more extensive range of research publications.

C.6 Standards framework: Developing scales of achievement in post-compulsory education

Rees Barrett and Graeme Lock
Curriculum Council of Western Australia

This paper presents the findings of a research project into the establishment of a standards based scale of achievement using the present Western Australian TEE Geography Year 12 Syllabus. The background to the research, including its relevance to the Curriculum Council's Post-compulsory Review, the use of formative assessment, the issue of standard-referenced assessment and the notion of courses of study, are discussed. A rationale for the choice of Geography as the subject context of the research is outlined and the paper continues by describing the procedure involved in undertaking the research project, including a brief discussion of Rasch analysis. The final section discusses the encouraging results of the investigation and suggests the usefulness of conducting further research on the development of scales of achievement.

E.4 Help or hindrance? The role others play in motivational development

Susan Beltman
Murdoch University

How do others help us in developing goals and persisting in our efforts to achieve them? Who are the people who influence us most? Are there people who make it more difficult for us to continue?

These are some of the questions asked as part of a research project investigating motivation in music and sport. This paper will offer some responses to the above questions from current literature as well as from research in progress. A task developed for the project will be explained and some preliminary findings from interviews conducted with musicians and sports people will be presented.

D.5 Correlating CIE Foundation Studies ESL students' approaches to learning with their uses of references in argumentative research essays

Thelma Blackford
Curtin University

The Curtin University Foundation Studies program is a full-time course of study designed for International students to gain entry to undergraduate courses. The program has the advantage of being taught on Curtin's main campus by university staff, and prepares students to operate effectively in a university setting and gives them a working understanding of the requirements for successful undergraduate study.

Curtin University Foundation Studies ESL students in one of their core units for Academic Writing, are required to write a 3,000 word argumentative essay. It is a major preparatory exercise for academic discourse. In an action research investigation of 15 research essays there is evidence of difficulties encountered by students when locating, selecting and integrating resources.

The study carried out on students' uses of in-text references revealed important information literacy problems due to students under-utilising many resource formats. The study furthermore showed the under-utilisation of certain integrating categories of reference uses for example, Summaries, Paraphrases and Quotations. The students Approaches to Learning were assessed to ascertain if there was a likelihood that students who attained high ratings in Deep and Achieving Approaches were more likely to make more integrating categories than students who rated high as Surface learners.

To reflect changes in information literacy and the implications of evidencing research new guidelines need to be formulated to address pedagogical, course outline and assessment issues.

B.5 Accelerated learning: possibilities and pitfalls for education

David Budge
University of WA

Accelerated learning uses techniques and training to increase the rate at which one can learn. In this age where people are changing professions many times during a lifetime the process of life long learning is becoming more and more a necessity. In this presentation we look at what is accelerated learning and how it can be used in the classroom as well as asking what benefits and pitfalls are common to accelerated learning techniques. Two basic techniques will be examined and demonstrated in detail with examples given of practical applications for the classroom teacher.

C.5 Speed Reading: How fast can we really read?

David Budge
University of WA

Speed reading is the process of reading at a higher than normal rate with increased or equal comprehension. This paper examines what is speed reading, what different modes of reading exist and what techniques are common to speed reading. An examination is included of many studies on speed- reading with a look at their conflicting views and some current possibilities for new approaches. A basic speed reading technique will be demonstrated with possible approaches to integrating new cognitive pathways into reading development discussed.

C.3 Students' conceptions of learning: What are they and how do we research them?

Alison Bunker
Edith Cowan University

There is a growing body of research about students' conceptions of learning that has its origins in a particular research specialisation called "phenomenography". This paper critically explores the underpinning theory and philosophical assumptions of phenomenography and raises some issues concerning the methods used to "capture" those conceptions. In the 1970s, phenomenographers set out to investigate students' experiences of learning and the relationship between what students do when they learn and their subsequent understanding. Using semi-structured, conversation-like interviews, they asked students to talk about what they meant by learning and how it was experienced. Subsequently however, there has been variation in how this data has been collected that raises concerns about the validity of the data. The subject being investigated more often seems to be what students say they do when they learn, rather than what they do when they learn. According to Biggs (1993), students' conceptions of learning are one of the factors bearing on the quality of the outcome of learning. Therefore, it is desirable that lecturers have knowledge of their students' conceptions of learning in order to plan an effective learning program. Because of the perceived problems within the phenomenographic method for collecting data, the author is keen to explore with other researchers ways outside the usual phenomenographic methods for collecting and analysing data concerning students' conceptions of learning.

B.3 The development and evaluation of a youth driven coordinated individual care plan program to meet the needs and problems identified by ADHD adolescents with regard to a diagnosis of ADHD and stimulant medication usage

Georgia Carragher
Edith Cowan University

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most prevalent and contentious of childhood neurodevelopment disorders, affecting 3-5 per cent of the child and adolescent population. Recent research identified ADHD as a deficiency of impaired behavioural inhibition that obstructs the functionality of executive functions (EF). EF's mediate self-regulation, working memory, syntax and individual reprocessing of complex behaviour sequences. Research determined that stimulant medication is the most effective treatment leading to improvement in ADHD children's anti-social behaviour patterns.

Although a considerable body of research associated with ADHD and stimulant medication would appear to indicate that a great deal is known about the impact of the disorder and stimulant medication use this is not the case. Very little is known about ADHD adolescents opinions, experiences, needs and problems relative to ADHD and stimulant medication usage.

This research intends to establish a profile of the opinions and experiences of adolescents with respect to their diagnosis of ADHD and stimulant medication usage. The research data will be used to inform a pilot program. The pilot program intends to develop a non-intimidatory support network to meet the needs and resolve the problems the ADHD adolescents identified. The long-term objective of the initial research and the pilot program being to improve ADHD adolescent self-esteem, enhance education and social outcomes, and facilitate psychosocial adjustment and medication compliance.

G.1 Teaching and learning issues with international students

Vanessa Chang and Kum Leng Chin
Curtin University of Technology

Australia is a popular destination for higher education among Asians. It has been documented that the number of international students has increased dramatically over the last five years. Due to this increased number, there is a need to examine the differences between national cultures. International students attending Australian institutions for the first time and who have not encountered the Western culture would often find difficulties in adjusting to a new education environment.

This paper outlines Hofstede's (1986) four dimensions of national cultures, which are power distance, individualism/collectivism, masculinity/femininity, and uncertainty avoidance. Using this model of cultural differences, the authors discuss the difficulties of Asian students adapting to the Australian education environment by examining student experience in the areas of student-teacher relationship, communication, independent learning, learning attitude, social interactions, harmony and conflict, and education.

G.5 Young people's ecological beliefs, environmental awareness and actions: The influence of culture and institutional structures

Irene P. A. Cheong and David F. Treagust
Curtin University of Technology

This study reports an investigation into the cultural and institutional influences on the ecological beliefs, environmental awareness and actions of young people in an Asian Islamic country with a western education system. The study involved survey questionnaires, individual and focus group interviewing, reviewing the literature and conducting document research. Some findings of this study include the following:

While some of the cultural influences are beneficial for environmental improvement, environmentally responsible behaviours did not seem to be adequately encouraged. A mixture of personal, social and environmental issues underpins young people's concerns about these problems. More students held ecological beliefs (79%) rather than technological beliefs (16%). The culture of non-confronting and polite behaviour, human greed and selfishness were perceived to have contributed to environmental problems. Feelings in terms of anger, disappointment, helplessness, guiltiness worries and wanting to act or run away were expressed concerning the environmental problems. More young people held strong (63%) desires to be involved in improving the environment but less perceived that they have the skills to do it with the majority rating their skills as moderate (58%). The majority believe that "communities working together" (44%) is needed for environment improvement.

G.4 The impact of cultural diversity on web based learning

K. L. Chin and V. Chang
Curtin University of Technology

The introduction of the Internet and in particular the World Wide Web (WWW / Web) in teaching and learning has attracted the attention of educational institutions around the world. The occurrence of these technologies will require new learning paradigms. This paper examines the impact of cultural diversity in web-based learning (WBL) from a constructivist point of view. In this paper, the authors will examine the following research question: Does cultural background influences students' perceptions of web-based learning? The factors to be investigated include usage patterns, communication and delivery via the Internet; the role of web-based learning in tertiary education and students' learning experiences. A survey has been conducted linking the students' cultural background to each of the factors outlined above. The outcome of this research provides developers with starting points to consider cultural diversity for their Web-based course design.

A.3 Contradictions in secondary students' understanding of scientific models

Gail Chittleborough David F. Treagust and Thapelo L. Mamiala
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

This paper reports on the results of a survey of 228 secondary students about their understanding of scientific models and their role in science and the science classroom. Of primary interest is the relationship of students' understanding of scientific models to their understanding of science. The emergence of several themes linking the various data sources included: models as visualisation tools; the value of multiple models; the persistence of the concept that models are duplicates of reality; the use of models for testing and predicting; the permanency of models and the disparity in students' perceptions of scientific models in school science compared to general science.

Models are used routinely in science not only as learning tools, but also as representations of abstract scientific concepts and as consensus models of scientific theories. Students develop their own mental models of scientific concepts as they assimilate what they are learning. The wide range of meanings of the term model helps to explain the contradictory opinions which students have expressed in the results of the survey. This highlights the need for greater emphasis on the teaching of the role and purpose of the concept of the scientific model.

E.1 Two cultures: Big city and small country

Francis Donohoe
University of Notre Dame Australia
CBC, PO Box 1345 Fremantle WA 6959

Since 1997, the Catholic Agricultural College Bindoon has conducted a Landcare Program for selected Year 10 students from city schools. The boys and girls reside at the College during Term 3, join with the Year 10 class to follow a course of study and outside work that is dedicated to the proper use of and care for the Land. Case Study methodology was used to conduct the research which explored the participants' perceptions of the 1999 Program. The study also looked at the impact that twenty three new students from the city had on a relatively isolated, self-contained, small (enrolment 100) adolescent community. A discussion of the data gathering techniques - survey, in-depth interview, focus questions and focus groups - is a key element of the paper. The research revealed some remarkable differences in each group's perceptions of the other and the Program. A description and an analysis of these differences makes up the final part of the presentation.

A.4 Challenges to science education reform in Rwanda

Jaya Earnest and David Treagust
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

The study aims to discuss the education system in Rwanda and provide information on the status of primary and secondary science education by taking into account the major social, political, economic, cultural and ethnic influences.

Rwanda is one of the world's poorest countries and is today faced with two major challenges - ensuring recovery, rehabilitation and reconciliation after the genocide of 1994, and overcoming the problems associated with poverty and the massive need for sustainable development. Most of the population is rural and agrarian. Nearly half the population is illiterate and the secondary school enrolment rate is 20%. It is within this context that education is expected to play an important role in social reconciliation, reconstruction and economic development. Rwanda has now adopted the following national goals - eradication of illiteracy, national capacity building in science and technology and reinforcing the teaching of mathematics and sciences.

The proposed study utilises quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the ongoing education reform process within a society in transition and the importance placed on science and technology. The tensions in the implementation of educational policies are described in terms of the need to take account of the social, political, cultural and economic factors.

F.5 Encouragement of meaningful learning through change to the learning environment: Process and product

Peta Edwards and Geoff Giddings
Curtin University of Technology

Many interacting factors need to be considered when contemplating the optimum conditions for the creation of a learning environment that is compatible with the aims of tertiary teaching and learning. In the current economic climate, the costs of creating learning environments that foster these aims are also a major consideration. Further, in this era of rapid technological development and change, there are increasing numbers of students of divergent age, experience and ability entering the tertiary sector. Teachers at this level are therefore faced with real problems in providing students with interesting and innovative learning environments that influence and encourage the use of a deep approach to learning and the development of real understanding.

This longitudinal research project sought, through the development and introduction of various teaching and learning interventions, to influence students' attitudes towards service-taught microbiology units and consequently their approaches to learning and achievement. The instruments used in the intervention practices were developed as a result of suggestions by students and staff during the course of this study and were fashioned along the lines of two models of student learning developed by Kember and Gow (1989) and Biggs (1993a). These models examined factors believed to influence the adoption of deep and surface learning approaches and the influence of such approaches on learning outcome. The study also attempted to elucidate the major factors affecting student attitudes towards teaching and learning with multiple media and the relationship between students' attitude, achievement and their learning approach.

E.3 Disturbing the millpond: Ethnographic reflections on organisational change in a local high school

Martin Forsey
University of Western Australia

The school in which I conducted a fifteen-month participant observer study, was variously described by reform minded administrators as a becalmed yacht, a cottage industry and a beautiful, tranquil millpond. These portrayals are consistent with a wider trend among educational managers whereby schools are portrayed as atavistic spaces filled with backward looking teachers who are resistant to change. While many teachers at Southern High expressed awareness of the inertia that can set into good schools, they also offered some rational reasons for their opposition to change. I argue that discussion of educational reform is too often based on a simplistic division between student learning and teacher work, and that would be reformers need to pay greater attention to teacher aspirations and the ways in which they perceive and construct their roles.

G.6 "They shall have abundance": Achievement and advantage in Year 12

David Geelan, Helen Wildy, William Louden and John Wallace
Edith Cowan University and Curtin University

The effects of gender, socioeconomic status and school cohort size on students' results in Year 12 Physics in Western Australia were explored through a statistical analysis of 11 years of Physics results (N=25,682), in 99 metropolitan government and non-government secondary schools. Achievement was found to be significantly correlated to socioeconomic status and cohort size, but not to gender. Two supplementary sets of measures of school level success in Year 12 Physics in Western Australia student security and value added are proposed and discussed as possible alternatives or supplements to published 'league tables' of school results. It is suggested that these measures offer teachers, schools, students and parents better quality information with which to make choices bout their investments in education. It is also noted, however, that these indicators, along with simpler ones such as the comparison of Physics results with socioeconomic status, point strongly to the construction of social advantage through school education. In general, physics education advances, rewards and admits to high status university courses those who are already socially and financially advantaged.

B.2 Non-attendance policy and practice: A form of social exclusion in Western Australia

Jan Gray
Edith Cowan University

The use of a range of non-attendance policy and practice is a standard response to local, school-based definitions of truancy and disruptive/dangerous behaviour. This paper argues that culturally conflicting notions of school attendance and appropriate behaviour impact on the implementation of educational policy, often meeting the school needs but limiting a student's long-term educational opportunities. The paper draws on both quantitative and qualitative data gathered during a three-year study of cultural factors impacting on the creation and enactment of public policy associated with non-attendance. An ethnographic study was conducted in four metropolitan education districts in Western Australia, identifying three defining cultures framing non-attendance policy and inter-agency processes. Access to district data-bases within one of these districts allowed an intensive study of non-attendance and disciplinary data for 30 000 students. The study highlights the over-representation of Aboriginal students in truancy, suspension and exclusion data and indicates a need for more social and cultural empathy in pragmatic, local enactment of non-attendance policy. The focus of the paper is to question policy outcomes and intent in terms of equity, inaction and social exclusion.

B.7 Critical literacy and numeracy: How are values taught and what are the cultural considerations?

Sarah Hopkins
Edith Cowan University

Current educational policies in state and national programs include student outcome statements that specifically relate to educational values underpinning the notion of critical education. However, the results of recent investigations indicate that teachers are often unaware of the educational values they teach and have given little thought to the values their students are learning from them (Clarkson & Bishop, 1999). In this presentation I will describe the initial stages of a research project investigating how values outlined in the Western Australian Curriculum Framework, relating to critical literacy and numeracy, are taught in the classroom. I will then discuss some ideas regarding values that can be associated with literacy and numeracy as a western cultural phenomenon and discuss the implications of these values in the hidden curriculum with reference to teaching Aboriginal students.

G.3 Reframing pedagogy, literacy and attendance policy to interrupt the alienation cycle

Janet Hunter and Jan Gray
Edith Cowan University

This paper presents an alternative view to the pedagogical needs relating to literacy for Aboriginal students. The question posed is how to lessen the impact of perceived 'failure' in early schooling on entrenched non-attendance patterns for compulsory aged Aboriginal students. The potential for improving literacy levels within a school community sensitive to cultural and pedagogical diversity is presented as offering the parallel potential to encourage a more lateral view of non-attendance patterns. The paper presents a marrying of two independent doctoral studies conducted within Western Australia, representing potential for early literacy intervention strategies to decrease the rejection of schooling by young, often transient, Aboriginal students. The first doctoral study illustrates the non-attendance patterns of compulsory school aged students (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) perpetuated through non-attendance policy as part of a cultural framing of social exclusion practices. The second doctoral study presents preliminary findings from a longitudinal study of the literacy development of Aboriginal children in their first years of formal education. The truancy/social exclusion aspects of the first study are presented as the consequences for not adequately addressing in a contextual sense the pedagogical needs of beginning Aboriginal learners.

C.2 Teachers' use of explanations in upper secondary chemistry lessons

Thapelo L. Mamiala and David F Treagust
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

The purpose of the study was to identify and categorise the nature and types of school science explanations used by two teachers of upper secondary chemistry. An interpretive examination of the two teachers was conducted in the natural environment of their classrooms. The focus was on how, when and why the teachers made use of explanations in their presentation and teaching of a phenomenon/concept to students. Chemistry was chosen because the content area enables models and problems to be used as tools of explanation of phenomena/concepts. Data collection and the analysis were based on observations of 31 Year 11 chemistry lessons during which the classroom presentation by teachers was audio taped and fully transcribed. A total of 179 explanations were identified and categorised. Semi-structured interviews with individual teachers also was conducted. Implications and suggestions on school science explanations are discussed.

G.2 Choosing Catholic Secondary Education - a study in progress

Angela McCarthy
University of Notre Dame Australia

The debate about the choice of schooling in our society continues to surface. This study in progress is looking at the choice from the parents' perspective, particularly the context of their decision and the variety of influences that inform such a decision. This is a qualitative study using grounded theory methodology unlike any of the other studies in the substantive area. What is beginning to emerge is a very interesting confluence of ideas that provide a rich picture of the complexity of the decision. This deliberative process is goal focussed and multi faceted. This paper will present glimpses of the emerging picture in its methodological context.

C.1 From research question to research design: Making the process explicit

Susan McKenzie
Murdoch University

Apart from the references to previous research and discussion of concerns surrounding practical decision-making, the processes whereby studies are uniquely constructed by researchers to move from ideas to research designs are often invisible. Further, the place of researchers in their research and the values underpinning their projects, although always implicit, are not always laid open. The focus of this presentation is a reflection of one researcher's journey that illustrates the constructive process from research ideas to research design. In these reflections, the effect of research paradigm is made explicit. The presentation identifies the considerations influential in shaping the study and locates the researcher and the study within an inquiry tradition, thereby outlining the assumptions, values and ethics of the researcher.

F.1 Post Compulsory science students' perceptions of classroom learning environments

Sid Nair and Darrell Fisher
Science and Mathematics Education Centre
Curtin University of Technology

The purpose of this study was to compare students' actual and preferred perceptions of their science classroom learning environments with a modified form of the College and University Classroom Environment Inventory (CUCEI). The study looked at the perceptions of senior secondary school students in their final of study in Australia and first year science students at the tertiary level in Canada. Students' perceptions of their classrooms at both the secondary and tertiary levels indicated a preference for a more favourable learning environment in all areas measured by the seven scales in the CUCEI. The study also revealed the sensitivity of the CUCEI as distinct differences in the actual perceptions were perceived by students in two different tertiary classes taught by the same instructor. The study also shows that tertiary instructors who did not employ the normal mode of course delivery, that is lecturing, were perceived more favourably by students.

A.6 The potential of wireless networking in a primary school

Paul Newhouse
Edith Cowan University

In the 1990s, significant developments in computer technology have been the emergence of low-cost, high-powered portable computers, and improvements in the capabilities and operation of computer networks (eg. Intranets and the accessibility of the Internet). It is not clear that these developments will have any more impact on school-based learning than any of the previous developments in computer technology. In research I have conducted into the use of portable computers in schools access to networking has proved difficult using traditional cabling systems. The use of wireless networking with portable computers may provide the solution to many technical and logistical problems faced by most schools. As a result I am conducting an ethnographic action research study at a government primary school with the aim to investigate the potential of wireless networking in schools and identify a successful implementation strategy for other schools to follow. Some data has been collected about the Year Seven students and a number of lessons have been observed. Further data will be collected about students, teachers and technology using formal interviews, observations of lessons, questionnaires, and informal discussions with teachers. To date the technology has been successfully implemented in Year Seven classes with no significant technical problems.

A.1 Afternoon tea with Kathy White - a country teachers story: The quest for self and identity in teaching during the early 1940s and 1970s

Lesley P. Newhouse-Maiden
Edith Cowan University

In this paper, I tell the story of Kathy's experiences in teaching interpreting her story from the standpoint of a socialist feminist "unified systems" theory of social relations (Jaggar, 1983, 1989; Jaggar and Rothenberg, 1984). The concept of "career" was the major focus for my analysis. I saw "career" in Dale's (1972) terms: on the one side, as a very personal subjective construct, which "sheds light on personal identity" and its progressive transformations, and, on the other side, from the organisational perspective, as "a series of statuses through which the individual progresses" (p. 67). Using narrative as the paradigm for life-career research (Cochran, 1990; Connelly and Clandinin, 1990; Heilbrun, 1988), I re-constructed Kathy's story from her talk with a former pupil and personal recollections of her teaching career and life as a farmer's wife. My analysis of her career and personality development was based on models derived from Super's stage theory (Super, 1990) emphasising a "life-span" and "life-space" approach, within a specific socio-cultural context.

Kathy's story provides an account of some of the challenges she encountered as a student teacher, a monitor, and teacher during war-time and then in the 1970s, emphasises that through her personal agency, planfulness and decision-making, she was able to grow both professionally and personally, constructing a unique "career pathway" (Josselson, 1987) for herself in teaching. Her story as a woman teaching in a country area reaffirms how gender and educational policy and unanticipated illness placed restrictions on her professional career pathway. Although the structural organisation of the school placed ceilings on her own advancement, she created milieux and curricula to meet individual needs in these two periods of her teaching. As a woman of her historical time and place, she used her teaching ability and special interests in the arts to enhance the culture and help create museums in her country town, in conjunction with raising and informally educating her children, being a farmer's wife, and caring for aged parents-in-law.

D.3 Written communication skills for online learning

Maria Northcote and Amanda Kendle
Edith Cowan University and The University of Western Australia
m.northcote@cowan.edu.au, akendle@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

On campus students are regularly given guidance on the communication protocols associated with participation in lectures and tutorials. In a similar vein, there is a growing need to guide online students on how to communicate in the online context. We have identified a need for students to learn appropriate writing skills associated with online communication tools. Without such guidance, student progress may be impeded by ineffective communication. Bulletin boards, chat rooms, email and online forms each require different skills.

To rectify the situation, we have developed a self-directed learning module for online students to enable them to develop specific writing skills appropriate to the new technologies. This will also allow students to gain familiarity with the relevant protocols and most effective methods for using online communication tools. The module includes both advice and activities designed to enhance students' abilities to communicate via a variety of online communication methods. The format of the module is non-linear, presented within an authentic context, and invites students to study components appropriate to their immediate requirements.

The module will be trialed with a number of students identified as requiring specific assistance in working in the online environment. It is anticipated that by making the communication aspects of online study more transparent, student focus will return to the important task of learning. Aspects of the online module will be demonstrated in this presentation.

F.4 Performance management: Complex reform in a devolving system of Western Australian education

Philip Paioff
John Forrest Senior High School

This paper challenges the long term viability of the Education Department of Western Australia's (1996) Policy Framework for Performance Management (PFPM) by claiming that broad based policies for managing the performance of educators are unlikely to achieve their intended outcomes because they attempt to deliver purposes that are competitive in nature and require extensive human and financial resources. This study investigated approaches to performance management in the context of an increasingly devolving system of education. The theoretical framework of this study was concordant with the meta-theoretical position of post-positivism. Consequently, data were gathered using the techniques of semi-structured interviews and document analysis which are consistent with the post-positivist approach.

The major outcome of the research was the development of progressive and more pragmatic Tentative Theories of Performance Management. The PFPM represented the Education Department of Western Australia's Tentative Theory for Performance Management which was replaced by the new Tentative Theory derived from the commonly held beliefs, values and attitudes of teacher, administrator, departmental, academic, trade union and parent communities associated with the Western Australian Government education system. Points of commonality or touchstones were derived from an initial set of theoretical propositions that emerged from the data analysis. The emergent propositions were validated by inviting stakeholders to reconsider and refute them to develop a more acceptable and 'coherent' Tentative Theory in accordance with Lycan's (1988) rules for theory testing and improvement.

The findings suggest that the PFPM needs to take a more definitive stance in terms of its detail, direction and purpose. A multi-track model may provide an effective approach in accounting for the range of purposes embodied in the PFPM, especially those that seek to entertain the notions of formal accountability alongside efforts to promote the professional growth of educators. In considering these areas, ramifications for professional collegiality and teamwork, improved outcomes for students, professional development of teachers and administrators and the progression towards work practices consistent with the needs of modern educational communities are also highlighted.

D.1 ABC of safe text skills

Rita Pasqualini
Murdoch University

The purpose of 'safe text' is to avoid 'accidents' and unwanted outcomes in communication, especially across cultures. To 'be careful', and limit risks of confusion, offence or embarrassment, one needs skills in the relevant areas. The first is meta-linguistic awareness: to 'hear oneself think' helps trace links between linguistic expression and the intended meaning. What appears 'wrong' may have been misunderstood, or derive from an 'honest' mistake. Categories of mis-communication include negative transfers from background linguacultures, in production but also in perception. Something may be (i.a.) mis-pronounced or mis-spelt, mis-heard, mis-read or mis-interpreted; the result may range from light relief to serious conflict.

On the basis of ongoing research, some consequences of unsafe text are related to possible causes. The main aim of this presentation is to widen consideration to affective and behavioural aspects of language use, beyond the cognitive ones more commonly associated with teaching and learning a language. Thus ABC may be a mnemonic for affection, behaviour and cognition, but also for awareness, background and culture, always associated with language use.

D.4 Small Private Schools: A study of the nature of the governing structures, the decision-making processes employed and the perceived congruence of these with the schools' philosophies

Lesley Payne and Gay Ward
Murdoch University and University of Notre Dame
lpayne@central.murdoch.edu.au, wards@iinet.net.au

This study investigated the nature of the governing structures of eleven small private schools in Western Australia with similar child-centred and outcome-based philosophies. The aim was to gain a better understanding of the variations in the structures instituted, the decision-making processes in place, and how these structures are viewed as supporting or hindering the effectiveness of the school in meeting their educational goals. In-depth interviews were conducted with past and present principals and through data analysis with NUD*IST software, the researchers identified profiles of the merits and difficulties associated with volunteer-based governance.

A.2 Explicit standards for high stakes assessment

Bob Peck
Curriculum Council

This presentation describes the validation of a framework of assessment standards which was used to assess students in the 1999 Tertiary Entrance Examination (TEE) in Drama Studies. This new TEE subject provided the opportunity to depart from traditional assessment procedures. In appearance, the examination looked like a "normal" TEE. However, marking was entirely standards-referenced, and entailed judging students' performance along predetermined outcomes using a set of standards designed to describe progress in each outcome.

The design of the marking process allowed markers' initial judgments (ie. before the judgments of pairs of markers were reconciled) to be analysed using the Rasch Model. A high degree of comparability was found between markers, and the examination had a high reliability statistic. Most importantly, the analysis of thresholds for the outcomes showed that for all seven outcomes there was a high degree of comparability. This demonstrated that the standards designed for use in school-based assessment tasks could be applied in the context of an external examination. Finding that the standards were explicit enough to reconstruct the levels of achievement from which they were derived was an important step in validating them.

B.4 The effect of self-generated cues on ESL learners' recall of narrative texts

Farzad Sharifian
Edith Cowan University

The present study examined the effect of self-generated cues on the written recall of narrative texts by ESL learners. Thirty male ESL learners were assigned to two different conditions. In the first condition (Advanced Listing), subjects studied two texts for future free recall. Prior to the recall, the subjects were asked to generate a list of short indications (one or a few words) of the text paragraphs. Then they were instructed to recall and write down the contents of the texts as completely as possible, without having the generated lists at their disposal. In the second condition (Posterior Listing), the subjects studied the texts and had to recall and write down the contents of the texts, with no cues generated prior to recall. Upon the completion of the written recall, a listing of the short indications of the paragraphs was required. Thus, the main difference between the two conditions was whether the subjects had to generate the cue list prior to or after the recall of the texts.

To examine the effect of inspection of self-generated cues, the subjects were then allowed, under the second condition, to recall and write down any additional paragraphs they could remember after completing the cue listing task. This time they could inspect their generated lists during the recall. The results indicate that: a) self-generated cues facilitated the quantity of the recall of the paragraphs of the narrative texts, regardless of whether or not inspection of the list by the subjects was allowed or not, b) self-generated cues had no significant effect on the completeness with which the paragraphs were recalled c), the serial position of output had a negative effect on the completeness of the recalled paragraphs; that is, paragraphs recalled at an earlier stage of output were more complete than those recalled at a later stage. The findings of this research have implications for ESL/EFL teaching and learning.

C.4 Instructional design meets online learning in higher education

Lou Siragusa
Curtin University of Technology

With the rapid acceptance of the use of the Internet for learning, lecturers in higher educational institutions are being encouraged to develop their course materials for online delivery. Instructional design decisions that lead to the way in which students learn on the Internet are being placed in the hands of lecturers who are only just coming to grips with online learning and the use of the Internet. Some lecturers have done enormous amounts of work in this area and have collected data regarding how students study and learn using this medium. Literature review reveals that instructional design provides the underlying foundation for developing effective materials for online delivery. There exists enormous amounts of literature regarding instructional design for computer-based multimedia applications that is often overlooked and should be taken into account when designing for the online medium.

This discussion will focus on the identification of instructional design principles for the development of effective online learning environments. This discussion will also highlight how, through thoughtful instructional design decisions, effective learning strategies can be developed for students learning online.

A.5 Why are students failing? Is mainstreaming the cause?

Margaret Sutherland
Edith Cowan University

In this paper the emphasis will be on the closure of an Educational Support Unit (ESU), and its implications for the students with disabilities who now have to try to keep pace with their peers and a normal curriculum by being mainstreamed into a "normal" classroom. The study will define what a learning disabled student is and the reason ESUs were implemented into the educational system in the first place. To question whether the move to close ESUs without any thought being given to students, parents and teachers, is in their best interests by having no special curriculum, remedial programs or teacher training in place to allow the students to reach their full potential. The study will pinpoint a particular school in a rural area north-east of Perth, Western Australia, which has had an ESU for 22 years and was closed at the end of 1994. The study will include a questionnaire from the teachers and interviews with students with learning disabilities and their parents who have been affected by the closure.

B.1 Interviewing adolescent boys: Revisiting the telephone

Anthea Taylor
the University of Western Australia

The telephone interview is commonly associated with mass surveys and political and marketing polling. It is generally eschewed as a serious research tool by many qualitative researchers and by ethnographers in particular and its use with children is considered problematic. However, there appears to be some circumstances in which the telephone is a highly appropriate tool for eliciting data that provides thick description. This paper reports on longitudinal research-in-progress examining adolescent boys' career decision-making in which telephone interviewing is yielding surprisingly rich data. The telephone interview is critiqued in this context to derive emergent guidelines for the employment of this research tool.

E.5 Redefining the place to learn

Andrew Thompson
Curriculum Council of Western Australia

As we enter the twenty-first century it is clear that the notion of education for all has become enshrined as a right in societies across the world. Although there is often robust debate about education in the community, we rarely question the existence of schools. The answers to questions such as: 'why do we have schools?' are usually viewed as self-evident. Such questions, however, are not easily answered, because school systems have proliferated to a scale and in a way that their purpose is no longer clear. The expectations society has of school systems grow seemingly without limit and problems such as drug abuse, racism, and maintaining pace with the world's economic powers are thought amenable to educational solutions, with programs designed to provide educational solutions added to school curricula ad hoc. Thus, it is timely to prepare the groundwork for an investigation that will help us to redefine schools as places of learning by inquiring into commonly held beliefs about the purposes of schools and the 'givens' of the school environment. The study in progress described here is an attempt to begin some of that groundwork in the context of the Western Australian government education system.

D.2 Coupling relationships and education? A grounded theory of couple relationships offers insights relevant to educational settings

Elizabeth Tuettemann
The University of Western Australia

Theoretical constructs that emerged from a six-year grounded theory study into the processes and outcomes of couple relationships have the power to illuminate parallel processes and outcomes in educational settings. The central finding that interpersonal behaviours are strongly motivated by the drive to experience a sense of personal sanctuary has implications for the educational scene.

Like individuals in couple relationships, both teachers and students crave immunity from the consequences of being found foolish, inadequate or unacceptable in the sight of others. This desire to avoid the emotional distress associated with being found wanting can lead to behaviours that are counterproductive to the education process. For example, regardless of the type or setting of a relationship, insecurities and dissonance between individuals can lead to depletion of goodwill, the erosion of connection between them and corrosion of the commitment to stay in that relationship or that situation. Insecure and disillusioned students lose commitment to involving themselves in a course of study, just as anxious and disenchanted individuals lose commitment to their relationship or fearful and discontented teachers lose commitment to departmental goals.

The good news is that, just as in couple relationships there are ways of nurturing the bonds and building up the reserve of goodwill, so there are ways in an educational setting of maintaining a strong connection and a functional level of goodwill.

E.6 Narrative, meaning making and personal development: Teachers' storied experience in Montessori, Steiner and other primary classrooms

Gay Ward
University of Notre Dame

This qualitative study explored uses of narrative in Montessori, Steiner, and other primary schools. In-depth interviews of teachers from twelve schools were used to collect stories on how teachers used narrative for curriculum and personal development and how they perceived these uses as relating to their own educational philosophies and to the ethos of their particular schools.

NUD*IST software was employed through the processes of data analysis to focus on emerging concepts. A wide spectrum of narrative uses related to meaning making was revealed including using narrative as both an oral and written language genre, as a means of curriculum integration, as a means of identifying and understanding personal journeys as well as universal values, and as a tool for establishing connectedness and effecting transformations. Teachers' experiences in each of the three different contexts revealed a high degree of consistency in some areas such as the curriculum applications of narrative. However, considerable variations were noted both between contexts and within contexts in the way narrative was used to enhance personal, interpersonal, cultural and spiritual understandings. Implications for changes in teacher education that would encourage using historical, literary and personal narrative in more varied ways to attain deeper personal and professional understanding are suggested.

D.6 Cognitive profiles and interface design for individual learning environments

Ray Webster
Murdoch University

Each student has a cognitive profile which, if identified early in the university career of the student, can help the individual develop his or her learning skills and strategies in the light of useful self knowledge. A model has been adopted which attempts to define and show the relationship between cognitive styles, learning styles and learning strategies. The core of the model represents the individual's cognitive style. Between cognitive style and learning strategies lies learning style. Three well known and reliable measures, Richard Riding's Cognitive Styles Analysis, Noel Entwistle's Approaches to Study Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are used to develop the cognitive profile. The profiles are then used by students to help develop a simple prototype Individual Learning Environment (ILE - basically a personal website) organised around the units they are studying. Elements of the cognitive profile are used to help inform the design and development of interfaces to the ILE. It is suggested that the development of the cognitive profile and the ILE in the student's first semester could assist each student in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of his or her learning processes and associated skills. This paper will explore these issues and report on work recently completed with a group of students from a range of majors taking a human-computer interaction unit.

F.2 School principals' performance: Linking standards and assessments

Helen Wildy, Simon Clarke and Bill Louden
Edith Cowan University

Currently performance or outcomes based education is criticised because of the selective nature of what counts as an outcome. It is claimed that only what can be measured is valued. Further, unless the strategies for assessing performance are psychometrically adequate, neither what is assessed nor how outcomes are assessed are defensible. For example, performance standards for principals are rarely linked with assessment strategies. Even less often are performance assessments, such as interviews, selection panels and portfolios used for performance management, selection for appointment or promotion, linked to performance standards. Further, judgements about individual performance are most often made on the basis on scoring rubrics that exist in the heads of members of the assessing panel, behind closed doors.

This paper reports the development of authentic assessment strategies linked to a case-based standards framework for principals' performance. This study, conducted in Western Australia during 2000 in a collaborative partnership with the WA Government Schools Leadership Centre, has three elements. The first is to develop items that link to the case-based standards framework incorporating interpersonal skills (such as listening, collaborating, negotiating) and moral dispositions (such as patience and persistence, courage and decisiveness, and sensitivity and tact). The second is the explication of scoring rubrics for assessing performance that exemplars of high, middle and low performance on dimensions of interpersonal skills and moral dispositions. The third element is the preparation of a package of psychometrically robust, credible and readily understood assessment strategies. The significance of this study lies in providing defensible assessment strategies that bridge the reality of principals' practice with an explicit and grounded standards framework.

E.2 Cases for capturing the essence of leadership: School principal performance standards in Australia and New Zealand

Helen Wildy and William Louden
Edith Cowan University

Jan Robertson
The University of Waikato

This paper reports an international validation of a framework for performance standards for school principals. The framework, generated in Australia in 1996-1997, was applied in New Zealand in 2000. The framework involved an innovative method of establishing standards for principals' performance, based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods of making judgements about the quality of principals' work. Using cases of critical incidents in which principals made decisions in their everyday work, the essential elements of quality performance, together with a set of dimensions on which performance varied, were identified. This study explored the application of these essential elements and dimensions in a context in which similar school system restructuring is in progress. Three questions were addressed:

This study supports three conclusions. First, cases generated in one context are not applicable in a different cultural setting. However, the method of developing cases is readily applied cross culturally. Second, the values underpinning the framework developed in Australia are similar to, but not the same as, those about which principals in New Zealand assess principal performance. Third, there are similarities, but also important subtle differences, in the particular dimensions on which the framework is grounded. The study indicates the validity of using cases to generate performance standards for school principals.

B.6 Peer mentoring for first year university students

Alison Young, Neil Drew, Lisbeth Pike, Julie Pooley and Laureen Breen
Edith Cowan University

The transition to university is associated with stress, anxiety and attrition. A Peer Mentoring Program (PMP) was initiated in the School of Psychology at Edith Cowan University to minimise these adjustments effects. Third year students mentored 30 first year students in semester 1. Sessions were conducted to train the mentors, and included information concerning the university's support services, communication and coping skills, and stress. Mentors and mentees were matched according to demographic variables. Process and outcome evaluations were conducted to explore the experiences of the PMP manager, mentors, and mentees in relation to the PMP's aims and activities. This presentation will outline the key elements in the implementation of a successful peer mentoring program including recruitment and training of mentors, selection of mentees and overall program management.

C.7 Features of effective schools: Four case studies which focus on teacher morale and stress

Deidra Young
Curtin University of Technology

During the Western Australian School Effectiveness Study (WASES), 28 rural and urban high schools and 3500 students were surveyed in order to investigate features of effective schools. Of these, 21 schools and 1024 students were studied longitudinally. Effective schools were identified in terms of higher than expected levels of achievement, when socio-economic status and student intake factors are controlled for such as prior learning. Following this quantitative phase, four rural and urban schools were selected for closer scrutiny using a constant comparative methodology. These schools were studied intensively this year (1999) and features which make them effective or ineffective were documented.

This paper focuses on these four schools, their science classrooms and how effective science teachers work in effective schools. Aspects of teacher morale and teacher distress/stress are documented, along with the whole school environment. Teaching strategies are presented which were used for more difficult students.

[ Schedule ] [ Proceedings ] [ WAIER Home Page ]
Last revised 5 Feb 2010. This URL: http://www.waier.org.au/forums/2000/abstracts.html
Previous URL from 30 July 2001 to 16 May 2006: http://education.curtin.edu.au/waier/forums/2000/abstracts.html
Previous URL from 16 Aug 2000 to 30 July 2001: http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/waier/forums/2000/abstracts.html
HTML: Roger Atkinson [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]