Early Career Awards 2008-2019

Dr Christine Robinson

Presentation Abstract

An Australian early years’ mandated document outlines the need for educators to attend to children’s spiritual capacity as part of a holistic approach to the early years. However, how this can be achieved is not clearly articulated. This investigation examined educators’ practices to promote children’s spirituality within the context of faith-based childcare centres in Western Australia and with a specific focus on educators working with children aged 3 to 4 years of age. Through the use of the qualitative theoretical perspectives of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) and qualitative content analysis (QCA), this investigation yielded insight into educators’ understandings of spirituality; their knowledge of children’s spirituality; the practices educators’ employed, both the planned and the incidental, to promote children’s spirituality. It became evident that although educators did know something about promoting children’s spirituality, both personal spiritual formation and information about children’s spirituality is required to enable educators to intentionally, rather than accidently, plan for children’s spiritual opportunities.

Dr Donna Barwood

Presentation Abstract

Understanding and challenging the dominant discourse in HPE at Edith Cowan University

This presentation centres on an investigation of the marginalised positioning of health education within the Bachelor of Education (Secondary) course for Health and Physical Education (HPE) at a teacher education institution in Australia. Insights from data collected in a previous study raised questions regarding the limited conceptualisation of HPE within the course and the capacity of the course to respond to the Australian institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) standards for graduating teachers in the context of HPE. More particularly, the research revealed that through unit selection, students could follow a path to graduation that gave limited attention to Health Education, and that privileged Physical Education (PE) and/or Outdoor Education (OE). Based on these findings, this study has explored HPE curriculum leaders’ understandings of the learning area in the context of pre-service teacher preparation and their beliefs regarding the preparedness of graduating HPE teachers. This presentation relates curriculum leaders’ perspectives to the nationally endorsed perspective of HPE articulated in the Australian Curriculum for Health and Physical Education (AC: HPE) (Australian Curriculum, 2015) and the understandings of HPE that are expressed in the state curriculum pertaining to this institution. Discussion pursues the opportunities and challenges associated with efforts to re-position Health Education within tertiary programs that have historically privileged other discourses.

Dr Julia Morris

Presentation Abstract

The impact of arts consumption on students’ motivation and efficacy

Critical thinking, communication and creativity are a few 21st century learning skills being promoted both in Australia and internationally. The responding strand of Australian visual arts curricula develops these skills, as student learn about artists and artworks, decoding art and making critical judgements. This study sought the effect of students’ personal consumption and production of art on their intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy in responding. Intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy were measured as students who do not feel they can master a task are generally less motivated to persist and can disengage from learning. A total of 266 Western Australian secondary students between 14 and 17 years old participated in the research. The findings showed that while being an art consumer impacts on intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy, maintaining a personal arts practice does not. The research raised questions about links between practice and theory, and how to promote students’ engagement in responding.

Dr Gregory Hine, The University of Notre Dame

Presentation Abstract

Exploring reasons why secondary students do not enrol in higher-level mathematics courses

The purpose of the project is to investigate the perceptions of Year 11 and Year 12 ATAR students in Western Australian secondary schools regarding declining student enrolments in higher-level mathematics courses. By agreeing to participate in the research, Year 11 and Year 12 students will help provide a deeper and richer understanding of the factors influencing secondary student enrolments in higher-level mathematics. A recent nationwide report has revealed that over the past two decades, Australian secondary schools have experienced a steady decline of students enrolling in higher level mathematics courses (Kennedy, Lyons & Quinn, 2014). Findings from the Maths? Why Not? Research project (DEEWR, 2008) indicated key influences why Australian students enrol in higher-level mathematics courses. Although this research outlined reasons why secondary students enrol in high level mathematics courses, no reasons were offered as to why these same students do not enrol in those courses. Additionally, little research is available that seeks to explain the declining student enrolments in a Western Australian context. Some recent research into this phenomenon in Western Australia was conducted by the researcher (Hine, 2016). This research focused on why the Heads of Learning: Mathematics (HOLAMs) felt capable secondary students did not enrol in higher-level mathematics courses. While the findings have been of interest to the mathematics education and research community, the researcher would like to elicit the student voice on the matter. This student voice could provide valuable insights as to how policymakers, administrators and educators alike can address the issue of declining enrolments in secondary mathematics.

Dr Susan F. Ledger, Murdoch University

Presentation Abstract

Classroom ready and ready classrooms: Are schools preservice teacher ready?

Much scrutiny has centred on the quality of pre-service teachers and their readiness for the workforce recently. However, little has been discussed or researched about school readiness for pre-service teachers. There is little debate about the shared responsibility of Schools and Universities to transform pre-service teachers into professional teachers, but there is debate as to the role and responsibilities that schools have in the preparation of preservice teachers (PSTs). This paper explores the issue at a national, state and school policy level. It presents an example of these policies in practice and in so doing presents enablers and barriers to establishing school readiness. WA schools offering a 12-month internship program highlight the importance of leadership, organizational structures and the development of school/university mentoring cultures to enhance practicum experiences for PSTs. The findings present possibilities for a more systemic approach to policy implementation surrounding shared responsibility between schools and universities so as to better prepare our next generation of teachers.

Dr Denise Jackson, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

Determinants of job attainment in recent Bachelor graduates: Evidence from Australia

Denise JacksonFavourable graduate employment outcomes are critical for future enrolments in higher education. Enrolments fund higher education providers and ensure a continuous supply of graduates to enhance organisational effectiveness, national productivity and global competitiveness. Recent evidence suggests the global financial crisis has softened graduate labour markets. Stakeholder concerns for graduate career prospects and the adequacy of return on investment from studying at university prompt exploration of those factors which influence graduate employment outcomes. This study tests, using logistic regression, a model of job attainment in recent Bachelor graduates of Australian higher education providers using national data gathered in 2011 (n = 28,246) and 2012 (n = 28,009). Findings indicate employer selection criteria broadly align with our understanding of what constitutes graduate employability, including technical expertise, generic skill mastery and a successfully formed graduate identity. Labour market opportunities, however, are not based on merit alone with employers favouring those graduating from prestigious universities, part-time students and whose study incorporated elements of on-campus learning. There were also noted variations by discipline, age and residency status. This form of education research is important for developing our understanding of which factors influence graduate employment outcomes and the subsequent implications for relevant stakeholders.

Elaine LewisElaine Lewis, Coolbinia Primary School

Presentation Abstract

Fifty tonne plan: Sustainability cross curriculum priority action

A greenhouse gas emissions reduction initiative, known as the Fifty Tonne Plan, aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by fifty tonnes. A primary school in Western Australia implemented this initiative undertaking a variety of biodiversity, waste, water, energy and social actions, within a whole systems thinking perspective, to achieve this goal. A case study was conducted on the impact of this type of sustainability action at the school. The research investigated student, staff, parent and community partner perceptions after involvement in the initiative. Results showed the school achieved its goal and all stakeholders actively participated. The findings provided evidence about the strengths and weaknesses of the initiative in the context of the differing perceptions of the various stakeholders. Overall, this successful example of sustainability action provided a model that is broadly applicable in a wide range of school settings. Other Western Australian schools are now implementing the model. Furthermore, the case study school has progressed from a Ten Tonne Plan, to Fifty Tonne and now a One Hundred Tonne Plan.

Dr Greg Thompson, Murdoch University

Presentation AbstractDr Greg Thompson

Just how ‘high-stakes’ is NAPLAN? Teacher perceptions of the effects of NAPLAN in WA and SA

NAPLAN continues to be a divisive issue in Australian education. Since its inception in 2008, NAPLAN has been a central plank of the Australian Government’s Education Revolution, a policy platform that aims to improve education equity and outcomes through improving accountability. Australian school NAPLAN results are published online on the My School website each year. This presentation will present research from phase 1 of an ARC funded project “The effects of NAPLAN on Australian school communities”. Phase 1 consisted of a survey of in-service teachers conducted in 2012. Participants completed an online survey open to all teachers in WA and SA. The survey ran for three months from April to June 2012. After an initial demographic response schedule, participants were asked their perception of the impacts that NAPLAN has had on their achievement goal orientation, stress levels, self-efficacy and effects on curriculum and pedagogy. These themes were chosen because research literature from the US and UK suggest significant impacts of high-stakes testing in these areas. The survey results suggest that NAPLAN is having a significant impact on school communities.

Dr Tania Broadley, Curtin University

Presentation AbstractTania Broadley

Rethinking connectedness: Improving access to professional learning for regional and remote teachers

Transformation of Australian education is occurring through a number of initiatives such as the Digital Education Revolution, the move to a National Curriculum and the implementation of a National Framework for Professional Standards for Teaching. As these are rolled out to teachers across Australia, the equitable access to professional development (PD) to support all teachers, regardless of their geographical location, is in question. This research aimed to examine the existing strategies that were being undertaken by the Department of Education in Western Australia, to provide professional learning to teachers in regional and remote areas. It investigated the perceptions of teachers’ access to professional learning in geographically dispersed areas. Consequently, the possible opportunity for improving the amount and variety of professional learning, through the application of both synchronous and asynchronous technologies was proposed as a model of ‘rethinking connectedness’ for these teachers.

Dr Stefania Gianmminuti, Curtin University

Presentation Abstract

Stefania GiamminutiPedagogical documentation in the Reggio Emilia Educational Project: Values, quality and community in early childhood settings

This presentation will provide an overview of the methodology and results of my PhD study. The context of the qualitative, ethnographic case study is the educational project of the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy. The research framework innovatively combines perspectives of several disciplines: Educational Connoisseurship and Criticism (Eisner, 1991); Social Semiotics (Chandler, 2002; Hodge & Kress, 1988; Van Leeuwen, 2005) and Semiotics of the Built Environment/ Semiotics and 3D Space (Jones, 2008; Preziosi, 1979; Ravelli, 2008; Stenglin, 2008; Van Leeuwen, 2008); and “Ways of Knowing, Being, and Doing” (Martin, 2003, 2008). Themes emerging from the case study in Reggio Emilia are conceptualised as Interdependent Values and include: Rich normality: The extraordinary in the ordinary; Narrative; Memory; Locality; Identity/relationship; Transparency/democracy; Language; Beauty/aesthetics. The study engages with the question of the reciprocal dialogue between the educational project of Reggio Emilia and international contexts and develops ten theoretical propositions conceptualised as Connective values: Encounter; Interdependency, Interconnectedness; Difference; Transformation; Intent; Research; Uncertainty; Complexity; and Possibility. The study develops a substantive theory of quality as interaction between local and connective values and thus contributes to current local and international debates around quality in early childhood settings and has significant implications for pedagogical policy, practice, research and theory internationally.

Dr Jeniffer Lane, Edith Cowan University

Presentation Abstract

Jenny LaneTo e-learn or not to e-learn, that is the question

This paper discusses the challenges and tensions facing educators surrounding the integration of new technologies in learning and teaching. The field of e-learning is new for many educators and there is confusion about exactly what can be described as e-learning. In this study mixed methods were used to gather data on e-learning in a tertiary institution. A literature review was conducted on the meaning and implications of e-learning in tertiary institutions. A participatory action research model was used with students and staff involved in preservice teacher education to gather data on the factors impacting on the integration of e-learning in teacher education courses at one institution. The qualitative and quantitative data gathered from academics on their current uses of technology in their learning and teaching revealed a number of motivating and constraining factors impacting on the use of new technologies in tertiary education courses. Finally some future plans and directions on the design of tertiary units including new technologies are outlined. Although this small-scale study was situated in teacher education courses, the findings have implications for other fields of tertiary education. The use of new technologies will be integrated throughout the presentation providing participants with an engaging experience modeling how technologies can be used to promote e-learning.

Dr Christine Howitt, Curtin University

Presentation Abstract

Challenging pre-service early childhood teachers’ views of science and science teaching

Christine HowittThis paper reports the results from the second year of a trial where pre-service early childhood teachers’ views of science were deliberately challenged through weekly confrontational statements and associated readings within a science methods course. This explicit reflective approach to nature of science aimed to encourage the pre-service teachers to critically examine their prior beliefs, values and practices of teaching and learning science. The theoretical basis of this research was based upon a framework of facilitated reflection that included opportunity for reflection, expectations regarding the quality of reflection, and scaffolding to support the development of reflection as a skill. As a consequence of the explicit reflections, 81% of the pre-service teachers believed their views of science had been challenged, 78% of the pre-service teachers believed their views of science teaching and learning had been challenged, and 78% of the pre-service teachers believed the reflections assisted them in making the connection between their beliefs and actions. The pre-service teachers believed that the explicit reflections were a worthwhile form of assessment as they allowed the teachers to understand themselves better, made them think, and challenged their current views of science and science teaching. Examples of the confrontational statements will be presented. Implications of this explicit reflective approach for other disciplines will be discussed.