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Issues in Educational Research

Abstracts for Volume 13 Number 2, 2003

The distribution of printed copies of Volume 13 Number 2 (2003) commenced on 16 October 2003. The web version release date was 10 January 2004.

D. Darlaston-Jones, L. Cohen, S. Haunold, L. Pike, & A. Young
Edith Cowan University
N. Drew
University of Western Australia
The retention and persistence support (RAPS) project: A transition initiative

The transition to university is often associated with stress, anxiety, and tension and in many cases can lead to students failing or withdrawing from university. Transition problems result in high social and economic costs to families and the community. The past decade has seen a proliferation of transition strategies across universities. Results from evaluations of these transition programmes suggest student retention rates are significantly higher among those students involved in these programmes. The emphasis now though is to develop school or department based programmes as these are more readily adapted to meet the specific needs of students than university wide initiatives. The School of Psychology at Edith Cowan University has developed a transition programme that incorporates initial adjustment strategies, with ongoing support throughout the first-year, designed to help students cope with, and adjust to, the demands of university life. Issues regarding the development, implementation and evaluation of this programme are discussed.

Issues in Educational Research, 13(2), 1-12. http://www.iier.org.au/iier13/darlaston-jones2.html

Murray Thompson
Flinders University

Does the playing of chess lead to improved scholastic achievement?

The effect of playing chess on problem solving was explored using Rasch scaling and hierarchical linear modelling. Subjects were 508 students from Grades 6 - 12 in an Australian Independent boys school, with a strong tradition in the game of chess. Of these 508 students, 64 were regular players of competitive chess. Data from the Australian Schools Science Competition were Rasch scaled and placed on a single scale for all the grades. Multilevel analysis using hierarchical linear modelling was employed to test the effects of the hypothesised variables. No significant effect of the playing of chess on the scholastic performance was found, suggesting that previous results showing positive effects may have been due to other factors such as general intelligence or normal development. It is suggested that this combination of Rasch scaling and multilevel analysis is a powerful tool for exploring such areas where the research design has proven difficult in the past.

Issues in Educational Research, 13(2), 13-26. http://www.iier.org.au/iier13/thompson.html

Susanne E. Tonkin
University of Sydney
Helen M. G. Watt
University of Western Sydney
Self-concept over the transition from primary to secondary school: A case study on a program for girls

Students' transition from primary to secondary school has been associated with negative psychological, social and academic changes. In particular, students' self-concept has been found to be adversely affected by the transition. Some have argued that transition programs are effective and practical in easing the transition from primary to secondary school. The present study evaluates the effectiveness of one such program for targeting students' self-concept at the time of the move into secondary school, for girls in an independent single-sex school in Sydney NSW Australia. Results indicate that this specific program was not effective in enhancing self-concept. It is concluded that further quality research is needed to investigate the full range of benefits of transition programs for students entering grade 7 before ad hoc implementation in schools. The study did, however, identify interesting effects of continuation from primary to secondary within the same school institution. Initial lower entry self-concepts for 'new' relative to 'continuing' students had not recovered by mid-year 7, implications of which are subsequently explored.

Issues in Educational Research, 13(2), 27-54. http://www.iier.org.au/iier13/tonkin.html

Len Unsworth
University of Sydney, NSW
Reframing research and literacy pedagogy relating to CD narratives: Addressing 'radical change' in digital age literature for children

Electronic books have become quite common in the early school years. The types of stories include instructional materials for packaged reading programs, traditional tales, well known classic and contemporary children's literature and recently authored digital narratives. Some of the latter deploy hypertext and multimodal resources in ways that facilitate innovative construction of point of view and metafictional elements, to engage readers in active, reflexive reading in ways not possible in conventional books. The range of CD stories reflect reading practices from those most closely aligned with reading conventional books to those associated with new digital narratives. Current research and classroom practice seems to be largely positioned at the conventional literacies end of the continuum. This paper proposes rethinking that position and the relationship between research and practice in the classroom use of CD narratives.

Issues in Educational Research, 13(2), 55-70. http://www.iier.org.au/iier13/unsworth.html

Jean Teetson Walker and
Susan Price Lofton
University of Mississippi Medical Center
Effect of a problem based learning curriculum on students' perceptions of self directed learning

The purpose of this quasi-experimental research study was to determine the effects of a problem based learning (PBL) curriculum on students' perceptions about self directed learning (SDL). Seventy-three students enrolled in a School of Pharmacy, with a one-year PBL curriculum, completed the Self Directed Learning Readiness Scale-Version A (SDLRS-A) questionnaire on three occasions over the course of a 16-week semester.

The analysis of the data indicated a statistically significant decline in mean scores of the SDLRS-A for students from the pretest to posttest 1 tha t occurred within the first eight weeks. Additionally, students experienced a statistically significant decline in mean scores from the pretest to posttest 2 which represented 16 weeks.

All subjects experienced a significant decline in their perceptions of their ability and their perceived importance of SDL as a result of a PBL curriculum. The majority of subjects (94%) were young adult learners, between 18 and 25 years of age. The study supports the need for additional research regarding age and the effect of a PBL curriculum. The data also supports the need for an induction phase and orientation period for students entering a PBL curriculum for at least 16 weeks in order to promote student readiness for self directed learning.

Issues in Educational Research, 13(2), 71-100. http://www.iier.org.au/iier13/walker.html
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