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Issues in Educational Research

Abstracts for Volume 14 Number 2, 2004

The distribution of printed copies of Volume 14 Number 2 (2004) commenced on 1 Nov 2004. The web version release date will be 1 Feb 2005. Prior to web release date, the Abstracts are available online in this page.

Fiona Bryer, Peter Grimbeek, Wendi Beamish and Anthony Stanley
Griffith University
How to use the Parental Attitudes to Inclusion scale as a teacher tool to improve parent-teacher communication

This study considers one way to make more productive use of information in a recognised survey instrument, the Parental Attitudes to Inclusion (PATI) scale and, thus, to enhance inclusive classroom practice for students with special needs. The instrument, designed to elicit views about inclusion, was initially administered to a large sample of Californian parents of inclusion-eligible children with severe cognitive disabilities. The present study gathered responses from a convenience sample of 10 Queensland parents of children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder and enrolled in regular Queensland classrooms. This study demonstrates that it is possible to identify specific parental attitudes that differ significantly from those of the group, and that this information can be used to target points for discussion between teacher and parent. This methodology raises general issues about the context in which an attitude is expressed. For example, attitudes may refer to the inclusion of a specific child (parent view) or a group of children (teacher view). This study raises the issue of the moral weight of a group-based view of inclusion. This study also discusses the need to take into account the effect of context on the formulation of views about inclusion, and proposes refinements to the PATI scale that would allow it to be used to identify the locus of such contextual differences.

Maggie Clarke
University of Western Sydney
Reconceptualising mentoring: Reflections by an early career researcher

This paper focuses on the experiences of an early career researcher involved in a mentoring relationship at the University of Western Sydney (UWS), Australia. A discussion of the research literature is reported to highlight the attributes of mentoring relationships and the different forms of mentoring. The mentoring relationship that the author is involved in at her workplace with two colleagues is explained using a layered relationship-mentoring model. This mentoring model has been based on the reflections of two mentors and a protégé, (in this case the author) and analysis of their email communication. The model consists of three layers and within each layer the characteristics of the mentoring relationship are identified. The mentoring relationship is examined in respect of the implications such relationships have on professional learning for academics in their early career stages. The model provides a conceptual framework for educational and other organisations to provide opportunities for similar mentoring relationships to be formed in their particular organisation for early career employees.

John R. Godfrey and Ann Galloway
Edith Cowan University
Assessing early literacy and numeracy skills among Indigenous children with the Performance indicators in primary schools test

This report examines the Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPS) test as a reliable and cohesive instrument to assess early literacy and numeracy skills among Indigenous children. The process includes the examination of the reliability of the PIPS test using the Cronbach Alpha and the Split-half method with Pearson's r correlation co-efficient and the Spearman-Brown correction. Individual items are examined to ascertain their discrimination indices and their item difficulty levels. These analyses reveal that some items of the instrument should be revised to improve its suitability to assess early literacy and numeracy skills. Total scores on the two major item sub-groups are correlated with the total scores to determine the overall cohesiveness of the instrument. In spite of some possible improvements this report indicates that overall the PIPS test is a highly reliable and thus adequately valid instrument to assess early literacy and numeracy skills among Indigenous children

Brian Hemmings, Erica Smith and Peter Rushbrook
Charles Sturt University
Factors differentiating between those academics who do and who do not publish refereed works

The study reported here focuses on the factors that contribute to the production or non-production of refereed publications by academics. A literature review revealed that factors associated with an academic's personal characteristics, attitude to work, and workplace circumstances could influence publication output. Academics from a large Australian regional university were surveyed and useable responses from 205 staff members were obtained. The results of chi-square tests showed that certain factors were not significantly related to academic output and, as a consequence, were omitted from the multivariate analysis. This analysis, using a logistic regression, demonstrated that high levels of confidence in writing for refereed publications, being male, and holding a senior academic position were predictive of producing refereed publications, and that the first factor was the most important predictor. The implications of this study for current higher educational practice and future research are discussed.

Robyn Smyth
University of New England
Exploring the usefulness of a conceptual framework as a research tool: A researcher's reflections

This paper outlines one researcher's reflections on the development and use of a conceptual framework as a research tool. Firstly, it discusses the conditions upon which a conceptual framework was devised and used in a major research study. Secondly, it provides evidence concerning the efficacy of the conceptual framework for its purpose in that study. Finally, the paper briefly explores possible transferability of the framework more generally into education contexts. The study referred to in the discussion was a large scale study of educational change management investigating the introduction of an innovative new curriculum, Dual Accredited Vocational Courses, into the senior years of high school in New South Wales (Smyth, 2002).

Leyla Tercanlioglu
Atatürk University, Turkey
Exploring gender effect on adult foreign language learning strategies

The concept of learning strategies has become quite familiar to most professionals in teaching English as a foreign language. The aim of this study is to discover gender differences in language learning strategies used by foreign language learners in a Turkish University. 184 university students who participated in this study were enrolled in the third year of their four year undergraduate degree program. Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) was used to gather information about the strategies that the individual learners employ to learn a foreign language. Quantitative data analyses were performed in this study. The results show significant gender differences, favoring males, in students' strategy use.

David Zyngier
Monash University
A tale of two reports or how bad news for Australian education is mediated by the media

Two seminal reports on the state of education advantage and disadvantage in so called 'rich nations' were released in 2002 by the international agencies OECD (2002a) and UNICEF (2002). These complex reports are brought to the attention of those at the very centre of the education debate, the general public, through the public media. What the public is told by the media, and perhaps more importantly, what they are not told, about the reports and their findings is then crucial. This paper analyses how the print media interpreted these reports according to a critical reading of the reports themselves. This is then compared and contrasted to what the reports actually have to say about social justice and educational equity, advantage and disadvantage.

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