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Issues in Educational Research

Abstracts for Volume 16 Number 2, 2006

The distribution of printed copies of Volume 16 Number 2 (2006) is expected to commence on 26 October 2006. The full text web versions for all articles was published on 14 October 2006.

John Bednall
The University of Notre Dame of Australia
Epoche and bracketing within the phenomenological paradigm

Sixteen Heads of Anglican and Uniting Church independent schools were asked to describe their experiences of providing leadership to religiosity in their schools. It was found that there was a common but strong ironic tension characterising how each of the affiliated Churches engaged with the religious culture of their schools. The authenticity of this research was established through a carefully designed model of phenomenology. A valid distinction between the notions of epoche and bracketing was articulated and then a process for the clear operationalisation of both was designed. The professional literature seems reluctant to be as specific in describing either concept within qualitative research methodology. This presentation will describe how the researcher activated both and how the intuitive connection of the researcher's own life experiences to the data provided by the sample Heads could be authenticated thus demonstrating the uniqueness of phenomenology as a social research method.

Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), 123-138. http://www.iier.org.au/iier16/bednall.html

Chua Siew Lian
St. Andrew's Junior College, Singapore

Angela F. L. Wong & Victor Chen Der-Thanq
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Validation of the 'Chinese language classroom learning environment inventory' for investigating the nature of Chinese language classrooms

The Chinese Language Classroom Environment Inventory (CLCEI) is a bilingual instrument developed for use in measuring students' and teachers' perceptions toward their Chinese Language classroom learning environments in Singapore secondary schools. The English version of the CLCEI was customised from the English version of the 'What is happening in this class? (WIHIC)' questionnaire (Fraser, Fisher, & McRobbie, 1996) and its Chinese version was modified from the Taiwanese Chinese version of the WIHIC questionnaire (Huang & Fraser, 1997).

The CLCEI consists of six 8-item scales examining 6 different dimensions of the Chinese language classroom learning environments, namely, Student Cohesiveness, Teacher Support, Involvement, Cooperation, Task Orientation and Equity. It was validated with a sample of 1460 secondary three (grade 9) students from 50 express stream (above average academic ability) classes in 25 secondary schools in Singapore. Various statistical procedures were undertaken to examine the factor structure, validity and reliability of the scales of the CLCEI. The validation results indicated that each of the scales exhibited high internal consistency reliability and satisfactory discriminant and factorial validity. The validation results also indicated that each scale of the CLCEI had the ability to differentiate between perceptions of students from different Chinese language classes.

Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), 139-151. http://www.iier.org.au/iier16/chua.html

Gillian Forrester & Gillian Parkinson
The University of Manchester, UK
'Mind the gap': The application of a conceptual model to investigate distance learners' expectations and perceptions of induction

Increasingly, emphasis is being placed on meeting students' learning and support needs in higher education, initially through the induction process. Academic staff have limited contact with distance students, compared with campus-based students, and thus may not fully appreciate their particular expectations and perceptions. This study sought to establish whether a 'gap' existed between students' and academics' expectations and perceptions of induction (in terms of it meeting students' needs as distance learners). The research involved undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled on distance courses at a UK university. Data were collected at two points in students' first year of distance study using a mixed methodological approach. The research also examined the efficacy of applying a conceptual 'gap analysis' model to gauge students' needs as distance learners and the level of student satisfaction with induction. The research revealed specific areas in the induction process where developments could be made to ensure delivery of best practice.

Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), 152-170. http://www.iier.org.au/iier16/forrester.html

Ralph G Lunay & Graeme Lock
Edith Cowan University
Alienation among relief teachers servicing government metropolitan primary schools

Research suggests that the relief (substitute) teacher should be viewed as an extremely important educational resource. Reviewed literature spanning the better part of twenty years indicates that in parts of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, many students spend as much as one full year (or more) of their K-12 education having curriculum delivered to them by these individuals. Unfortunately, the literature also indicates that many relief teachers are still viewed by many as less than 'real' teachers in terms of perceived competence, skill and capability. In addition to this, the existence of a number of pervasive, enduring systemic problems has been identified as being present in the educational systems of the above three regions, which have been seen to impact negatively on the relief teacher, making the difficult job they do, even more arduous. There is reason to hypothesise that as a result of exposure to these problems, relief teachers could be expected to suffer from feelings of alienation and further 'disconnection' from tenured colleagues, and that this may further marginalise them from the rest of the greater educational community. Research which attempts to further explore this issue has recently been completed in Western Australia. The study was qualitative in nature and utilised semi-structured interviews as the main data-gathering tool. Twenty relief teachers servicing Western Australian government metropolitan primary schools were interviewed. The findings of the current study showed conclusively, that feelings of alienation exist among the participants. Ninety five percent of the cohort identified feeling alienated as a direct result of working as relief teachers at Western Australian government metropolitan primary schools. This paper summarises the major findings of that study.

Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), 171-192. http://www.iier.org.au/iier16/lunay.html

Noella Mackenzie & Sally Knipe
Charles Sturt University
Research dilemmas: Paradigms, methods and methodology

In this article the authors discuss issues faced by early career researchers, including the dichotomy, which many research textbooks and journal articles create and perpetuate between qualitative and quantitative research methodology despite considerable literature to support the use of mixed methods. The authors review current research literature and discuss some of the language, which can prove confusing to the early career researcher and problematic for post-graduate supervisors and teachers of research. The authors argue that discussions of research methods in research texts and university courses should include mixed methods and should address the perceived dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative research methodology.

Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), 193-205. http://www.iier.org.au/iier16/mackenzie.html

Lou Siragusa & Kathryn C. Dixon
Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia
A research methodology: The development of survey instruments for research into online learning in higher education

As online learning continues to be utilised in diverse ways from courses being delivered fully online through to class websites used to supplement face-to-face classes, and as the technologies continue to develop, research into the effectiveness of this mode of online delivery needs to be an ongoing process. These research findings need to be fed back into the instructional design process for the design and development of pedagogically effective online learning environments. This paper describes a research methodology developed for a recently completed study which examined the instructional effectiveness of various online learning environments. This methodology has the potential to be adapted for future studies into online learning in higher education to assist with maintaining this research momentum. The survey utilised both quantitative and qualitative methods for collecting data. The students and lecturers of the online learning environments studied were asked to complete an online questionnaire and to participate in a semi-structured interview. The survey focused on elements of online learning including content, structure, motivation, feedback, interaction, learning strategies and the lecturer's role. This paper presents a sample of the literature which underpinned this study, describes the design and development process of the survey instruments and presents a sample of the survey findings.

Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), 206-225. http://www.iier.org.au/iier16/siragusa.html

Eva C. Sundin
Nottingham Trent University, UK

Marie-Louise Ogren
Stockholm University, Sweden
Supervisees' and supervisors' experiences of group climate in group supervision in psychotherapy: Effects of admission procedure

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of two different admission procedures (high school grades/scholastic aptitude test (SAT) versus high school grades/SAT + interview) to a program in professional psychology on students' and supervisors' experiences of the group climate in psychotherapy supervision groups during an eighteen-month clinical practicum. A self-rating scale constructed to measure experiences of group climate in group supervision in psychotherapy was used. The results showed that students who were admitted based on the alternative admission procedure reported that their supervision groups had a more beneficial climate compared to those who were admitted based on high school grades/SAT. The evaluation suggested that admission via interviews together with high school grades/SAT is a good alternative to traditional admission procedures.

Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), 226-240. http://www.iier.org.au/iier16/sundin.html

Shirley Theriot
University of Texas at Arlington, USA
Perceived benefits of service-learning in teacher education

Preservice teacher education candidates reveal personal and professional benefits of participating in a service-learning project. University students actively engaged in connecting content knowledge and pedagogy with authentic experiences in K-12 classrooms. Reflections revealed a service learning component had an impact on participants' sense of their own diversity and the diversity of the students they taught, noticed a relevance to career and a greater commitment to teaching. Data uncovered 1) female participants perceived a greater improvement in the students they tutored; 2) participants' perceptions of their own diversity seemed to make a difference on their perception of diversity in their students; and 3) participants' perceived personal gain decreased linearly as the grade level of their students increased.

Issues in Educational Research, 16(2), 241-252. http://www.iier.org.au/iier16/theriot.html

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