This issue, my first in the Editor's role, engages with many issues that underpin my educational philosophy: care, ongoing professional learning, engaging students, the connection of a community with its education systems, aspirations of low SES students towards higher education, and action research and positive culture. These are issues that are both local and global. The article by Schubert and Wurf is about adolescent sexting in schools. Cyber bullying, an umbrella term that encompasses sexting, can trigger low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and poor academic achievement. Its repercussions are long-term, given that social networking sites are only now talking of the future possibility of being able to remove objects that have been uploaded.
In the preparation of pre-service teachers, university educators use digital media to enable exploration of different pedagogies with school students. When pre-service teachers go to schools for professional practice, they encounter supervising teachers whose experience with digital media is variable and they experience the dichotomy of technology as both an asset and a liability. Nevertheless, it is an expectation that future teachers would be innovative and have experience of cutting edge technologies. In such a context, Schubert and Wurf's study - encompassing documents about technology, education, policy, developmental psychology and the law - is timely. In 2013 documentation from the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA), literacy, numeracy and ICT capability are deemed essential to effective teaching and learning. At the same time, recognition of risk emerges in statements referring to safety, legal and ethical obligations and online and offline social protocols. This is true globally. So this article also shines a light on the positioning of teacher professionals as responsible for students' use of digital media at the same time as fostering an environment of innovation and creativity. The recommendation that ongoing professional development could aim at providing practical understandings of classroom relevant legislation (thus reducing both student injury and teacher liability) is an important one for systems, universities and teacher accreditation authorities.
Curriculum and pedagogy issues are never far from the concerns of educators. Erturan-Ilker's study analyses the effect of positive and negative feedback on motivational climate and achievement goals in physical education lessons in Turkish schools. It is noteworthy that teachers who offer positive feedback may also work on building relationships and structure curriculum and pedagogy from the learners' standpoints in order to enhance academic outcomes. The findings in this study confirm the value of teacher persistence - that feeling of a constant responsibility to make the classroom interesting, cater for individual needs and interests, and gain the attention of disengaged students.
Language transfer is an important topic, given the number of students engaged in education where the language of instruction is not their first language. Talebi's article attends to Cummins' theory that first language (L1) learning supports second language (L2) literacy acquisition. Following an extensive coverage of literature, a small study with four first year university Iranian students found that teachers should help students go beyond cross-linguistic transfer and explore ways to help students understand that the cognitive and affective domains of cross-linguistic transfer are also critical in language learning. The study also led to two further recommendations: that materials should be designed so that teachers teach explicitly for transfer; and that further research should aim at finding more about conditions under which learners are likely to transfer or not to transfer.
Dalgıç's article is about the relation between gender and the organisational commitment of teachers. The sample in the study was sizeable and the results of the meta-analysis showed that gender is not a significant variable in determining teachers' level of organisational commitment. Indeed, committed teachers are high achievers, channeling their creative energies into achieving goals they have set and leading others to do likewise. Uncovering the factors that contribute to commitment is essential to continuing educational improvement.
The article by Al Hallami and Brown takes us back into policy territory. After exploring literature about policy processes, the authors focus on the current policy practices of local education authorities in London's boroughs. The context of the case studies is that the academy act in the UK was introduced to provide an answer to 'failing schools'. As such it moved funding for academies away from local government. There is an emerging field of implementation science and better intervention outcomes have been related to the quality of implementation. The article explains that, with the shift of power brought about by the academy act, local authorities' participation in education depends on how they decide to work with schools, and the relationship they build between their families of schools. In context of global moves towards national curriculum, national intervention in education and its funding, and national priorities, this article provokes thinking about the distancing of responsibility from local authorities and the communities they represent.
The study by Prodonovich, Perry and Taggart examines the aspirations of students from low socio-economic status (SES) areas toward higher education. Research in the United States and Australia suggests that students have aspirations towards higher education but, aligning with Appadurai's argument, find that connections between aspirations and the likelihood of reaching them are more tenuous for young people from low SES communities. This article canvases a range of constraints: access to academic curriculum; low expectations from staff; time and money. The article identifies these as contributing to an 'aspirations gap' and outlines a range of strategies in place to support the building of aspirations. These include academic enrichment programs, pathway planning systems and programs to engage parents as supporters of higher education careers. The article also details University Enabling Programs (UEPs) that offer a different entry point into undergraduate programs. In Australia the sustainability of such programs is now likely to be affected by universities setting their own fee structures, in the wake of the Federal Government's changes to university funding. This will potentially impact both on aspiring students and on the goals espoused by universities to provide quality affordable education.
The article by Hine and Lavery examines teachers' use of action research and how the gathering and interpreting of evidence by the teachers informed localised professional practice in their school settings. Action research, it can be argued, is part of an effective teacher's practice. The research outlined in this article found that the analysis of data could positively influence school policies, could include teachers collaboratively securing a sense of ownership of resulting changes and could enable the improvement of systems practices. One change could be a more positive culture in the school. Growing research from the Positive Psychology movement supports the notion that increased positive emotions such as gratitude, joy, interest, hope, love and inspiration do more than affect the ways people feel. They expand the range of vision and increase creativity.
I hope you find the articles in this issue engaging and a stimulus to professional conversations.
|Please cite as: Power, A. (2014). Editorial 24(2). Issues in Educational Research, 24(2), ii-iv. http://www.iier.org.au/iier24/editorial24-2.html|