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The purpose of this section is to provide brief information regarding recently completed research studies in Queensland.

Intending contributors should forward a short abstract of their work, together with relevant biographical data, to: The Editor, "Queensland Researcher", Research Services Branch, Queensland Department of Education, P.O. Box 33, North Quay Q 4002.

Title:An information-based school development project: Three case studies
Institution:Research Services Branch, Division of Curriculum Services, Department of Education, Queensland


This report describes three case studies carried out under the Information-Based School Development (IBSD) Project.

The IBSD Project is an initiative designed to enhance the self-development capacity of schools. A framework for conducting an IBSD Project is provided in the figure.

IBSD consists of two main interrelated components. The first is a research component which attempts to identify the kinds of information needed by schools generally, and the appropriate ways in which that information can be collected and used.

The second is a service component whereby project schools are helped to identify, obtain and organise information they need for their own decision making. This may involve collating information already in the school or collecting more information.

The aims of the project are to research, develop and evaluate strategies and procedures that help schools undertake information-based school development.

Critical elements of an IBSD Project include:

A detailed description of the IBSD Project can be found in the reference at the end of this bulletin.

Case Study 1: Pastoral Case Program

A newly established educational institution had implemented an innovative pastoral care program based on current theories of student development and behaviour. After 12 months of operation, the visiting guidance officer was concerned that the care model was not operating as effectively as he believed it should. With the principal's approval, he contacted officers of Research Services Branch for assistance in collecting relevant, quality information about pastoral care.

General information about attitudes and perceptions of pastoral care at the institution was obtained by administering the Pastoral Care scale of the 'Attitude to School' questionnaire to a 25 per cent random sample of students. Research Services Branch officers conducted informal interviews with a number of students and staff, and although very positive information was gained, it did not support the perception of the guidance officer.

Until then, information had been supplied on an individual basis. After discussion between the guidance officer and Research Services Branch officers, It was decided to convene a meeting on pastoral care that would include representatives of the student body, teaching staff and administration. The Research Services officers acted as facilitators for the meeting, essentially ensuring that open communication was maintained.

It soon became apparent that the guidance officer's cause for concern was not the nature and level of pastoral care in the institution, but rather the formal mechanism for its implementation. Informal mechanisms were working extremely well, but the one-hour meeting each fortnight between a teacher and a small group of students was generally considered to be ineffective, onerous and frequently counterproductive. The meeting unanimously agreed that some formal mechanism was essential, and then identified alternative strategies for improvement.

In this exercise, the external facilitators helped to identify problem areas. The institution needed assistance in clarifying its main concern, but was then able to accept responsibility for pursuing that concern.

Case Study 2: Disrupted School Structure

The first year's operation of a new Senior College for post-compulsory students had severely disrupted the structural organisation of a large high school. In 1988, the school operated with Years 8, 9, 10 and 12 only, with the Senior College offering the programs for Year 11 students. From 1987, the school would also lose its Year 12 population.

There were conflicting perceptions of the influence these disruptions had on students at the high school. The principal saw a need for quality information to help make decisions about teaching and curriculum development, both in the short and long term.

After officers of Research Services Branch were approached, they negotiated with members of the school's administration about an appropriate mechanism for collecting the sort of information required. As a result, the 'Attitude to School' questionnaire was administered to four Year 10 and two Year 12 classes that had been identified by the administration as being representative of the range of students at those levels.

After Research Services officers discussed questionnaire results with several staff members, they selected groups of students to confirm their accuracy and to explore various aspects of schooling that had been highlighted. A report summarising the collected information was then prepared by Research officers and presented to the school for its subsequent use.

Generally, the information suggested that students were quite positive about their school, and were not feeling particularly affected by its disrupted structure. The teachers tended to believe that the influence on students was greater than the students reported. Some specific areas of concern and several very positive factors were highlighted. Importantly, the school administration had an information base against which it could judge the need for and potential effectiveness of its organisational and curricular plans.

Case Study 3: Assistance with a Secondary School's Co-operative School Evaluation and Development (CSED) Activity

A large Brisbane school requested assistance with its CSED activities. After negotiations between Research Services Branch officers and the school principal, it was agreed that mutual benefits would result from a collaborative effort. For the school, this meant development and improvement of particular curriculum offerings. It was also anticipated that information would be obtained about the IBSD's research questions.

Initial activity was concerned with four subject areas, with the focus (identified by the principal after in-school negotiation) at the classroom level, i.e. the curriculum as delivered to students. Subject areas were chosen for these reasons: one had been introduced recently to the school; another had recently had a major shift in its focus and philosophy, while the principal perceived the other two as having other problems.

Research Services officers initially discussed the subjects with all members of the four committees established within the school to investigate the subject areas. The major purpose of the meeting was to outline the general approach of the IBSD project and its potential to contribute to each committee's CSED activities.

Separate meetings were then held with each subject area committee. Subsequent requests from committees of other subject areas were received, but to maintain activity at a manageable level, involvement was limited to the original areas. Ultimately, Research Services officers worked very closely with two of the committees, provided instrumentation and suggestions to the third, and suggestions at only a general level to the fourth committee.

At several follow-up meetings with the committees, it was agreed that modified forms of the 'Attitude to Subject' questionnaires (developed in Western Australia) would be administered to students at particular Year levels in three of the four areas. Additional categories and questions were suggested by the committee teachers. After some refinement and clarification by Research Services officers, final categories in the questionnaire included: interest in the subject, personal value of the subject, attitude to subject teacher, class management, perception of own ability, attitude to other students, perceived teacher attitude to students, attitude to assessment/homework, attitude to course content, and attitude to teaching/learning environment.

One committee decided to supplement the contextual information available by including three 'Attitude to School' categories: attitude to school, perceived value of education, and evaluation of teaching experienced.

Research Services officers administered questionnaires to students and parallel forms to teachers, and conducted follow-up interviews with students and staff in two of the subject areas. After the questionnaire and interview results were discussed fully with the respective committees and students, reports of the findings and discussions were prepared. These included information useful for monitoring and recommendations for future activity (comprising action plans for specific issues of subject review and development).

The contribution of Research Services officers to the reports ranged from substantial input to mere comment on drafts. The reports were then presented to the principal and subsequently discussed with the relevant school inspectors. Indications are that, in most instances, changes and review have been initiated or, at least, are planned.

Activity participants (including students) have generally reacted positively to the exercise. It is important to note that, after initiation of the project in the school, the involvement of the principal and other administrative personnel was low key. The fact that the locus of responsibility thus lay with the committees seemed to contribute to the successes of the project.

With appropriate input from Research Services officers, teachers were given, and accepted the responsibility of carrying out, their subject area reviews. Another major contributor to the successes was the genuine sharing of information among teachers, students and Research Services officers during the exercise. Subsequent to this activity, individual teachers have monitored their own classes with the instrumentation.

Apart from the contribution of the exercise for subject review in the school, two areas for follow-up activity emerged. The first concerned the desire to seek more detailed information on the school context. Some teachers and the principal felt that perceptions held by many in the school needed clarification. Subsequently, the 'Attitude to School' questionnaire was administered to a random sample of Year 8 students and their teachers. Discussion of these results with the administrative team, teachers and students indicated that certain activities have been initiated or are planned to address issues emerging from the exercise.

The second follow-up exercise focussed on the school administration with the principal indicating that the processes used in the earlier exercises would be appropriate. As a result, an adapted form of the Western Australian 'Teachers' Perceptions of the Administrative Team' questionnaire was administered. This addressed eight dimensions: goal orientation, communication with staff, approachability, innovation and change, decision making, caring school environment, and community/school interaction. Discussions with the administrative team about the results are in progress.

The IBSD project in this school has provided the opportunity to look at three aspects of the school community: subject areas, the school context, and aspects of the administrative team.


The three case studies give more information on research issues associated with the IBSD Project. In particular, they confirm: The emerging evidence points clearly to the acceptance and success of the process model underlying IBSD. It provides schools, not only with the capacity to address their immediate information needs, but also with the potential to give school personnel the skills necessary to sustain school development activity.

Current Activities

Some current projects using the IBSD approach include: In addition, requests have been received from several education regions for assistance with school development activity.

Negotiations are taking place to determine the extent to which such assistance is possible. A request for Research Services Branch officers to help improve the information collection skills of in-service officers in regions is also under consideration.


Cranston, N.C. and Smith, L.R., Information-Based School Development : A Progress Report. Research Services Branch, Division of Curriculum Services, Department of Education, Queensland, June 1986.

Further information on the IBSD Project can be obtained from:

Neil Cranston, Larry Smith or Ann Rohde
Research Services Branch
Division of Curriculum Services
Department of Education, Queensland
P.O. Box 33 North Quay Q 4002
Telephone: (07) 237 0968
Framework for conducting an Information-based School Development Project

Framework graphic

Title:Teaching and learning with computers in secondary art and manual arts: Aspects of school-based trials conducted in the Darling Downs Region
Institution:Research Services Branch, Division of Curriculum Services, Department of Education, Queensland

This report summarises aspects of school trials in teaching and learning with computers in secondary art and manual arts in the Darling Downs Region in 1986.


The impact of rapid technological change is being experienced in many areas of education. Computers are a major factor in this change. The potential of computer graphics in the teaching and learning of art and manual arts is beginning to be realised.

All arts and manual arts students will soon have the opportunity to produce artistic work or technical drawings using computers. Computers will let them produce work to a high standard without having to start again when they make a mistake, so the use of computers is highly desirable. However, the potential for computers to assist the teaching of artistic or drawing processes may be the strongest reason for their use.

The trials

In 1985, the Darling Downs Region set up a mobile computer resource centre to provide teachers end students with computers to use in art and manual arts.

The project aimed to provide:

By December 1985, the computer resources had been acquired and an initial in-service workshop had been completed. Three types of resources were provided to schools for the trials:
  1. Computer resources
    The hardware provided for each trial school was:
    five Sperry personal computers (each with a colour medium-resolution monitor, 640Kb, two disk drives and a bus mouse), two Roland eight-pen A3 plotters, and one Epson colour printer. The software provided was: five copies each of Autocad, five copies of PC Paintbrush, and one copy each of Newsroom, DR Graph and CAD Plan.

  2. In-service
    Workshops were held in late 1985 and early 1986 to familiarise teachers with the resources. Also, teachers borrowed the resources before their school trial to extend their knowledge of the resources and to develop curriculum activities.

  3. Technical support
    A computer consultant was assigned to each school trial.
School trials were conducted in 1986. Trials conducted in three of the schools were monitored by officers in the Research Services Branch.


Monitoring focused on: Teachers, students and the computer consultant for each school provided information for the evaluation. Information covered the context of, inputs to, processes of, and product of the trials. Interviews or questionnaires were used to get the information prior to and near the completion of the trials.


A summary of the positive outcomes of the trials is listed below.

The points listed were not necessarily observed at each trial, nor were they all observed at one particular trial.

Manual Arts

Teaching and learning

The use of modern hardware with very sophisticated software paralleled current industry practice.



Teaching and learning


The implications of the outcomes are that computers support the teaching of artistic and drafting processes in a way which has not been available using other resources. Computers also support independent, self-paced and experimental learning to a greater degree then any other resource currently used in the trial schools. The use of computers is, therefore, highly desirable in the teaching and learning of art and manual arts.

Factors affecting trial outcomes

Two critical factors were identified in the trial schools monitored. Computer resources were a major factor. Teacher input (ability/experience, attitude and enthusiasm) was identified as a minor critical factor.

The ability and attitude of students and the level of computer expertise of both teachers and students were shown not to be critical factors.


Based on the critical factors identified, adequate computer resources and teacher input are necessary if the positive trial outcomes are to be reproduced in other schools.

Comparison of the backgrounds of the trial teachers indicates that experienced teachers were better able to identify the implications of computer use for teaching and learning, and to integrate computers into the curriculum. It appears that teacher in-service focusing on curriculum applications would be required if the positive trial outcomes are to be reproduced on a wider scale.

Further information

Further information on this study is available from:
Research Services Branch
Department of Education
P.O. Box 33 North Quay Q 4002
Tel.: (07) 237 0975
Please cite as: QIER (1987). Research reports 3(3). Queensland Researcher, 3(3), 48-61. http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr3/res-repts-3-3.html

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