QJER logo 2
[ Contents Vol 3, 1987 ] [ QJER Home ]

Thesis abstracts

This section publishes abstracts from theses in education from Australian tertiary institutions. Abstract information for future editions is welcome. Contributors should forward a copy of their abstract, together with relevant biographic and institutional information, to: The Editor, 'Queensland Researcher', Research Services Branch, Queensland Department of Education, P.O. Box 33, North Quay Q 4002.

Title:An Exploratory Study to Identify the Distinctive Features of Experienced Teachers' Thinking About Teaching.
Author:Warner, D.R.
Institution:University of New England


This study set out to identify the distinctive features of experienced teachers' thinking in their management of the complex task environment of classroom teaching. Through an exploratory experimental study investigations were carried out on the information processing about teaching of a group of thirty-two experienced high school teachers. The data were compared with results from investigations into the thinking of a group of thirty-three inexperienced high school teachers. Multiple test instruments were used, consuming the qualitative methodology of Stimulated Recall with more traditional quantitative methods.

Fourteen hypotheses were developed from the literature review and subsequent conceptualisation of experienced teachers' thinking about teaching. These hypotheses were examined across three theme areas which have come to be associated with research on teacher thinking: teachers' implicit beliefs; teachers' planning for teaching; teachers' information processing in the classroom. All but one hypothesis was accepted and remaining hypotheses indicated no difference between the two groups in the range of alternatives they considered in making interactive decisions.

Distinctive to the thinking of the experienced teachers was a task or management oriented implicit belief system which formed the parameters for experienced teachers' problem solving. Central to this was a routine information processing schema which integrated planning and interactive teaching in the management of the complex environment of classroom teaching.

The planning model of the experienced teachers emphasised the long term organisation of the curriculum and short term attention to classroom management concerns, particularly in the planning of activities to engage students in work in the classroom. Unlike the inexperienced teachers, the prescriptive, Tyler model was absent from their lesson planning. They prepared a mental script for the lesson and were very confident that the lesson would be successful in the classroom.

Within the interactive classroom importance of planning was seen in the implementation of the plan without obvious or conscious change. The experienced teachers did not have an interactive decision making frame of reference. The few interactive decisions they did make were situational, that is, in response to occasional, and unexpected events. Their interactive information processing was routine and, when conscious, involved monitoring and fine tuning through the deliberate use of actions for which they did not have to consider alternatives. There was evidence of a substantial role being played by the experienced teachers seemingly intuitive, but in reality routine, processes played out at an unconscious level.

There was an integrity in their thought processes which pointed to a well tuned information processing schema directed to managing, through an economy of thinking, the complex task environment of interactive teaching. Such schema were not part of the problem solving of the inexperienced teachers.

The results directed attention to the need to more fully understand the influence of the classroom environment on how teachers come to believe and think about teaching. Further, in connection with an increasing body of research they point to a range of implications for both research and teacher education.

Title:An Investigation into the Factors Influencing In-Service Sponsorship and Support in the Traditional Independent Schools of Queensland, and the Mechanism by which they Operate.
Author:Smith, L.R.
Institution:University of Queensland


This study employed the technique of structural modelling to develop an understanding of the system of influences that affects the level of involvement of traditional independent school teachers in in-service activities. A review of the literature, supplemented by personal experiences and perceptions sought from individuals experienced in the fields of in-service education and/or traditional independent schools, was used to identify the essential variables and to communicate by signed, weighted links how those variables interact with each other.

The most influential elements of the structural model were determined with the aid of the SPIN computer program. The elements then were used to define the most influential sub-model. The legitimacy of this sub-model was confirmed by showing that the actual behaviour mode of each variable, as well as the nature of the links between variables, agreed with the predictions of the structural model.

Five major characteristics relating to the general nature of the sub-model were identified. The first characteristic shows the sub-model to be a bureaucratic model because it is dominated by the principal and governing body of the school rather than by teachers.

Second, it represents an autonomous model because it is not influenced directly by pressures external to the immediate environment of traditional independent schools.

Third, it represents a school-level model because it focuses on the decisions that are taken by the principal and teachers within each individual school.

Fourth, it represents a corporate model because it is responsive to parental demands within the operation of an 'educational market'.

Finally, it represents a maintenance model because it does not support actively the processes of personal and professional growth.

A number of implications have been drawn from the major characteristics of the sub-model. These suggest that any strategy designed to improve the level of in-service activity in traditional independent schools must acknowledge the need for the in-service process to be:

  1. Developmental, in that it should be delivered as a program of interrelated events;

  2. Practical, concentrating on activities likely to produce positive, visual effects in the classroom;

  3. Contemporaneous, emphasizing issues and concerns of immediate interest to teachers and principals;

  4. School-focussed, addressing the identified needs of individual schools;

  5. School-sponsored, because the initiatives generally must arise from within each school;

  6. Faculty-conducted, in that, as far as possible, activities should be implemented by staff in the target school, or at least by teachers and/or administrators from schools of similar ethos;

  7. Governing body-supported, with members of governing bodies demonstrating to their principals and teachers a genuine commitment to the in-service process;

  8. Principal-facilitated, with principals taking the lead and acting as the in-service catalysts for their schools; and

  9. Maintenance-oriented, with the major objective being stated explicitly as the maintenance of the existing quality of education offered by each school.

Please cite as: QIER (1987). Thesis abstracts. Queensland Researcher, 3(2), 48-52. http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr3/thesis-abs-3-2.html

Contents Vol 3, 1987 ] [ QJER Home ]
Created 17 Mar 2008. Last revision: 22 Feb 2013.
URL: http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr3/thesis-abs-3-2.html