[ Contents Vol 4, 1988 ] [ QJER Home ]
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, Queensland Department of Education, P.O. Box 33, North Quay Q 4002.
|EDITORS NOTE: In the last issue of 'Queensland Researcher' the names of the authors of the report 'Teaching and Learning with Computers in Secondary Art and Manual Arts : Aspects of School-Based trials conducted in the Darling Downs Region' were omitted. The Editorial Panel apologizes for this oversight. The entry should have read:||Title:||Teaching and Learning with computers in secondary art and manual arts: Aspects of school-based trials conducted in the Darling Downs Region
|Authors:||Greg Thurlow and Alan Guse.|
|Institution:||Research Services Branch, Division of Curriculum Services, Department of Education, Queensland|
|Title:||Overview of an Evaluation of Alexandra Hills College|
|Institution:||Research Services Branch, Queensland Department of Education|
|Authors:||Neil Cranston, Kerry Rose|
The Queensland Department of Education conducted an evaluation of the establishment and development of Alexandra Hills College during 1987. The College is the second Senior College to open in Queensland. The purpose for undertaking the evaluation was to provide formative information for decision makers in Head and Regional Office, and in the College.
The evaluation activities were co-ordinated by an Evaluation Sub-Committee of the Policy and Management Committee, New Colleges which has representatives from the Division of Secondary Education, TAFE and Curriculum Services and was chaired by the Regional Director of Education. The Sub-Committee acted as a reference group to assist with the identification of information needs, co-ordinate evaluation activities, authorise reports, and identify specific responsibilities for the conduct of the evaluations.
Alexandra Hills College, opened in January 1987 with an enrolment of approximately 500 students.
The College offers, on a single campus, full-time and part-time courses which lead either to further education at universities, colleges and institutions of advanced education, and colleges of TAFE, or to vocations in industry and commerce, or to the fulfilment of personal education interests. For those who seek recurrent education, the College provides relevant services, recreational and personal development programs.
Of the full-time students enrolled at January 1987, 46 per cent were taking vocational courses, 48 per cent Board of Secondary School Studies courses, and six per cent College subjects.
Programs are provided in a caring environment that encourages responsibility, respect, good citizenship and a kind of discipline that comes from within.
The central thrust of the College mission is directed towards the 1519 year-olds. However, central to the College's concern is the provision of a curriculum and social-learning environment responsive to the interest, needs and ambitions of the wider post-compulsory community.
The College seeks to:
The College offers subjects and courses of study developed from within five separate schools. A sixth School of Information Technology will be established in 1988.
- encourage wide participation in education beyond the compulsory years of schooling with a particular emphasis on encouraging people to complete varying forms of a full formal education program;
- develop a diverse post-compulsory curriculum for students seeking tertiary entrance, vocational training, apprenticeships, personal development, various types of tertiary level awards and continuing education enrichment courses;
- respond to the diverse modes of attendance required by the post-compulsory population including providing an educational program between 8.30 a.m. and 9.30 p.m. weekly;
- to provide and assist the development of the individual as an autonomous learner and problem solver;
- facilitate the development of learners with positive self-esteem and good skills of communication;
- respond to the demands of rapid technological change in society, including the changing nature of the work force. As such, to recognise the changing nature of employment and that students may experience a wide variety of employment modes throughout their lives;
- recognise the professional status of teaching and, therefore, to provide facilities and support services conducive to the development of a healthy work environment; and
- provide a dynamic educational institution catering for many of the post-compulsory needs, interests and ambitions of the Redlands community through the 21st Century.
- School of Applied Studies
- School of Business and Mathematics
- School of Communication and Social Sciences
- School of Creative and Performing Arts
- School of Science and Technology
The major part of the evaluation focussed on:
- students' perceptions of, and attitudes to, aspects of their education at Alexandra Hills College;
- teachers' perceptions of student attitudes to aspects of their education at Alexandra Hills College;
- teachers' perceptions and beliefs in relation to aspects of their teaching and functioning at Alexandra Hills College; and
- various other information relevant to the development and operation of the College.
COLLECTION OF INFORMATION
The information collection procedures were based upon a triangulation approach to ensure the validity and reliability of resultant information. The information was collected by questionnaires and interviews involving students, teachers, Co-ordinator of Counselling, Heads of School, Vice Principals and the Principal.
Instrumentation used included:
(a) 'Attitude to College' questionnaire
The questionnaire consisted of 58 items which may be grouped into the 12 categories:
All teachers were also asked to complete the questionnaire by predicting the percentage of their students who would be in agreement with each of the items.
- attitude to College;
- attitude to teachers;
- attitude to other students;
- attitudes to College management;
- perception of safety;
- interest in program content;
- perceived value of education;
- evaluation of teaching experienced;
- perception of self as a student;
- family attitudes to College;
- pastoral care provisions; and
- perceived teacher attitudes to students.
(b) General Student Questionnaire
Items on this questionnaire sought information from students regarding:
The first section sought broad indications of the overall level of students' satisfaction with the College. Aspects addressed were:
- their overall satisfaction with various aspects of College life;
- the things they particularly liked about the College; and
- the things they particularly disliked about the College.
The remaining sections sought comment on those things which the students particularly liked or disliked about the College through two open-ended items.
- the range of programs offered;
- the range of subjects offered within programs;
- the sorts of things students were learning about;
- the College timetable;
- the way students were taught at College;
- the student-teacher relationship;
- relationships among students;
- student progress at College;
- the availability of extracurricular activities;
- library facilities; and
- the level of freedom given to students at the College.
(c) Teacher Questionnaires
All teachers were asked to complete two questionnaires. The first was an open-ended response questionnaire and sought information regarding:
The second questionnaire of similar format sought information about the professional activities of teachers regarding:
- particular likes about teaching at the College;
- particular dislikes about teaching at the College;
- their opinion regarding various aspects of the College;
- any changes that they would like to see at the College;
- their beliefs about the advantages for students in coming to the College;
- their beliefs about the disadvantages for students in coming to the College; and
- any changes that they had made as a teacher since coming to the College.
- their beliefs about the qualities required for a successful College teacher;
- their beliefs about what teachers need assistance with when they first enter a College and after the initial transition period;
- their beliefs about the most appropriate and effective ways of providing for the professional needs of College teachers; and
- the types of activities they have been engaged in during 1987 and those they would like to see organised in 1988.
Two related sets of interviews were conducted throughout the year by officers of Research Services Branch with separate samples of students and teachers, and with other College personnel. The first of these were follow-up interviews relevant to the questionnaires. These informal but structured discussions were designed:
The second set focussed on specific issues not already addressed by earlier interviews or questionnaires. One activity of this set involved in-depth discussions with a small representative group of students, and sought information on such things as their perceptions on aspects of student transition to the College.
- to clarify areas where information was either contradictory or insufficient;
- to confirm information received from the questionnaire; and
- to explore further particular issues raised in the questionnaires.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND EMERGING ISSUES
The information gathered during the first year of operation of Alexandra Hills College indicates that generally, students and staff responded very favourably to their experiences at the College. For both students and staff, these experiences involved a number of challenges, many of which held greater significance during the period of transition from their previous institution to the College. For different individuals, the length of this transition period, and the nature and the extent of the challenges varied.
Challenges for students included adjustment to the level of student freedom afforded by the College when compared with their previous school experiences, acceptance of considerable responsibility for having to plan, negotiate and organise matters concerning them, and adjustment to the different (very positive) student-teacher relationships existing at the College.
For teachers, challenges involved the establishment of a different type of student-teacher relationship from the one they had been familiar with previously, acceptance of a high level of professional autonomy, and involvement in a range of activities at the College, many of which they had not experienced in their previous institutions. These activities included curriculum development, professional assistance to colleagues, involvement in new-staff interviews and student interviews, and a high level of involvement in the College's care program.
Support for students and teachers in meeting these challenges came from both formal and informal sources. For students, considerable support was provided through the College care model, while for staff, involvement in a variety of professional development programs as well as participation in two staff development activities provided valuable support. The College Co-ordinator of Counselling played a key role in many of these activities for both students and staff. In addition, many teachers and students gained considerable support during the year from their peers.
By the end of the year most students and teachers believed that they had successfully addressed the challenges and were able to recognise considerable growth in themselves. As result of this growth, many indicated that they would now be unwilling (or unable) to return to institutions similar to those from which they came.
In summary, students generally responded very favourably to their experiences at the College. In particular, they were very positive about:
Teachers also expressed strong support for the College, noting in particular:
- the range of courses and subjects offered;
- the opportunity to do courses and subjects they could not otherwise do;
- the student-teacher relationships in the College;
- a perceived genuine concern and interest in them as people by the teachers;
- the high quality of the teachers and their classroom experiences;
- the level of responsibility they were given and the opportunities to make decisions about critical things in their life;
- the other students in the College; and
- the other students in their classes - they mostly want to (and do) work resulting in a few discipline interruptions to classes.
Further information about the evaluation is available from Neil Cranston and Kerry Rose, Research Services Branch, Department of Education, P.O. Box 33, North Quay Q 4002. Telephone: (07) 237 0968.
- the very positive relationships with students;
- the high level of autonomy and professionalism afforded to them;
- the opportunity for participation in decision-making;
- the high level of collegiate support;
- the opportunity for professional and personal growth; and
- the availability of resources and facilities.
|Please cite as: QIER (1988). Research reports 4(1). Queensland Researcher, 4(1), 54-62. http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr4/res-repts-4-1.html
[ Contents Vol 4, 1988 ] [ QJER Home ]
Created 6 Mar 2008. Last revision: 6 Mar 2008.