The purpose of this section is to summarise information from recently completed research and evaluation 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, PO Box 33, North Quay Q 4002.
|Title:||A Review of the 1-10 Mathematics Inservice Project: An Interim Report of an Innovation in Teacher Inservice Education|
|Authors:||Neil Cranston, John Dungan, Christine Grieve|
|Institution:||Research Services, Division of Curriculum Services, Department of Education, Queensland|
As the MIP has developed, it is clear the Project endorses an approach to teaching and learning characterised by the following features:
Information collection procedures employed in the evaluation included: interviews with participants, the Project planning group members and some students; the administration of questionnaires to participants; and observations and participation in selected workshop sessions. A review of the relevant literature was also conducted. As appropriate, the evaluation information was shared formatively with the Project Planning Group members to assist in the Project's ongoing development.
Some clear findings have emerged concerning the MIP inservice model. The initial workshops, led by a noted mathematics educator from England, provided a critical initial impetus to the Project. The regular and ongoing nature of the fortnightly workshop sessions enabled participants to try ideas in their classrooms and reflect on their experiences at subsequent sessions. These sessions allowed participants to mix regularly with their peers, as well as discuss and explore various issues relating to mathematics education. Participants also engaged in mathematics activities, planned units of work and reviewed mathematics resources during these sessions. The school visits by the Planning Group members between sessions to support participants in their classroom practices were generally useful in the early stages of the MIP. These visits helped to stimulate and maintain the commitment of participants to the Project and provide necessary encouragement and affirmation. In some instances the importance of these visits became less critical over time, with some participants engaging in peer-coaching activities in their own schools. The involvement of Planning Group members and participants in planning and attending the workshop sessions and the school visits between sessions contribute to the resource intensive nature of the Project.
Early Project outcomes for participants have varied considerably. For some participants, the Project has resulted mainly in the use of open investigations (one of the six teaching approaches of the Years 1 to 10 Mathematics Syllabus). However, for others it has resulted in the alteration of their basic philosophy concerning teaching and learning leading to significant changes in classroom practices. While the majority of participants have responded positively to the opportunity to be involved in the Project, the longer-term impact in terms of lasting classroom practices needs to be treated with cautious optimism.
Preliminary student outcomes identified by some participants include improved understanding and enjoyment of mathematics. Broader Project outcomes include a heightened awareness of the Years 1 to 10 Mathematics Syllabus among participants and enhanced consultancy skills among Planning Group members.
|Title:||Evaluation of Three New Senior Secondary Subjects - Small Business Studies, Australian Social Investigations, Tourism|
|Institution:||Research Services, Division of Curriculum Services, Department of Education, Queensland|
Small Business Studies is one of a series of syllabuses being developed by the Queensland Department of Education in a collaborative process which calls on the expertise of officers in the Division of Curriculum Services, the input of people from a wide range of groups within Queensland society, the experience and insights of teachers who test the materials in classrooms, and the support of personnel in regional offices of education. The development of Small Business Studies extended over the period from 1986 to 1988, with trialling conducted in 1987 and 1988.
The project to develop Departmental syllabuses aims to build upon the experience of secondary schools with school subjects and to produce syllabuses which would be suitable to a wide range of student interests, abilities and future needs. The new Departmental subjects are intended to be widely recognised, understood and accepted as having valid outcomes by educational or training authorities, employers and the community in general.
In broad terms, the developmental process for a Departmental syllabus has three essential elements. A curriculum team of officers from Curriculum Services is responsible for the development of all materials. Where possible, officers are appointed directly from the classroom for the writing tasks. Reference groups are convened at various stages of the process to provide input and reaction from a variety of suitable people inside and outside the Department. Selected schools trial the materials and provide feedback for further refinement and revision.
Development of the syllabus and associated materials continues throughout the trial, drawing on trial teachers' critical appraisal of the draft documents and their experiences teaching the subject. Feedback is sought from students, parents, school principals and other members of the school communities.
From the beginning of the development of Small Business Studies, evaluators maintained contact with the syllabus writers, attended reference group meetings and assisted in the process of identifying issues raised and responding appropriately to them. Support was also provided to the trial teachers' seminars. Communication links with trial teachers and administrative personnel in trial schools and regional offices were established and maintained. Throughout the trial, mail, telephone, questionnaires and personal visits were used to elicit information from the trial teachers.
During visits to trial schools, interviews were held with school administrators, trial teachers and students. Classes were observed and students' work was perused.
The final report of the evaluation focuses on the validity and feasibility of the new subject, and practical aspects of its introduction into schools. Various parts of the report will be useful to those involved in the administration of secondary education, administrative personnel in schools, teachers and teacher groups, personnel in educational or training institutions receiving students from secondary schools, potential employers of Small Business Studies students, parents of secondary students, guidance officers and teacher educators.
All of the trial teachers reported that their students had been directly involved in operating small business ventures and had some level of interaction with the business community, through visiting guest speakers, excursions to a range of businesses and work experience. In some cases, the trial teacher organised the excursion; in others, the students made the arrangements. This trend to encourage students to act in an organised and business-like manner continued and developed throughout the trial in most of the schools.
Students reported gaining much more than knowledge of small business from the subject and believed their interpersonal skills had considerably improved as a result of work done in Small Business Studies.
Teachers were asked to identify the specific business skills students had acquired. All reported that the operation of ventures had enabled students to relate the five topics of small business - overview, management, records, research and review - to real-life situations. Trial teachers used strategies that they believed would enable students to gain the most practical experience of small business that was possible in given situations. These teachers encouraged the students to work as a team and to make their own decisions. They believed this approach had developed the management potential and skills of many students.
The professional and personal development of some of the trial teachers was an extra benefit from the trial. Some of the teachers coming into the trial without a broad business background reported gaining considerable confidence, real business knowledge and experience of the small business world as well as a greater understanding of students. They accepted that they did not have to 'know it all' and could learn along with their students.
Parents who were interviewed were happy that their children were learning skills that could assist with later employment prospects. Students' involvement in ventures and contacts with local businesses were often discussed at home.
Assessment of the validity of Small Business Studies was based on five considerations:
Evidence supports the finding that Small Business Studies can make a valuable contribution to a broad senior secondary education, particularly in view of the demand for wider subject options and support associated with rising retention rates. The subject has gained assistance from the Commerce Teachers Association of Queensland, the Kelvin Grove Campus of the Brisbane College of Advanced Education and the Small Business Development Corporation. This support, together with the observed enthusiasm of teachers, students and small business people, seems likely to ensure a continued expansion of enrolments.
Many students felt they had developed tolerance, confidence and consideration for different viewpoints from their ASI studies. Some mentioned their increased maturity and sense of responsibility. Group work was considered partly responsible for a growing sense of social consciousness and mutual respect. Students also stated that they had increased their awareness of and involvement in world issues and felt more relaxed, resourceful and positive about coping with life as adults in society. Skills of problem solving, interviewing, public relations and public speaking were among those developed in ASI.
Assessment of the validity of ASI was based on five considerations:
Evidence supports the finding that ASI can make a valid contribution to a broad senior secondary education, particularly in view of the increased demand for a variety of subject options that has resulted from rising retention rates. In the light of current developments in senior secondary schooling, for example the possible changes to the Tertiary Entrance system, ASI could well prove to be one of those desirable options which, if offered with effective support, will experience rapid growth in enrolments in the near future.
The major teaching approaches recommended in the syllabus are case studies, practical exercises, the development of vocational skills and 'tourism' skills, community work and student ventures. Within these categories a range of activities occurred in the trial schools. For example, classes planned vacations, used tourism data bases, and prepared guides for tourists to their local area.
A wide range of outcomes were reported by the trial teachers and students. At the end of the trial most of the students interviewed reported developing an awareness of the diversity of businesses involved in the tourism industry. They recognised changes to their own attitudes to tourism and appreciated the breadth of information they had obtained about the industry.
The trial teachers reported that students had developed sound decision-making abilities and a sense of personal worth. In all of the trial schools students reported they had learned valuable interpersonal skills and developed the ability to relate effectively to adults and to their peers. They also considered that they were developing the ability to work productively in groups and to achieve their goals. Most of the trial teachers actively encouraged student decision-making and responsibility and the majority of students interviewed or surveyed reported that they had learned to be 'more self confident' during the trial. For example, most of the students now felt able to speak confidently with groups of people.
The establishment of sound school/community links occurred through student contact by telephone, letter or visits to local businesses. In some schools, arrangements for all guest speakers were made by the students. These students also gave presentations on open days and to parent evenings and consequently learned the skills of public speaking and the effective marketing of their ideas.
Parents interviewed during the trial noted both the relevance of the subject for students aiming for careers in the tourism industry and the confidence that students developed during the trial. They reported that Tourism students currently with part-time employment were already benefiting from the skills they had acquired.
The trial teachers considered that students had developed a wide range of knowledge on tourism at local, national and global levels including the economic and social benefits the industry offers, its impact and consequences and possible future directions. They reported that the subject provided students with the opportunity for considerable personal growth and commented on the levels of confidence many students had acquired.
Assessment of the validity of Tourism was based on five considerations:
The positive response by teachers, students and the community to the subject are expected to lead to a continued expansion of student enrolments. Tourism would seem likely to become well established in the senior curriculum, especially in areas where the tourist industry is prominent.
The Final Evaluation Reports for each subject is available from:
Division of Curriculum Services
Department of Education
PO Box 33
North Quay Q 4002
|Please cite as: QIER (1989). Research reports 5(3). Queensland Researcher, 5(3), 23-40. http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr5/research-repts5-3.html|