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RESEARCH REPORTS

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:An Overview of Research and Evaluation Activities Associated with P-10 Social Education
Author:Peter Pattison
Institution:Research Services, Queensland Department of Education
Date:1990

Introduction

This report provides an overview of the various research and evaluation activities associated with Social Education carried out throughout 1989 by the Division of Curriculum Services, Department of Education, Queensland.

Background

The P-10 Curriculum Development Program is a long-term initiative of the Queensland Department of Education, which will review and revise the curriculum provided in its schools from preschool to Year 10. The goals of the program are to: Children's individual strengths, interests and needs will be provided for by means of a common and an options program, the latter determined by each school.

To support the implementation of P-10, a range of curriculum documents is being prepared. These documents are being developed through a process of wide consultation. All documents including the three overarching frameworks which address the basic elements of schooling (P-10 Curriculum Framework, P-10 Teaching Framework, P-10 Assessment Framework) and the curriculum area frameworks, offer a basis for discussion.

Social Education is one of the seven curriculum areas which constitutes the common component of the P- 10 Curriculum Development Program.

The P-10 Social Education Framework (1989) defines social education as 'a curriculum area concerned with patterns of interaction - among people, social institutions and their cultural and natural environments. These environments are located both in place and in time, and are subject to political, social and economic influences.' (p.2)

The following findings focus on research and evaluation activities concerning the Primary Social Studies Syllabus and Guidelines ( 1987), and the P-10 Social Education Framework (1989).

Findings

The Primary Social Studies Syllabus and Guidelines (PSSSG) and Sourcebooks

During 1989 interviews were conducted with teachers, administrators, regional social studies consultants and teacher librarians in 14 State primary schools across three education regions. The purpose of these interviews was to gather information on the use of the Years 1 to 7 social studies materials across a range of schools and in a variety of contexts. Information was sought on various issues including the level of use of the materials, the way the materials were used, aspects of these materials which schools found particularly valuable, the impact of the materials on the teaching of social studies and any perceived links between social studies materials and materials in other curriculum areas, e.g. materials developed within the P-10 Curriculum Development Program. Schools were identified with the help of regional social studies consultants. The 14 schools varied in size, 'approach' to education (e.g. traditional, multiage), and context, e.g. rural and urban settings. Where possible, teachers across a range of Year levels were interviewed within each school.

In brief, the findings of these activities indicate that:

P-10 Social Education Framework

An initial review of the P- 10 Social Education Framework (SEF) as part of the overall research and evaluation activities of the P-10 social education curriculum area has recently been completed. The review involved a structured questionnaire forwarded to over 40 personnel considered 'expert' in social education and sought comments on particular aspects of the SEF. Some of the findings are outlined as follows: Further research and evaluation activities are expected to focus on monitoring the development of a Years 8-10 Social Education Syllabus as part of the overall P-10 Curriculum Development Program.

Title:Student and Teacher Attitudes to the TE Score
Author:Ted Hobbs
Institution:Research Services, Queensland Department of Education
Date:1990

This report describes selected findings from a recent study on Senior Schooling. The full report, Issues in Senior Schooling, has been provided to all State secondary schools and secondary departments. Additional copies of the report and associated bulletins are available from Research Services, Department of Education.

The Study

This report relates to the Tertiary Entrance (TE) score and its importance to student career goals as perceived by students and teachers.

The TE score was first used to select students to attend tertiary institutions in 1974. Over its 16 year history the TE score has come under increasing criticism on its use and calculation to the point where it was recently reviewed and an alternative system for tertiary selection proposed. Aspects covered in the research study include:

Data collection occurred in three phases late in 1988:
    (1) interviews with teaching and administrative staff in selected State secondary schools; (2) interviews with Years l 1 and 12 students; and (3) questionnaires completed by Years 11 and 12 students.

Findings

Student Goals for Further Study

During Years 11 and 12 most of the students had decided on a single future occupation or were considering a few possibilities. Forty-eight per cent of the students intended to go on to tertiary study. Twenty-four per cent intended further study at TAFE colleges, police and military academies or private colleges, whereas 28 per cent were planning to finish studying at the Senior school level. Only 10 per cent of students were prepared to rule out the possibility of further education beyond secondary school in the future.

Importance Attached to the TE Score by Students

The TE score evoked extremely negative responses (Display 1) in many of the students except in terms of its usefulness. Display 1 shows mean scores on semantic differential types of items in response to school, assessment and TE score. The results indicate strongly negative attitudes among the students towards the TE score.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of students (84 per cent) rated the importance of the TE score as high (56 per cent) or moderate (28 per cent).

The TE score was important for more students as a credential for obtaining employment than for obtaining tertiary entrance. It was also considered an important life-long credential and necessary for some types of employment (Display 2).

Subject Choice and the TE Score

Most of the students chose subjects for Senior schooling which suited their interests but still allowed a TE score and kept open the option of tertiary study in some fields. For many, these options were restricted by the absence of Mathematics I.

Display 1: Student's Mean Responses to School, Assessment and TE Score

Display 1

Display 2: Lower and Higher Achievers' Ratings of Importance Attached
to Reasons for Obtaining a TE Score by Students who Intended to Obtain One Display 2

The next most predominant pattern for subject choice indicated clear intentions for tertiary study.

The minority pattern (taken by one in seven in the sample) would not permit the award of a TE score.

A higher proportion of boys than girls choose either the non-TE score pattern or a pattern oriented towards tertiary study which included Mathematics II, Physics and Chemistry.

Board subjects were widely chosen by students in spite of clear evidence for widespread, strongly positive attitudes among students towards school subjects (Display 3).
Display 3 shows how the student responses to school subjects were cl early more positive than their responses to Board subjects.

Teachers and the TE Score

Most of the teachers interviewed expressed a wide range of concerns about the TE score system. However there was general support for the system, at least in principle, due to the absence of a better alternative. The most prevalent concerns of the interviewees related to:

Display 3: Students' Mean Responses to School, Board Subjects and School Subjects

Display 3

Teachers commonly expressed concern about their increased workload and the stress associated with the TE score. This was due to the significant impact that their assessment of student performance had in contributing to the TE score for a student.

Discussion

The research results indicated clearly that the TE score was widely disliked and mistrusted. It was regarded by most students as important and useful as an all-purpose credential, but was surrounded by mystery and suspicion. Teachers questioned its validity and its use by employers.
The features which underlie such strong reactions seem to be these: The TE score itself did not seem to be the cause of all the problems: the intensity of competition for credentials was the underlying cause. Nonetheless, changes to the tertiary entrance system, associated with changes in Senior secondary credentialling, could result in alleviation of the problems.

If the features listed above are to be addressed by any new system for tertiary entrance, the system would need to have the following characteristics:

The report recommends making a clear distinction between the process for deciding on eligibility for tertiary study - to be decided by schools - and processes of selection for limited tertiary places - to be decided by the institutions.

The Report

The full report of the study 'Issues in Senior Schooling' contains findings on: The report makes extensive use of tables and graphs. Various sections of the report will be useful to secondary teachers, secondary staff and administrators working on school development plans; to in-service workshop planners and regional support staff; to guidance officers and educational researchers. Copies may be obtained by contacting Ted Hobbs, Research Services, Division of Curriculum Services, PO Box 33, North Quay Q 4002, telephone: (07) 237 0980.

Please cite as: QIER (1990). Research reports 6(3). Queensland Researcher, 6(2), 55-68. http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr6/reports-6-3.html


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