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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, Queensland Department of Education, PO Box 33, North Quay, Q 4002.

Title:Community Involvement in Schools: A Study of Three Queensland Schools
Author:I. B. Limerick
Institution:University of Queensland

This study was motivated by a sense of unease about the ways in which secondary schools in Queensland respond to parents and community members who wish to become involved in school activities. Two basic questions were posed. First, what processes are used by secondary schools to involve the community in projects which are deemed to be successful? Second, what perceptions about, and rationales for, involvement are given by various participants - principals, teachers and parents - in these projects?

A review of the literature on community involvement in education indicated that little research had been conducted on either processes of involvement or participant rationales for such involvement. Greiner's phase model of successful change, drawn from the general field of organisational development, was useful in guiding the research questions formulated.

A broadly ethnomethodological approach, informed by Blumer's concept of the research process, was adopted to study three schools in different socio-economic areas in Brisbane. Observations and structured interviews were utilised in order to enable comparisons of trans-case data. The central objective of seeing both processes and rationales through the eyes of those involved necessitated the use of qualitative data. At the same time emphasis was placed on observing both processes and rationales in their wider social context. For this reason relevant material, including background data and the socioeconomic context of the three schools, the nature of regionalisation, and the history of community involvement was investigated.

The results of the study suggested a number of additions to the literature on community involvement in education. It became apparent that conventional institutional rationales for involvement were too narrow to encompass the range of reasons and motives given for involvement. Central to the findings was a theme that parents or community members need not interact at high levels of 'participation' to feel personally empowered. Rather than a unitary interpretation of Greiner's final phase of widespread diffusion of an innovative project, the study suggested that schools should adopt a multiple project model, with a variety of structures to provide diverse opportunities for parents or community members to interact with the school. The role of the principal emerged as crucial in the process of setting a climate which supports community involvement in the school. The trans-case comparisons between the three schools indicated that the processes of successful involvement were fundamentally similar in all schools, although the nature of the projects introduced depended on the needs of the specific community.

This study offers a number of contributions to the development of community involvement in education. It provides a re-conceptualisation of school-community interactions through a more sensitive understanding of both the basic processes, and the underlying rationales, of involvement. A multiple project model of interactions which enables parents to interact with the school is suggested. Thus the school may serve an educational purpose for its broader community. The study highlights the need to educate teachers and principals on the issues involved in school-community interactions. It points to the need for teachers to develop the skills to work with a wide variety of parents and community members and for the principals to develop the skills of understanding, managing and developing the culture of the school.

Underpinning the study is an acceptance of the philosophy of community education, which presents the view that schools should serve the wider community.

Title:Education and Acculturation on Malaita: An Ethnography of Inter-ethnic and Intra-ethnic Affinities
Author:J. S. Page
Degree:M.Ed. Honours Degree
Institution:The University of New England

The thesis presents the results of a fieldwork study in educational anthropology. The aim was to investigate and analyse the inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic affinities within the language-groups of Malaita, and to assess the effects of education and acculturation upon those affinities. Malaita is the most populous of the Solomon Islands and comprises . number of ethnically distinct yet related language-groups. The research was based upon sociometric fieldwork in the Solomon Islands in 1983, and specifically upon information from 250 student informants from the various language-groups of Malaita.

The thesis commences with an overview of the theory of educational anthropology, with particular attention to the notions of enculturation and acculturation. It is specifically suggested that these notions include the concepts of ethnicity and ethnic identity. Various methods and problems of ethnography are discussed, and a rational for the sociometric research paradigm is provided. The central research hypothesis (that intra-ethnic affinities tend to diminish with progressive acculturation) is discussed.

An outline of the acculturation history of Malaita is provided, centring upon the periods of pre-contact, contact, and post-contact history. The research locale is described, along with the execution of the fieldwork itself, the actual results, and the application of the results to the central research hypothesis. It is concluded that, with progressive acculturation, there is some evidence of a continuing diminution of traditional intra-ethnic affinities, and a corresponding increase in inter-ethnic affinities.

The study concludes with comments on the ramifications of the research for an understanding of acculturation, of educational anthropology, and of the role of the individual within a mass society.

Title:Teacher Transition: From Secondary or TAFE to a Post Compulsory Senior College
Author:J. V. Elson
Degree:Diploma in Teaching (Further Education)
Institution:Centre for Human Resource Studies, South Australian College of Advanced Education

This investigation identified the problems teachers experience when making the transition from traditional custodial teacher-centred educational institutions to a post-compulsory educational institution which recognises that: teachers are professionals responsible for the planning and implementing of curricula; the student client is responsible for personal decision making; professional teaching staff should support the student in a caring, non judgmental manner in the decision making process; and teachers should foster a warm friendly environment which encourages students to develop as autonomous learners.

The methodology involved a literature search to determine the extent of previous research into the topic; a survey questionnaire of all teaching staff at the Redland Community College, Alexandra Hills, to determine teacher experiences; case studies to gain an in-depth insight into the problems some teachers experienced; and simulated recall interviews to determine the attitudes of staff, who had been with the College since its inception, to induction.

Teachers identified the following problems to be either unique to or strongly in evidence at the College:

Successful teacher transition can be assisted by the manner in which teachers are inducted into the College. The form and theme of induction has been a matter of debate since the commencement of the College. Too prescriptive an induction process would inhibit teachers, who should be offered challenges by the College.

The consensus of teacher opinion was that there should be a functional induction program that addresses the day-to-day operation of the College. The question of an induction program which addresses more philosophical aspects of transition is a matter which needs further investigation.

Please cite as: QIER (1990). Thesis abstracts. Queensland Researcher, 6(1), 32-38. http://education.curtin.edu.au/iier/qjer/qr6/thesis-abs-6-1.html

Contents Vol 6, 1990 ] [ QJER Home ]
Created 29 Sep 2006. Last revision: 14 Oct 2006.
URL: http://education.curtin.edu.au/iier/qjer/qr6/thesis-abs-6-1.html