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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:Provision of Career Information and Guidance by Secondary Schools for Senior Students
Author:Ted Hobbs
Institution:Research Services, Department of Education, Queensland

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.


Secondary schools provide various types of programs of career education for their students. In recent times, changes in the labour market and the characteristics of the senior secondary population are generally considered to have intensified the need for such programs and prompted re-examination of their nature.

The results reported in this bulletin may be of assistance to schools in the process of reviewing their career education provisions.

The study employed both interviews and written questionnaires in order to gauge student's broad opinions on their schools' provision of career education.

Students in Years 11 or 12 in twelve State high schools in the West Moreton Region formed the sample. Some were interviewed (128), while the rest completed a questionnaire (793).


The questionnaire asked students to indicate how helpful their schools had been in helping them to prepare for their future. The students rated 15 ways that schools may help. The results are summarised in Display 1.

The display shows the percentages of students who indicated very helpful, helpful, not very helpful or not helpful at all to each alternative.

Display 1 indicates that, according to the students, the schools were clearly most helpful in:

Other ways given helpful or very helpful ratings by a clear majority of the students were:

Display 1

A majority of the students judged their school to be not very helpful or not helpful at all in the following ways:

These ratings indicate that the schools have been most helpful in arranging work experience, providing information about educational requirements for careers, and helping students understand employers' expectations of job applicants or employees.

The results suggest that students would like more help with gaining an understanding of the kinds of occupation they are suited for, and learning about local work opportunities.

Analysis showed that the pattern in Display 1 was generally consistent from school to school. Given the diversity of schools sampled, the pattern probably applies to most schools in the state system. There was sufficient variation, however, to indicate that this set of items could be used by individual schools to examine the level and direction of career information and services that they need to provide.


The interviewers sought to establish the sources of students' information about their occupational goals. Parents, family, friends or relatives were claimed to be the primary source of occupational information by more than one third of the students. Other prominent sources were the school, the guidance officer and work experience organised by the school. Work experience was indicated by 36 of the 128 students, and the guidance officer by 31. The interviewers found that 37 of the students had little or no information about possible future occupations.

Most senior students apparently arrive at occupational plans after discussion with their friends, parents and other relatives. These are usually possibilities which are compatible with their subject strengths and interests. More specific information on the possible occupations or occupational areas is then sought, usually through the school by consulting the guidance officer, teachers or library.

Schools contribute by arranging work experience and providing information on educational requirements.

While this process seems to be reasonably adequate for many of the students, there remains a sizeable minority who display, at best, very vague plans.

The results suggest that the family and friends supply the information on local employment possibilities which the schools do not. Student's occupational goals may, therefore be limited by what possibilities family and friends are aware oŁ


The results from the interviews and responses to the questionnaire suggest that:
  1. School-arranged work experience programmes should continue, but be accompanied by assistance to students in obtaining information about local job opportunities.

  2. Career education programmes in schools should target those students who need most help in becoming aware of occupational possibilities, and arriving at their own plans. These students need assistance in the decision making process, including self assessment. Blanket career education programmes must be wasteful to some extent, unless they are supplemented by special attention to this group of students.

  3. The provision of career information by schools should extend to the parents and relatives of the students. For many, but not all students, general information and assistance would need to begin before Year 11, with more specific information provided in the senior years.

  4. The questionnaire items shown in Display 1 could form the starting point for a school's internal review of career education provisions. Questionnaires could be filled out by students, and the school's results co mpared with Display 1. Discussion of the results among staff could lead to changes in the school's career education provisions. Monitoring of progress could continue in subsequent years using the same questionnaire.


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

Title:A Progress Report of the Student Portfolio Trial in Queensland
Author:Claire Gilligan, Neil Cranston
Institution:Research Services, Department of Education, Queensland


This report summarises developments since 1988 in the Student Portfolio initiative in Queensland. It also presents the findings of two small evaluation studies conducted for the Student Portfolio trial in twelve state secondary schools.


National context
The Student Portfolio initiative in Queensland has arisen in a national context of improved public reporting of student achievement. By 1988 many state systems had introduced, or were planning to introduce, student portfolios for students in Years 10 to 12.

National impetus for the initiative has been provided at two levels by the Australian Education Council (AEC). In July 1988, the Council established the Working Party on Basic Skills and Program Evaluation concerned with the development of a national approach to monitoring student achievement, the assessment of school performance and public reporting. The Working Party has addressed portfolios as a collection of materials that demonstrate the achievements and experiences of students in Years 10 to 12 and that may be used by them in applying for employment or for further education.

In 1988 the AEC also established the Working Party on Mobility Issues, which has given the Student Portfolio an integral role in assisting 'mobile students', those students transferring from school to school within and between Australian States and Territories. The AEC has published a series of guides for schools, parents and employers which advocate portfolios as a means of providing school principals and teachers with essential minimum information for students at any level of schooling on transfer. (Fennell & Boys 1990; Fennell & Edwards 1990a, 1990b, 1990c).

The Student Portfolio in Queensland
The Queensland Department of Education has established the Student Portfolio as a means of improving the reporting of student achievement in Years 10 to 12. Portfolios were introduced in 1989 by the Department to all Year 10 students in state schools.

A Departmental statement describes the Student Portfolio as 'a collection of materials which shows the schooling and other noteworthy accomplishments and experiences of the student'.

The statement says:

'Well supported and constructed portfolios can:
In 1989, the Queensland Department of Education established a trial of the Student Portfolio in twelve state secondary schools, one in each education region. A major purpose of the trial was to allow participating schools freedom to initiate innovative and individual practices in implementing Student Portfolios. It was envisaged that such outcomes would provide a knowledge base for the wider implementation of portfolios in non-trial secondary schools throughout the State. The trial also aimed at refining the format of the Student Portfolio and identifying levels of support required for its implementation by schools. In the second semester in 1989 Student Portfolios were introduced to non-trial state secondary schools. In 1990 Student Portfolios were provided to all secondary (state and non-state) schools throughout Queensland.

In 1990, a project officer was appointed to facilitate the implementation and development of portfolios in trial and non-trial state secondary schools. The project officer played a key role in encouraging schools to address the 'process aspects' of the portfolio. These aspects emphasise the learning process in which a student may engage when developing a portfolio rather than a mechanistic process of collecting documentation and placing it in a portfolio.

Evaluation of Student Portfolio Trial

An evaluation of the trial was initiated in 1989 to monitor the trial's progress and document practices within schools. The evaluation, which continued in 1990, aimed to investigate: Information collection involved a review of the literature and some investigation of student portfolio initiatives in other Australian States and Territories, visits to trial schools to conduct interviews and collect observational data (end 1989), and administration of a questionnaire to trial schools (mid-1990).

The visits to seven trial schools near Brisbane in late 1989 involved interviews with principals, some staff, students, employers and parents. Telephone interviews with administrators of the remaining five trial schools and with a range of employers were also conducted.

In July 1990, trial schools were requested to complete a questionnaire which sought to identify key developments with the portfolios and evidence of impact of the portfolio in the schools.

The following points summarise the major evaluation findings to emerge from these activities:


The introduction of Student Portfolios to schools in Queensland has proceeded quickly. From an initial plan to trial the portfolios in 1989 in twelve state secondary schools, all state secondary schools were subsequently issued with portfolios (state and non-state) during 1989 with all secondary schools in Queensland having portfolios made available in 1990. As a result of this introduction process and the fact that some schools had already initiated similar activities prior to the Student Portfolios being made available, some non-trial schools have introduced innovative practices for students in their use of their portfolios. These schools, together with the trial schools, have the potential to contribute valuable insights and understandings to the development and implementation of Student Portfolios.

The information available from the monitoring and evaluation activities in the trial schools to date indicates a very positive response by students, parents and the community (where this information is available) to the portfolios. In addition, a range of practices and strategies are underway concerning the development and issuing of certificates, the storage of portfolios and their accessibility for student use. These practices include instruction and experience in using the portfolio in, for example, job interview situations. However, there are indications that there are many aspects of how, why and when the student engages in the Student Portfolio process which still need to be explored. Further, given the nature and range of current and emerging pressures in this area, close investigation of the potential role and use of portfolios in the assessment of students will continue to be of interest.


Broadfoot, P. Introducing profiling: A practical manual, Macmillan Education, London, 1987.

Department of Education. 'Student portfolios', unpublished paper, Department of Education, Queensland, 1988.

Department of Education. 'Progress report: Student portfolio trial school survey', unpublished draft paper, Research Services, Department of Education, Queensland, 1990.

Department of Education and Science, and the Welsh Office. Records of achievement: Report of the Records of Achievement National Steering Committee, Department of Education and Science, and the Welsh Office, 1989.

Fennell, P. & Boys, J. Mobile students: A guide to good practice, Australian Education Council, Melbourne, 1990.

Fennell, P. & Edwards, M. Mobile students: A guide for schools, Australian Education Council, Melbourne, 1990a.

Fennell, P. & Edwards, M. Mobile students: A guide for parents, Australian Education Council, Melbourne, 1990b.

Fennell, P. & Edwards, M. Mobile students: A guide for employers, Australian Education Council, Melbourne, 1990c.

Fennell, P., Hudson, A. & Brownrigg, D. Review of Australian Defence Force Student Information Portfolio, ACT Department of Education, Canberra, 1989.

Gilligan, C. 'Student portfolios: Records of achievement and profiles: A brief overview of the literature', unpublished draft paper, 1990.

Gilligan, C. & McBryde, B. 'Progress report of the Student Portfolio Trial Project', unpublished draft paper, Research Services, Department of Education, Queensland, 1989.

Viviani, N. The review of tertiary entrance in Queensland 1990, Department of Education, Queensland, 1990.

Please cite as: QIER (1991). Research reports. Queensland Researcher, 7(1), 30-43. http://www.iier.org.au/qjer/qr7/reports-7-1.html

Contents Vol 7, 1991 ] [ QJER Home ]
Created 22 July 2006. Last revision: 22 July 2006.
URL: http://www.iier.org.au/ qjer/qr7/reports-7-1.html