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[ Contents Vol 8, 1992 ] [ QJER Home ]

1992 Annual Research Forum

Queensland Institute for Educational Research

Presentation Abstracts

Title:Student Personality Types and Learning Needs in Efficient and Effective (Quality) Teaching
Researcher(s):B. Boreham. J. Watts
(University of Central Queensland)
Tel: (079) 30 9619 Fax: (079) 30 9604

This investigation:

  1. examines the relationships between learning styles and prevailing personality types among commencing science and education internal and distance education students at the University of Central Queensland;
with the aim of:
  1. facilitating the application of the large amount of accumulated knowledge on personality types, learning styles and instructional preferences to the particular circumstances existing at the University.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Research) is used with the Learning Style Inventory (Research) developed by David Kolb. Identification of personality type and learning styles is being carried out via a pilot survey of 250 students in three courses: Bachelor of Applied Physics, Internal and External; Bachelor of Teaching, Internal; and Bachelor of Education, External.

Title:Meeting Children's Needs in the 1990s - A Study of Classroom Writing
Researcher(s):Des Carroll, Mary Rosser, Pam Van Homrigh
(Queensland University of Technology)
Tel: (07) 864 3175 Fax: (07) 864 4991

This research study was undertaken in order to identify:

Specifically the study addressed five questions:
  1. What written texts are children expected to complete at school between Years 3-8?
  2. How might these be grouped generically?
  3. What subject matter do students draw upon in the construction of texts?
  4. What continuity and sequencing is evident in writing activities across six years of schooling
  5. What criteria are used within schools for assessing writing tasks and to what effect?
The data was collected during the third term of 1991. Four primary and three secondary schools were involved in the research, covering Years 3, 5 and 7 in each primary school and one classroom (Year 8) in each high school. Each primary school was a significant 'feeder' school for the appropriate high school. The writing was completed as part of the normal class program for that term.

To answer these questions, the research focused on:

The study showed that there was a need for a consistent assessment policy within schools and a consistent writing policy between 'feeder' schools and their appropriate high schools. It also indicated the need for in depth professional development programs.

Title:Roadsafe P-7 Road Safety Kits
Researcher(s):Paul Circosta, Donna Salotti, Dale Symons
(Queensland Department of Transport)
Tel: (07) 2S3 4884 Fax: (07) 253 4751

The statistics indicate that road accidents are the major cause of death for 5-9 year olds in Queensland, many more are seriously injured.

Children are vulnerable in a traffic environment due in part to their physical size and anatomical features including soft bone structure, delicate abdomens and proportionately larger heads.

Young children have a limited concept of danger and are easily distracted. Their size limits their field of vision and conceals them from the view of drivers. They need ongoing education from an early age to help them develop safe and correct behaviour in traffic and help them to develop a more positive attitude towards their own decision making.

Research has indicated a number of ways in which road safety concepts should be taught to children. Integration of road safety into the school curriculum is important to facilitate frequent but short lessons. Research shows one-off road safety talks do not have a meaningful and long-term effect. It is suggested it is more effective to introduce issues to children from an early age and through continual exposure in the regular school curriculum. This approach will help children develop positive and safe road user behaviour that will continue throughout their lives.

Title:Issues in the Collaborative Evaluation of the Effectiveness of an Interactive Video Teaching Trial
Researcher(s):Robyn Cox, Patrick Danaher, Peter Hallinan, Patricia Moran, Doug Wyer
(Faculty of Education, University of Central Queensland)
Tel: (079) 30 9619 Fax: (079) 30 9604

This paper reports on several issues that emerged from a recent collaborative evaluation of an interactive video teaching trial conducted in Rockhampton by the Open Access Centre of the Queensland Department of Education in conjunction with the Capricornia Region of the Department of Education.

Positive outcomes of the collaborative evaluation include:

Issues of concern emerging from the collaborative evaluation include: The paper concludes by reflecting on the evaluation's impact on the evaluators' work six months after the evaluation was conducted.

Title:Immersion Programs for the Teac hing of Second Languages
Researcher(s):Michele de Courcy
(Faculty of Education, Griffith University)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

Immersion programs for the teaching of second languages are a fairly new phenomenon in Australia, but they are becoming more widespread due largely to government initiatives.

Immersion research has historically concentrated on the outcomes of the programs. Immersion students have been compared with non-immersion students. Some research has focused on sociocultural factors associated with immersion students and their teachers.

The area of inquiry concerned with the processes of language acquisition has received relatively little attention. This study investigated the processes involved in the acquisition of French by students in late immersion programs in Australia.

Non-participant observations and interviews over a full school year were used to collect the data. One immersion school with students in Years 8, 9 and 10, and other immersion students in Year 8, were examined.

Analysis of the data revealed five themes which were associated with the students' acquisition of the target language. These were:

  1. the use of the classroom context;
  2. the role of comprehensible input;
  3. the role of internalised speech;
  4. the role of comprehensible output; and
  5. the role of the cooperative learning situation.
It is concluded that comprehensible input alone is not sufficient for language acquisition to occur. Acquisition occurs because of a balance between input and output, mediated by the use of private speech, in a particular classroom and social situation. The tight social groups formed in immersion programs in Australia, rather than being the potential problem they once seemed, are part of the students' process of language acquisition.

Title:School Development Planning Research Project
Researcher(s):Researcher(s): Neil Dempster, Phil Meade, Grace Distant, Judith Sachs (Griffith University)
Lloyd Logan (University of Queensland)
Neil Cranston, Christine Tom, Neville Highett, Peter Varley (Queensland Department of Education)
Diane Reardon (Catholic Education Commission, Queensland)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965


In 1991, a team of researchers at the University of London, led by Professor Peter Mortimer, was granted funding by the Economic and Social Research Council in the United Kingdom to undertake a three year study into the impact and effects of school development planning in primary schools (see Appendix 1). The study consisted of two major parts:

  1. mapping the current state of school development planning in all Local Education Authorities; and
  2. documenting the effects of school plans on school management, classroom practices and on pupil achievement.
Part of the United Kingdom proposal called for parallel studies to be undertaken in Australia or similar countries in which school development planning is seen as a major contributor to the movement for school effectiveness. Researchers at Universities in Queensland, Australia and in Denmark at the Royal Danish School of Education, have responded to the class because of recent policy pressures for their schools to adopt development planning approaches to management.

The aims of the study

Given the current attention to school development planning as a major strategy to promote the quality of schooling and the inadequacy of its present theoretical and research base, further investigation into both the theory and practice of school development planning effects is warranted. With this in mind, the general aims of this study are to:

  1. establish an overall view of the use of school development planning in Australian systemic schools;
  2. investigate the impact of school development plans on primary school management, primary classrooms and on pupil learning;
  3. interface two sets of data (i.e. national survey and case study data) to achieve a breadth and depth of perspective on developments, influences and effects, and to compare the outcomes of the study with those from the United Kingdom and Denmark;
  4. contribute to theory building through the discourses of policy, practice and professional development;
  5. develop models of exemplary practice; and
  6. prepare and disseminate guidelines to facilitate critique, evaluation and understanding of policy and practice in school development planning.

Title:Integrating Learning Technology in Queensland State Schools: A Program Evaluation of the Queensland Sunrise Centre
Researcher(s):Glenn Finger
(Coombabah State School)
Tel: (075) 572611

The purpose of the study was to provide a critical program evaluation of the Queensland Sunrise Centre. The study sought to obtain and report information through focusing on research questions relating to project description, project management and the impact of the project. In addition, the study aimed to make a significant theoretical contribution by developing a model for evaluating the integration of learning technology initiatives in schools. Research questions were also formulated which enabled an appraisal of the model for the program evaluation to be undertaken by the participants through a post-evaluation strategy.

The Queensland Sunrise Centre was established in 1990 as a major four year innovative investigation by the Department of Education, Queensland. The broad purposes for the establishment of the Queensland Sunrise Centre were to:

Consequently, this study undertook an evaluative case study which focused on the Queensland Sunrise Centre project, now in its third year of operation. A naturalistic and participant-oriented approach was selected to facilitate the involvement in the evaluation process of the participants. A model was developed to guide the study using Batchler's (1982) adaptation of Stake's Countenance Model (1967) as a basis for the model. The model developed also drew upon Stake's notion of responsive evaluation, incorporated the importance of illuminative evaluation (Parlett and Hamilton, 1976), and utilised features of action research and action evaluation. The model and approach adopted enabled a variety of data collection procedures to be employed - site descriptions, questionnaires, interviews, written contributions from key participants involved in the project, classroom observations, samples of students' work, document perusal and analysis, and notes from meetings.

Findings, at this stage, are emerging and being examined as the study is still in progress. The findings will be reported upon the completion of the evaluation and their implications summarised according to the identification of important issues. The findings of the study will be reported in terms of project description, project management and the impact of the project. Furthermore, the written contributions provided by participants will be reported to illuminate and provide further insights into project initiatives, impact and issues.

Note: This Abstract refers to Research in Progress. The planned date for completion of the report is December 1992.

Title:The Characteristics of Teacher Education Students That Appear to Influence Their Attitudes Towards Higher Education Teaching Methods
Researcher(s):Merv Fogarty
(Queensland University of Technology)
Tel: (07)864 4991 Fax: (07)864 4577

This study investigated the characteristics of teacher education students that appear to influence their attitudes towards higher education teaching methods. It was thought that the matching of student characteristics and teaching methods may make it possible to construct profiles of students who favoured particular teaching methods.

A survey followed by interviews was employed to collect data on student characteristics and attitudes towards four higher education teaching methods categorised as: lectures; seminars and tutorials; student involvement as a group member; and student involvement as an individual. The questionnaire had two sections, the first sought information on characteristics and the second contained four Likert-type scales, one for each teaching method. The subjects were first year and third year pre-service teacher education students and first semester and subsequent semester in-service teacher education students.

Sixteen student characteristics were cross-tabulated with each of the four scale scores to see if there were significant relationships. Out of a possible 64 significant relationships, only 16 (25 per cent) such relationships were discovered. Only one characteristic, 'Year of Course Pre-service', had more than two significant relationships. Interestingly the corresponding characteristic, 'Semester of Course In-service', had no significant relationships.

The characteristics investigated included: personal characteristics, for example age, gender, marital status; student characteristics, for example teaching/learning experiences as higher education student, objectives with regard to final grades; and professional characteristics, for example intended/actual level of teaching, philosophy of education.

The study concluded that:

Title:The Interaction Between Children's Self-Concept and Their Academic Ability
Researcher(s):Ian Hay (Griffith University)
Adrian Ashman, Christa van Kraayenoord (University of Queensland)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

This display reports on the initial findings of a longitudinal research project that is investigating the interaction between children's self concept and academic achievement involving over 500 Year 5 students. The self-concept research instruments are the Self Description Questionnaire (Marsh, 1988) and the Perception of Ability Scale for Students (Boersma & Chapman, in press).

The following issues are being investigated:

Title:The Interaction Between Children's Self-Concept and Their Academic Achievement
Researcher(s):Ian Hay (Griffith University)
Adrian Ashman, Christa van Kraayenoord (University of Queensland)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

This display reports on the initial findings of a longitudinal research project that is investigating the interaction between children's self concept and academic achievement involving over 500 Year 5 students. The self-concept research instruments are the Self Description Questionnaire (Marsh, 1988) and the Perception of Ability Scale for Students (Boersma & Chapman, in press).

The following foci are central to the research:

Title:Adults' Selection of Prelinguistic Infants' Communicative Acts
Researcher(s):Catherine Hearn
(Griffith University)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

The metaphor of adult conversation has often been used to describe the interactions of mothers and their infants. In conversation, the behaviour of each partner serves to guide that of the other. In this regard, it has been argued that the mother's ability to adapt her own behaviour to her infant's actions facilitates the emergence of communicative acts in the child's first year. Clearly, a central factor in such adaptation is the mother's ability to reliably identify units in the stream of her infant's behaviour.

In this pilot program, the mother was asked to watch video-taped records of her infant's behaviour and to press a button whenever she thought her infant was deliberately attempting to communicate with her. Real-time records of the mother's coding were compiled using a Maclab with a 100 ms sampling interval. The mother re-coded her infant's video-record three months after her initial coding session. Comparison of these coded records revealed that the mother was able to reliably select communicative acts at levels significantly higher than chance.

Three other adults were then asked to code the infant's video-record for communicative acts and these coding records were each compared with that of the mother. Results of these comparisons indicated significant levels of agreement between the mother and other adults.

In general terms, these preliminary results suggest that mothers may be able to reliably identify their prelinguistic infants' communicative acts and that mothers and other adults may agree about which infant behaviours are communicative units.

Title:Parent Participation in the Introduction of Human Relationships Education in Queensland State Schools
Researcher(s):Sue Howard
(Griffith University, Gold Coast)
Tel: (075) 94 8800 Fax: (075) 94 8777

In Queensland education in recent years, policy changes at state level have encouraged more meaningful parent participation at school level. In particular, the Human Relationships Education (HRE) initiative invites parents to help formulate the HRE curriculum and its mode of implementation at the school their children attend.

The move towards real parent participation in curriculum development appears to be a significant departure from traditional government policy, and the transition may be difficult. It raises a number of key issues which need to be addressed. To what extent is parent participation happening in individual schools? What practical considerations in society and in schools mitigate against real parental participation in schools. How do parents and teachers view parental involvement?

These questions form the basis of the research. This study seeks to discover patterns of behaviour occurring in schools associated with the introduction of HRE. But it also seeks to understand the perspectives of two parties who are supposedly involved in this process: teachers and parents.

The methods used are ethnographic. Six state primary schools who had been working together on HRE at a cluster level were chosen for study. The process they are using to develop their individual HRE programs is being followed over a period of 12 months. By participant observation, interviews and document analysis, data is being gathered on the way these schools choose to involve parents and on the perceptions parents and teachers have of this involvement.

The study should be completed by the end of 1992.

Title:Teacher Education Responses to Multiculturalism in Australia: A Critical Review
Researcher(s):Anne Hickling Hudson (Faculty of Education, QUT, Kelvin Grove Campus)
Marily McMeniman (Division of Education, Griffith University)
Eileen Heywood (Faculty of Education, QUT, Kelvin Grove Campus)
Tel: (07) 864 3424 Fax: (07) 864 3728

This paper investigates the extent to which Australian teacher education institutions have responded to multicultural issues. A1157 Teacher Education institutions in Australia were invited to participate in the study. Thirty-four agreed to do so. The study collated statistics categorising types of subjects related to multicultural issues, and examined course outlines and materials. Data relating to the number and nature of courses offered throughout Australia indicate that curricular provisions in most institutions were at a token level only. That is, subjects with specialist content about multicultural or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues and educational imperatives are usually offered as electives (if they are offered at all), while compulsory foundation subjects usually make only brief or passing reference to cultural and linguistic diversity. There is therefore no assurance that many Australian student teachers are receiving a systematic and consistent preparation for teaching for cultural diversity. Some institutions, however, contradict the prevailing pattern in that their teacher education curricula emphasise multicultural studies. Three case studies are presented which illustrate both tokenism and the preferred model of the permeation of multiculturalism throughout the curriculum.

Title:Practices and Issues in the Education of Itinerant Students - A Case Study of Showmen's Guild Children
Researcher(s):Ian Kindt, Chris Woodrow, Peter Hallinan, Colin Rose, Paul Duncum, Robert Thompson, Patrick Danaher, Patricia Moran, Doug Wyer, Ken Purnell
(University of Central Queensland)
Tel: (079) 30 9619 Fax: (079) 30 9604

The research reported here is being carried out by members of the Professional Growth Research and Teaching Group, Faculty of Education, University of Central Queensland.

This research examines issues relating to the education of itinerant students who are classified as an educationally disadvantaged group with 'special needs' in the national Schooling in Rural Australia report (Commonwealth Schools Commission, 1988). It is current research being done in conjunction with teachers from the School of Distance Education, Brisbane, and members of the Showmen's Guild of Australasia to develop an understanding of former and current practices in the provision of education to this group; to determine the degree of satisfaction the families have with present provisions; and to assess the potential of such programs with other groups of itinerant students

Title:Around and About Kimberley Park - A Study of a Primary School
Researcher(s):Lloyd Logan (University of Queensland)
Mark Freakley (Faculty of Education, Griffith University)
Tel: (07) 864 2111 Fax: (07) 8641510

This study was part of the MCCC project to support a number of schools in their efforts to review curriculum and school organisation and to implement processes for change. One of the schools in the project was Kimberley Park State School, a school noted by the profession, the parent body, and the Department of Education, for its innovative organisational arrangements and teaching practices.

Kimberley Park is a large primary school of nearly 900 children situated almost half-way between Brisbane the Gold Coast. Although the school was only established in 1985, it is well resourced as a result of staff and community efforts. The site is aesthetically developed with native trees and shrubs and has an adventure playground, mini-rainforest, bush play area, and exercise circuit with fixed stations.

Pupils at Kimberley Park are taught in multi-aged classes occupying doubled-spaced classrooms. Teachers work in terms of two or more, consisting of a pair of home teachers plus specialists including LOTE, physical education and music. These teaching teams are supported by teacher aides and clerical staff. In addition, there is a regular force of parents acting as voluntary teacher-aides, reflecting the strong support for the school provided by its community.

Title:Tertiary Entry in Australia: Mismatch in Supply, Demand and Economic Need
Researcher(s):Bruce McBryde, Majbritt Reugebrink
(TEPA, Queensland Department of Education) Tel: (07) 234 1498 Fax: (07) 234 1508

The mismatch in supply of and demand for tertiary courses has been a serious and growing problem in Australian higher education for some years. The last two years have seen this mismatch increasing markedly. The problem affects every state in Australia, however there are variations in the rate of unmet demand across states. Queensland and Victoria are currently experiencing the greatest rate of unmet demand for tertiary education, with both states exceeding the national rate.

While unmet demand for tertiary education continues, equity of access will remain an issue for each state to consider in the tertiary admissions process. The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre publishes data annually showing, amongst other things, how various applicant groups fared in the admissions process. In Queensland at least, it appears that applicants travelling the 'other matriculants' and 'professional and other qualifications' pathways to university are finding it more difficult than other applicant groups to gain tertiary entrance.

The current economic climate promises an escalating unmet demand for tertiary education as more young school leavers fail to find employment and more Australians find it necessary to pursue further education. Although the Federal Government is seeking to address the unprecedented youth unemployment dilemma through the provision of extra tertiary places for young people, the nation cannot afford to lose sight of the mismatch i n supply and demand for all applicant groups.

Title:Researching Pre-service Teacher Needs: New Approaches to Old Dilemmas
Researcher(s):Erica McWilliam

The project was a longitudinal research study into pre-service teacher needs conducted at the Kelvin Grove Campus of the Queensland University of Technology from 1989 to 1991. It was a study that needed to acknowledge at the outset the political context of teacher education policy initiatives which have placed teacher knowledge base debates in the forefront of current educational concerns. The study then took up issues of articulation and contestation in initial teacher education discourse. Findings challenge a number of folkloric traditions in conducting debates over the knowledge base of initial teacher education. Finally, the study signals how new theoretical and methodological frameworks can further challenge simplistic research conclusions from past teacher education research.

Title:Towards Making Explicit the Implicit Knowledge of Effective Maths and Science Teachers - A Triangulated Methodology
Researcher(s):Phil Meade, Marilyn McMeniman, Jan Wilson, Clive Kanes, Irene Davey
(Division of Education, Griffith University)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

This pilot study attempts to unlock the tacit knowledge of effective teachers and learners, and to make these conceptual models available to other professionals in the field.

Two Year 11 teachers (one mathematics and one science) and their students are observed intensively for a complete unit of work. Through the use of video recordings, stimulated recall, repertory grids and interviews, the study aims at the understanding and articulation of teachers' and students' implicit models of teaching and learning, and an analysis of the role the teacher plays.

Title:It's Frustrating If You Don't Know What You're Doing: A case study of a constructivist teaching segment in science in a Primary Bachelor of Teaching Course
Researcher(s):Judith Mulholland, Annette Cunliffe
(Australian Catholic University, Queensland)
Tel: (07) 855 7100 Fax: (07) 855 7105

This study involved the use of a constructivist approach in teaching the topic 'Electricity' to a group of pre-service primary teacher education students.

The innovation was designed to help students improve their own concept development and to experience learning by this method, and to encourage reflection on this experience. It also aimed to improve the participants' skills in teaching in this mode.

Evaluation methods used included colleague consultation, analysis of students' test results and of their written reflections on their experience as well as more informal gaining of impressions during workshops.

The well documented difficulties with introducing this method were experienced, and its differential effects on students with certain backgrounds and approaches underlined.

Title:Integrating Total Quality Management into Institutional Evaluation
Researcher(s):K. Navaratnam, P. Mountney (Department of Employment, Vocational Education, Training and Industrial Relations) Tel: (07) 239 3168 Fax: (07) 239 3162

In order to achieve an incremental improvement through institutional review, educational organisations must consider supporting management strategies to assist in the review process. Integrating Total Quality Management (TQM) into the institutional review process can lead to success in linking the vision and mission of an educational agency to its management and operational strategies.

This paper describes theoretical perspective of integrating institutional review and TQM processes for achieving continuous improvement, and how the concept of TQM can be used as a planning tool to improve the process and outcomes of the institutional review. It characterises the management goals necessary for making continuous improvement in the quality of performance of all the processes, products and services of the educational institution. This paper also advocates that the institutional review process is, was and always will be, a way of planning, analysing, identifying and implementing appropriate management strategies for continuous improvement. Thus, every process in the review can be improved through linking the activities to the central focus of an educational institution through TQM. It concludes that educational institutions that integrate TQM into their institutional review can have a strategic advantage in making continuous improvement in the provision of quality learning and services for the customers.

Title:Australian Higher Education, 1945-1991
Researcher(s):P. Porter, J. Knight, R. Lingard, F. Rizai, L. Bartlett (University of Queensland) Tel: (07) 864 2111 Fax: 864 1510

The project provides a survey, documentation and policy analysis of key aspects of the expansion of higher education in post-war Australia. It is situated within a sociological analysis of the changing nature of the Australian 'federal' state. The assumptions underlying changes in policy and provision of higher education are located in the broader Australian social, political, cultural and economic contexts.

It is being developed in terms of a number of themes and case studies. They include:

The following topics are being addressed by post-graduate students:

Title:Teachers' Curriculum Decision-Making Practices at the Classroom Level: Implications for Curriculum Policy Formulation at the System Level
Researcher(s):Christine Proudfoot, Ian Macpherson, Tania Aspland
(Queensland University of Technology)
Tel: (07) 864 2111 Fax: (07) 864 1510

This research study is proposed for 1993. It aims to investigate teachers' curriculum decision-maki ng practices at the classroom level and to consider the implications of these practices for curriculum policy formulation at the system level.

The study is set within the context of senior schooling initiatives of the Queensland State Education Department. Focus on the Learner: Senior Schooling Curriculum Framework (Department of Education, Queensland 1991) was developed as a policy in 1988 and 1989 and implemented progressively from 1989. The policy was designed to cater for the diverse needs of the broad range of students in senior schooling and provided scope for teachers to develop projects that would address the particular needs of their clientele. A pilot study of teachers' perceptions was conducted during the first half of 1992 by the presenters. A theoretical framework developed from a review of literature helped guide the study. Findings from the study indicated that while teachers' educational values and philosophical orientations reflected key themes of the policy document, teachers, for the most part, tended not to interpret the policy in the manner it was intended. Rather, such factors as organisational structures, resource constraints and subjective realities were of overriding concern, and were held to work against successful change. Significant messages from the teachers in the study to policy makers related to the need for devolution of decision-making to the grassroots level; recognition of the realities of classroom life; and provision of adequate professional development activities.

This situation, where there is a degree of congruence between system values and teacher values, but a perception on the part of teachers that policy has little meaning for them in practical terms, raises questions about the nature of the decisions teachers make about curriculum policy change and the processes by which these decisions are made. Answers to these questions would provide a deeper understanding of the influences on teachers' curriculum practice in senior schooling and explain the mismatch between policy intentions and outcomes. Given the trend towards the promotion of devolution of decision-making as evidenced in, for example, Focus on Schools (Department of Education, Queensland 1990), an insight into teachers' curriculum decision-making practices would also provide an informed base from which policy makers could work to promote collaborative curriculum decision-making structures between schools and the system.

Title:TRAC Project
Researcher(s):Queensland University of Technology
(07) 864 2697 Fax: (07) 864 1805

The TRAC (Teaching, Reflection, Action Research and Collaboration) project is part of the Academic Staff Development Unit's Teaching Development Program and reflects QUT's commitment to quality teaching and learning.

Aim of the project

The general aim of the project is to foster and reinforce good teaching practices through the voluntary involvement of individuals or collegially collaborative groups of participants (in schools or faculties throughout the university) in small scale action research projects. The aim of these projects is to improve the quality of student learning by improvement teaching practice.

Specific objectives

To foster good teaching practice, project coordinators aim to:

  1. introduce project participants to the principles, practices and 'possibilities' of effective teaching and learning;
  2. provide research assistance for those participants who wish to become conversant with current and/or innovative teaching practices in their particular discipline to improve student teaching;
  3. seek to develop a spirit of collegiality within the university by encouraging pairs or small groups of participants from the same school or faculty to participant collaboratively in the project;
  4. hold monthly meetings of all project participants for professional interaction and exchange of ideas; and
  5. publish accounts of individual/collective research outcomes.

Title:Assessment of Student Performance Program 1990
Researcher(s):Review and Evaluation Directorate
(Queensland Department of Education)
Tel: (07) 2371091 Fax: (07) 229 3984

Accountability information in education is in demand with respect to individual students, classrooms, schools and systems as a whole. At the system level, accountability information is sought for quality assurance, resource advocacy, development, planning and policy making.

The Assessment of Performance Program (APP) aimed to provide system level indicative information about student performance. It was designed as a basis for monitoring the performance of students, providing a point-in-time snap-shot which portrays performance in selected aspects of key areas of the curriculum across year levels and allows for comparisons over time to be made. The APP was deliberately constrained to achieve this aim in a non-intrusive, cost efficient manner.

The method adopted falls within the psychometric tradition. Using light sampling and an Item Response Theory (IRT) approach, the program established a process by which student performance can be described and traced over time. Specifically, it developed bench-mark scales for writing, reading and mathematics. These scales provide a means for describing and monitoring the respective curriculum areas in general, as well as mapping student performance.

The program augments other forms of educational research, evaluation and assessment activity designed to meet development, accountability and improvement requirements. Moreover, it also provides input into the foregoing considerations. In particular, the information emerging from this program can assist healthy reflection on curriculum and schooling.

Title:Theories of Discourse: Do they explain the positions of girls in schools?
Researcher(s):Parlo Singh
(Division of Education, Griffith University)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

This paper examines theories of discourse used by educational researchers to analyse gender relations in schooling. Three categories of discourse theories were identified in the research literature, namely psychoanalytic, ethnogenic and cultural Marxist.

Using a psychoanalytic approach, Walkerdine (1990) drawing on the work of Freud and Lacan examined gender relations as a semiotic system. The internal struggles faced by girls within discourses of the classroom were analysed by Walkerdine (1990) through the use of the Lacian concepts of desire and threat, splitting and annihilation.

Davies (1990) and Davies and Harre (1990) used phenomenological concepts to examine the subjectivity of girls and boys. Davies argued that all relations in the classroom setting are based on traditional patterns of heterosexuality and are therefore difficult to deconstruct or change. The individual's consciousness or subjectivity within the discourses of the classroom was examined by Davies (1990), through taking the position of the Other.

Gilbert and Taylor (1991) combined cultural Marxist concepts of production and reproduction with Foucauldian theories of discourse. Consequently girls' behaviour in the classroom was interpreted by Gilbert and Taylor (1991) in terms of resistance and reproduction rather than contestation and transformation. It is proposed that while Foucauldian theories of discourse provide concepts which enable an analysis of the complexity of the micro dynamics of power relations, they do not attempt t o theorise about the transformation of power relations. Theories of structure and practice which enable an analysis of the social and historical construction of the State provide an avenue out of this conceptual dilemma (Connell, 1990; Skeggs, 1990).

Title:The Experiences of Beginning Secondary School Teachers in Queensland
Researcher(s):David Smith, Graham Nimmo
(Queensland University of Technology)
Tel: (07) 864 3548 Fax: (07) 864 3981

Two hundred and sixty-five graduates of teacher education courses at Brisbane College of Advanced Education (now QUT) responded to a questionnaire relating to their initial teaching experiences. The beginning teachers were drawn from both an end-on (Graduate Diploma) and concurrent course (Dip Teach) and had specialised in a wide range of teaching subjects. Sixty-two of the respondents were interviewed with the purpose of providing additional qualitative data relating to their initial teaching experiences.

Results indicated that although the majority of beginning teachers believed that they had adjusted to their new role well or very well and had found their experiences satisfying or very satisfying, a significant number - around 43 per cent - had experienced their initial year of teaching as difficult or very difficult. Adjustment and level of satisfaction was significantly related to the principal teaching area included in the pre-service course but was not related to factors such as the presence or absence of a school induction program, the size or the geographical location of the school in which the beginning teacher was placed. An exploration of the sources of satisfaction suggested the predominance of psychic rewards such as teacher-student relationships, perceived teacher success and supportiveness of colleagues. The most frequently cited problems related to classroom management, tiredness and a disrupted social life.

The study also examined beginning teachers' attitudes towards their pre-service course.

Title:Family Literacy Practices
Researcher(s):Julie Spreadbury
(Queensland University of Technology)
Tel: (07) 864 3175 Fax: (07) 864 4991

This study investigated some aspects of the family literacy practices of 25 Australian families over the period of a year, from the end of the children's preschool year, that is the year before formal schooling, to the end of Grade 1.

Data were collected by interviews of parents and teachers, from observation of the children at home and at school, from samples of the children's work, from standardised tests of the children's knowledge of literacy, language ability, self concept and reading ability, and from transcripts of parents and teachers reading to the children at home and school.

The study showed that family literacy practices changed from preschool to Grade 1. While socioeconomic status or education level were uncorrelated with the frequency of parent-child reading in the home and the amount of interaction between parent and child during such episodes, there was considerable variability in individual parent style.

Some parents were highly interactive when reading aloud with their child while others saw reading aloud more as a performance and had little or no verbal interaction with their children.

The number of utterances between parent and child decreased from the end of preschool to the end of Grade 1, but the complexity of questioning increased. Some children had difficulty with inferential questions but many parents helped them succeed by providing information or dropping the level of questions. Although three quarters of the children verbally interacted with their parent during the preschool reading, more than half the children were silent during the reading at the end of Grade 1.

As in Wells' (1985) Bristol study, the children's knowledge of literacy on entering school was highly predictive of their reading ability at both six and eight year old, as was the amount of interaction between parent and child during reading in the home.

This study showed not only the great variety in parent styles, but also the complex intertwining of cognitive and affective factors that make up individual parent style. This research reveals that many parents are highly competent at teaching their own children and as such, has implications for both parent and teacher programs of the future.

Title:Academic Risk Taking and Literacy Achievement of Six to Ten Year Olds
Researcher(s):Deborah Turnbull
(Griffith University) Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

This research investigates the correlation between literacy achievement and academic risk taking in the early primary grades. Initial work consisted of the development of the Academic Risk Taking Scale. This was followed by data collection and data analysis.

The Academic Risk Taking Scale items were drawn from classroom observations, teacher interviews and relevant literature. After trialling with various formats, a teacher observation format was finally settled upon. In this form the scale was administered using a sample of children from Brisbane schools. Internal reliability of the scale proved to be very high (alpha = 0.97).

For the main study, three schools were selected to include lower, middle and higher socio-economic areas. A total of 96 children were drawn from Grades 2, 3, 4 and 5. Half the children were identified by their class teacher as being risk takers and other half as non-risk takers. Data was collected during early November 1991. Instruments used in this study were: the Academic Risk Taking Scale; the Neale Analysis of Reading (Year 2 students only); and the TORCH Test of Reading Comprehension (Years 3, 4 and 5 students). A writing sample was also collected from each student in the study, and from other members of each class.

Although data analysis has not yet been completed, early results indicate some positive results. These include:

An early analysis indicates that non-risk takers achieve lower scores on standardised reading tests than risk takers. This result has implications for primary classroom teachers and support teachers - learning difficulties. Children who are failing to read and who do no respond to remedial programs may benefit from a program that encourages risk taking and promotes engagement in moderately difficult tasks, failure tolerance and appropriate goal setting. There is no indication that either boys or girls take greater academic risks.

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Title:Perceived Effectiveness of a Marketing Orientation and Marketing Techniques within International Student Marketing in South Australian Higher Education
Researcher(s):Christine R. Velde
(Faculty of Education, Griffith University)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

This research originated from two major changes in Australian Federal Government Policy on higher education which resulted in Australian institutions of higher education being thrust into the market place. The major problem in this study was to determine the effectiveness of a marketing orientation, and the degree of use and effectiveness of marketing techniques.

The findings illustrated that:

Additionally, factor analysis results did not support a clear portrayal of five factors of marketing effectiveness as identified in the overseas research, but rather a single marketing effectiveness factor. Recommendations made concerned the development of an enrolment management model for international student marketing, strategies to facilitate an effective marketing orientation, and professional marketing training for University staff. Further research should investigate the development of new or modified marketing effectiveness instruments which are pertinent to Australian conditions.

Title:A Study of Exemplary Teachers' Beliefs and Practices in Upper Primary Mathematics Within the Capricornia Region
Researcher(s):J. Watts, P. Danaher, P. Moran
(University of Central Queensland)
Tel: (079) 30 9619 Fax: (079) 30 9604

This study identifies and categorises specific teaching behaviours deemed to be characteristic of the classroom practices of a sample of effective upper primary teachers in mathematics.

Teachers were interviewed individually by audio tape and collectively by video tape to elicit their ideas and beliefs concerning exemplary mathematics teaching. Two lessons for each teacher were video-taped with an observer being present and both lessons were scrutinised independently by three experts using an instrument designed and validated for the study.

Results to date indicate that similar specific teaching attitudes and behaviours do exist among these teachers in their approaches to the teaching of mathematics, with these attitudes and behaviours being necessary but not always sufficient for quality teaching and learning.

Title:An Investigation into the Experiences of Four Female Secondary Students in Mathematics
Researcher(s):J. Watts
(University of Central Queensland)
Tel: (079) 30 9619 Fax: (079) 30 9604

This study investigates the perceptions of four female secondary students as such perceptions relate to students' participation in higher-level mathematics. The foci of inquiry are:

  1. the general nature of the phenomenon of female secondary students' participation in mathematics; and
  2. the specific world-view held by the four participating students as it relates to mathematics over a period of two years (Years 10 and 11).
Data gathering commenced in March 1991 and will be completed November 1992. The study builds upon elements of several social theory traditions within the interpretive perspective. A case study approach was chosen and qualitative methodologies were used in analysing data and abstracting 'conclusions' for the study.

Title:Longitudinal Study of Entry Characteristics of Students Commencing a Pre-service Teacher Education Course
Researcher(s):V. Watts, P. Hallinan (University of Central Queensland)
L. Laskey (Deakin University)
Tel: (079) 30 9619 Fax: (079) 30 9604

The project is designed as a longitudinal study examining the approaches to study, educational values and attitudes to group inclusion of a cohort of student teachers. Commencing at the point of entry to their pre-service studies in 1990 and 1991, SPQ, FIRO B and VAL-ED measures were used. The measures will again be administered to the first group of students as they exit from the course in a few weeks time. Research questions being addressed include:

The measures listed above are supported with ethnographic data.

Title:Are student achievement levels in Senior Chemistry reflected in individual concept maps?
Researcher(s):Jan Wilson
(Faculty of Education, Griffith University)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

This study examines variation in the organisation of domain-specific knowledge by 50 Senior Chemistry students in Year 12 and four teachers. Multidimensional scaling was used to categorise individuals in terms of their individually prepared concept maps based on 24 concepts relating to chemical equilibrium. Separation between individuals reflected their exit levels of achievement in Chemistry. The Pathfinder algorithm was subsequently used to obtain network representations of the knowledge structures held by two groups of individuals (VHA, HA students and teachers in the first group, and SA and LA students in the second). Differences in the network structures, such as the absence of higher-order relationships, the paucity of crosslinkages and links which revealed naive or alternative concepts, are interpreted in terms of qualitative variation in knowledge organisation by individuals with different levels of expertise in the domain.

Title:Special Skills for Community Living: Evaluation of a Trial Course
Researcher(s):Doug Wyer, Peter Hallinan
(Faculty of Education, University of Central Queensland)
Tel: (079) 30 9619 Fax: (079) 30 9604

This study reports and reflects on a trial course of 10 weeks designed to assist severely to profoundly handicapped adults of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent to function more effectively in society.

The opinions of teaching and residential staff were surveyed near the beginning of the course, again in the middle, and finally after the course concluded.

Notable issues to emerge concerned the lack of lead-time to set the course up, the inappropriateness of the curriculum, and communication and logistical difficulties that became apparent throughout.

These issues are discussed with a view to making some recommendations for a more effective long-term approach to this area of life skills development.

Title:Cognitive Strategies in Music Performance
Researcher(s):Brad Young, Clive Kanes
(Faculty of Education, Griffith University)
Tel: (07) 875 7111 Fax: (07) 875 7965

Areas in music that were identified by researchers as requiring further treatment identify the cognitive processes in reading that score and trans lating the music into sound with regard to the planning and execution stages. McArthur (1989) states that by comparing skilled and unskilled musicians could provide valuable pedagogical, as well as developmental insights into the learning and performance process.

The purpose of this study is to investigate cognitive strategies employed by expert pianists' in their preparation and performance of a piece of music. This study will be descriptive by design using interviews and computer analysis of performances.

The interview uses instruments that have been designed to maximise the studies construct validity.

Verbal Reporting: The interaction between the researcher and subject could be considered an unstructured interview, however it will be addressing the simple format of 'what', 'how' and 'why'. The function of this agenda is to make explicit, descriptive, procedural and conditional knowledge.

Marking of the Score: The purpose for marking the score is to provide a written account of what the subjects aim in performance and perception of performance. Also this will provide a template on which to compare the actual physical performance at a later date.

Stimulated Recall: The stimuli to be presented will be auditory and visual reproduction of the performance as well as computer graphic analysis showing tempo and dynamics plotted against the bar number of the piece to aid the subject in recalling events.

Please cite as: QIER (1992). 1992 Annual Research Forum: Abstracts. Queensland Researcher, 8(2), 2-41. http://education.curtin.edu.au/iier/qjer/qr8/forum-abs.html

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Created 5 June 2006. Last revision: 5 June 2006.
URL: http://education.curtin.edu.au/iier/qjer/qr8/forum-abs.html