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‘Masters of Education’ Category

  1. Naive Idealist

    8 April 2015 by shartley

    I’m starting to realise I’m a naïve idealist.  I want to teach in a way that benefits every single one of my students.  I want all my students to learn and achieve as well as they possibly can.  I want all my students to enjoy learning, embrace their positive passions and have a fulfilling life.  That’s all.

    I started studying my Masters of Education just for the piece of paper at the end but fell in love with the course with the very first two subjects, Curriculum and Pedagogy.  I was lucky enough to be well versed in the language of current thinking in these areas.  However, what kept biting me was the amount of rhetoric I was inclined to use without evidence.  Now, I’m so into what I have been learning for the last year and a half I want to just keep on going.

    It felt like I started my PhD this year but technically that’s a long way off yet.  When I finish my M.Ed., I enter the second year of a Masters of Research and then commence my PhD at the end of that.  These last two subjects of my M.Ed. are proving a bit of a stumbling block though.  One, a Literature Review, is meant to help me gain some background knowledge on the area I’m going to cover in my PhD but my grand ideas of writing about some of the big concepts in education keeps being narrowed down and down to a manageable size.  Of course I want my studies to be manageable but I also want to make a big difference.  I don’t think it’s an ego thing but instead I am driven by trying to find what’s the best we, as teachers, can do to help our students.  My other subject is the one I wrote about in my last two posts, an Introduction to Educational Research (EDCN800).

    Only three of the usual crowd of twelve or so turned up for EDCN800 last night, yet I came away more confused than when I arrived and wondered if it had been worth it.  Before arriving, I had a clear idea of what I was going to do for the next task (design a qualitative research study) and had received 3/3 for my proposal (my only 3/3 for our first task) but alas, no more.  You see, I made the mistake of making it an authentic task, something I could see myself doing in real life but really, all we have to do is go through the motions.  My idealism protested somewhat.  I want my learning to be meaningful and practical during the process of doing it.  I’m not just after the marks or even learning this now for some research I might do in the future; as I learn about how to design qualitative research, I want to be actually, in reality, authentically, designing qualitative research.

    However, a piece I have to write within three weeks for a uni assignment is not reality, particularly when talking about designing qualitative research; it normally takes much longer than that.  The literature review I am writing within one semester cannot contain every single article that I need to read to produce a doctorate thesis.  I am struggling with these limitations!!!

    How much more then, are we struggling in high schools to make learning authentic?  How can we help our students think they have something to contribute to the world when we have such short times on any one task, any one topic?  Some say school isn’t real life, that it is a false, socially constructed institution and that we should just accept that it is a mere addendum on real life.  How can we make secondary school learning authentic and meaningful if we can’t make it about the real world?  Do I ask too much?

    PS

    Perhaps my next post will need to be about the benefits of learning for the accumulation of knowledge rather than for practical application because of course, I see a place for that too in our curriculum.  For instance, I know many teachers and students who love learning about Ancient History for the sake of mere interest.  I love novels for what they say about the human condition.

    PPS

    My literature review has morphed into the question:

    What do we know about the connection between ‘assessment for learning’ and the self-regulation of students in secondary social sciences?

    My qualitative research design will be probably based on the question:

    How have teachers responded to change?


  2. Unit evaluation – composing a questionnaire

    5 April 2015 by shartley

    As part of my Masters of Education at Macquarie University I am studying EDCN800 Introduction to Educational Research.  Yesterday’s blog post lamented the frustrations I was having with the statistical aspects of the course. Today I was looking at the construction of questionnaires and the exercise set was basically the writing of some questions for evaluating a unit of study.  The thinking behind these questions is a little influenced by John Hattie’s Visible Learning (2009) which is currently guiding a research project with which I am involved, but mainly they come from an accumulation of experience and study of a wide range of material.  The areas I’ve noted and the questions themselves are not even close to being exhaustive lists. I actually hope to later develop this into a real questionnaire to evaluate my own courses.  I’d be interested in knowing what you would include.

    Aim: Evaluating a unit of study within the Masters of Education program.

    Research participants: Students undertaking the unit of study

    Key areas:

    The learning environment

    • Online
      • Ease of understanding/following procedure and instruction
      • Allows for communication and interaction with instructor and peers
      • Feels inclusive of all (gender, disabilities, internal/external students, etc)
    • On campus
      • Inviting environment (temperature, lighting, seating comfort, etc)
      • Allows for communication and interaction with instructor and peers
      • Feels inclusive of all (gender, disabilities, internal/external students, etc)

     

    The curriculum

    • Knowledge, understanding and skills
      • Made clear
      • Covers a range of lower-order and higher-order thinking skills
      • Challenging but achievable
    • Relevant
      • Builds on prior knowledge
      • Practical application to workplace and/or experience
      • Includes contemporary issues
    • Assessment
      • Both the assessment and related criteria are easy to understand
      • Aligns with goals for knowledge, understanding and skills
      • Offers choice
      • Fair, equitable and achievable (task and weighting)
      • Provides opportunity for feedback during the process
    • Transparent
      • Purpose of the learning is clear
      • All elements/tasks of the course are clear and upfront
      • What lies ahead in the course is clear
      • Timing is clear (module lengths, due dates, etc)

     

    The teacher

    • Knowledgeable
      • Course content
      • Student needs
      • Teaching methods
      • Contemporary context
    • Communication
      • Approachable/personable
      • Quality feedback
      • Clear in expectations
    • Strategies
      • Variety
      • Engaging
      • Motivates
      • Relevant
      • Easy to follow/do
      • Involves collaboration (at times)
    • Flexible in approach
      • Adapts to the learning needs of students
      • Adapts to changing circumstances

     

    The impact

    • Students know and understand more and can do more as a result of the course
    • Students are engaged, interested and/or enjoy the course
    • Students increase their desire to learn
    • Students obtain a sense of achievement from completing the course

     

    Examples of research questions to be included in a questionnaire conducted at the conclusion of a unit of study.

    The learning environment

    To assess the experience of the student in using the online page I would include these questions:

    The online course page was easy to navigate.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The online course page clearly presented the unit’s requirements.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The online course page supported collaborative learning.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    To conclude the online environment section I would ask an overarching question such as:

    How satisfied were you with the online environment in this unit of study?

    • Very dissatisfied
    • Dissatisfied
    • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Very satisfied

     

    Knowledge, understanding and skills

    To assess the experience of the student’s learning process I would include these questions:

    The course outcomes were easy to understand.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The course was challenging.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The course extended my understanding of the topic.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The course helped me to think more deeply about the topic.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    To conclude the knowledge, understanding and skills section I would ask an overarching question such as:

    How satisfied were you with what you learned in this unit of study?

    • Very dissatisfied
    • Dissatisfied
    • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Very satisfied

     

    Assessment

    To assess the student’s experience of assessment I would include these questions:

    The assessment requirements were easy to understand.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The assessment criteria was easy to understand.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The assessment criteria matched the assessment requirements.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The assessment requirements were challenging.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The assessment process extended my understanding of the topic.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The assessment process included helpful feedback before final submission.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree
    • Don’t know

     

    The assessment process was fair for all students.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree
    • Don’t know

     

     To conclude the assessment section I would ask an overarching question (or two) such as:

    How satisfied were you with how assessment was marked in this unit of study?

    • Very dissatisfied
    • Dissatisfied
    • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Very satisfied

     

    How satisfied were you with the process of completing assessment in this unit of study?

    • Very dissatisfied
    • Dissatisfied
    • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Very satisfied

     

    Communication

    To assess the student’s experience of the communication process I would include these questions:

     The teacher was easy to understand.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

     The teacher provided clear expectations.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

    The teacher provided helpful feedback.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree
    • Not applicable

     

    The teacher was approachable.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree
    • Not applicable

     

    The teacher provided timely responses to questions asked.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree
    • Not applicable

     

    To conclude the communication section I would ask an overarching question such as:

    How satisfied were you with how the teacher communicated in this unit of study?

    • Very dissatisfied
    • Dissatisfied
    • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Very satisfied

     

    The impact

    To assess the impact of the unit of study I would include these questions:

    I know and understand more about this topic area as a result of completing this unit of study.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

     I found this unit of study interesting.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

     I want to learn more about this topic area.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

     I obtained a sense of achievement from completing this unit of study.

    • Strongly disagree
    • Disagree
    • Neutral
    • Agree
    • Strongly agree

     

     To conclude this section I would ask an overarching question such as:

    How satisfied were you with what you learned in this unit of study?

    • Very dissatisfied
    • Dissatisfied
    • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
    • Satisfied
    • Very satisfied

     

    Construction of the Questionnaire

    These questions were designed to align with what I thought was most important for assessing a unit of study.

    They were written to be easily understood (“natural and familiar language” with “clear, precise and relatively short items”, Johnson & Christensen 2014, p.193) and allow for an appropriate range of options.

    To keep the questions easy to follow I used a fully anchored scale for all questions and there were only two styles of rating scales: (1) Agreement – for students to assess the elements of the course (2) Satisfaction – for students to assess the impact of the course on themselves in a broader and more personal sense.

    On occasion an option of “Don’t know” or “Not applicable” was added to allow for students who had not experienced that particular aspect of the course.

    The number of points were kept to five to assess students’ ambivalence and avoid irritating participants by forcing a stance.

    The wording was kept consistent where possible between sections, such as asking if the course/assessment/convenor were easy to understand, to allow for direct comparisons between the elements being researched.

    I believe I have avoided leading or loaded questions although at times I was tempted to add an adjective or two which would have broken this principle.

     

     

    REFERENCES

    Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement.  London: Routledge.

    Johnson, R. and Christensen, L. (2014). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches. (5th Edition). Thousand Oaks California: Sage.


  3. Research

    4 April 2015 by shartley

    20150404-220801.jpg

    Image source: author’s own textbook

    I’m currently studying EDCN800 Introduction to Educational Research at Macquarie University.  It is the only compulsory subject in my course but I put it off to last because it seemed so dry, and well, boring.  I have my regrets, however, since it would have been quite useful to know what I should be doing before I submitted abstracts on behalf of my team to international conferences.  When we were accepted to these conferences I had to write academic level articles on the basis of haphazard and amateurish research.  One of these articles was for a peer-reviewed journal and one of the two peers who assessed the paper slammed it for not being written in the acceptable academic format.  I had avoided the more academic format because I didn’t want to pretend that the research was formally conducted.  I have now resubmitted the piece into a more acceptable format but it still awaits final approval.

    More recently, I have been trying to support a friend who has been designing real proper research under the guidance of a university professor.  The professor’s critiquing of the attempts to write a research question and plan the research methods was a painful process but the frustration was worth it in the end because I think there is a very valuable research project currently underway.  As I do this course I can, in retrospect, see more clearly what was required and if I had completed this subject before this year it might have been a much less painful process.  Now, as I study the ethics of research I wonder how much more should be done to cover ethical considerations in my friend’s research.  It is also giving me more depth to my knowledge of research methods for when I teach Society and Culture.

    In the first semester of my Masters of Education I chose one subject (curriculum) because a friend was also doing it and another subject because I felt knowledgeable in that area (pedagogy).  I had enrolled in the course just so I could obtain the piece of paper and letters to look good on my CV but within a couple of weeks of participating in these two subjects I was enjoying myself immensely and did quite well as a result.  However, the one aspect that I was continually criticised about was the negligible evidence to support my (soapbox) statements.  I have improved a lot in this area since then.

    Now as I study EDCN800 I expect high achievement from myself but I’m not succeeding. I’m engaged in the subject because of the afore-mentioned application but despite being quite numeracy literate I struggle with the statistical concepts and analysis of data.  I only received 65% for the first of five assignments.  Today I battled with the concepts of reliability and validity with all their different coefficient measurements.  The concepts in themselves are fine but when I have to apply them to a technical academic article it becomes all muddled up and difficult to navigate.  Not only do I need to understand these concepts for EDCN800 but I am also writing a literature review for EDCN806 which requires an examination of the reliability and validity of the articles I am including in the review.  It is all driving me insane and I question my ambition to complete a PhD down the track.  As a result I’m feeling a fair bit of empathy with my students at the moment.

    Anyway, that’s enough complaining, I need to attack a question about evaluations using numerical ratings and then write some of my own questionnaire items to assess student experience in studying the Masters of Education.  It is so much easier to help my students design their research for their Personal Interest Projects (PIPs) in HSC Society and Culture than to do it myself at a university level.  But here I go…

    Stay tuned.


  4. One More Mark

    15 February 2015 by shartley

    We recently had an assembly at my school to celebrate the students who received an ATAR over 90 in the HSC last year.  There was a brief introduction from the Principal, a guest speaker who was surprisingly entertaining and in-depth about having respect for yourself by demonstrating respect for others, a speech from an all-rounder from the class of 2014 and a speech from the student who achieved the highest ATAR in 2014.  The students’ speeches consistently referred to balance but also a commitment to study.  The Head of Curriculum spoke about “one more mark”.

    I am currently finishing my Masters in Education with a plan in place to do a literature review as one of my last subjects in preparation for a Masters of Research as a lead-in to a PhD.  A long road is marked ahead.  For my PhD I plan to examine the increasing emphasis on marks as the main goal instead of marks being a mere measure of learning.  Sometimes the learning component of 13 years of formal school education is lost in a single number.  Too many times I ask students what they want to do when they leave school and they have no idea.  When I ask what they want to achieve at school they say a good mark in the HSC.  I ask why and more often than not it is to please their parents.  I ask what interests them in what they’re learning, and they say not much, they are just aiming for good marks.  How sad is that?

    The “one more mark” speech implored students to ask their teachers what they could do for just one more mark.  You see, data analysis of the school’s HSC results revealed numerous 88s and 89s in individual subjects so the aim is to push students into Band 6 (90+) because we have more Band 5s than the average school, shouldn’t it be easy to push them into Band 6 with a one more mark philosophy?  I think not.  I think the underlying problem is more associated with a culture of teaching to the test and spoon-feeding, of memorising and regurgitating, not just in my school but across many, many schools.  Band 6 is about demonstrating high-order thinking skills, critical thinking, problem solving and the like.  Remembering one more fact will not push an 89 to a 90.

    Now as much as I am an advocate for learning to be a focus over the memorising for tests, part of my job is preparing students for the HSC and its testing regime.  In Society and Culture students need to know, understand and apply some core concepts.  We drill the eleven main definitions underlying just about everything studied in Society and Culture.  My Year 11s recently sat their first test of these eleven definitions.  One student perfectly provided the first six but then left the remaining five blank.  She didn’t want to even try to use words from her own understanding, she only wanted to give the precise words of the syllabus.  Again, how sad is that?

    This weekend I marked a practice HSC Business Studies extended response I had given as holiday work.  They were a long way below the standard I expect from these students.  I believe the majority didn’t do them over the holidays but the night before they submitted it.  The question was How can different sources of funds help a business achieve its financial objectives?  Both the sources of funds and financial objectives listed in the syllabus were handed out when the question was issued at the end of last year but many students failed to refer to them, probably because they just took the question from the ediary entry.  Most of those who did use these syllabus terms, did not link them to show how different sources of funds help businesses to achieve financial objectives but merely provided textbook definitions of each term and tacked on introductions and conclusions.  Needless to say, it was a disappointing marking process.  However, despite my reservations about the “one more mark” speech I am going to hand these responses back with marks and an expectation of how many more marks they are to achieve in their second attempt.  I feel like I’m going against my principles but that it could be a good way for them to see that their poor attempt at the only bit of homework I set over seven or so weeks of the holidays just isn’t good enough.  The increase of marks expected have been determined by my gut instinct based on having spent a year with these students and thus knowing what they can achieve.  Some students are being asked for just two more marks, some ten and a whole range in between.  Wish me luck!


  5. Everything old is new again

    21 September 2014 by shartley

    IMG_4177

    Image source: Shani Hartley

    Remixes, mash-ups, whatever the young people are calling it these days, leadership literature has nothing new under the sun.  Macbeath (2006) takes us back to morals, Kellerman (2007) returns to using the language of ‘leaders and followers’ after some of the literature had a stint at promoting everyone as a leader, Eacott (2011) has returned to Bourdieu for inspiration and Blackmore (2013) is looking at leadership through a feminist lens.  Albeit there are slightly new nuanced meanings of leadership hashed out in the process, the search for a holy grail of leadership continues.

    This holy grail represents the easiest and most reliable path to greatness through leadership and change management.  However, this holy grail is a myth because there are so many factors at play in leading an organisation, particularly an educational organisation, that all variables cannot be accounted in a simple instruction manual or recipe.  They make some good guides to follow but they cannot be strictly adhered to because they do not represent the real world.  It’s like click-bait for blog posts – the ones most clicked are those that have an identified number of items in a list and use marketing techniques to suck you in.

    The worst article I have read so far as part of my ‘Leadership for Learning’ course is Zimmerman’s (2004) climbing a mountain analogy.  I wanted to puke.  So I thought I’d give it a go myself.  We recently installed a new kitchen in our house so in 20 easy steps I’ll guide you through how replacing a kitchen is like leading a school through change.

    1. Make a decision that the old kitchen/paradigm/building/etc is not good enough anymore
    2. Convince others that this is the right/best thing to do
    3. Dream big – plan what the new kitchen/paradigm/building/etc will include
    4. Measure and cost – what is achievable?
    5. Adjust, compromise
    6. Have a plan drawn up
    7. If possible, hire additional workers to do what you can’t do yourself
    8. Rip out the old kitchen/paradigm/building/etc
    9. Suffer during the transition process
    10. Put in some hard yakka yourself (last school holidays I did 65 hours of painting in one week)
    11. Discover the unexpected hurdles and expenses, and changing parameters along the way (doors needed to be removed to fit the new large fridge, the oven doesn’t have a clock/timer!)
    12. Adjust, compromise
    13. Everything takes longer than expected
    14. Adjust, compromise
    15. Enjoy the shiny new things (the fridge really is lovely)
    16. Discover that not everything has improved from before (there’s less storage space!)
    17. It seems there are a few bits and pieces which never seem to be finished off
    18. Settle into the new kitchen/paradigm/building/etc
    19. Turn your attention to the next area in need of a revamp
    20. Return to Step 1

     

    Blackmore, J. (2013) A feminist critical perspective on educational leadership. International Journal of Leadership in Education. 16(2), 139-154.

    Eacott, S. (2011). Leadership strategies: re-conceptualising strategy for educational leadership. School Leadership and Management, 31(1) 35-46.

    Kellerman, B. (2007). What every leader needs to know about followersHarvard Business Review, 85 (12), 84-91.

    MacBeath, J. (2006). Leadership for learning: quest for meaning. Leading and Managing, 12(2), 1-9.

    Zimmerman, J. (2004). Leading organizational change is like climbing a mountainThe Educational Forum, 68(Spring), 234-242.


  6. Leadership and Learning

    21 September 2014 by shartley

    I am Here for the Learning Revolution

    Image source: Wesley Fryer (Flickr)

    This post (aka rant) is a result of being part of a team driving change at my school; studying not one, but two university subjects focusing on leadership; and having numerous conversations about leadership in recent times beyond these circumstances.

    There’s a fine balance between the autocratic/transactional style of one-way communicating telling staff how things are to be done and a constant consultative style that becomes caught in trying to please everyone so that nothing ends up being done.  It isn’t a dichotomy but a spectrum of leadership style.  As a leader I like to work alongside people but realise there are times strong decision making and even discipline may be required (although I know to treat the action not the person, just like with students).

    Character traits apply to leadership style but a lot of the traits demonstrated by leaders are an act, not necessarily something they are given at birth.  I’m naturally an introvert but assume a stronger persona because I’m someone who strives to be a high achiever (if a job needs to be done I want to do it well). This is why most people view me as an extrovert.  For instance, I hate conflict as a passive observer but being in it or trying to reconcile conflict between others is worse.  Yet, I am good at it.  I once went to a psychologist who helped in career matters and he told me that my sense of pride in doing things well over-rode being out of my comfort zone but it wasn’t sustainable as a constant practice.  At uni we were once asked what we thought was the most important aspect of leading change, and everyone else said communication while I said, all-in.  Communication is just a method for driving an all-in attitude.  I therefore work on solidarity, cohesion and an all-in attitude within teams.

    I believe there should be a clear vision in schools and that a vision should have at its core a focus on learning, but too often I see schools avoiding the word learning and making the vision more about character.  I wonder how much this is to absolve parents from that role?  I think developing character is important but learning across all aspects of life is important and surely, the main purpose of secondary education.

    I think it is important for my current school to move from a transactional leadership paradigm to a transformational paradigm (Bass 1997) but beyond this, it needs to bring in more open leadership style, with a focus on people more than administration (Kotter 1990).  I want to be part of that paradigm shift.  I like what Robinson, Lloyd and Rowe (2008) and Davies and Davies (2005) have to say about leadership because although they simplify leadership, they don’t oversimplify it into unrealistic expectations of a mere series of steps to follow. For instance, I like Robinson et al emphasise building trust and it appears genuine, not just a means for meeting goals.  Davies & Davies are excellent at moving leadership theory for product based organisations to the school environment and taking context of environment into account.

    I love Eacott’s (2011) analysis of Bourdieu (who I studied extensively as part of a writing and literature course) partly because “A central aim of Bourdieu’s sociology is the attempt to remove the dichotomy between the individual and society” and partly because Eacott demonstrates how the accountability of schools have become the end-goals in themselves (p.42).  The HSC should be a measurement, not the goal in itself.  The learning involved in undertaking the HSC should be the goal.

    We need a focus on learning in an environment of trust and strong relationships.  Otherwise, schools become a competitive arena about point scoring, amongst staff and amongst students.  Even between teachers and students.  Some of the top academic achieving schools seem to want to foster an individual selfish competitive environment, taking away the focus on learning to a focus on marks, and even though I’m competitive by nature and take pride in high marks (mine and my students’), a system that thrives on that is my idea of hell.

     

    Bass, B.M. (1997). Does the transactional-transformational leadership paradigm transcend organizational and national boundaries? American Psychologist, 52(2), 130-139. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.52.2.130

    Davies, B.J. & Davies B. (2005). The strategic dimensions of leadership. In Davies, B., Ellison, L. & Bowring-Carr, C. (eds) School Leadership in the 21st Century (pp.8-16). London: RoutledgeFalmer.

    Eacott, S. (2011). Leadership strategies: re-conceptualising strategy for educational leadership. School Leadership and Management, 31(1), 35-46. DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2010.540559

    Kotter, J. (1990). Management and Leadership. In Kotter (ed.), A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management (pp.2-18).  New York, NY: The Free Press.

    Robinson, V. M. J., Lloyd, C. A., & Rowe, K. J. (2008). The Impact of Leadership on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Differential Effects of Leadership Types. Educational Administration Quarterly44(5), 635–674.

     


  7. If only Education was like West Wing: what I learned by studying Advanced Pedagogy at uni (M.Ed)

    19 October 2013 by shartley

    I love the television show West Wing.  The fictional government was ethically sound and tried to unite the country by attending the needs of the marginalised, the poor and the society as a whole.  If only we had a government like that.

    Education has become inextricably linked to economic ideals and this has a large impact on curriculum and pedagogy.  One area where this is evident is in the “choice, competition and performance” promoted by politicians (Buchanan 2011, p.68) and I’m guilty of shopping for schools for my own son currently, as one of the financially advantaged who can do so.  Another example of economic prominence in education is how students are continually viewed as a labour resource with a desire for individual success rather than as participants in a community.  As Wyn (2009) claims, “Education must accommodate individual and social goals” (p.43).

    I am an advocate for the type of pedagogical change Kalantzis and Cope (2012) promote for schools with their concept of “learning design” that examines “the big questions” (p.84) in an environment of “energetic intellectual inquiry and practical solution development” (p.86).  Thooman et al (2011) found it is important to connect to students and create positive collaborative experiences, “education should provide students with opportunities to work on realistic and situated activities” (p.356) which supports my motto of ‘keeping it real’.  National curriculum and its General Capabilities (ACARA 2011) provide a strong prospect to shift teaching from an industrial learning model to a student-centred thinking model which is the position we’re taking at my school.  Next year as national curriculum is introduced, I am helping teachers to implement our REAL (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning) Program to Year 7, a student-centred concept, as part of my role on the Innovative Learning Team.

    There is an extraordinary amount of political rhetoric surrounding ICT in schools as revealed by Jordan (2011), some of which I readily accept as universal truths, such as how ICT drives change, but the main point where I am in agreement with Jordan is her criticism of students as being described as “digitally savvy” (p.245).  The nature and implications of ICT in education are changing rapidly and nobody is able to keep abreast of it all.  Further pressure on teachers come in the form of charismatic speakers on the education circuit such as Sir Ken Robinson and Sugata Mitra criticising the current methods of teaching and promoting their own pedagogical agenda.

    This rhetoric and economic overdrive affects teachers immensely.  I thus have an ongoing concern about how a pedagogical paradigm shift is integrated into schools.  Too often structural change is forced onto teachers instead of in consultation and students are neglected altogether (McGregor 2011, p.15), making them both feel powerless.  O’Sullivan (2007) demonstrated how teachers are tied to their role emotionally, more than to their professional pride in intelligence and ability (p.9).  Thoonan et al (2011) acknowledged the role teacher self-efficacy had in motivating students. An analysis of teaching standards by Connell (2009) revealed the absence of recognition of the sheer energy required to teach, “Energy, movement, expression and fatigue all matter” (p.220).  Teachers need to be supported and be involved in the change process for it to be successful.

    Education needs to be like West Wing where idealism is implemented for the individuals who constitute the education community and the good of society as a whole.

    Reference List

    ACARA (2011). General capabilities. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/general_capabilities.html

    Buchanan, R. (2011). Paradox, Promise and Public Pedagogy: Implications of the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(2), 67-77. DOI: 10.14221/ajte2011v36n2.6

    Connell, R (2009) ‘Good teachers on dangerous ground: towards a new view of teacher quality and professionalism’, Critical Studies in Education, 50.3, 213-229.

    Jordan, K. (2011). Framing ICT, teachers and learners in Australian school education ICT policy. Australian Educational Researcher, 38(4), 417-431.

    Kalantzis, M and Cope, B (2012) ‘New learning: A charter for change in education’, Critical Studies in Education, 53:1, 83-94.

    McGregor, G. (2011). Engaging Gen Y in schooling: the need for an egalitarian ethos of education. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 19(1), 1-20.

    O’Sullivan, K (2007) ‘Unmasking the Professional Identities of English Teachers’, International Journal of Educational Practice and Theory, 29(1), 6–5.

    Thoonen, E, Sleegers, P, Peetsma, T and Oort, F. (2011). Can Teachers Motivate Students to Learn? Educational Studies, 37(3), 345-360

    Wyn, J. (2009). Touching the Future: Building Skills for Life and Work. Australian Education Review, 55, Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne.

     


  8. League Tables

    19 October 2013 by shartley

     

    Everything seems to evolve around the economy now. Education is no exception.

    On the home page of the federal government’s Department of Education Schooling website it repeatedly refers to being about access to schools.  It states the department is responsible for access to “quality and affordable” education that meets the needs of all children (Australian Government Department of Education 2013a).  The words access, quality, affordable and needs all relate to the field of economics and economics is about constant measurement and assessment.  Education is no exception: “The My School website contains school performance data and other information on Australian schools” (Australian Government Department of Education 2013b).  It is interesting that the judgement-laden word, performance, is used, as if the data displayed is a definitive evaluation of schools.  The media then further analyses these numbers to create the Australian version of league tables.

    There have been many criticisms of the use and display of league tables including that it humiliates low-ranking schools (Farrell 2009) and sends administrators into “damage control” (Joseph 2006), place teachers under pressure (Joseph 2006) which results in teaching to the test and frequent tests (Hawkes 2010) and is used for “wedge” politics (Clennell and Patty 2009).  The main issue, however, is that the data only covers a very narrow aspect of education.  League tables neglect the cultural, sporting, extracurricular, ICT and community aspects of schools (Joseph 2006, p.16).  Boston (2009) claims employers find young people with formal qualifications “unable to communicate simply and well, cannot work collaboratively, lack initiative and enterprise…lack a thirst for continued learning and personal growth…deficit in the soft skills that form an essential component of the human capital of each individual” (p.37).  This is an example of an argument against league tables, an economic driven measurement, also being stated in economic terms.

    The government argues that MySchool exists to provide transparency to parents but it is such a small window it “becomes a proxy for all the other information which is inferred” (Boston 2009, p.37).  It has created a stronger market situation for schools using economic rhetoric about choice and asset allocation to support its case (Cobbold 2009, Joseph 2006).  Choice may actually lead to social and racial segregation (Cobbold 2009, p.10) and is not readily available to many due to the financial restrictions of fees, transport and lost time (Reid 2010, p.13).  Tim Hawkes (2009), Principal of one of the most prestigious schools in Australia, The King’s School, recognised the negative issues of league tables but also argued that MySchool is good as an indicator of the value added by a school and how government is allocating taxpayers’ money. This constant economic language ties in with the government’s neo-liberal focus on individuals instead of community.

    Education should be much more than about creating a product called human labour, contributing to Australia’s role in the global economy.  Education is about community, friendships, nurturing, caring, the whole person, contributing to the world in more than the economic sense.  It is about understanding ourselves and each other.  The MySchool website is a tiny window into just a fraction of what school is about. Other information needs to be gathered if it is to be a realistic indicator of school performance.  Even so, the rhetoric about choice and asset allocation as justification for transparency needs to cease because it is a complete fallacy.

     

     

    Reference List

    Australian Government Department of Education. (2013a). Department of Education: Schooling. Retrieved from http://www.education.gov.au/schooling

    Australian Government Department of Education. (2013b). Department of Education: MySchool. Retrieved from http://www.education.gov.au/my-school

    Boston, K. (2009, October). League tables. Teacher, n.205, 36-42. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/

    Clennell, A. and Patty, A. (2009, November 12). Breaking the law: the exam results they don’t want you to see. smh. http://www.smh.com.au/national/breaking-the-law-the-exam-results-they-dont-want-you-to-see-20091111-i9zt.html

    Cobbold, T. (2009, March). League tables. Professional Educator, 8(1), 8-11. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/

    Farrell, J. (2009, November 19). School league tables. Club Troppo. Retrieved from http://clubtroppo.com.au/2009/11/19/league-tables/

    Hawkes, T. (2010, January 27). Ladder of opportunity rises above league tables. smh. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/ladder-of-opportunity-rises-above-league-tables-20100126-mw8b.html

    Joseph, J. (2006, October). Report Cards: Reporting what matters. Professional Magazine, 21, 14-17. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/

    Reid, A. (2010, March). The My School Myths. AEU (SA Branch) Journal, 42(12), 12-13. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/


  9. Globalisation and Education

    17 October 2013 by shartley

    SkypeWithPalestine

    Photo by author: Skype to Palestine (ex-student converted from Christianity to Islam)

     

    Globalisation has had a profound effect on education.  The breaking down of political, trading and geographical barriers, strongly influenced by the development of the Internet and advanced communication techniques, is altering education from being inward looking to being more world focused.  Instead of peering into textbooks, students are beginning to connect with the wider world through technological processes.

    Curriculum is being prescribed for a globalised world but it is politically motivated with too much attention placed on the economy and the students’ future role as a labour resource.  The influence of a capitalist economy is also apparent in the political promotion of “choice, competition and performance” in Australian schools, evident in the enforcement of transparency of test results and in the development of national curriculum (Buchanan 2011, p.68).

    An example of economic language involved with curriculum is in the discussion of the environment and in particular climate change.  The word ‘sustainable’ is used often but in relation to a sustainable economy instead of having the emphasis on sustaining people’s interaction with the environment.  For instance, in the draft ACARA Geography Curriculum (2013) the word ‘economy’, or its derivative, appears 66 times.  Lambert (2013) argues for Geography to play a greater role in British curriculum, by linking “economic, environmental and educational crises of our times” (p.85) to present a case for a curriculum of survival as opposed to sustainability. Emotive and economic language is all too common in current literature about curriculum (Ditchburn 2012).

    The economy, globally and locally, is important but it should not be the dominant force influencing curriculum.  There needs to be more emphasis on students being actively involved in all aspects of community, globally and locally, not just the economic component.

    The more I examine curriculum the more I am convinced that we should be moving to capabilities as a focus in curriculum (ACARA 2011, Reid 2005). Lambert (2013) is arguing the opposite. He views the shift to ‘competences’ and the integration of subjects causing the “contemporary erosion of trust in specialist knowledge, and increased emphasis on students’ experience” and changing “the emphasis of the curriculum from content to skills and to favour more open ‘facilitative’ pedagogies” (p.89). He then concludes that this shift “almost signals that schools should give up on knowledge” (p.90).  Personally, I’m tired of extreme rhetoric.  What we need in curriculum and pedagogies is greater balance.  There is a place for specialist knowledge, a place for experience in active learning and a place for skills as well as knowledge in modern curriculum.

    As technology comes to the fore through globalisation, teachers are as important as ever due to the skill required to balance the numerous influences on education with each unique student that comes before them.  I believe in having a structured curriculum and thus resist the term ‘student-directed learning’ which makes me think of ‘free schools’ where students themselves organise learning activities or self-select from the activities provided (Galley 2004).  I am an advocate for technology and student-centred learning but there needs to be a balance.  I would like to see teachers who generally want to remain traditional, expository in nature, to learn to yield some of the control, place some of the learning process into the hands of students and connect to a community beyond the walls of the classroom.  Again, I call for balance and sensibility.

    Just as there are an immense variety of students in our education system and a wide range of resources available, each and every school, class and teacher need to adapt accordingly.  My dream is of schools, rich and poor, around the world, connecting, allowing all of us to think critically and gain deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. We need to think what is best for our students and community, not necessarily our economy.

     

     

    Reference List

    ACARA (2011). General capabilities. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/general_capabilities.html

    ACARA. (2013). Draft F-12 Australian Curriculum – Geography. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum_1/learning_areas/humanities_and_social_sciences/geography.html

    Buchanan, R. (2011). Paradox, Promise and Public Pedagogy: Implications of the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(2), 67-77. DOI: 10.14221/ajte2011v36n2.6

    Ditchburn, G. (2012). The Australian Curriculum: finding the hidden narrative?, Critical Studies in Education, 53(3), 347-360. DOI: 10.1080/17508487.2012.703137

    Galley, M. (2004). Free Rein. Education Week, 23(36), 27-31. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.simsrad.net.ocs.mq.edu.au/ehost/

    Lambert, D. (2013). Geography in school and a curriculum of survival. Theory and Research in Education, 11(1), 85-98. DOI: 10.1177/1477878512468385

    Reid, A. (2005). Rethinking National Curriculum Collaboration: Towards an Australian Curriculum. Department of Education, Science and Training, Canberra. Retrieved from EDCN812, Macquarie University iLearn, http://ilearn.mq.edu.au/course/view.php?id=13878

     


  10. Policy Rhetoric Regarding Technology in Education

    13 October 2013 by shartley

     

    Photo by author

    Photo by author

    The rhetoric of the role of technology in education spruiked by government bodies and other institutions was clearly demonstrated by Jordan (2011).  It provided a similar awakening for me that the research conducted by Marcos, Sanchez and Emilio (2011) into teacher reflections also provided (see previous post).  Basically, in both cases, there are a lot of statements made emphatically, authoritatively but with little evidence of research into the effectiveness of the promoted course of action.

    The problem is the rate of change in education today, particularly in regards to education.  People feel there isn’t enough time to conduct research.  It is compounded by the familiarity many people feel towards technology and the absolute horror felt by others.  Those who have the knowledge and experience easily dictate how it should all work to those who know little.

    However, in my not so humble opinion, some of Jordan’s criticisms are of almost universally accepted truths. For instance, technology is a driver of change.  It is evident by the smart phones in people’s pockets and how they use them.  Jordan (2011) lists “ICT as driving welcomed change” (p.419) as her first theme in representations of ICT.  My issue is with the word ‘welcome’.  The language in political rhetoric is more about “opportunities” (p.420) that can be gained with ICT change.  The more emotive and persuasive language is found in words such as “vital” (p.420) in regards to how technology should be used for learning.  This is not saying it is welcomed.

    Of course politicians and educational institutions want to focus on the positives students’ futures.  Don’t we teachers want the same?  I believe it is fairly obvious that there is potential to harness and transform technology for the good of education so I don’t agree with Jordan’s criticism on these points (p.421).  However, the word ‘revolutionise’, to me, is pushing the rhetoric a bit too far.

    Overall I don’t object much to the rhetoric used regarding the potential of ICT in education.  However, I agree with Jordan’s criticisms of descriptions of students as “digitally savvy” (2011, p.425), a term coined by Mark Prensky, a prolific keynote speaker around the world.  He has experienced four years in the classroom, 1968-1971 (Prensky 2013).  In the classroom we too often see the shortfalls in students’ ICT knowledge, such as not knowing to use CTRL F to search for a particular term in a screed of text.  From my experience, they have a much more narrow experience of technology than I, generally restricted to gaming and social networking.

    At my previous school, teachers were constantly marginalised to being facilitators and technology lifted to the role of teacher.  Jordan (2011) argued that where students are deemed digitally savvy, “the teacher is relegated to the role of passive mediator, the instrumental means to predetermined ends” (p.428).  It is a false depiction.

    Popenici (2013) lamented the portrayal of an ideal where students completely self-direct their learning in a blog post that resonated to an extent with the experience I had with my previous school.  For instance a ‘Deep Learning Day’ was introduce one day a week for Year 11 to work on whatever they chose, even though teachers were expected to provide work that may not be completed.  Students were allowed to consult with teachers but teachers were (originally) not meant to keep them on task or offer unrequested assistance.

    Personally, I agree with most of the rhetoric of the politicians but agree with Jordan’s concerns for the way students are depicted as having a technological advantage over teachers.  The framing of the use of technology in education needs to more realistic for the opportunities and possibilities to be achieved through recognition of the true support and development required to make it happen.

     

    References

    Jordan, K. 2011. Framing ICT, teachers and learners in Australian school education ICT policy, Australian Educational Researcher, 38:4, pp.47-431, http://www.academia.edu/1964725/Framing_ICT_teachers_and_learners_in_Australian_school_education_ICT_policy

    Marcos, J.M., Sanchez, E., and Tillema, H.H. 2011. “Promoting teacher reflection: What is said to be done” Journal of Education for Teaching: International Research and Pedagogy, 37:1, pp.21-36

    Popenici, S. 2013. Devaluation of Teaching and Learning, 10 October, http://popenici.com/2013/10/10/teaching/

    Prensky, M. 2013. Marc’s Resume (CV). http://marcprensky.com/marcs-resume-cv/

     

     


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