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PostGrad Schools of Education

2012/ www.educationreview.co.nz

THE STARPATH PROJECT ADDRESSING

INEQUALITY IN EDUCATION

A CLOSER LOOK AT

RUDOLF STEINER EDUCATION

RAISING BOYS’ ACHIEVEMENT WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT IN E-LEARNING New Zealand

Part of the

EDUCATION REVIEWseries


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INEQUALITY IN EDUCATION

IN THIS ISSUE, we ask postgraduate education students from around the country what their main concerns are for New Zealand’s education system. The results were interesting and varied. There were the inevitable concerns about literacy, but also fears that the focus on literacy was stifling the importance of the arts in a child’s education. There were concerns expressed over politically-motivated assessment structures being prioritised over children’s development. There were fears for the future of higher education in Canterbury following the earthquakes. However, the biggest concern for New Zealand’s education system remains how we address the widening gap between students in rich and poor areas. Despite achieving a “world-class” ranking in a recent OECD report, New Zealand’s education system is leaving many behind, particularly those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. There is nothing new here: inequality in education, as in other sectors, has been creeping in for decades. I was interested to know what initiatives are being utilised to address the problem. I was heartened to see many research projects and governmentbacked programmes aimed at targeting those students who, by all accounts, our system is failing. We consider some of these initiatives in this issue. Jannie van Hees shares her findings on how teachers can address the vocabulary gaps present in primary school pupils in low-decile schools. Garry Hornby looks at the importance of the parental role in a student’s education. The Starpath Project is aimed at getting more Māori and Pacific secondary students into tertiary education. The transition from school into the big, wide world is also a focus of this issue. We consider the Ministry of Education schemes aimed at providing flexibility and choice for young Kiwis teetering on their post-school futures: the fees-free tertiary places offered under the Youth Guarantee programme, the trades and service academies, and the development of vocational pathways. We also look at the state-of-the-art sports academies and other features offered by schools in an effort to cater for the talents and aspirations of their students. It is a huge pleasure to receive submissions about the cutting-edge research, the innovative programmes, the harsh truths, and the bright hopes for New Zealand education. Please keep them coming in. Education Review is your forum to kick around ideas, share opinions, and keep up to date on the important issues affecting education in New Zealand. Jude Barback, editor editor@educationreview.co.nz

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INSIDE: 2 Critically assessing our ‘so called’ world class education. 5

Student opinion on the biggest concerns for New Zealand education.

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Measuring the power of parental involvement.

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English competence ensures clear communication for all kids.

11 Mini mathematicians, maximum results. 12 Bridging the theory-practice divide in our education system. 14 The Starpath to success. 15 Susan Faircloth: From Coharie to Māori. 16 Working hard to raise boys’ achievement. 18 Childhood memories are made of this.

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20 New masters degree HITs the mark. 22 Positing the evolution of Schools of Education. 24 Teachers who changed roles mid-career. 27 Do New Zealand business schools measure up?

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28 What is wrong with New Zealand’s e-learning guidelines? 30 Exploring alternatives with a Steiner education. 33 A pilot to enhance the roles of associate teachers. 34 Analysing the data on student engagement. 36 Youth 2000: checking the pulse of New Zealand’s students. 38 Education that moves beyond the school gates. 40 For the bookshelf: starting out at uni.

EDITOR Jude Barback ADVERTISING Belle Hanrahan PRODUCTION MANAGER Barbara la Grange PUBLISHER & GENERAL MANAGER Bronwen Wilkins EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Shane Cummings CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Garry Hornby, Jannie van Hees, John Clark, Ralph Springett, Terry Neal, Peter Coolbear, Fiona Pienaar, Shiree Lee, Nicola Dunham

PostGrad Schools of Education

APN Educational Media Level 1, Saatchi & Saatchi Building 101-103 Courtenay Place Wellington 6011 New Zealand PO Box 200, Wellington 6140 Tel: 04 471 1600 Fax: 04 471 1080 © 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Vol 3 Issue 2 New Zealand

EDUCATION REVIEWseries ISSN: 1173-8014 Errors and omissions: Whilst the publishers have attempted to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information, no responsibility can be accepted by the publishers for any errors or omissions.

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

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EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012


EDUCATION INEQUALITY

OUR SO-CALLED

“WORLD-CLASS” EDUCATION SYSTEM

New Zealand is promoted as having one of the best education systems on the planet. However, are we glossing over the students who are being left behind? JUDE BARBACK questions the approach taken to address inequality in education.

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ew Zealand has long boasted of its world-class education system, and it received confirmation of this in a recent OECD report. The OECD Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for Improving School Outcomes looked at the education delivered in 24 countries. As part of their review, the OECD team visited a range of schools in New Zealand and met with various agencies, academics, researchers, stakeholder groups, and Māori and Pasifika representatives. They examined student assessment, teacher appraisal, school evaluation, and the overall system. The OECD report concluded that, on average, New Zealand students achieve very well by international standards. Apparently, New Zealand’s methods of evaluating and assessing student achievement are world leading. “The report endorses our evaluation and assessment practices as being high quality and transparent. Reporting against National Standards will enhance this transparency,” says Minister of Education, Hekia Parata. Unsurprisingly, the OECD praise is music to the ears of the Education Minister, as well as other education leaders. “The report commends the professionalism of our teachers, the robustness and credibility of NCEA, and the ERO model for its approach to school evaluation,’’ says Parata. “It also praises our focus on improving teaching and learning.” Paul Drummond, president of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, agrees. “We welcome the latest OECD report, which praises New Zealand’s current education model,” says Drummond. “It is vindication of what we have been saying for the last three years. We are already headed in a good direction, which is bringing us world class success, and we are ambitious to do even better.” But there is an elephant in the classroom. “World-class” and “worldleading” overshadow the very loaded words, “on average”. To claim that “on average” our students achieve well by international standards is to hide the truth that the system is failing a vast number of young New Zealanders. New Zealand is said to have the second highest rate of educational inequality in the OECD, with Māori, Pacific, and students from lowincome backgrounds showing the highest rates of educational underachievement. Statistics show that one in five New Zealand students leave secondary school with no qualifications; for Pacific students, it is one in four, and for Māori, one in three. In fairness, Parata doesn’t hide from the facts: “However, our education system is still leaving too many learners behind, including far too many Māori and Pasifika learners, and this is what needs to change,’’ she says. “The OECD report says National Standards will improve information about student achievement and progress, and identify the students who need more support. It recommends more work is done to implement the Standards, which is exactly what we are focusing on now – ensuring the Standards are further developed and embedded within our schools.” Parata adds the findings of the report will be useful in refining our evaluation and assessment policies to focus on improving learner outcomes.

Many believe it is going to take more than better implementation of National Standards to see the issue of educational inequality addressed. Social inequity has a much bigger role to play in underachievement. The rise in violence, child mortality, and health issues are all symptomatic of the same problem. Indeed, education is not alone here; inequality is seeping further and further into every New Zealand sector. Leading medical journal The Lancet recently published findings from Otago University on the growing health disparities in New Zealand based on wealth and ethnicity. The research shows that infectious diseases have increased 51 per cent in the past two decades, with the poor, Māori, and Pacific Islanders accounting for the majority of this rise. The article calls for solutions. Health and education are two significant areas that suffer from the widening gap between New Zealand’s rich and poor. An OECD report released late last year showed that this gap has widened more than in any other developed country during the past 20 years. Figures from the Divided We Stand think-tank show the income of the richest 10 per cent of New Zealanders is now more than 10 times that of the poorest 10 per cent. This is up from a ratio of around six-to-one in the 1980s. The OECD says the main driver behind rising income gaps has been greater inequality in wages and salaries, as the highly skilled have benefited more from technological progress than those with less skills. New Zealand is not alone; many countries are experiencing similar disparities between the rich and the poor. >>

But there is an elephant in the classroom. “World-class” and “world-leading” overshadow the very loaded words, “on average”. EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

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EDUCATION INEQUALITY >>

“The social contract is starting to unravel in many countries,” said OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría. “This study dispels the assumptions that the benefits of economic growth will automatically trickle down to the disadvantaged and that greater inequality fosters greater social mobility. Without a comprehensive strategy for inclusive growth, inequality will continue to rise.” It’s a harsh reality in New Zealand that where a child lives is one of most significant factors in determining how well they will succeed in education. One in five students leaves school without NCEA level 2. Those from lowincome households are half as likely to achieve University Entrance as those from high-income households. Māori and Pasifika communities are the most disadvantaged. Indeed, evidence of inequality is easy to spot in education. Decile rankings, public versus private schooling, and many other indicators acknowledge its presence. There is plenty of talk and even despair about the dismal literacy and numeracy levels of children from lower socio-economic areas. There is inger pointing at right-wing political strategies, and demands for solutions. But what is being done about it? Will we be able to turn the tables? There are, it is heartening to see, a growing number of initiatives to address inequality in education. For example, Teach First NZ, a not-for-profit organisation that is part of a global programme, runs a two-year leadership development programme that develops top graduates into highly-effective teachers and inspirational leaders. Teach First NZ, in partnership with The University of Auckland, prepares and places carefully selected graduates to teach in low-decile secondary schools for an initial two-year commitment. The teachers’ first priority is to improve outcomes for the students they teach.

In the long term, Teach First NZ hopes to build a network of leaders in education and across all fields who are committed to addressing educational inequality. The organisation states: “Our vision is that all young people in Aotearoa New Zealand achieve their full educational potential, regardless of socio-economic or ethnic background.” The beauty of the Teach First NZ programme is that it doesn’t isolate education from its wider context. The programme is about developing leaders; participants in the programme are expected to have an impact, not only on the children they teach, but on the partner schools, organisations, and the wider community. In contrast, many initiatives focus on a particular aspect of tackling inequality, whether it be looking at literacy concerns in early childhood education, or finding solutions for those struggling to pass National Standards. There is some excellent research on addressing inequalities coming out of New Zealand’s tertiary institutions. We take a closer look at some examples in this issue: Jannie van Hees’ at The University of Auckland has been studying vocabulary gaps in children at low-decile primary schools; Garry Hornby at the University of Canterbury has been researching the link between parental involvement and a child’s success at school; and there is the Starpath Project, which aims to increase the number of Māori and Pacific students entering tertiary education. We need to be sure the findings and recommendations of such research are being pooled and utilised to the benefit of New Zealand’s lower socioeconomic bracket. Then perhaps the claim that our education system is “world-class” will sit a little easier on our conscience. n

It’s a harsh reality in New Zealand that where a child lives is one of most significant factors in determining how well they will succeed in education.

Dr Jenny Poskitt is the Director of Massey’s Graduate School of Education with expertise in professional learning, assessment and middle year student engagement. www.engine.ac.nz

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EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

Roseanne MacGillivray, Graduate School Administrator, Massey University, College of Education Email gse@massey.ac.nz 0800 MASSEY | contact@massey.ac.nz


VOX POPS

STUDENT OPINION

Education Review asks postgraduate education students from around the country about their biggest concern for the New Zealand education system. “My greatest concern for the New Zealand education system is based on my teaching experiences overseas, where I saw politically-expedient exam systems dominate the way many teachers and students went about teaching and learning. Rather than focusing on the goal of helping students become confident, self-directed learners would focus on what was needed to pass the exams, which encouraged students to become passive regurgitators of knowledge. Good examination systems are needed in order to monitor progress and guide future instruction, but we must ensure that our education system does not allow politicallymotivated exam structures to be placed ahead of the development of our students.” – Blair Northcott, PhD candidate, Victoria University; Research interest: high school students’ understanding of the nature of science

“I am concerned that, amidst the hype about standardisation, in great effort to ‘measure’ the value of our education with the intention to score in international ‘charts’, our schools, teachers, and consequently, students will become characterless, with the genuine needs of the developing child, such as social interaction or experiential learning, as well as its individual – creative – potentials, as a motor for life, being ignored. There is a difference between standardisation and standards!” – Dirk M. Steiner, PhD candidate, AUT University

“My main concern for New Zealand’s educational system is that it appears that a focus on literacy and numeracy (regardless of good intentions) is squeezing the curriculum into a very narrow focus at the expense of other subject areas and to the detriment of the child. In particular, I am concerned that the arts, which have been shown to improve engagement, can be used to deepen understanding of both curricular learning and empathy, and can provide a frame through which literacy, numeracy, and indeed, all subject areas can be taught, may be relegated to an occasional spare block in an overburdened timetable.” – Carrie Swanson, PhD candidate, Waikato University. Research interest: Investigating learning science through ‘Mantle of the Expert’, a drama-based teaching approach

“My main concern, based on my teaching in schools and confirmed by my research to date, is the lack of emphasis on identifying children with potential literacy learning difficulties at the outset of schooling.” – Sarah Wild, studying towards Master of Literacy Education, Massey University

“My main concern would be specifically for higher education in Canterbury and how we’re going to bounce back from the traumatic events of the last year and a half. It’s been a long, hard road to recovery.” – Abdullah Mohd Nawi, PhD candidate, College of Education, University of Canterbury

“My main concern with New Zealand’s education system is the lack of inclusive policies and practices that respect the rights of all students – irrespective of ability – to access and participate in their local schools as equal and valued members of the classroom.” – Kate Holland, PhD candidate, Faculty of Education, Otago University. Thesis topic: ‘Inclusive physical education in new zealand secondary schools’

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PARENT-TEACHER INTERACTION

THE POWER OF

PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT GARRY HORNBY discusses the benefits of involving parents in children’s education.

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idespread recognition of the key role of parental involvement in children’s education came late last year when results from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey of parents appeared in the November 19, 2011 issue of The New York Times. It was reported that, in the 2009 survey of 20 countries, the PISA team interviewed parents of 5000 students about how they raised their children and then compared findings with the 2009 PISA test results. They found that, “Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all”, and that, “Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA”. Parental involvement is broadly defined as “parental participation in the educational experiences of their children”, so it includes both school-based and home-based involvement. The importance of parental involvement in improving educational outcomes for children was recognised by the New Zealand Ministry of Education through publication of the Schooling Strategy 2005-2010 in 2005. This report, which provides guidance for schools on key areas needing development, emphasised that improving parent and family involvement in children’s education was one of three priority areas for schools, along with improving the quality of teaching and increasing evidencebased practice.

A SUBSTANTIAL IMPACT Extensive international research literature now supports the potential of parental involvement for improving children’s academic achievements and social outcomes. Evidence for the effectiveness of parental involvement in facilitating children’s academic achievement has

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been reported by several reviews of the research literature. In analysing this literature, Professor John Hattie, formerly of The University of Auckland, calculated the average effect size for the impact of parental involvement on children’s academic achievement to be 0.51, which is bigger than the average effect size for all educational interventions of 0.4. This suggests that parental involvement has a substantial impact on children’s academic achievement. Besides improving children’s academic achievements, other merits of parental involvement include benefits for children, teachers, and parents. For children, the involvement of their parents leads to improvements in attitudes, behaviour, and attendance at school, as well as in their mental health. For teachers, parental involvement improves parent-teacher relationships, teacher morale, and the school climate. For parents, involvement in their children’s education has been linked to increased parental confidence in, and satisfaction with, parenting, as well as increased interest in their own education. Other important findings from these reviews are that the effectiveness of parental involvement in bringing about these changes applies across socio-economic status, gender and ethnicity, and also to children at primary, intermediate and secondary schools.

TYPES OF INVOLVEMENT Some research suggests that, as children grow older, the type of parental involvement changes and parents become less directly involved with schools. However, they are then able to become more involved in supportive roles at home such as setting high expectations and helping with homework, subject choices, and career options. For example, a recent study of parental involvement conducted in 20 secondary schools by researchers in England found that parents, teachers, and pupils agreed that parental involvement is important, but they differed in their views about its purpose. The researchers found that secondary schools tended to focus on school-based parental involvement and paid insufficient attention to encouraging home-based parental involvement, which was considered to be at least as important for

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

secondary school students. They concluded that it is what parents do to support learning in the school and in the home that makes the difference to achievement. Another example of this was provided by a study of high-achieving secondary school students from poor Afro-American families carried out in the United States. This study identified key parenting practices that distinguished parents of high-achieving students from parents of low-achieving students. Parents of high-achieving students reported valuing education, visiting schools, and advocating for their children, developing pride and self-reliance in their children, establishing routines for homework and bedtime, supervising children’s television viewing, encouraging reading, talking with their children, playing games with children, taking children on visits and outings, and fostering hobbies, as well as sporting and other activities. The parents of successful students in this study were involved in their children’s education both at school and at home.

SIGNIFICANT RESEARCH Research on parental involvement in New Zealand has so far been published mainly in the form of local reports, dissertations, or theses. However, there have been three major reports, one from the Ministry of Education in 2003, another from the Education Review Office in 2008, and another by the New Zealand Council for Economic Research, also in 2008. These reports have concluded that: effective partnerships between parents and schools result in improved outcomes for children; the majority of schools need to improve some aspects of their parental involvement practices; and the benefits of large-scale home-school initiatives taken on by schools are not as good as the effects of naturally occurring parental involvement that schools organise themselves. Given the findings of the international literature and the three recent New Zealand reports, it was considered timely to investigate what parental involvement activities are actually being used in New Zealand schools so that guidance on effective involvement can be based on actual evidence from schools. Over the past four years, a research project investigated


Extensive international research literature now supports the potential of parental involvement for improving children’s academic achievements and social outcomes. school-based parental involvement in primary, intermediate, and secondary schools in the Canterbury region to find out which aspects of parental involvement are widely used by schools, identify weaknesses or gaps in the provision of parental involvement in these schools, and clarify implications for schools regarding parental involvement. Research studies have been conducted of parental involvement at 21 secondary schools and 22 rural primary schools in the Canterbury region as well as with 11 intermediate schools and 21 primary schools in Christchurch. Key findings across all these studies suggest that there was a wide diversity of practice of parental involvement across the schools. Many examples of useful and innovative practices were found at all levels, but effective practices for involvement were not consistent across the schools, and several important weaknesses in provision were identified.

KEY FINDINGS A key weakness was that few of the schools had written policies on parental involvement, whereas it is suggested in the literature that all schools should develop policies that set out the ways in which parents can be involved in their children’s education, as well as the procedures through which schools and teachers can help parents to accomplish this. Policies should be developed in collaboration with parents to ensure that the activities included will meet the needs of the different communities in which schools are based. Another weakness was that the overall organisation of parental involvement in the schools appeared ad hoc and very much dependent on the views and experience of principals and senior staff. The literature suggests that what is needed in schools is a comprehensive system of involvement that

includes all key aspects. In order to achieve this, it is suggested that schools need to designate a parent involvement coordinator who is an experienced teacher or member of the school’s senior management team. The first job of the coordinator should be to conduct an audit of parental involvement at the school and prepare a report for the school’s principal and governing body, to facilitate the development of a comprehensive set of parental involvement practices at the school. It was also clear that the quantity and quality of parent education organised by schools varied widely between schools. Referral of parents to parent education sessions available in the community was also patchy. Without appropriate parent education, parents may not fully appreciate the importance of getting involved in their children’s schools and also fail to provide the kind of support at home that will optimise their children’s academic achievements. Therefore, it is important that schools consider ways in which they can provide parent education on this and other topics. Another important finding was the lack of specific ideas to involve parents from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Many parents have English as a second language and come from countries with traditional schooling systems in which parent involvement is not emphasised, and, therefore, have low levels of involvement with their children’s schools. It is essential for schools to reach out to such parents so they appreciate the importance of their involvement in their children’s education. It was also found that there was a general lack of training for teachers on working with parents. Teacher education programmes need to include rigorous courses on working with parents for pre-service teachers, and ongoing professional development should be provided for practising teachers. It is important that teacher education courses prepare teachers to involve parents in a wide range of activities, including strategies for involving parents from diverse backgrounds, preparing teachers for their role in educating parents about optimising their children’s development, and training teachers to address the specific needs of parents and families of children with special needs. It is intended that the findings of this research and recommendations for future practice will be used by teachers, principals, psychologists, counsellors, and social workers, as well as teacher educators, to help schools develop effective procedures for parental involvement, thereby optimising academic and social outcomes for children in New Zealand schools. n Garry Hornby is professor of education at the University of Canterbury College of Education. The findings of this research and recommendations have been published by Professor Hornby in various international journals and in his latest book, Parental Involvement in Childhood Education.

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CLEAR COMMUNICATION JANNIE VAN HEES’ research into the vocabulary and expressive competencies of young children in low socio-economic areas reveals a real need for teachers to address the communicative environment in their classrooms.

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FOR ALL KIDS S

tudents bring into the classroom a unique set of capabilities, knowledge, and experiences. Some are more advantaged than others, well resourced and with a rich repertoire of concepts, vocabulary, and oral expression that match the demands and expectations of mainstream classroom teaching and learning. In mainstream classrooms, where English is the language of communication and learning, being able to communicate in English with quality, fluency, and confidence is vital for students to thrive and reach their full potential as learners. At age five, when a child usually starts school for the first time, the quality and quantity of oral expression in English is more or less clearly identified by teachers. Without insightful knowledge about a child’s language competencies, there is a strong possibility that their learning needs are not met. There are two requisites for teachers: knowing about the child’s language

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

competencies, and paying explicit attention to optimising conditions in the classroom, whereby the child’s language can thrive and grow. In the first years of schooling, a child who is well resourced in the language used for communication and learning is likely to progress well educationally. Language gaps not addressed early enough run the risk of ‘bedding in’ and becoming a short-term and long-term disabling factor. My recent doctoral research revealed that fiveand six-year-old children in low socio-economic schools in New Zealand have significant gaps in their vocabulary and expressive competencies in English. These children are at school and in the classroom six hours a day, five days a week, 40 weeks a year – a considerable chunk of time. Optimally, this time serves to minimise their gaps as quickly and effectively as possible. In line with extensive evidence about optimal conditions for first language acquisition in the early years of a child’s life, interactional and expressive


ENGLISH COMPETENCE

conditions in the classroom would mirror these closely. Of course, there are obvious differences in the situation and culture of the classroom and the child’s outside-school culture and situation. Herein lies the challenge: how can we optimally come close or similar to what we know is needed for a child’s language and cognitive development to thrive and grow in the context of classroom teaching and learning? The critical issues are whether classrooms address this, and if not, how they can. The lens of enquiry for my research was on the oral expression and interaction conditions taking place in the classroom, and whether these provide students with the required quality and quantity of opportunities to use and acquire language. Children need a rich environment of expressive interaction where they are gifted language alongside being able to frequently try out language. It is paramount that we, as educators, look at how we can optimise the classroom environment so that children’s potential to use and acquire language is nurtured, supported, and developed. This may require some or considerable shifts in thinking and practice on how talk and interaction takes place in the classroom.

TAKING A CLOSER LOOK Four teachers, who took part in the study, participated in an intervention designed to

provide them with theoretical and practical knowledge about optimising language acquisition conditions in the classroom. At Time 1, prior to the intervention, all students in each of the four teachers’ classrooms were assessed against 16 participatory and expressive behaviour criteria based on teacher observations. According to whether they met the criteria, one Yes, one Sometimes, and one No student was randomly selected from each of the four classrooms, yielding 12 case-study students. Their vocabulary and oral expression in English were then assessed. Also, at Time 1, three lessons in each of the four classrooms were video-recorded, with one camera on each case-study student and one on the teacher and the class. Following the intervention and implementation, six months later at Time 2, the case-study students were re-assessed, and a further three lessons in each of the classrooms were video-recorded. The Time 1 assessment of the case-study students’ vocabulary resources revealed 10 of the 12 students had a significant gap in English vocabulary compared to the expected average for students of their age. Five students were 10 to 17 months below and five students were as much as 20 to 27 months below, placing considerable constraints on their meaning-making resources, receptively and productively, in and out of the classroom. Wittgenstein famously wrote, “The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for”. To a large extent, this is true. The inextricably bound nature of language and cognitive development is a strong predictor of successful transition into literacy and general academic success. In a similar vein, the students’ oral production assessed at Time 1 to identify their oral capability in sustained ‘talk’ showed high levels of expressive constraint. Most were unused to extended expression of ideas in English, used simple grammatical structures and vocabulary, and exhibited low levels of fluency and confidence. For example, a No student’s oral expression in response to a photo of children riding their bikes, was delivered with long pauses between each utterance, to produce these words in three minutes: “The ... all ... the ... the … children … the … all … the … all … the … rid…riling … the … bike … and … all … the … boy and girl … (prompt: all the girls and the boys) … all the girls and boys … are … riling the bike … and … they … riding the bike … they riding the bike … on … the … shoes.”

OPTIMISING ORAL EXPRESSION IN THE CLASSROOM What individual and combined factors and variables, then, will have the most impact on reducing these expressive gaps in the context of school and classroom? Drawing on an extensive body of first and second language acquisition research and evidence, the following can be identified as core optimising factors in the classroom: »» high levels of interaction, student(s)-teacher and student-student;

“The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.” »» shared control by teacher and student about what gets expressed, when, and how; »» multiple opportunities for students to receive and try out language and expression of ideas; »» meaningful exchanges of ideas where turn-taking is balanced and shared by all participants in learning exchanges; »» the availability of language at the ‘cutting edge’ of the students’ current repertoires – that is, in the ‘goldilocks zone’ of expression and ideas – not too simple, not too complex, not too fast, not too slow, not too long, not too minimal; »» contingent responses to students’ contributions, where the teacher (and other students) pick up the message and meaning of what gets expressed, its value, and include these and scaffold them in some way; and »» minimal question-answer exchange patterns and more dialogic and conversational exchanges. In such classrooms, teaching and learning is dynamic and responsive. Spontaneous contributions by students are relished, not suppressed. Students are engaged and involved expressive participants. For students such as those in the study, built into the above optimising conditions will be multiple opportunities to receive models of language in ways that students notice and engage with the content, structure, and vocabulary of expression. They will be given frequent opportunities to try out language, to notice how language works, and how to effectively convey their meaning in oral expression. Importantly, language availability is sufficiently recycled so that uptake, and, ultimately, acquisition is more likely.

EXAMINING THE EVIDENCE Are these optimising conditions typically available in the classroom? Sometimes, yes, but generally not based on the evidence from my study and in line with international research evidence. Micro-analysis of the three lessons in each of the classrooms at Time 1 revealed expressive and interactional patterns that constrained, rather than opened up, students’ expression and full participation in learning. Student utterances were minimal in quality and quantity, with the teacher strictly controlling what was expressed – how, when, and by whom. High numbers of questions were posed by the teacher and student responses nominated by the teacher. By far, the largest number of questions posed by the teacher were recall and procedural questions, rather than open-ended, exploratory questions that opened up students’ thinking and expression. Spontaneous contributions by students were generally regarded as an intrusion or breaking the ‘calling out’ rules and turn-taking protocol of the classroom. >>

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ENGLISH COMPETENCE >>

Elaborative, contingent responses to students’ ideas and expression, and rich, sustained conversational exchanges between teacher and student, and student and student, seldom, if ever, occurred. Students expressed little – infrequently expressing, and then, most often in utterances comprising of just a few words. Overall, the expression and cognitive engagement of the students was severely constrained by the classroom environmental conditions and their existing restricted expressive and interactional resources. What changes, if any, did the teachers in the study make in the classroom as a result of the intervention? What effect did that have on the students’ quality and quantity of expression, both in the classroom and on their overall vocabulary and oral expression capabilities? There were marked pedagogical shifts made by the teachers between Time 1 and Time 2, with subsequent positive effects on the quality and quantity of the students’ participation and expression during classroom lessons. Analysis of the expression of the case-study students during Time 2 lessons showed evidence of within-lesson language acquisition as a consequence. In Time 2 lessons, there was a distinct shift by teachers towards providing students with greatly increased opportunities to talk and try out newly available vocabulary and structures. The students were more deeply engaged in meaningful language use, often co-constructing expression with peers and the teacher. They were given ‘permission’ and room to spontaneously contribute their ideas and thinking in a more fluid and conversational environment. The development of topic and the direction of learning, while carefully planned by the teacher, were less strictly controlled. The students were co-contributors of the shaping text and expression of ideas, rather than lockstepped into question-answer, teacher-directed exchanges and expression. Necessary thinking and ‘prepareto-say’ time was allowed for. Where it occurred, student pair-sharing became more effective, because beforehand, the students were more carefully scaffolded with needed concepts and language. Importantly, explicit frameworks were given to the students to guide their sharing. In one class, for example, the teacher explicitly taught the students what more expanded saying looked and sounded like, and effective pair-sharing was modelled and practised. The change in quality and quantity of peer exchanges was striking – from Time 1, when there was largely minimal talking by both students in the pair, to Time 2, when each student in the pair expressed more extensively, and with greater structural and content quality and greater connectedness to each other’s words. For example, the following transcript is a Sometimes student sharing with a peer at Time 1 in response to a directive given by the teacher to talk about the question, ‘How is the Holy Spirit important to us?’: “Like um ... How is the Holy Spirit important for us? ... Yeah? ... gives us … No, it gives us … li ... Huh? ... Ja. Lucy, what's ...? ... Yeah … Ah? … Yeah ... full … life”.

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In a Time 2 lesson, this same student’s expression in a peer partner-share situation increased in quality and quantity, both students taking turns to express more and to connect more meaningfully to each other’s words. Asked to work in pairs to retell a part of the story, the class had co-constructed, in the space of 30 seconds, she said: “The farmer and the cow … the goat … the cow got stuck in the bridge and the bridge got half with … and the goat ... bridge … and did … did not … think of a … idea to … solve the problem.” There was a positive shift towards increased participation and expression by students in each of the four classes in the study between Time 1 and Time 2. This shift appeared to be directly influenced by pedagogical changes made by the teachers as a result of the intervention. The assessment of the case-study students’ oral production at Time 2 suggested the observed within-class effects transferred to long-term acquisitional effects on the students’ overall quality and quantity of expression in English. The oral production of 11 case-study students at Time 2 had significantly progressed. They were more fluent and confident to express and used

gain. There was a statistically significant increase between Time 1 and Time 2 in the students’ vocabulary ages, with four students making sizeable gains and four students making moderate gains. For three students, however, there was no measurable gain. These results highlight the complex and unique nature of vocabulary development in young children.

THE IMPLICATIONS Based on my study, there is a considerable challenge facing teachers of five- and six-yearolds and all students who are disadvantaged in expressive capabilities in English to catch up and keep up with more expressively advantaged peers. However, there is good news. With explicit attention by teachers to optimising interactional and expressive patterns in the classroom, students’ quality and quantity of expression and engagement with learning can be significantly enhanced for short- and long-term gain. When students are provided with increased opportunities to express and interact in a classroom environment that closely aligns with first language acquisition optimising conditions, they are expressively and learning-enabled.

It may challenge teachers’ current habitus of practice, but to ignore the evidence would be foolish. The infamous ‘persistent tail of low achievement’ stares us in the face. grammatically more complex structures. There was more cohesion between utterances and greater use of low frequency, context-specific vocabulary. A sample of the above No student’s expression at Time 2 illustrates this shift. She expressed the following in response to a photo of children looking at a huge sandcastle on the beach in the space of less than one minute: “The … two kids is playing with the castle and the sand … off … They climbing up … in the castle … Dad was putting the sand into … the castle … and (th)is … girl was climbing up in the castle … The wave came towards the castle … and they made ... and the two kids was made it … and the dad was looking at the sea.” The Time 2 assessment of the case-study students’ vocabulary showed varying patterns of

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

It may challenge teachers’ current habitus of practice, but to ignore the evidence would be foolish. The infamous ‘persistent tail of low achievement’ stares us in the face. We need to be open to significant pedagogical changes that are shown to turn around the spiral of expressive and learning disadvantage which far too many of our students face. n Jannie van Hees is a teacher educator and researcher at the Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland, with a special interest in applied linguistics and classroom pedagogy. She is an experienced classroom teacher nationally and internationally, has developed and led a number of Ministry of Education programmes, and written a range of educational materials and resources.


EARLY CHILDHOOD RESEARCH

Toddlers’ mathematical development begins much earlier than was previously thought, according to SHIREE LEE.

MINI MATHEMATICIANS W

THINKING ABOUT NUMBERS Coincidentally, the same day I received Shiree’s article, my three-year-old son Daniel’s preschool journal came home with the following entry, cementing the notion that toddlers certainly engage in mathematical thinking: “Dan, today you were very interested in mathematical activities. You were drawn to the manipulation table where an activity required you to fill columns with the corresponding number of blocks – which you talked about to me as you doing it. You would count the number of blocks that fit in the column and come to the conclusion that that must be the number at the top – tino pai! You also helped me to complete our numberworm puzzle a few times. We didn’t do it in order, but we would say the number aloud as we found its place on the board – you know lots of numbers! Your interest in mathematical activities is something we will aim to extend and explore across different curriculum areas in the coming weeks.” – Editor

hen we watch toddlers playing, we can see their enjoyment, hear their developing language, and observe their evolving relationships with peers, but do we hear, observe, or even recognise mathematics within their play? Possibly not. My recent research was with children aged between 12 months and three years in unstructured outdoor play. I looked at their mathematical thinking in solving problems, engaging with others, manipulating objects, and exploring complex play situations. The findings revealed toddlers engaging in seven mathematical contexts: space, number, measurement, shape, patterns, classification, and problem solving. In New Zealand, play is situated as the primary form of learning within Te Whariki (the early childhood curriculum framework), which is founded on the aspirations for “children to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society” (Ministry of Education, 1996, page 9). My study was based on these aspirations. Children’s competence was shown in this study through reporting only incidents where children were engaged in unstructured, free-play experiences without any adult intervention. The reason for excluding adult interaction was not to discredit the value of adult-to-child interaction but rather, to show toddlers as competent and confident mathematicians in their own right. One example of competence and confidence in his own ability, and sitting within the domains of problem solving and spatial awareness, was Ricky, aged two years seven months: he had a set of keys and was carefully attempting to fit one into the padlock of a large storage box. After a few attempts with different keys, he found one that fitted, and turned it in the lock to see if it would work. He seemed to understand that only one key would fit, revealing his knowledge of one-to-one correspondence and matching. Once he succeeded in unlocking the padlock, he took it from the wall of the storage box, pushed the hook in to lock it, turned the key in the lock, and unlocked it again. He studied it carefully for a few seconds and then attempted to replace the padlock into the space on the storage box. At this time, the hook of the padlock was facing the wrong way. Ricky quickly realised this and turned the lock around to fit through the space in the box. He then closed the padlock to lock the box. It is clear that Ricky had previous experience with keys and padlocks, and that he understood the need to manipulate the parts of the padlock in order to use it to lock the storage box. He did not require any prompting

or assistance to solve the problem. These combined actions showed his confidence in spatial rearrangement and his ability to think abstractly, manipulating objects within space in creative ways to solve his ‘problem’. Children even younger than Ricky also showed mathematical thinking in abstract ways. One of the favourite activities of the toddler group was to ride the push-along bikes. There were six bikes available and each had a number from two to seven painted on the front, but the children referred to all of the bikes as “seven” even though they were able to recognise numerals from one to 10 in a variety of other experiences. The teachers stated that they were not sure why this was the preferred number, but all of the bikes were talked about in this way because ‘seven’ was perceived as the best by the children. They seemed to understand that the bikes were not actually all numbered seven when they stated, often with a grin, that the bike they were riding was a ‘seven’ when it was actually labelled with another number. This abstract thinking regarding numbers showed that the children could classify objects with their own descriptions, recognise what they had done, and joke with their teachers: a highly developed skill. There were many more observed examples of toddlers exploring mathematical ideas. Some predictable, such as tipping and pouring water and sand, and others not so predictable, such as counting backwards from 10 or recognising similarities in shapes such as circles, wheels, balls, and hoops. My study provides clear evidence of toddlers’ foundational mathematical learning in their outdoor play experiences and demonstrates that mathematical development begins much earlier than was previously thought. The toddlers in my study used abstract ideas, prior experiences, and other people for purposes that may not generally be recognised as being mathematical. This exciting learning can further develop through play experiences in everyday settings. Early childhood teachers and parents can provide a great deal of rich mathematical opportunity by simply allowing children time to explore their environment and to interact with a range of people, places, and objects in their own imaginative and creative ways. Next time you have the opportunity to watch toddlers play, ask yourself if you can see or hear whether they are engaging in mathematical thinking – it is there. We just need to provide further opportunities for children to explore – and for us to keep on watching! n Shiree Lee is a lecturer at The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education.

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CLASSROOM INQUIRY: BRIDGING THE THEORY-PRACTICE DIVIDE A new paper on classroom inquiry is helping to support education students in becoming effective teachers by putting their knowledge to practical use.

Professor John O’Neill

Dr Alison Sewell

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t last, we’re bridging the theory-practice divide.” Dr Alison Sewell had this to say about the new course, Classroom Inquiry, offered for the first time last year to students in two Massey University College of Education programmes. Sewell devised the paper with Professor of Teacher Education John O’Neill, following a major review of the college’s teacher education programmes by benchmarking it against international best practice, including research by Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond. Darling-Hammond found characteristics of the most successful teacher education included case-study methodology, teacher research, performance-based assessments, and portfolio evaluations, all of which enabled student teachers to apply their learning in real practice settings. All these characteristics were incorporated into the development of the Massey paper. The new paper was five years in the making and used

STUDENT REFLECTIONS ON CLASSROOM INQUIRY

MASSEY EDUCATION GRADUATE RACHEL KRIECHBAUM SAYS THE INQUIRY PROCESS SHOULD BE A NATURAL PART OF TEACHING. As a student of the 2011 Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary) programme, I was lucky enough to be involved in the paper, Classroom Inquiry. In the paper, we covered the different phases of the inquiry process, taking an in-depth look at each phase before developing our own inquiry and research-based intervention. The teaching as inquiry process acknowledges the fact that, as teachers, we are also learners. It is about continually finding ways to be the best possible teacher you can and improving outcomes for all children. I was given the opportunity to develop a research-based intervention after learning the process in a supported environment at college.

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one of the effective pedagogies in The New Zealand Curriculum – Teaching as Inquiry model. O’Neill said the paper, Classroom Inquiry, added a fifth pillar – learning to change – to the UNESCO pillars of learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, and learning to be. “What is fundamental about teaching today is that it is a collaborative professional activity; teachers aren’t isolated in classrooms like they once were,” says O’Neill. “Teachers need to work together as groups, and the classroom inquiry provides opportunities for communities of learning.” The new paper is linked directly to the New Zealand Teachers Council’s Graduating Teacher Standards. Students have to demonstrate their diagnostic, teaching, and assessment skills. Students were asked to determine the learning needs of a specific group of children and to find an evidence-based intervention to address these needs.

The inquiry undertaken by a group of students at college provided evidence that students can often be unengaged in mathematics, lacking in confidence and deep conceptual understandings. The evidence-based intervention undertaken in the area of mathematics was designed around the question: how can we raise engagement and confidence in students to verbalise their reasoning in mathematics? By using different evidence-based strategies, such as using teachertalk moves, modelling think-aloud processes, materials, providing relevant contexts, and promoting student discourse, we were able to identify key areas for new teaching approaches, put them into practice, evaluate, reflect, and assess them using a range of tools. It is important to note that in an inquiry, not all strategies will be effective in every classroom situation. Inquiry provides the opportunity to discover what strategy works best and gives students the best possible learning experience. Learning that some strategies and pedagogies will be successful for some but not all, and then being able to adapt and change those strategies enables teachers to identify the next steps for learning, for themselves as teachers and for the students. I know that in an inquiry, and in all teaching, if something is not working, it is totally acceptable

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

to adapt and change strategies to meet the needs of the students. If something is not working, change it. Being a part of this process in a small group setting, with support from college staff and teaching staff, provided students with highly focused teaching and learning time. It was a real luxury to be able to spend small-group time on a focused learning outcome for students and have the time to reflect and assess that learning without the pressures of having a whole class of students’ learning needs to cater for. Having that background knowledge and the practical skills of the inquiry process has meant that I am now better equipped to undertake an inquiry with a focused set of students as well as to meet the needs of the whole class. I have learned that the inquiry process should be a natural part of our teaching. Having undertaken a mathematics enquiry, I am wellequipped with knowledge of the process, and I am confident to begin the process of inquiry and developing an intervention around extending readers who are reading well above their years. The inquiry process provides teachers with an avenue to be more focused while teaching and knowing this process is a huge advantage as a beginning teacher. Twenty-first century teachers must welcome trial, error, and change as part


PRACTICAL EDUCATION

One student-led classroom inquiry into reading comprehension provided evidence that effective classroom reading did not always happen. Even for children who were reading, for some, there was little comprehension. Two others explored finding new ways to support children’s alphabet recognition and raise engagement and confidence in mathematics. Students said the inquiry cycle was a powerful tool that supported their personal and professional development, by bringing their teaching under the microscope for the purpose of honest and critical reflection. Reflection was key – combined with being flexible, open to change, and having the ability to adapt or refine the intervention to match the children’s progress and needs. Sewell said students taking the paper had a deeper understanding of what an effective teacher is and what an effective teacher does. “The students have grown in confidence and developed new skills and understanding in relation to assessment for learning. More importantly, they’ve learned to engage with the evidence – both from the classroom and the published research – and changed their practice accordingly.” n

of their teaching and learning process. It is these experiences that contribute to the effective classroom practice in all areas of the curriculum. As a beginning teacher, and for all teachers, inquiry is the most accessible and relevant form of on-going professional development we can engage in, and it should therefore be fully utilised. The nature of the partnership between teachers and students, and the power of all students knowing their next learning steps, is a valuable tool to be employed within all our learning communities. GRADUATE LAUREN CROASDALE SHARES HER APPLICATION OF THE ‘TEACHING AS INQUIRY’ PROCESS IN THE PRE-SCHOOL SETTING. My teaching as inquiry focus was based on research carried out in American preschools, with students who averaged an age of four years and nine months. The premise behind the study was to develop literacy skills through using a curriculum that incorporated digital media with other teacher-led activities – essentially creating a media-rich curriculum. Given the literacy gains achieved by the children who participated in the study (compared to the group of children who did not), I thought this would be an appropriate type of intervention

to implement with my small group of new entrant children, who had very low levels of alphabet recognition. I incorporated the principles of this research by aiming to develop letter recognition with my students through the use of different media, ensuring that technology had an important focus. Primarily, I used Sesame Street podcasts via the classroom iPad, supplemented with letter cards, playdough letters, a letter mat, and forming the shapes of letters with our bodies. One of the things that came across very strongly in my teaching intervention was the level of positive engagement the students had with the materials and how this translated into active participation in the learning. One particular moment that stood out for me, and showed that the children were connecting with the idea of recognising letter shapes through different meda, was when one child took off her headband and held it up towards me proudly, saying, “Look Miss Croasdale, I’ve made a ‘C’ with my headband!” It was heartening to see her display her new lettershape knowledge in a way that supported the intervention. At the end of the teaching inquiry unit, the group showed an average improvement in alphabet recognition of two letters, and in all cases, these were letters that we had covered during the intervention (given the time

constraints, we addressed just eight letters explicitly). I remember feeling that I’d hoped for higher levels of recognition; that all children would now instantly know the letters we had addressed. However, when I reflected on the process – how engaged they had been in the learning and how all had shown improvement – I could appreciate that my inquiry had been fruitful. As such, an important concept I’ve taken away from the teaching as inquiry experience is that even when an intervention doesn’t produce the desired or expected results, this is by no means a failure. So long as you keep true to the spirit of the process by continuing to respond to what the students are doing and looking for ways to adapt your teaching, you will have achieved something important for your classroom of learners and for yourself as a teacher. This was true of my experience, as I actively observed how the children were reacting to the materials and the content and I made changes to my delivery in response to this (such as increasing the variety of media used). It was so useful to have an opportunity to hone the mind-set of being really reflective of my practice, and I know that the cyclical process of teaching as inquiry (finding a focus, teaching, reflecting, and refocusing) will be an important aspect of my teaching career.

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EDUCATION INEQUALITY

THE STARPATH PROJECT The Starpath Project is making waves in New Zealand secondary schools as it enters its second phase with renewed funding and enthusiasm. JUDE BARBACK looks at how the research project is affecting change for students who might otherwise overlook tertiary education.

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ne in five New Zealand students leave secondary school with no qualifications; for Pacific students, it is one in four, and for Māori, one in three. These are statistics Starpath, a pioneering research project, is desperately trying to change. Starpath is aimed at increasing the number of students who make it from school into tertiary education, thus providing a platform for their careers and personal growth. The project takes a systematic, whole-school approach to achieving better educational outcomes for Māori, Pacific, and students from low and mid-decile secondary schools. Starpath was founded in 2005 and is run in partnership between The University of Auckland and the government. In the first phase of the project, Starpath worked with three Auckland and two Northland secondary schools to identify what might be preventing students from achieving their educational goals. The findings were interesting: the data schools had on students proved to be inadequate for setting realistic goals and monitoring progress. Students didn’t have good information on NCEA requirements. Families were unaware of what their children wanted to do and how they might get there. Starpath set about working with the schools to collect, organise, and analyse student achievement data and to base individual student profiles, targets, and plans on these data. The project helped schools advise on students’ educational pathways and communicate effectively with their families. The phase one results were compelling, showing dramatic increases in NCEA results in each of the five pilot schools. One school increased level 3 NCEA results by 18 per cent, while another has taken its level 1 pass rate from 40 to 60 per cent and its level 2 rate from 40 to 58 per cent. Starpath’s redesigned parent-student-teacher conferencing also showed increases in parent attendance from around 20 per cent to between

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70 and 86 per cent in each pilot school. Starpath, now in the second year of its second phase, is building momentum; it was announced in late 2011 that the project would be funded for a further five years. Professor Elizabeth McKinley, director of Starpath, says the funding is a sign that the results achieved in phase one have been duly recognised. “We have seen changes with some of the work we have done. We have certainly made government agencies a lot more aware of what is happening around the NCEA choice work, around what is happening in school, how students choose subjects, and how parents should be involved in decisions,” she says. Parental involvement is important to McKinley, of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Ngāi Tahu descent. She says her parents set the bar high in terms of education, which led her to be the first in her family to go to university, where she earned an undergraduate science degree before completing a master’s degree and PhD while teaching science at a secondary school full time. It is hoped Starpath will see other students also become the first in their families to attend university, helping to break the cycle of poverty affecting so many New Zealand families. McKinley admits the issue goes much deeper than education, but believes the project can make a difference for those missing out on a tertiary education. The second phase will continue to focus on getting schools to organise and centralise their data so that it can be used to make informed decisions. It will also see Starpath working with schools to improve students’ literacy and numeracy and the way schools lead and manage change. This is music to the ears of the 35 additional North Island secondary schools that will participate in Starpath’s second phase.

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

One of these schools is Ruawai College, a small rural Northland school. Approximately 85 per cent of the 200 students travel to school by bus. Principal Stephen Fordyce said he jumped at the opportunity to become a Starpath partner school. “I had heard positive feedback from principals of schools already part of the project, which affirmed the results I had read and heard about,” said Fordyce. “I believe students at Ruawai should benefit from the best educational opportunities on offer, despite its small size and rural location.” One year into the project and Fordyce says, thanks to Starpath’s strategies, they already have a much clearer idea about what they can and need to do in relation to data gathering and retention. One such strategy is the Data Utilisation, Academic Counselling and Target Setting (DUACTS) programme, which has been implemented across Ruawai’s senior school in the hope of enhancing the precision and quality of their target setting at all levels. Fordyce believes the students’ reflective learning journals will link well with the Starpath strategies like this one. DUACTS involves students, parents, academic counsellors, and a specially-trained student achievement manager in an effort to use data to monitor student progress and provide ongoing target setting, academic counselling, and family engagement. Starpath isn’t the only programme or research initiative focused on raising educational achievement. This is a big issue for New Zealand, one that will require attack from many angles. It will be interesting to see just how far-reaching the effects of Starpath and its counterparts will be. If these projects are successful in getting students to be the first in their families to become tertiary educated, and thus breaking the cycle of poverty, this will be a huge step in the right direction. One can only hope the funding for such incentives won’t dry out before the early phases of the research are given a chance to have a real effect on educational, and indeed, societal outcomes. n


INTERVIEW

FROM COHARIE TO MAORI:

AN OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE Education Review chats with visiting United States Fulbright Scholar, SUSAN FAIRCLOTH, about her research on the special needs education of Ma-ori children, the Fulbright system, her family, and learning to drive on the left.

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Has your personal background played a part in your chosen field of research? I am an American Indian. I am a member of a small tribe, Coharie, located in the south-eastern United States. My experiences as an American Indian woman help to shape the work that I do and the ways in which I go about engaging in this work. I earned a bachelor degree in history, with minors in political science and anthropology, a master of education degree in special education, with an emphasis on American Indian education, and a PhD in educational leadership, with an emphasis on special education and American Indian education. I am an associate professor of education at the Pennsylvania State University, where I also direct the American Indian Leadership Program.

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What inspired you to research Maori children with special educational needs? My work in the United States involves American Indian and Alaskan native students, with a focus on the disproportionate representation of native students in special education programmes and services. I am particularly interested in the similarities between the experiences of indigenous students in the United States and those here in New Zealand. To date, few empirical studies have focused on the educational experiences of these two student groups (those receiving special educational services in schools). During my second trip to New Zealand, two years ago, I was inspired by how articulate the students I spoke with were. This made me want to learn more about their experiences, and to begin to explore ways in which these experiences might be captured both in photos and in written word. What was missing from my interactions with these students was the voice of those with special educational needs.

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How will this particular study contribute to  your overall research? This study extends my knowledge and understanding of indigenous education from a more global perspective.  

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What do you hope to achieve with this research? I hope to increase my understanding of the educational experiences of Māori students with special educational needs, what it means for these students to be successful as Māori, and the ways in which researchers can and should engage students, schools, and communities in research that is beneficial to all parties, not just the researcher.

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Do you think the findings will help inform  New Zealand education policies? Is that part of the plan? I believe strongly that research should not be done just for the purpose of conducting research. It should be done with the goal of affecting meaningful change at the local and national levels.

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How has the scholarship affected your family?  I am in New Zealand with my two-year-old daughter, Journey. My husband remains in the United States, where he is caring for our three dogs, one cat, four fish, and garden, while holding down a full-time job in computer security.

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Susan Faircloth: US Fulbright scholar.

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What led you to apply for a Fulbright scholarship? I applied for the Fulbright Senior Scholar Award after being encouraged to do so by Professor Luanna Meyer. Senior scholars undergo a rigorous review process in both New Zealand and the United States. Only five or six senior scholars are selected each year for travel to New Zealand. I am most fortunate to be among those selected for 2012.

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What has your experience been of the Fulbright system? Has it been a good experience so far, early as it is? Fulbright New Zealand has afforded me, and my daughter, the opportunity to engage in a life-changing exchange of culture, knowledge, and experience. Without the support of Fulbright New Zealand, I would not have been able to participate in an extended stay such as this. Having said this, I am also grateful to Victoria University of Wellington and the Jessie Hetherington Centre for Educational Research for extending the invitation for me to apply for the Fulbright Senior Scholar Award and for involving me in the evaluation of the He Kakano professional development project. My involvement with He Kakano has allowed me to travel to New Zealand on two separate occasions. On each of these trips, I have visited and observed in schools. I look forward to the opportunity to visit and interact with additional schools during the next four months.

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What are your impressions of New Zealand – both from a visitor’s and a student’s viewpoint? I fall in love with New Zealand more and more each time I visit. The people are most gracious, the landscape is breathtaking, and the pace of life is a little more relaxed than in the United States. I’m quite impressed by the way in which educators and researchers engage in meaningful discussions around the future of education for the students of New Zealand. I’m encouraged by the difficult discussions that are being held around the place of indigenous languages and cultures in the education of children and youth. Now, if we could just improve the summer weather, it would be almost perfect!

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Do you intend to do any sightseeing while you are here? I bought a car shortly after we arrived. Now, I’m learning to drive on the left and to navigate the roads around Wellington. I hope to soon be brave enough to venture beyond Wellington on my own. While here, I plan to explore more of the North Island and to make a trip over to the South Island. I’m also exploring possible collaborations in Australia and would like to see a bit of the Pacific Islands, if time permits. n

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FEATURE EDUCATION INEQUALITY

RAISING BOYS’

ACHIEVEMENT JUDE BARBACK looks at what some schools are doing to address the growing national problem of boys’ underachievement in education.

ADAM* WAS TOP in his class at maths at his school on the Kapiti Coast, so I learn from his mother, who is my new hairdresser. In the course of a haircut and colour, I learn that the pair recently moved to the Bay of Plenty. I felt compelled to ask whether Adam was still one of the best mathematicians in his new class. “He is now,” was the pointed response. Adam, it transpired, hadn’t had a great start at his new school, Te Akau ki Papamoa School, a co-ed primary school in Bay of Plenty suburb Papamoa. The different and less-structured teaching style of his new female teacher had not worked well for Adam and his maths had slipped. Fortunately for Adam – and his mother – the school recognised that there were a number of boys not performing as well as they should be and set about instigating change. The school set up a boys’ class and well-known teacher, Barry Allen, was coaxed out of retirement into establishing the class. Allen is an expert when it comes to educating boys. With three sons and over 42 years’ experience, it came as no surprise that Allen was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International for services to the community. The former principal of Burnham Primary School, based at Burnham Army Camp in Christchurch, led an all boys’ Year 8 class at Tauranga Intermediate School for six years before leaving at the end of 2009 to “semi-retire”. However, it wasn’t long before Allen was back in the classroom. After a stint of relief teaching at Te Akau ki Papamoa School, he was asked by principal, Bruce Jepsen to teach a boys’ class. One of Allen’s main misgivings about boys’ classes he had taught in the past was that they were often treated as ‘dumping grounds’ for boys with behavioural problems who caused disruption in mainstream classes. Eager to avoid this happening at Te Akau ki Papamoa, Allen and Jepsen worked together to establish a “real boys’ class”. The process involved applying a ‘whole learner’ approach to the underlying principles of the class, taking into account the mental, physical, self-conceptual, and relational aspects of the individual. Jepsen says that many boys are “similar but different” in the way they learn and the boys’ class is all about achieving the most suitable learning style or preference for the students in order to get the best results. With the fundamental principles sorted, Jepsen and Allen then identified potential students for

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the class. Unlike other models, it wasn’t about putting all the unruly boys in the same boat. “They have to have willingness to learn,” says Jepsen. Many parents are also keen for their sons to be part of the class. Parents are an integral part of the process, and the class is co-constructed with their input. The school also held ‘significant male’ workshops where the fathers, uncles, or neighbours came along to discuss what is most important to the boys. Jepsen says the most common answers revolved around spending time with their dad or father figure; boys said they enjoy playing, wrestling, and reading together. Creating a better understanding of what is important to the boys prompted a greater emphasis on building relationships within the class, helping the boys to engage more deeply with their learning. The feedback from the boys, their parents, and the significant males also supported research that shows a greater need for more physical education for boys. As a result, the entire class goes for a run at the start of each school day, helping to lower their testosterone levels so they are more ready to learn and absorb subsequent lessons. Sport is an important aspect of the class. In addition to focused time with the school’s sports coordinator, the boys visit the local Snap gymnasium every Friday. Snap is a sponsor of the boys’ class and has helped provide sporting kit for every member. It seems Snap is not the only organisation eager to attach themselves to the class. Jepsen informs me that furniture manufacturer Furnware New Zealand is currently working with the class to create the best furniture for an ideal boys’ learning environment. Everything from beanbags to lockers has been considered, and the class continues to provide feedback on each new design. The nearby Papamoa Top 10 Holiday Park has also declared itself eager to be involved. Consequently, the boys will visit the beachside camping ground and participate in any number of life-skill activities from taking apart a lawnmower, to assisting with sand-dune planting projects. The sand-dune project is a good example of the community-minded bent to the class. The boys visit the local library once a week and participate in a book club where they read to senior citizens. The boys also take on unique responsibilities

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

within the confines of the school, such as raising the school and New Zealand flags each morning and setting up the hall for assemblies. With help from their sponsors, the boys’ class goes on camp once a term, in comparison to other classes, which go once a year. It is also compulsory for the boys to take on two ‘contributions’ to school life in summer and two in winter, including such things as choir, book club, basketball, or ripper rugby. The word ‘compulsory’ begins to feel at home when talking about the class. One certainly gets a sense that respect and discipline reign supreme here. Upon entering their classroom, the boys rise to their feet, and on cue, one class member greets the visitor and welcomes them to their class. “It is very structured, very traditional in many senses. The boys respond to firm boundaries,” says Jepsen. Allen believes boys prefer to be “publicly praised and privately admonished”. He says they do well in class with breaks for physical exercise, are rewarded with activities outside the classroom, are taught “no means no”, and need to be pushed beyond what they think they can do. The structure and strictness certainly don’t appear to be deterring the boys. Jepsen says the boys’ class last year had an attendance rate of 99 per cent for the whole year, the highest in the school. “We’d have kids turning up with coughs and runny noses trying to deny they had a cold so they didn’t miss out!” laughs Jepsen. It all sounds fabulous for the boys in the class, but three major questions emerge. The first question is one of fairness, possibly hinting at some niggling, subconscious feminist protectionism lurking deep within: what about the other kids – the girls and the other boys – in the school? Are they missing out because the boys’ class is getting all the attention? It would be fair to say that Jepsen is passionate about education, not just boys’ education. He is eager to find a way to get the best out of any student. “If there was a need for a girls’ class, we would set one up too,” he says. Jepsen says the boys’ class is not suitable for every boy, and he uses his own sons as an example. “One would be a perfect candidate for the class, the other would possibly regress.” The second question is: how is the model sustainable, both within the school and for the boys when they leave the class and venture into the ‘real world’? Jepsen concedes this is a valid point and says he wishes Allen – who is no longer teaching the class and is writing a book on educating boys as he teeters on the brink of retirement (again) –


were 20 years younger to aid the development of the boys’ class model, which he helped establish. Jepsen is supportive of Grant Cooper, Allen’s replacement as the new teacher of the boys’ class, but is also grateful to have Allen there as a mentor for Cooper. The boys’ class initiative is only in its second year and therefore needs constant nurturing, evaluation, and refinement. Jepsen also says they are conscious of ingraining in the boys a sense of how to maximise their learning opportunities when they inevitably merge with the mainstream. ‘Creating lifelong learners’ is a mantra often repeated in education circles and it seems very applicable here. The third, and possibly most significant, question is: with all the sport, community activities, camps and contributions, do the boys actually learn anything? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Jepsen says every single student in the class improved in terms of academic performance last year, which echoes

The boys visit the local library once a week and participate in a book club where they read to senior citizens. my hairdresser’s comments about her son. Jepsen is quick to point out that despite all the valueadded aspects, the school’s academic goals remain at the heart of what they do. He declares literacy and numeracy as “non-negotiable”. It is fascinating that the slightly unorthodox teaching and learning philosophies underpinning the boys’ class are churning out such great academic results. It seems that by diverting the attention from a solely academic programme to a more varied approach, the academic success is forthcoming. The ‘whole learner’ approach Jepsen enthuses about is certainly working in this instance.

Te Akau ki Papamoa School is not alone in its attempt to tackle head on the underachievement of boys. Palmerston North’s Monrad Intermediate hired amputee and former truckie John “JT” Taylor as a teacher aide to mentor the boys in need of a role model. Further down the coast, Paraparaumu’s Kenakena School aims to raise around $10,000 each year to put all year 6 boys through a 10-week mentoring programme which uses team-building sporting exercises, anger resolution programmes, life skills, and goal setting. The boys also visit malerich environments such as army training camps and rugby games. John McElwee, a teacher at Kenakena responsible for the programme, believes it is working and that there is a great need for such programmes in other New Zealand schools. “We are seeing marked improvements in the boys’ achievements and sense of self. Work is improving. We are making a positive impact in their lives and giving them invaluable tools in handling situations. We are communicating with their parents in a therapeutic partnership,” says McElwee. Experts agree the influence a respected male role model can have on a boy is a very important aspect of their development. Boys’ education expert, Joseph Driessen, recommends schools should be mindful that many boys don’t have male role models and will respond positively to school visits from men who inspire them to learn and work hard. Dilworth School in Auckland is a school wellknown for catering to boys lacking a significant male presence in their lives. Principal Donald MacLean estimates some 80 per cent of Dilworth students have no dad or functioning father figure. As such, mentoring programmes, whereby the senior students take younger students under their wings, are an important part of school life. New research shows that there might be more to the argument that boys do better under the tutelage and guidance of a male teacher they respect. A recent UK study, carried out among 1200 children in 29 British schools by the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance, shows that boys lower their sights if they think their work is going to be marked by a woman because they believe their results will be worse. Shockingly, the research confirms that their suspicions are correct – female teachers did, on average, award lower marks to boys than unidentified external examiners. Male teachers, by contrast, awarded them higher marks than external examiners. The study suggests what many experts and teachers suspect to be true – that boys tend to relate better to male teachers. Although boys’ classes, mentoring programmes, and other such schemes that are cropping up around New Zealand are certainly laudable, it has been suggested that local initiatives can’t be the answer to addressing the national problem of boys’ underachievement. While the curriculum lends itself to good teaching and individualised learning, it needs to be implemented properly if it is to have any real effect on our male students. n

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FEATURE

JUDE BARBACK looks at the connections between psychological research concerning childhood memories and the implementation of the early childhood education curriculum, Te Wha-riki. 18

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS


EARLY CHILDHOOD RESEARCH

M

y younger brother Mark claims to remember his third birthday party. We – my other brother, Steven, and I – always scoffed at his recollection. Surely it must have been family photos that triggered his so-called memory? It isn’t just sibling squabbling: research confirms that most adults cannot recall events that took place before they were three or four years old – a phenomenon called childhood amnesia. While some can apparently remember what happened at an earlier age, the veracity of their memories is often questioned. However, research from Otago University, published in the United States journal Child Development, reveals that events experienced by children as young as two years old can be recalled six years later. Otago’s department of psychology carried out a study that involved around 50 Dunedin children playing a unique ‘magic shrinking machine’ game when they were two to four years old and then interviewing the children six years later to determine how well they remembered playing it. Study lead author, Dr Fiona Jack, said that only about a fifth of the children recalled the event, including two children who were under three years old when they played the game. “Although we couldn’t predict children’s longterm recall on the basis of their memory and language skills, we found some evidence that talking about the event soon after it occurred may have helped preserve it in the memories of those who remembered it,” said Jack. Sonja Arndt, convenor of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) early childhood education (ECE) special interest group hui, says these findings are well supported in the literature, research, and practices in ECE settings. A recent addition to this body of literature is Learning in the Making: Disposition and Design in Early Education, a book recently coauthored by Professor Anne Smith, Professor Margaret Carr, and others. The book draws on joint attention and autobiographical memory and its relevance to the development of a disposition to learn; a process the authors refer to as “reciprocity”. The authors argue that early childhood contexts, at home or at preschool, can foster children's dispositions to learn in various ways. “A disposition towards reciprocity includes engaging in dialogue with others, negotiating mutual sense and interest, communicating with others (both adults and peers), giving an opinion, taking into account the perspectives of others, sharing responsibility, communicating ideas, and becoming a group member,” reads an excerpt from the text. “The opportunity to talk about mutual experiences and reiterate events would be the sort of experience to support reciprocity,” says Smith, of Otago University. “It may well facilitate memory as well, but our early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, focuses more on ongoing dispositions to learn and motivation.” Indeed, the national early childhood

As storytelling is a known aid to memory, the research shows that a rich narrative environment enables Ma-ori to attach meaning to events from an early age and retain those memories throughout their lives. curriculum framework, Te Whāriki, promotes discussion between adults and children in a number of ways, including during and after activities and events and with wider family and whānau members. The curriculum outlines expectations for these discussions to be in relation to fairness, equity and bias, about rules and safety, in reflection on feelings and achievements, and in exploring the way things work. “These expectations clearly demonstrate it is understood that children benefit from talking about and being involved in reflecting on activities and events,” says Arndt. The five strands of the curriculum re wellbeing, belonging, contribution, communication, and exploration; it could be argued that discussing past events contributes to all of them. Arndt also points out that some approaches to the curriculum, such as the Reggio Emilia approach, are particularly focused on documentation as a way of reliving experiences and promote the reinforcement of learning through dialogue and narrative. Arndt says that with the strong focus on the use of ICT in ECE, children are increasingly encouraged to use cameras and video recorders to narrate their own stories about their learning and ideas. Beyond Te Whāriki, the socio-cultural perspective represented in further Ministry of Education publications, which are intended to support the implementation of the curriculum, also promote teacher/child conversations and reflections on activities and events. For example, talking about perceptions of their own learning, feelings, participation, and occurrences are documented as the “child’s voice”. Evaluation and assessment of planning and implementation of activities and events are also encouraged. Professor Carmen Dalli of Victoria University of Wellington says current assessment practices in early childhood centres typically involve recording learning events through “learning stories” that capture children’s behaviour and the teacher’s interpretation of them. These are used as the basis of ongoing curriculum planning. The recording of learning generally features photos of the children’s experiences and other images, such as samples of emergent writing, drawings, or other artefacts by the children. These are then discussed with the child and parents and included in the child’s portfolio. “In centres that have good assessment practices, the portfolio is easily accessible to both the children and the parents, so you can often see children going through their portfolios by themselves or with an adult, effectively re-visiting the narratives of their learning and reiterating the events,” says Dalli. Dalli says the use of learning stories is also

about building children’s identity as learners; the re-visiting of the learning stories reminds the children of their learning and establishes a memory of themselves as learners. Childhood memories have also provided the focus for another Otago study involving the earliest memories of Māori people. The research was aimed at answering questions that emerged from studies in 2000 that reported that Māori have the youngest first memories of any culture ever studied. While those with European ancestry recall memories from an average age of three and a half, Māori adults could remember events that occurred from when they were an average of two and a half. In order to better understand these results, the Otago psychology team carried out further research in which they asked mothers to tell their children the stories of their births. They found that Māori women told more elaborate stories than Pākehā mothers, enriched with details and interactions with their children’s questions. As storytelling is a known aid to memory, the research shows that a rich narrative environment enables Māori to attach meaning to events from an early age and retain those memories throughout their lives. It also appears likely that the importance of karakia, ritual, and whakapapa in Māori homes help to instil in children a sense of their place in their world. With funding from the Marsden Fund and the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the researchers, led by associate professor Elaine Reese, are exploring possible links between early memories and people’s abilities to make sense of their lives. According to Reese, the ability to tell a coherent life story, with a narrative structure and connections between past and present, indicates a greater wellbeing and resilience and less risk of depression. By yielding a greater understanding of what kind of environment can support emotionally robust adolescents, the implications of this research are significant. Auckland-based psychologist, Sarah Calvert, agrees that self-narratives are critical for the development of a coherent sense of ‘self’. Calvert says there is a huge literature in the area of self-narratives and their importance to the development of a secure, resilient ‘self’. The studies emerging from Otago, and indeed the entire body of literature and research surrounding the topics of childhood memories and self-narratives, suggest the importance of reciprocity and reflection in ECE should not be overlooked. It is perhaps unsurprising, but reassuring nonetheless, to see the findings of psychological research working hand-in-hand with ECE practices. n

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NEW MASTER’S DEGREE HITS THE MARK

W

The HIT Lab NZ’s new master’s programme is off to a great start. Education Review asks Christoph Bartneck how the programme evolved and what it hopes to achieve.

hile there may always be a place for some postgraduate programmes, others need to give way to new programmes that better meet ever-changing student demands. The new master’s programme, launched this year, offered at the University of Canterbury’s Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) is a case in point. The HIT Lab’s academic director, Christoph Bartneck, says the new master’s degree in Human Interface Technology (MHIT) meets an increasing need for this sort of multidisciplinary graduate programme. Bartneck is right. Global trends point to a decline in student numbers in computer science and more traditional engineering disciplines. The National Science Foundation (NSF) reports a five per cent decline in the proportion of science and engineering MScs since 1996. By contrast, there is increased demand for multidisciplinary programmes. The numbers of bio-engineering graduate students in the United States more than doubled from 2001 to 2006; an increase from 3000 to 7000 students. Bartneck says there is an unmet demand from students across the world who are approaching human interface technology from other trajectories such as art, design, psychology, and those who do not fit into the traditional engineering and computer science disciplines. “We offer a truly multi-disciplinary degree in which students with diverse backgrounds work together on human interface technology projects,” he says.

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There is also reportedly a rising demand for staff in academia and industry in the field of human interface technology. For the uninitiated, human interface technology involves the development of technology that can improve human interaction with technology, and through using technology, such as computers and telecommunications, improve human-to-human interaction. The overall goal of human interface technology is to improve users’ experiences with technology. It is not difficult, even for the more technologically challenged among us, to understand how this is a growing field and why there is more need for experts in this niche area. In addition to meeting this demand, the MHIT fits nicely into the HIT Lab’s educational strategy; the research institute has offered a PhD in human interface technology since 2010. This MHIT is a one-year programme, consisting of a lectured course and a research thesis. The students start with a 12-week course in which they will be exposed to the advanced topics in human interface technology. Students are then expected to apply this knowledge during two short group-project phases. During this time, they will also prepare the topic of their thesis. Once their thesis proposal is submitted and approved, students will spend the remainder of the year working on their thesis. The first theses emerging from the new programme are likely to attract great interest. Student, Ryan Walker (see profile), plans to research technology that can be used to teach

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

geometric object manipulation and movement in the performing arts. Study in the field incorporates a diverse range of topic areas including user-centred design, the development of new interface devices and technologies (hardware and software), evaluating these technologies within the application context, and studying the broader impact of interface technology on human behaviour and society. Although students will develop a detailed knowledge and a certain expertise surrounding their chosen research topics, the core course work component should also equip them with knowledge of key interface-design principles and the ability to describe and evaluate interface hardware and software. They are also expected to be able to work in multi-disciplinary teams, a notion intrinsic to the new course. Walker says he is looking forward to collaborating with the other students, many of whom are coming to the programme from different fields and with varying research interests. Bartneck says the new MHIT programme is off to a good start, despite some initial hiccups. “We have been able to attract a group of highly motivated students with diverse backgrounds. We are heavily using an electronic learning environment (Moodle), and we video-record the lectures in high definition. There were certainly some teething problems in getting the teaching technology configured, and we also had to create an efficient workflow. We are now fully operational and very excited about the work of our students,” says Bartneck. n


HUMAN INTERFACE TECHNOLOGY

FINDING A NICHE MHIT student, RYAN WALKER, says the new master’s programme provides the perfect opportunity to combine philosophical and mathematical interests with his passion for programming and interface. IN 2012, I enrolled in the MHIT programme to pursue my passions. You see, I have always found myself driven by reason to understand the world. As a child, I spent a lot of time building electronic kitsets. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time learning programming languages. As an adult at university, I turned my attention to the more abstract matters of mathematics, formal logic, and philosophy. Being in a university environment also exposed me to a range of extracurricular activities, and through those activities, I discovered a passion for performing arts. I also discovered a keen interest in real time audio augmentation and music production. However, throughout all of these passions, I have always found myself wishing for ways to combine my pursuits. Once I completed my BA (Hons) in philosophy at the University of Canterbury and Oxford University, I decided to look for something that would align my philosophical and mathematical interests with my performing art, audio, programming, and interface interests. The HIT Lab NZ MHIT programme, therefore, seemed to be the obvious choice for a person with my eclectic interests. I feel really excited to be in this programme because it really is the ideal synthesis of my academic studies and my other pursuits. At the HIT Lab NZ, it is also wonderful to be immersed in a multicultural and multidisciplinary environment. I have already had many inspiring

conversations with my research fellows, and I believe this environment will present many opportunities to me, both in the academic world and in the commercial world. In the programme so far, I have been learning about the principles of design, the practices and methods used in HCI research, and the ways to construct interfaces using a range of methods and materials. I have found the workload from the courses to be very stimulating and challenging. I have also been learning a range of different pieces of software that will be incredibly useful in my academic, commercial, and artistic endeavours. I think that being taught these preparatory subjects will be highly beneficial to the quality of my thesis – and will also help with future employability. During my thesis, I plan to research technology that can be used to teach geometric object manipulation and movement in the performing arts. For this research, I will make use of augmented reality to provide feedback for individuals learning to manipulate props as performing artists. Being in this environment is also incredibly valuable as I can draw from the multidisciplinary knowledge of my research fellows. I am philosophically motivated by this research because it allows me to investigate the nature of perception, understanding, and action in a practical context. At the same time, this type of research could be developed in many directions. After the MHIT, I plan to continue my academic pursuits, work on my artistic endeavours, and work with great people to build useful technology, and above all, to understand more about humanity and the world in which we live.

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EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

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TEACHER EDUCATION

EVOLUTION OF

SCHOOLS OF EDUCATION 1

PRIORITISE RESEARCH

First and foremost, universities are researchled. Research is what drives universities and it is what their international reputation is largely built on. Education units must take this imperative extremely seriously and place it at the very top of their list of priorities. Research provides us with new theoretical insights into policies and practices that contribute to our having deeper and clearer conceptual understandings of what is and what ought to be. Research also generates new empirical information about how and why things do or do not work and their effectiveness in achieving particular goals.

2

RELISH ROLE AS ‘CRITIC AND CONSCIENCE OF SOCIETY’

Since education is a normative enterprise, education units in universities must take a lead in serving as ‘the critic and conscience of society’, not simply because this is what is required by legislation, but more importantly, because we should take Socrates at his word that ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. Ours is not to just describe things as they are – important as this might be in revealing deeper causal mechanisms and social forces at work – for we have a far higher duty to inform the wider audience of politicians, policy makers, professionals, and the public at large about what ought to be, and this demands the taking of an overtly critical stance.

3

TEACHING SHOULD BE RESEARCH-LED

Teaching in education units must be researchled as well as being research-informed. That is, our teaching is driven by our research, and this can only happen if academic staff members are research-driven to the extent they publish their research and then incorporate their research into their teaching. It is not enough just to rely on the research published by education researchers in other universities. Students studying education are entitled to be taught by research-led teachers who exemplify what it is to be a research-led teacher and who are capable of generating an enthusiasm in students for research-led teaching and research-led teachers. Anything less than this is to do an injustice to our students. This means that academic staff in education units must be active and productive researchers in order to be research-led teachers.

4

DON’T NEGLECT EDUCATION’S PLACE IN THE WIDER CONTEXT

It goes without saying that education units in the universities should have a wide conception of what they are about. From at least the time of Plato, there has been a deep interest in schooling and education within wider social and political contexts, and this remains with us today in the

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form of history, philosophy, psychology, and sociology of education being the foundational disciplines in the study of education. But they are under threat from more utilitarian forces, which is disturbing given the explicit Teachers Council directive that these disciplines are to be included in initial teacher education programmes. We need to remind ourselves that the disciplined study of education underpins both the liberal study of education (such as the BA/MA in Education, which no university should be without), as well as those professional qualifications geared to teachers and others. To privilege one at the expense of the other is to lose sight of the significance of each for the other.

5

ENSURE ROBUST POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMMES

If the general undergraduate programmes in education provide the basic resources required to support the research, teaching, service, and administrative components of the education units in universities, the postgraduate programmes should go beyond this to provide much more focused study. There is something to be said for this where students are seeking higher-level qualifications for professional purposes, since it has the potential to raise practice in both the classroom and in administrative leadership.

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

But there is a downside to taught postgraduate qualifications, especially at the master’s level. In lacking a research component, these qualifications reflect the absence of a solid foundation in research for students to proceed to doctoral study, thus making it all the more difficult to attract well-qualified domestic candidates into doctoral programmes. This may partly explain some of the difficulty in recruiting New Zealand academics to fill education positions in our universities.

6

LEARN FROM THE PBRF ROUNDS

Like it or not, PBRF (the Performance-Based Research Fund) is with us and cannot be ignored. Education as a subject fared poorly in the 2003 and 2006 evaluations and is unlikely to do all that better in the 2012 round. Does it really matter? Well, yes it does, for reputation and revenue. It is more than just unfortunate that education as a subject performs so poorly; it is simply unacceptable that the subject carries far too many R-rated researchers, and it is equally unacceptable that education units in universities continue to have the number of R-rated researchers that they do. Hopefully, the evidence of the 2012 PBRF quality evaluation will reveal a significant decline in the number and percentage of education R researchers across the sector and within individual universities, and an increase in A and


JOHN CLARK shares his views on what schools of education in our universities should look like given the changing face of education. having large undergraduate/small postgraduate student populations to small undergraduate/large postgraduate populations, with internal students who are likely to spend fewer years on campus as full-time internal students, accompanied by a change in staff/student dynamics. The effect of this arrangement could be the elimination of the tripartite separation of undergraduate, postgraduate and initial teacher education to a dual mode of undergraduate and postgraduate (which includes initial teacher education) provision, as found in most other academic units.

8

DON’T SPREAD YOURSELF TOO THINLY

B researchers – although that remains to be seen. Going into a projected 2018 PBRF exercise, no university should tolerate any education academic at lecturer or above to be rated R, especially those so rated in 2012, with exceptions being limited to, for example, new staff appointed close to the PBRF census date who have a strong professional record and a weak research one.

7

EMBED INITIAL TEACHER EDUCATION PROPERLY

In light of the National Party’s 2011 election manifesto on education to raise initial teacher education qualifications to the postgraduate level and a corresponding elimination of undergraduate initial teacher education programmes, what might this hold for the future of education units in universities if implemented? The implications could be profound. The undergraduate programme would be very significantly reduced given the large number of students currently enrolled in undergraduate initial teacher education programmes, leaving BA Education and sundry other qualifications to flourish or wither as the case may be. On the other hand, there would be an increase in students at the postgraduate level as more initial teacher education students enrol in these programmes. This would certainly alter the composition of education units: from

It is just not possible to be all things to all people. With reducing resources, increasing staff/ student ratios, decreasing staff, and caps on EFTS (equivalent full-time student) education units in universities are being exhorted to do more with less. This is likely to demand having more papers with more students and few papers with few students as economies of scale bite deeper. At the undergraduate level, this may be felt as a reduction in the number of BA Education papers being offered; at the postgraduate level, there is likely to be a reduction in the number of qualifications being offered with, at the most, three overlapping programmes in early years/ primary/secondary initial teacher education and a carefully chosen portfolio of other programmes that not only attract solid enrolments but align with staff research interests and research-led teaching. A growth in internal full-time doctoral students would be a welcome sign that research capacity and capability in education units are being raised to meet internal standards.

9

BEWARE OF ISOLATING EDUCATION FROM UNIVERSITIES

The mergers of the colleges of education into the universities had the consequence of consolidating the new and combined education units on the college of education sites, which in a number of cases were located at a considerable distance from the main university campus. University education staff members were relocated to the college campus, which cut them off from colleagues in other parts of the university campus. It also deprived college education staff and students from engaging with staff and students in the wider university. Massey University has announced that education will be relocated back to the main university campus in Palmerston North by the end of this year.

10

INTRODUCE YOUNG BLOOD INTO FACULTIES

Time waits for no one as academic staff age gracefully into retirement. In education units, the average age of academic staff is particularly high – in some cases, approaching the late fifties.

This has advantages as older staff members bring with them a wealth of experience and accumulated wisdom that they can bring to bear on their teaching. But it does delay the recruitment of new and younger staff members who bring different perspectives and alternative ideas to their research and teaching. This is compounded by the tendency of education units to attract staff who, often coming from professional careers, may be older than, for example, those in the sciences. They also tend to have limited research experience, which takes time to acquire. It seems inevitable that new appointments will be required to be doctorally qualified and possessing a solid research track record that may limit the pool of available applicants, with the internationally less favourable conditions of employment likely to diminish even further the attractiveness of working in our universities.

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ENSURE SYNERGIES BETWEEN STAFF AND POSTGRADS

What might all this hold for postgraduate students in education units in universities? For students engaged in taught programmes, it should mean that the academic staff teaching them are experts in the field of study, who keep up with the national and international literature in their subject and are research active. For research students, especially those engaged in doctoral work, it is of critical importance that academic staff members who supervise theses are themselves active researchers, who know what is required of doctoral inquiry and are capable of initiating thesis students into the traditions and canons of research. There is also something to be said for requiring doctoral students to align their thesis topics with the research interests of their supervisors, for in this way, students benefit from the expertise of staff and staff benefit from the contributions students can make to advancing their research programme. Education units will need to change with the times and adapt to changing conditions. Staff research will be accorded far higher priority than has hitherto been the case. Initial teacher education may be given less weight than it previously enjoyed. New income streams to augment existing sources of revenue to support and strengthen research and teaching activities will alter work patterns. All of these and much else besides will test us in a variety of ways, but if we confront the future along the lines suggested above, then we should be well prepared to face the challenges ahead of us with confidence. n John Clark is associate professor for the School of Educational Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North.

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

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John McElwee left a career as a nurse to become a teacher. He talks to Education Review about how his previous experiences in the armed forces and working in intensive care units have helped shape the teacher he is today.

SIDEWAYS PROGRESSION:

CHANGING ROLES MID-CAREER Q

A

What initially attracted you to nursing?

I had spent a few years in the Army but realised I really wanted a change of career. I really wanted to help people, to make a difference. My grandmother had recently died, and I saw the role nurses played. My mother was a Karitane nurse, so I did have a little insight. I began doing some volunteer work at a local hospital. The moment I stepped into the hospital and saw the business, the care, the professionalism, and teamwork, I was sold.

Q

A

What inspired you to switch to teaching?

I first thought about becoming a teacher while working in the Middle East. My wife and I were looking after children with cancer in a small hospital in the desert in Saudi Arabia. The area was becoming quite unstable after September 11 with car and compound bombings. The work was hard, 12-hour shifts, and I was beginning to feel a need for a change. On our return to New Zealand, I returned to work in the Intensive Care Unit in Wellington Hospital, where I was continually stunned by the number of young people admitted to the unit as a consequence of poor decision making

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– the drug overdoses, suicide attempts, assaults, drink-driving accidents. It all seemed endless, and the devastating impact on parents was heartbreaking. We were very much the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. My thoughts turned to teaching. Something in me had changed, although I still wanted to work with people in a field that involved caring, and I still wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I had always seen education as a tool that empowers people, so teaching just seemed to fit. I visited schools and talked to teachers, and again, it just felt right. Over the years, I have always remembered my standard 3 teacher, Mr Day. He was fun, sporty, and just seemed to inspire the children he taught. I guess 25 years on, the memory of him

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

as a teacher gave me something to aim towards: to be the sort of role model he was to me, to the children I taught.

Q

Did you reach the decision to retrain as a teacher lightly?

A

It was a big decision to retrain. I was 37 years old and had a safe, rewarding career; I was well respected. My wife was very supportive and I could still work a few nights a week to keep financially sound. At the end of the day, I realised I needed to move from working with sick people to perhaps supporting them earlier, through education. I felt strongly that I could be a great teacher. Nursing had given me so much, but it was time to move on.


CAREER CHANGES

Q

Q

A

A

Describe your first teaching job and your first impressions of teaching. My first job as a teacher was as a year 5/6 teacher at a 180-pupil decile 8 school in Wellington. I felt at home there right away. I was passionate and dedicated; I felt I had built up a good name during my one-year postgraduate course. The excitement of having my own class was overwhelming; I had all these fantastic ideas. I was going to be the best teacher out. The reality, however, was quite different. I remember, on my very first day, a parent came to the school and requested that I should not sit her son with a boy named Daniel, to which I agreed, until I realised there were three Daniels in my class and I didn’t know which one not to sit him with! It was hard setting up programmes. My training suddenly didn’t seem enough. The diversity in the class also shocked me. I had kids who could hardly read or write as well as some very able students. Slowly, I got to grips with it by talking things through with my associate teacher. I quickly saw the importance of fostering good relationships with the parents and really getting to know my students – understanding what they enjoyed, what worried them, and what was going on in their lives. It amazed me how little time I had – there was always so much to do. I ran the school sports programme and set up a lunchtime sports programme.

Q

How have your previous occupations enriched you as a teacher?

A

I have been lucky enough to gain insight and skills as a result of all I have done. Being in the Army taught me self-discipline, a desire to work hard and better myself. As a nurse, I developed a real insight into how vulnerable people can get. I learned skills in therapeutic communication, the healing process, and developed an in-depth knowledge of health issues. Working in ICU for a number of years taught me how to be resilient. I comforted and helped people, not just patients, but their friends and family in the most tragic of times. I guess the main lesson I learned is the importance of both education and health as a means of empowering people. As a nurse, a great deal of my job was educating patients, whether on diabetes or just general health issues. I could see the change education had on patients in making good lifestyle choices and improving outcomes. I very much took this philosophy into teaching. I firmly believe that teachers don’t just teach reading, writing, and maths. True education involves mentoring and guiding our students; we care for them, we feel concern for their future, we celebrate their successes, and work with them on their failures. Students often talk to us about things going on in their lives, they seek our advice, they laugh with and at us, and they also vent at us when things are not going so well. The value I placed on education, and the personal and professional skills I took from nursing were so transferable to teaching.

What elements of teaching do you enjoy most? I really enjoy making a difference in my students’ lives, and I like the fun we have. I like the sense of satisfaction when you know a student has achieved, not just academically, but socially or in some other way. I enjoy the people I work with; I like that we discuss things at our school and support each other. I enjoy coming to work and knowing I am supported, and that if I do have a concern, there is always someone there to talk it through with.

Q

And what do you find frustrating or challenging?

A

Road patrol in the rain is never good – it’s up there with wet lunch hours! I do get frustrated by parents who choose not to play their part in the school-parent partnership. It’s often the parents you need to see the most who tend to miss the parent-teacher interviews, or fail to turn up to appointments or follow through on supporting their child at home. I find the National Standards frustrating as there are so many more dimensions to a child and their learning than achieving a standard in maths, reading, or writing. I myself would not have met the National Standards – I only succeeded with education once I left school. I failed School Certificate; I was a poor reader and writer. I guess that’s why I don’t ever want my students to stop trying. Eventually, it does come, and with the right attitude, nothing is impossible.

QWhat aspects of nursing do you miss?

A

At heart, I think I will always be a nurse. I miss the hospital. It was often hard but so rewarding. I loved all I did as a nurse – the clinical care of people, and just meeting them, and seeing them get better. Working in intensive care had its moments, but we had such a great team. It was such a privileged role. For everything I put into nursing, I got more out. I made many friends, I travelled – I do feel very lucky.

Q

Do you have an ongoing interest in the health sector, and if so, would you like to incorporate health aspects into your chosen or future career choices?

A

Health has always been my passion. I believe in a healthy mind and body as a foundation for learning, as well as just feeling settled and happy within oneself. When I decided to go teaching, I went knowing that I could promote health in young people so they could make informed choices on health matters. I also left intensive care with a concern over the state that young men were getting themselves into. The statistics spoke for themselves. We have one of the highest male suicide rates in the world and one of the highest drink-driving rates in the world. Fewer men are being accepted into higher-level education such as medical school. We have a very bad domestic violence rate and

a deplorable child-abuse rate. I saw all this: one of my very last patients was a young girl killed by her mother’s partner. As I progressed with teaching, I began working at a decile 3 school. Many of the children came from broken families and had no positive male role models in their life. Seeing a need, I informally began mentoring boys by taking small groups of “at risk” boys out. We often went to the beach, played cricket and rugby in the sand, had fish and chips, swam, and then off to a movie or bowling. The boys began communicating more with me about what was going on in their lives. By building up a trust relationship with these boys, I was able to find out what was going on in their lives and I could then help them. I began to see a marked improvement in their school work and selfconfidence. With a move to my third school, Kenakena School on Kapiti Coast, I was lucky enough to meet two amazing people: Julia Bevin and Andy Jenkins. Julia was a team leader of the year 5/6 syndicate and Andy worked as a teacher aide. Together, we put together a formal mentoring programme, not only as an education programme but as a primary health initiative. We work with students, parents, and health providers to support our boys through education on diet, self-esteem, conflict resolution, goal setting, hygiene, and puberty. We take the boys to male-rich environments such as Army camps, Air Force bases, and the Police College. We expose the boys to positive male role models, and we put them through a military fitness programme, a general fitness programme, and team-building exercises. We teach them to box, and we take them for contact sports such as bullrush. We also take them to a major sporting event such as a Super 15 game. We take data on their needs, and if indicated, get the boys’ support in the form of equine therapy. We work with parents, and hold parent forums to support parents’ understanding of their children and their needs. I do feel passionate about improving the achievements and outlook that young men in this country have. I have seen for myself the tragic consequences when things go wrong. In promoting and setting up the programme at Kenakena with Julia and Andy, we are seeing marked improvements in the boys’ achievements and sense of self. Work is improving. We are making a positive impact on their lives and giving them invaluable tools for handling situations. We are communicating with their parents in a therapeutic partnership and have developed a very proactive relationship with a number of health agencies.

Q

What advice would you give to those weighing up different options at the beginning of their careers?

A

Just to learn, be yourself, follow your heart, and the right thing will happen. Make sure you take time for yourself and never be afraid to try new things. Celebrate your success and learn >> from the things that don’t go so well.

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

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CAREER CHANGES

TEACHER-TURNED-MANAGER

Education Review talks to Tauranga-based Glenn Quintal about his decision to leave the teaching profession to pursue a career in management.

Q

What initially attracted you to teaching as a career choice?

A

The role models I had at secondary school, particularly P. E. staff, made it seem like a really cool profession to enter into: fun, on-the-go, while at the same time, building relationships and developing youth into what they had the potential of achieving. And of course, the holidays!

aspects of extracurricular school life including various sports coaching positions and also assisting with drama (I had never been interested in drama up until this point, I might add). Teaching seemed like the best-ever job: full-on, engaging students, developing minds, making a difference... the whole nine yards.

QHow would you describe your QWhat prompted you to first teaching job and your first impressions of teaching?

A

My first teaching position was brilliant. I was provided with a lot of responsibility and ability to guide and direct a department forward with a new curriculum. I got involved in various

switch to a different vocation?

A

Ultimately, the lack of teaching roles in the region I chose to settle in. I thought that one day I may have made a switch to another career. However, this was definitely the catalyst in making the change.

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EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

Q

Has having a teaching qualification helped or hindered you when deciding to change career direction?

A

I think it may have hindered, if anything. I feel there is a stigma that teaching isn’t a “real world” profession; that what you have to adhere to, or deal with, in an education system does not necessarily translate to other professions removed from the education sector. The perception of lacking business acumen is definitely something I have had to prove otherwise in subsequent roles.

QDescribe your current job.

A

I am in a senior management role in the sports and recreation sector. I manage over 40 staff in five different businesses, across multiple sites. My role is primarily about engaging my teams to drive revenue opportunities through these business centres, whilst maintaining service standards and compliance. In addition to this, building relationships with users and suppliers as well as the development of business plans, setting and managing budgets, and reporting are key functions of my role.

QWhat elements of your current job do you enjoy most?

A

I enjoy working with people, both staff and customers. The industry I am in is able to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s not so transactional like a lot of other professions.

QAnd what do you find

frustrating or challenging?

A

Managing significantly different businesses and people at the same time. I find the juggling of hats to be a real challenge. However, like anything in life that challenges you, the successful completion of the challenge is what delivers the reward.

Q

What aspects of teaching do you miss?

A

Aside from the holidays, I miss the optimism of youth. Reflecting back on my teaching experiences, it was the random conversation or discussions had with students, coupled with the ever-changing nature of students, that created such enjoyably challenging experiences.

Q

Do you have an ongoing interest in education, and if so, would you like to incorporate aspects of education into your chosen or future career choices?

A

Yeah, there are elements of education that I would like to incorporate in the future and into other roles I may take up. I still have a huge passion for developing people, so this would fit in naturally with educational aspects of learning, training, and development.

Q

What advice would you give to those weighing up different options at the beginning of their careers?

A

Keep an eye on what the government does with regards to student loans and interest rates. Tertiary education is costly, so ‘to teach or not to teach?’ would be far better answered prior to starting a teaching qualification. Teaching provided me with some wonderful experiences and opportunities, but to be qualified is a timely and costly exercise for a very niche profession. My biggest piece of advice I would pass on is to choose whatever you are honestly passionate about. You won’t go wrong with this approach and will be far more successful with this direction rather than choosing something for either money or holidays. n


TERTIARY ACCREDITATION

DO NEW ZEALAND BUSINESS SCHOOLS MEASURE UP?

With an estimated 13,000 business schools worldwide, how do New Zealand’s business schools rate?

U

niversity business schools project a certain image. From the contemporary homepage, to the minimalist chic buildings, to the smug tones of those who like to casually mention, “I’m juggling my MBA with work”, business schools are very du jour. Business school websites hint at prestige and connectedness. Links to different career options, business mentors, recruiters, and employers are indicative of the bridge from academia to the ‘real world’. Certainly the social networking icons – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – have a prominent presence. Being connected, it seems, is an important aspect to making it in the business world; the icons, links, and smiley ‘student’ dressed to just the right degree of smart-casual on the home page all suggest that the business school is a vehicle to help with this. However, New Zealand business schools, it transpires, have larger aspirations than merely looking cool and connected. In December last year, Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Commerce and Administration achieved European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) accreditation from the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). With this achievement, Victoria joined the Universities of Auckland and Waikato to be among just 58 business schools worldwide to hold the coveted ‘Triple Crown’ of accreditation by EFMD, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and the Association of MBAs (AMBA). “New Zealand’s ability to position itself internationally as a provider of quality, globally relevant business programmes is boosted by the unity of purpose we see across our universities,” says Professor Bob Buckle, Victoria’s pro vice-chancellor and dean of commerce. “All are members of AACSB and all except Lincoln hold at least one of the three major accreditations. In particular, as four of our universities now hold EQUIS and six hold AACSB accreditation, New Zealand has become a more attractive option for students from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.” To date, EQUIS has granted its seal of

approval to 133 schools, AACSB to 643 for just business and 177 for both business and accounting, and AMBA to 189. Victoria has the added distinctions of being the only Triple Crown holder and one of just three top-ranking Australasian universities – the others being the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne – to have achieved AACSB accreditation in both business and accounting. The process of accreditation requires organisations to institute a range of improvements and then to demonstrate continued progress in order to retain accreditation, ensuring a level of quality is maintained. These accreditations, while certainly worthy and important in terms of quality control, don’t appear to have the same meaning for New Zealanders as they do in other countries. Buckle agrees. “At present, it must be acknowledged that there is a greater appreciation overseas of the important role of accreditation than there is in New Zealand. However, given that tertiary business education is becoming ever more globalised and competitive, I expect that this gap in perception will prove to be temporary.” It is so easy to forget, tucked away in our corner of the Pacific, that we are competing on a global stage in all areas of education. With tertiary business education becoming increasingly competitive on an international level, accreditation is likely to be on the ‘must have’ list for future students and employers. Buckle says that accreditation boosts universities’ international profiles and standings, enhancing the prospects of graduates, and improving the ability to compete internationally for students and staff. “When one considers that there are an estimated 13,000 business schools worldwide, the proportion of schools with one or more of the three accreditations is very small, and thus accreditation is a genuinely distinguishing feature that greatly enhances our credibility and visibility to prospective students, employers, and faculty,” says Buckle. New Zealand has often been tipped as a great source of entrepreneurial talent, and this is increasingly reflected in its business schools. The University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs’ Challenge has attracted much interest. It is also well connected to the university’s ICEHOUSE, famed for its business start-up and mentoring programmes. The MBA is still one of the most sought-after programmes on offer, both here and overseas. Otago University boasts New Zealand’s longest-running and most prestigious MBA. Others, like Unitec’s business school, have branched out into a more educative role and are providing secondary school resources for business studies. With accreditation and innovation on their side, as well as a proclivity for the cutting edge, it isn’t really surprising New Zealand’s university business schools are held in such high regard. n

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

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WHAT’S WRONG WITH NEW ZEALAND’S E-LEARNING GUIDELINES?

RALPH SPRINGETT says tertiary institutions need to be seriously committed to e-learning if the redeveloped guidelines are to continue to be effective.

I

n August 2011, the Tertiary e-Learning Reference Group, a joint Ministry of Education – Ako Aotearoa representative advisory board, was presented with a proposal to redevelop New Zealand’s 2005 e-learning guidelines, and it has agreed to their review. Part of the proposal involved a brief study that found the guidelines, despite having received considerable international interest when they were released, have languished somewhat in recent years. However, many institutions have gained considerable value from either implementing the guidelines or using them to guide their teaching and learning activities, and this is a key rationale for their redevelopment. The New Zealand Tertiary College, for example, has embraced the e-learning guidelines, with some fantastic results supporting organisational operations, academic teaching, and student learning. In 2008, they initially used the e-learning guidelines to focus on staff development college-wide. The results included an increased understanding of the benefits technology offers teaching and learning and an enhanced understanding of the responsibilities of the college in increasing its commitment to staff teaching and students learning online. Chief executive of the college, Selena Fox, describes using the e-learning guidelines as a process in which intentional change to support staff and students is aligned with a clear understanding of the organisational goals for e-learning. New Zealand’s e-learning guidelines are actually a matrix of reflective questions. Some focus on staff and students, others on learning design, sustainability, and innovation. By engaging with

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these questions, institutions drill down to core issues and are led to develop appropriate strategies that better align their policies and processes with institutional goals. But if the institution struggles with a united message, a clear articulation of its e-strategy and associated goals – or cannot, for whatever reason, provide good leadership – the implementation of change can become compromised. The New Zealand e-learning guidelines are designed to support institutions in the reflective process. So it is in the clear understanding of organisational goals, and in leading the process of change, that the process is most vulnerable. If an institution is struggling to define clearly the goals of their e-learning strategies, there are further tools they can use to focus their thinking. The e-Maturity Model (eMM), originally funded by the Ministry of Education, is a framework that assists organisations to assess the effectiveness of their ICT-related processes and policies. It can also help define an organisation’s goals and business needs. If e-developments are to achieve the key strategic objectives of their institutions, senior leaders and managers must exercise strong leadership. Some staff and students of institutions will be challenged by change, including those institutions who have engaged with the e-learning guidelines. Pockets of e-excellence may exist alongside more traditional processes. Again, there are useful resources to support excellence in leadership, such as Taking the Lead: Strategic Management for e-Learning (a joint Ministry of Education/Ako Aotearoa resource). Other than lack of currency and relevance, largely due to their age and the ever-changing

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

nature of technology, e-learning, and e-teaching, little appears to be wrong with New Zealand’s e-learning guidelines. But they have an Achilles’ heel: the institutions. Support from institutions will be essential for a successful reincarnation. To ensure greater institutional buy-in, based on a ministerial suggestion, project participants will be asked to make a financial contribution, and other sectorfunded models are being considered to ensure ongoing sustainability. Connections with tools such as the eMM and the Taking the Lead resource will be important, but the key will be a commitment from the sector’s institutions to improve their e-capability and effectiveness through selfassessment and reflection, supported by up-to-date New Zealand-designed resources. The New Zealand Tertiary College was right to focus on the human aspect of e-learning. Technology will continue to change at extraordinary rates. Some advances may be red herrings for education, but developing engagement, commitment, and awareness of staff and students will remain a constant in this fluid environment. If institutions can define their goals and use a more available, more relevant set of guiding questions to keep their staff and students aware of e-tools, support resources, and how they might be applied and improved with collaborative approaches, then this project is worth its weight in educational gold. n Ralph Springett is a member of the Tertiary e-Learning Reference Group and president of Massey University’s Extramural Students’ Society.


E-LEARNING

WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT IN E-LEARNING TERRY NEAL looks at emerging trends in e-learning. WHAT’S HOT?

n BLENDED LEARNING. Campus-based

institutions mix classroom-based and online learning to increase learners’ choice of when and where they can study. Traditional distance providers, such as the Open Polytechnic, offer more engaging, effective materials online and enhanced support from tutors and peers through facilitated online forums. n INCREASING MULTIMEDIA. Initially, e-learning was primarily text online, but online resources increasingly use multimedia, such as images, audio, video, and animations. Multimedia more effectively communicate some concepts and better meet the needs of learners who prefer to learn by listening or watching rather than reading. Being able to create media with generally available technology, such as mobile phones, means students can use photos, audio, or videos as evidence of competence and choose from options beyond a written essay to show understanding. n GROWING MOBILITY OF E-LEARNING. As more learners access the internet through ubiquitous wireless networks, using laptops, smartphones, and tablets, they can enjoy the genuine flexibility of being able to learn wherever they are, which e-learning on a desktop computer

cannot offer. Advances in battery technology mean teachers and students can use their devices more freely without needing to plug in as often. n LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS. These systems remain the technology educational institutions rely on to support e-learning. They simplify things for institutions and tutors by prepackaging a number of technologies. Example functions contained within these systems are uploading and hosting files, discussion forums, enrolling students into course cohorts, tracking student use, and online quizzes. n AUTOMATED FEEDBACK. Quizzes for checking understanding throughout the course, which the computer automatically marks, benefit learners by being available for immediate feedback 24/7, allowing for many practice attempts and no judgements.

WHAT’S NOT? Each of these things hold great promise in e-learning, but challenges in implementation mean they are yet to find their place. n VIRTUAL WORLDS offer significant potential for simulations and role plays. However, institutions struggle to provide the necessary infrastructure, and given the new skills required, only dedicated enthusiasts teach in these spaces. The virtual world is not used enough, probably, to

warrant the up-front commitment from students to create an avatar and become confident in the space. n OPEN EDUCATION RESOURCES offer potential to support new models of design, development, and delivery of online learning that are more accessible and cost-effective and that benefit from the combined expertise of educators worldwide. However, most educators are not aware of these materials, and many who are do not understand the open licensing arrangements enough to confidently find, use, distribute, revise, and remix resources. n PERSONAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS. The internet and various web 2.0 technologies support learners to manage their own learning through connecting to information and communities based on their priorities. Such a learning experience sets up a learner for life. However, in practice, most learners lack the confidence, skills, or time to implement such an approach. Also, institutional systems of assessment and accreditation still rely on a directed learning environment to demonstrate competence.

Terry Neal is flexible learning manager (external services) at the Open Polytechnic.

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ALTERNATIVE EDUCATIONAL MODELS

A STEINER EDUCATION

A

n acquaintance once offered me all her children’s plastic toys because she had decided to “go Steiner”. However, a closer look reveals there is much more to Steiner education than ridding your household of Fisher-Price.

HISTORY LESSON Rudolf Steiner education (also known as Waldorf education) is an international movement founded in 1919, arising from the philosophy and indications given by Austrian philosopher and scientist, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). Steiner was the founder of anthroposophy, a spiritual philosophy that strives to bridge the clefts between the three main areas of human culture – the sciences, the arts, and

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spirituality – in an effort to achieve an understanding and respect of humanity. Steiner education is all about fulfilling the objectives of anthroposophy and does so by integrating practical, artistic, and conceptual elements. Indeed, ‘holistic’ is a word often attributed to Steiner education, as the mind, body, and soul are all incorporated into a child’s learning. The Steiner approach takes into account a child’s development stages and aims to deliver the right stimulus at the right time. Learning is seen as a journey of discovery, both of the world and oneself, and to this end, the imagination plays an important role in learning. The first Steiner school was founded in 1919 to serve the

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

children of employees at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany. Today, there are approximately 1000 schools and 2000 kindergartens across 60 countries. Homeschooling environments often draw upon Steiner methods, and other ‘mainstream’ schools are increasingly using methods drawn from Steiner education. According to the Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools in New Zealand, there are 10 schools and 24

kindergartens currently operating in New Zealand. Eight out of the 10 schools are state-registered.

WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT STEINER EDUCATION? In applying the philosophy of anthroposophy to Steiner education in today’s setting, there are many factors that differentiate


No plastic toys, no TV, no reading until seven years old: Rudolf Steiner education is one of the most intriguing educational approaches around. JUDE BARBACK looks at the origins, methods, providers, and students of Steiner education. Steiner education from the mainstream and other forms. One of the most well-known facts about the Steiner approach is that children are not taught to read right away – writing is taught first. In years 1 and 2, the children explore how each letter of the alphabet evolved out of a pictograph, and the ability to read is said to evolve from there. A predominantly oral approach is taken throughout Steiner schooling, and this is seen as the foundation of literacy. The oral tradition starts with telling fairy tales in kindergarten.

There is no abstract content in the kindergarten experience and minimal abstraction in year 1. Indeed, the academic side of schooling is de-emphasised in the early years of Steiner schooling. Textbooks aren’t used from years 1 to 5. Instead, the children compile their own main lesson books, which they fill in during the course of the year, recording their experiences and what they have learned. Steiner education aims to be non-competitive. No grades are given in the early years. Rather, the teacher will provide a detailed evaluation of the child. Reading and maths skills are tested at ages nine and 11 for appraisal purposes. There is huge emphasis on what other schools might term ‘extracurricular activities’. Art, music, gardening, and foreign languages are among the activities that are central to Steiner schools. In the younger classes, all subjects are introduced through artistic activities because children respond better to this medium, it’s believed. In addition to art, eurhythmy, a dance-like art form in which music or speech are expressed

in bodily movement, is a central component of Steiner education. The rationale is that children respond to its simple rhythms and exercises, which help strengthen and harmonise their body and life forces. One activity unlikely to be found in a Steiner class is one involving technology, particularly in the earlier years. The use of electronic media, particularly television and computer use, by young children is strongly discouraged in the Steiner approach. Children are rather encouraged to discover their own world through play as imagination is believed to be critical to the healthy development of the individual. A parent of a student at Tauranga Steiner School told me the school felt like one big family. Apparently, students have the same teacher right through the primary years. She also informed me that it was very structured. Steiner schools introduce core curriculum material in the main lesson time from 9am to 11am, for two to three weeks at a time. This allows the child concentrated time to absorb and digest new material. After morning break, time is allowed for practice lessons where repetitive activity and skills take place. Spirituality is central to Steiner education. While the beliefs of a particular religious denomination or sect aren’t subscribed to, Steiner schools are based on a generally Christian perspective. However, children of all religious backgrounds attend Steiner schools. The historic Christian festivals, and those of other major religions as well, are observed in the classrooms and in school assemblies.

WHO TEACHES STEINER TEACHERS? Steiner education certainly presents an intriguing blend of pedagogical concepts and philosophical beliefs. Although it is not for everyone, it is understandable why an increasing number of mainstream schools are adopting Steiner methods. Yet

there are still a small number of providers of Steiner education. The Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools in New Zealand lists two main education providers of Steiner education: Taruna New Zealand, an adult education centre based in Havelock North that is dedicated to applied anthroposophy, and AUT University’s School of Education. AUT introduces specialities in Steiner as well as Montessori and Pasifika education to education students in the first and second year of their Bachelor of Education (BEd) course. Second-year students are given the opportunity to visit the different kinds of schools, hear more about the education speciality, and then decide how they want to specialise in their third year, whether it be in Steiner, Montessori, Pasifika, or mainstream education. Student teaching in the third year involves two fiveweek placements in one of these speciality schools. Neil Boland, Steiner specialist in AUT’s teacher education department, says the number of students opting for the Steiner speciality has increased steadily since AUT started offering the speciality in 2005. Of the BEd students, 30 are currently taking the Steiner option. This is a significant increase compared to when the option was first offered. At postgraduate level, however, numbers are still small and differ from year to year. Those students going on to complete a Master of Education (MEd) degree must complete a thesis in addition to four papers, one of which must be the Academic Research paper. With the availability of a Steiner-specific Masters paper and independent studies papers, MEd students can complete their degree almost entirely in Steiner education, if they so choose. Alternatively, they may wish to do the one Steiner paper, allowing them to keep their professional options open.

STEINER AND THE MAINSTREAM Boland says that students have been successful in applying both to mainstream and Steiner schools >>

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ALTERNATIVE EDUCATIONAL MODELS << following their teacher training at AUT. “I do not in any way expect everyone who studies Steiner education at AUT to teach in a Steiner school,” he says. In fact, Boland says he finds Steiner and mainstream education fit well together. “I find everyone has things to learn from everyone else,” he says. “Most Steiner schools in New Zealand are integrated, so are state schools, regardless.” While some students have gone through the Steiner system themselves, not all choose the Steiner speciality. Boland says often these students say they want to study an approach with which they are not so familiar in order to broaden their knowledge of education. One such student is Dirk Steiner – no relation, I’m told! – who is currently working towards his PhD in Steiner education at AUT. Dirk, originally from Germany, did not attend a Steiner school; like 95 per cent of German children, he attended a public

state school. He says that his experience of the state school system in Germany was one of the main factors propelling him towards Steiner education. He says his memories are not all positive. “The pressure to perform while drowning in abstract, prescribed, often ‘dead’ knowledge to be memorised, as well as being almost exclusively defined on the basis of one’s academic performance, did not inspire me very much,” says Dirk. “Looking back, it reveals that no one is actually interested in the student as a person. My distinct wish to become a Waldorf teacher and bring about change in the way schooling works today had already emerged during my years at high school.” Boland believes there are pros and cons to coming from a Steiner school background. “The plus is that they have an instinctive understanding of how the schools work and ‘feel’ and are comfortable with the approach of a Steiner school,” he says.

“The downsides are that they tend to regard whatever they have experienced at school as being Steiner education, and need to become aware that all the schools are different and not all teachers are the same. Also, at a Steiner school, nothing is taught at all about the education, why things are done as they are, and what lies behind the education. This is a totally new way of thinking about what they took up unconsciously as children – most people find this no bother, but it makes a few think hard about what they recall from their own school days,” says Boland.

DIRK STEINER’S STEINER STORY

Go further. Postgraduate Studies in education. Postgraduate study at the University of Waikato opens your eyes to new ways of looking and thinking about people and the world. Our staff are leaders in their field and contribute to national and international research, while our graduates are sought after around the world. Explore your area of interest and enhance your practice through a postgraduate diploma, honours, masters or doctoral degree. There’s no stopping you. E kore e taea te aukati i a koe. Faculty of Education Te Kura Toi Tangata

Freephone 0800 83 22 42 or visit www.waikato.ac.nz/education

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Dirk’s recollection of his school days led him to pursue Steiner education in his tertiary studies. He completed an honours degree in Steiner/Waldorf teaching and a postgraduate diploma in experiential education at fully accredited ‘anthroposophic’ universities in Germany. Therefore, his qualifications in Steiner teaching are recognised by the state. Interestingly, Dirk’s study was not only Steiner-specific in terms of its contents, but also structured and carried out in a Steiner/Waldorfpedagogical way. This included examinations; apart from testing formal pedagogical knowledge, assessments were project-based, allowing the student more freedom to be pedagogically creative. “I benefited hugely from this structure since it enabled me to actually motivate myself through what I chose to work on,” says Dirk. Dirk was on holiday in New Zealand during a sabbatical when he stumbled upon the AUT course information office. Upon discovering the university offered a Steiner speciality, he got in touch with a professor who encouraged

Dirk to submit a proposal, which was subsequently accepted. His research is about enlivened learning and is philosophical in nature. It aims to explore how experiential educational strategies, amplified by the concept of holism, can enhance learning within compulsory educational settings, so that meaningful and lasting learning experiences can take place. Dirk hopes his research will have some influence on future decisions concerning educational systems and help bring about changes to current educational practices. “I am an advocate of Steiner’s educational concept because it is so well thought out in terms of relating to the child’s development in a holistic way. And particularly in this day and age, the needs of children – to develop in a healthy way – are getting more and more important. I am able to relate to Steiner’s concept very well because he creates the overall picture and out of that understanding develops all aspects to it. Everything is interrelated and that, to me, makes a lot of sense.” Dirk says there is an expectation for him to train teachers once he has finished his PhD, which, at first, felt disappointing. “I was looking forward to working with children again,” he says. “On the other hand, I guess, teaching university students might just be the next stage. I could definitely imagine a combination of both, being involved with teaching at school as well as university, while continuing to being involved with research work as well.” Dirk says that although he is missing teaching, he finds research fascinating and can see how the process is furthering him, both scientifically and personally, every day. It is clear, however, that at heart, Dirk is a teacher. “Educating young individuals by awakening their interest for the wonders of our world, as well as helping them discover their potential and ‘grow’ during school time, makes teaching one of the greatest and most important professions in our society,” he says. While many might deride the Steiner attitudes toward television and plastic, and show bemusement for its methods in reading instruction, there is certainly something to be said for an approach to education that is about awakening an interest in the wonders of the world. n


TEACHER SUPPORT

Left: Allister Smith, Massey University and Dianne Tremain, College Street Normal School. Below: Dr Alison Sewell and Lead Associate Teacher Contact Course participants.

ASSOCIATE TEACHERS TAKE PART IN PILOT ‘Lead Associate Teachers’ is a pilot project focused on enhancing the quality of work performed by associate teachers.

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assey University’s College of Education is launching a new pilot project in the Manawatu district to enhance the quality of the work of associate teachers who support and mentor students on practicum. The project, which started earlier this year, has already enlisted 27 teachers from seven schools across the range – from large to small, rural to inner city, and of varying deciles. Massey hopes that the initiative will be extended to schools outside the Manawatu region, and to associate teachers in the early childhood and secondary sectors. Dr Sally Hansen, Director of Teacher Education at Massey’s College of Education, said she believed it was the first project of its kind in New Zealand, and Massey had already had expressions of interest from schools for involvement in the programme in 2013. She said the team at Massey had identified a need to provide additional support and professional learning for associate teachers, many of whom were early career educators. The Lead Associate Teachers project will provide associate teachers with greater support in their role as practica advisors and help them develop new skills through the process; it will also help student teachers have positive learning experiences in their practica, she said. The programme has been designed to lead into postgraduate study, a postgraduate diploma, or a master’s degree. “If teachers complete the programme and provide evidence of their learning, they will

gain credit towards a postgraduate paper,” says Allister Smith, schools’ liaison and practicum adviser. “The aim is to develop teachers as expert mentors and role models for emerging teachers with a focus on teaching as inquiry, and the use of e-portfolios that provide evidence of growth and development for both the associate teachers and the student teachers. New skills and understanding as a teacher and mentor will be developed, and teachers will gain formal recognition for their learning. Associate teachers will be formally accredited as lead associate teachers of Massey University College of Education. They will work in small clusters and support each other face to face and online. There will be three face-to-face workshops covering: »» The inquiry process, teaching as inquiry and the e-portfolio. »» The skills of mentoring the use of evidence/ video analysis. »» What developing good practice looks like. »» Developing e-portfolios and sharing evidence. Involved in teaching and supporting the programme will be staff from Massey’s Centre for Educational Development, staff from Massey University’s College of Education, and Corinne Walsh, Deputy Principal College Street Normal School. The 2012 pilot will see associate teachers working with students from the Graduate Diploma of Teaching Primary. Feedback for the project has been positive so far. Raewynne Hill of Central Normal School

Anna Stephenson, Massey University and Corinne Walsh, College Street Normal School. says she is pleased to be involved as there have been indications from the government that there will be a requirement to have some form of training to be an associate teacher. “Being involved in a ground-breaking initiative between schools and Massey University, and education that is both practical and evidence based, is an exciting opportunity,” she says. Rhys Hill of Milson School agrees. “The opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues from school, other schools and Massey, while focussing on supporting students to enter the profession was too good to pass up,” he says. “I am being supported to explore new technology, to me at least, in e-portfolios. I know this will be a significant part of the teaching profession and a tool I need to be comfortable using. I have already reaped rewards in exploring different ways of collecting evidence and showing the learning I am engaged in,” he says. n For more information, or if you want to get involved, please contact Education Review.

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STUDENT ENGAGEMENT

Peter Coolbear: Director, Ako Aotearoa.

TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT: ANALYSING THE DATA PETER COOLBEAR discusses how the tertiary sector can make use of the research on student engagement with tertiary education.

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ow do our learners engage in their tertiary studies? Do we really know, or do we extrapolate from the things those few students in our classes choose to tell us? Or do we just make assumptions from our vague (and often selective) memories of our own time as students? There is a national expectation that our degree-level students graduate as autonomous learners â&#x20AC;&#x201C; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actually in our legislation. Yet how much time do they really spend in self-directed study? We trust that all our students are well prepared for the next stage of their careers, particularly those engaged in vocational courses, but how much time do they engage in activities that research tells us employers value? What are the differences experienced by students studying at university compared to an institute of technology or a private education provider? What are the differences in experience for students studying extramurally as opposed to those on campus? The Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (the AUSSE), offered by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER), is designed to provide a robust data set to answer these and related questions. Developed from the North American National Survey of Student Engagement

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(NSSE), the AUSSE is developed from four decades of international research into the factors that support successful tertiary student engagement. The AUSSE is, without doubt, the most highly validated, research-informed tool available for analysing student behaviours and perceptions. ACER has administered the AUSSE annually since 2007, and in that time, all eight New Zealand universities have participated. Why is Ako Aotearoa particularly interested in this work? Apart from its very strong pedigree, there are two immediate reasons: first, a challenge with the AUSSE is that its sheer wealth of data can create difficulties in locating clear routes into using the findings to improve the student experience. Second, we very much wanted to see how use of the AUSSE might assist planning and quality enhancement outside the university sector. Accordingly, we started a series of collaborative projects with ACER, including one to support the New Zealand universities themselves to undertake further analysis of their own existing university data. In 2010, Ako Aotearoa worked with ACER to pilot the tool in 10 institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), and in 2011, with 10 private education providers (PEPs). To date, Ako Aotearoa has


University of Canterbury, who played a leading role in bringing university institutional researchers together to collaborate on this project, comments, “Combining AUSSE results with other institutional research demonstrates how vital student engagement is to learning – and to career pathways. When connected with research scholarship and academic development, improving student engagement becomes an essential element to improving the tertiary experience for students.” And the answers to the other questions posed at the start of this article? The average student spends far less time on independent study than providers anticipate when they plan their curricula (the average time for ITP degree students is just over 12 hours a week; New Zealand university students spend 11.3 hours – slightly more than Australian university students at

10.9 hours). There is considerable discussion in Australia at present about whether university curricula should focus more on developing students’ career readiness: this outcome scale score is lower for New Zealand universities. Not unexpectedly, ITP degree students on average score more highly here, but the question becomes, are the differences as great as those vocationally focused institutions might aspire to? Other data suggests they may not be ... exactly the kind of evidence-based conversation that the AUSSE is designed to promote. n The reports, Student engagement at New Zealand Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics: Key results from the 2010 pilot and Student Engagement in New Zealand’s Universities, both edited by Ali Radloff at ACER, are available at www.akoaotearoa.ac.nz

Contributors to Student Engagement in New Zealand’s Universities celebrate its launch: (left to right) Keith Comer, University of Canterbury; Stephen Marshall, Victoria University; Erik Brogt, University of Canterbury; Ineke Kranenburg, AUT University; and Malcolm Rees of Massey University. Another possible surprise from the university data is that, in most respects, degree-level extramural students are more engaged in their studies than their on-campus counterparts. So how do organisations take this rich AUSSE data and transform it into practical approaches for supporting their students? As noted previously, this question has been one of the key drivers of the Ako Aotearoa-funded university, ITP, and PEP projects. First and foremost, the AUSSE is designed to initiate conversations about practice within institutions. Our work is clearly assisting in this. Furthermore, it is encouraging to know that several tertiary providers are beginning to utilise AUSSE data in their internal quality enhancement processes, and that some are beginning to frame teaching and learning strategies against the findings. Dr Keith Comer from the

Postgraduate information evening You are invited to attend this free evening presentation on postgraduate study and professional development options at the Faculty of Education.

Thursday 31 May 2012 | 5 - 7.30pm J Block, Epsom Campus, Gate 3, 74 Epsom Avenue, Epsom

Presentations: • Education: 5-6pm, J1 • Social Work, Counselling and Human Services: 5.15-6.15pm, J2 Followed by information stalls from 6-7.30pm Register your attendance online at www.education.auckland.ac.nz/postgradweek

KingSt11171_ER_A

jointly published two reports with ACER (details below). One is a collaborative analysis of the combined university data set. The other is the summary findings from the ITP pilot. A third report, based on the PEPs’ data, will be published in the second half of this year. The reports have been edited by Ali Radloff, Research Fellow at ACER, who comments, “Information about student engagement can help institutions attract and retain students, support student learning and development, manage resources, monitor academic standards and learning outcomes, and monitor programs and services.” It is important to emphasise that this survey is not simply an instrument to measure student satisfaction; this is a survey of what students have experienced and what they are doing. Many of the questions aggregate into a series of 13 engagement and outcomes scales. From levels of academic challenge, work-integrated learning, career readiness, and general personal and social development outcomes, these measures test assumptions and provide evidence about whether our provision is actually meeting our expectations. These rich sources of information about the student experience provide extremely valuable conversation starters within organisations. Not only can each provider’s own data be cut in various ways, but also there is the opportunity for organisations to benchmark themselves against other providers both within New Zealand and internationally. Just a few examples of findings: it is reassuring to know, for instance, that the AUSSE data confirm that the level of academic challenge offered by ITP degree study is similar to that in New Zealand universities, and that both mirror the level of challenge provided in Australian universities. On the other hand, it is potentially a concern that as a whole sector, we are significantly behind American universities in offering active learning opportunities and studentstaff interaction. It is perhaps counter-intuitive that the data also show that, for the majority of students, taking on part-time work for up to 25 hours a week does not negatively impact on engagement.

For more information contact 0800 61 62 65 education@auckland.ac.nz www.education.auckland.ac.nz

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SOCIAL RESEARCH

CHECKING THE PULSE OF

NEW ZEALAND’S STUDENTS

Education Review looks at an ongoing initiative to track the health and social trends of New Zealand’s young people as a basis for improving their wellbeing and capacity to learn.

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esearch confirms what we know to be true: that healthy young people make better learners and contribute better in the classroom. However, understanding and improving the health and social issues of young people is no easy task, especially given changing trends over time. The Youth2000 project, conducted by the Adolescent Health Research Group (AHRG) at The University of Auckland, aims to do just that: the group is intent on understanding and improving the health and wellbeing of New Zealand youth. Major national surveys of New Zealand secondary school students are undertaken in an effort to build on the group’s knowledge of young people’s needs and concerns. Based on the findings of these surveys, the group aims to provide accurate and timely information that parents, schools, people working in health and education, and policy makers can use to improve the health and well-being status of all young people in New Zealand. The first two national surveys of secondary school students were completed by the AHRG in 2001 and

2007 respectively. A third survey, Youth ‘12, is due to be rolled out later this year. The AHRG will be surveying approximately 10,000 students from 125 randomly selected schools throughout the country. The group is eager for the survey to be representative of all types of schools and students in New Zealand. If a school participates in the survey, they will receive a confidential report about the health and wellbeing of students in their school. Principal investigator of Youth ‘12, Dr Terryann Clark, says the group is reliant on commitment from schools and teachers to the project. “We really appreciate the ongoing support we get from schools and teachers, and hope to continue providing you with relevant and up-to-date information to advocate for optimal education, health, and social services for young people in Aotearoa,” she says. What have the 2001 and 2007 surveys found out so far about the health and wellbeing of New Zealand’s young people? The Youth ’07 survey found that 91 per cent of students had people at school who cared about them and 88 per cent felt a connection with

Anglo Singapore International School: Bangkok, Thailand New Entrant and Early Primary Positions. We are seeking highly motivated, passionate and enthusiastic NZ registered teachers with strong knowledge of literacy and numeracy curriculum and well-developed classroom management techniques. The successful applicants will be assigned to classes equivalent to New Zealand New Entrant level and classes up to the equivalent of N.Z. Year 5. The school is expanding and will soon open a second campus. Applications close Friday 25 May, 2012. Please email your detailed c.v., including contact information for at least two referees to: The School Director at admin@anglosingapore.ac.th Further information about the school can be found on our website: www.anglosingapore.ac.th

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VOICES OF EXPERIENCE The Youth2000 surveys have been running for just over a decade, but many educators have been teaching much longer than that and have witnessed many changes in student attitudes and behaviour in that time. TERTIARY PERSPECTIVE: PROFESSOR DAVID O’HARE, OTAGO UNIVERSITY I have been teaching psychology students at Otago University for 30 years, and before that, I taught students at Lancaster University for four years. The most obvious change is in sheer numbers. Classes are three or four times larger than 30 years ago. The campus is much more diverse, with many more students from around the globe. Students are much better dressed (expensive trainers and Kathmandu down jackets are the norm!) and better equipped (laptops, cell phones) than previous cohorts. In lectures, the keenest and brightest still sit down the front. The least keen used to sit towards the back chatting to their neighbours; now they are still sitting towards the back, but are more likely to be quietly looking at Facebook instead! I can see no change in the number and ability of the brightest students. As always, there are plenty of bright young people who are engaged and enthusiastic about their subject. However, there is certainly a larger ‘tail’ who struggle to reach acceptable standards. Students have much higher expectations about the delivery of lectures, and there is a much greater emphasis on the ‘performance’ aspect of lecturing than there used to be. Over 30 years, I have steadily removed substantive content from lectures and replaced it with more visually stimulating material – cartoons, diagrams, videos, etc. The vast majority of students now have no inclination to read anything associated with the course. Library data shows that around 90 per cent of students in second-year classes and around 75 per cent in third-year classes do not read any of the assigned material. their school. This is good news indeed. Research consistently shows that having caring adults at school, and feeling part of the school environment, are really important factors in keeping students engaged. In a similar vein, the surveys revealed that youth who got on well together and participated in sports or cultural groups at school generally had lower levels of truancy. However, the results aren’t all rosy. The surveys have shown that youth in alternative education, samesex attracted youth, teen mums, taitamariki Māori, and Pacific youth are more vulnerable when it comes to health and social issues. The findings also show that Kiwi teachers, particularly those in lowdecile schools, have higher rates of burn-out than their international counterparts.

There has been so much emphasis placed on the quality of teaching and lecturing, reflected in the ubiquitous ‘course evaluation ratings’, that many students see it as our role to deliver ‘education’ to them rather than something that they largely acquire themselves through self-directed effort. No doubt the change in student role to that of fee-paying ‘customer’ has largely driven these changes in expectations and demands. SECONDARY PERSPECTIVE: LYNETTE PARISH, MATAMATA COLLEGE Having been a member of a secondary school senior leadership team since 1992, it is easy enough to sum up some changes in student behaviour in that time, but somewhat more difficult to identify emerging trends. The biggest impact on student behaviour today, compared to 20 years ago, comes from the rapid and far-reaching changes in society outside of school, and a corresponding lack of change within most secondary schools in New Zealand. In 2012, students live in a society of multimedia saturation: a place where those “instruments of multimedia” such as computers, smartphones, iPods, and 42” televisions have become cheap and accessible to most students. They can use myriad sources to gain information about anything, anywhere, anytime. In contrast, while data projectors and interactive whiteboards are commonplace in classrooms today, it is usually the teacher, and not the student, who is in control. Much of the respect that teachers expected from students was based on the premise that the teacher had something that the student needed: knowledge. That is not always the case today – students can

Some of the findings are contradictory. While Clark says there are marked improvements in young people’s smoking and alcohol use, violence, and mental health since 2001, the surveys also reveal high rates of suicide attempts, binge-drinking behaviours, and violence that young people witness in their communities and homes. It will be interesting to see what the Youth ’12 survey will reveal about such behaviours. Whether good or bad news, the results are helping to identify trends and build a picture of the issues confronting young people. This information is used to help improve their health and wellbeing, and subsequently, their ability to learn and achieve greater educational outcomes. Clark says that given teachers’

buy literature essays from the internet – so the idea of automatic respect has diminished. There are other consequences of the impact of technology. Investigating incidences of theft, bullying, or drug and alcohol use in school today invariably involves tracing back connections, alliances, or confrontations set up using mobile phones and social media such as Facebook. This is especially true for bullying (commonly known as cyberbullying) and assaults, which are sometimes filmed and then distributed by mobile phones. Things go ‘viral’ very quickly, and while it may seem a gigantic leap from the London riots or the Arab Spring to anarchy in New Zealand secondary schools, the potential is there. The other main impact of society in 2012 that has affected secondary schools is the change in employment opportunities. Twenty years ago, two large dairy factories in our district provided work for both skilled and unskilled workers. Students who struggled with literacy and numeracy could leave school aged 15 and walk into a job. Now all students must stay until 16; all students are meant to gain Level 2 NCEA, but even when they do leave school with those qualifications, the jobs do not exist – particularly outside the main centres. This has led to students staying at school, not because they want to learn more about particular subjects, but simply because there is no job for them on the other side. Engagement and motivation for those students can become a real problem and lead to disruption in classes. While the ‘new curriculum’ is focussed on schools turning out confident, connected life-long learners, anybody spending a day in most secondary schools today would see little different from 20 years ago. This is not true for society as a whole.

increasing workloads, health and social programmes can feel like ‘another thing’ for schools and teachers to do. “However, young people tell us that teachers are the ones they trust, and many have developed caring relationships with their teachers. Students tell teachers things – sometimes things you wish you didn’t know!” she says. Clark maintains the teacher’s role is essential in linking young people to the services they need, many of which are already accessible within schools, such as school nurses, guidance counsellors, and social workers. “We hope our research can help schools identify key issues that need to be addressed in order for students to do better and to reduce teacher burden.” n

Major national surveys of New Zealand secondary school students are undertaken in an effort to build on the group’s knowledge of young people’s needs and concerns. Based on the findings of these surveys, the group aims to provide accurate and timely information that parents, schools, people working in health, and education and policy makers can use to improve the health and wellbeing status of all young people in New Zealand.

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VOCATIONAL EDUCATION

BEYOND THE SCHOOL GATES

JUDE BARBACK explores the vast array of options on offer to senior secondary students, thanks to the initiatives of the Ministry of Education and individual schools.

“S

chool’s just not really my thing, but I really like the academy.” These were the words of a 16-yearold Massey High School student enrolled in a two-year electrotechnology course offered by the new West Auckland Vocational Academy, a joint Unitec and Massey High programme. The academy, which opened earlier this year, allows students to attend classes with Unitec tutors two days a week in addition to their regular school work in the remaining three days. Electrotechnology, carpentry, and hospitality are currently offered, although there are plans to expand into other areas.

to help them achieve education success and to progress into further education, training, or employment. There are currently 2500 full-time Youth Guarantee student places at 39 polytechnics and private training establishments around New Zealand. These places allow school leavers under 18 to study a range of vocational courses without paying student fees. This year, Youth Guarantee and Youth Training places will combine under Youth Guarantee, bringing the total number of fees-free tertiary places in tertiary education to 7500.

TRADES ACADEMIES

Also under the umbrella of the Youth Guarantee scheme, five new vocational pathways for young people are being developed. The pathways are in the following fields: construction and infrastructure, manufacturing and technology, the primary industries, the service industries, and social and community services. Each pathway is being developed by a consortium of ITOs and representatives of schools and tertiary providers, liaising with government agencies. They will help to clarify the existing array of options so students and their families can see the connection between what students learn at school and what industries their education could lead them to. NZQA deputy chief executive qualifications Bali Haque says students will be able to achieve a certain number of credits from the standards included in the pathway. “Defining what those standards will be is the next step. All pathways will include a shared set of standards in foundation skills, equivalent literacy and numeracy NCEA requirements, and other existing achievement and industry-set unit standards. The pathways will reflect the real knowledge and skill requirements of industry sectors, will be educationally robust and credible, and will work within the NCEA qualification framework,” says Haque.

Trades academies, like the one housed at Massey High, are really taking off in New Zealand. Eight trades academies opened around the country in January 2011, with 13 more set to open their doors this year. The academies are the result of a Ministry of Education policy that gives priority to high schools engaging with the tertiary sector and industry. Such academies are typically partnerships between schools, tertiary providers, and industry training organisations (ITOs) aimed at providing 16 to 17-year-olds with the opportunity to combine a secondary school programme with learning in tertiary education and/or industry settings. Government funding for the initiative means that senior secondary students enrolled in a trades academy programme can make a start on their trades career without paying fees and earn credits towards NCEA at the same time. Massey High School principal Bruce Ritchie told The Aucklander that the school has been working for the past nine years towards the concept. The school was delighted to accept the Ministry’s invitation to be the lead school for a trades academy in West Auckland. “We’ve had a vision for this because we believe a weakness in the New Zealand system is that senior schools do not provide enough pathways for the number of students who are staying at school longer,” said Ritchie. Ritchie is not alone in his opinions. Many have long felt that there was not enough flexibility in the system to provide students with opportunities suited to their unique skills and interests.

YOUTH GUARANTEE Fortunately, the government’s Youth Guarantee initiative is now addressing such concerns. With a goal that all young people will achieve level 2 NCEA, Youth Guarantee aims to provide clarity, flexibility, and choice for 16 and 17-year-olds

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VOCATIONAL PATHWAYS

CAREER DEVELOPMENT TOOLS The new vocational pathways are likely to be supported by tools such as Career Education benchmarks, a new tool developed by Careers New Zealand to prepare secondary students for training, employment, and life beyond school. The Career Education benchmarks are a self-review tool designed to help secondary schools, teachers, career development specialists, principals, and parents deliver high-quality career education to their students. The benchmarks contain clear descriptions of the skills young

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

people need to develop so they can successfully navigate their own career path. The benchmarks, after being trialled in approximately 30 schools around the country, were launched in October last year at Hornby High School in Christchurch. They are the culmination of extensive work and development from Careers New Zealand, with input from the Careers and Transition Education Association (CATE) and the education and research sectors. Careers New Zealand chief executive Dr Graeme Benny says the new benchmarks will enable a more consistent national approach across secondary schools, and they represent a big step towards ensuring students can make well-informed, smart decisions about their future.

SERVICE ACADEMIES In addition to fees-free tertiary places, new vocational pathways, and trades academies, service academies also feed into the overarching aims of the government’s scheme to provide more choice and flexibility for young people embarking on their first steps outside of school. Like their trades academies counterparts, service academies give young people a chance to work towards their NCEA while pursuing other opportunities. Service academies are run by the New Zealand Defence Force within low-decile secondary schools, and offer young people the chance to engage in outdoor education, physical fitness, goal setting, leadership, and life skills. The Education Review Office (ERO) reported in August 2011 that the service academies appear to be transforming students’ motivation levels, academic achievement, behaviour, and physical fitness. The same report found that of the 16 service academies reviewed, most provided high-quality education and support for their students. The ERO report gave the example of how attending a service academy benefited one student who was verbally and physically capable, but had very poor social skills. “He had not made any friends and was depressed and withdrawn. After joining the academy, he made friends who have supported him as a member of the academy team, accepted his differences, and have included him in their social and physical activities. He is now more confident, outgoing, and completing NCEA level 2,” the case study reads. The ERO report also gave evidence of positive student feedback from service academies, with one reportedly saying, “I was suspended from school for fighting. I was always angry and hated myself. I’ve changed. I’ve got a purpose now. My parents are very happy and proud.”


Another positive aspect to the trades and service academy programmes is that by allowing students to remain enrolled at their secondary school, they can still participate in sporting and cultural activities offered through the school.

SPORTS ACADEMIES Providing direction and opportunities for secondary students is not just about catering to those struggling with education. The growing number of sports, arts, business, and other specialist academies residing in New Zealand secondary schools are testimony to this. Hamilton Girls’ High School, Kelston Boys’ High School, Freyberg High School in Palmerston North, and St Peter’s School in Cambridge (see side story) are among those with sporting academies. In general, sports academies accept students who show promise in their chosen field of sport, but who are also committed to their academic workload. The Freyberg Sports Academy, for example, becomes one of the student’s timetabled subjects and provides its members with a tailored individual education programme. With access to top fitness coaches and facilities, there is also a focus on sport science, testing and conditioning, and sport-specific practice. The school makes it clear that the academy will help students balance their sporting, academic, and family commitments. Some school sports academies specialise in certain areas. St Peter’s College has found its niche in golf and rowing, while Kerikeri High School has developed a sailing academy.

ARTS ACADEMIES Similarly, schools are offering unique opportunities for their students in the arts. Auckland’s Avondale College’s dance academy recently saw its students pass an external exam in contemporary dance. Under the instruction of dance teacher, Hana Tipa, a former dancer with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the students have progressed their dancing significantly and have found the academy a wonderful component of their school lives. Kerikeri High School is branching out into a different area of the arts – theatre. Owing to its growing reputation in drama, the school now offers students the opportunity to develop skills and receive NCEA qualifications through its specialist Theatre Arts Academy, alongside continued academic studies. The school boasts links to internationally experienced teacher-practitioners and access to a brand new arts venue located in Kerikeri.

OTHER SPECIALITIES Beyond the arts, sports, trades, and service academies are other avenues for secondary students to pursue. Onehunga High School in Auckland has a business school, which aims to prepare students for further tertiary study in business or entering the workforce as an employee or self-employed entrepreneur. Through innovative curriculum development, experiential learning, coupled with sound business practice and business case analysis, the school aims to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge for the world of business. At year 13, level 3, the business school offers a Certificate in Business and Entrepreneurship course. Aquaculture and agriculture are other specialities that are offered by schools in different parts of the country. No doubt countless others will emerge in an effort to stimulate young people and open their eyes to possibilities beyond the school gates. n

ST PETER’S ACADEMIES

Nearly 15 years ago, a strategic planning meeting paved the way for the innovative sports academies at St Peter’s School in Cambridge. Rowing was the obvious first choice, with the school’s close proximity to the world-class facilities at Karapiro. The tennis academy followed shortly after, and these have since been joined by the equestrian, golf, and swimming academies. “It always takes someone passionate to start these things,” says principal Steve Robb. “We have found that parents, staff, old boys, and corporates have all been involved with ideas and support for the development of the academies.” The top-class facilities and renowned coaching staff make the academies the perfect breeding ground for excellence in sport, but they also offer programmes for beginners through to the elite for St Peter’s students and those in the local community. There are over 500 people enrolled in the swimming academy; approximately 85 per cent of these are local children and adults. Expanding the school’s facilities into the surrounding St Peter’s farm, the sports academies collectively boast a 25m x 25m, 10-lane swimming pool; 11 flexi-pave tennis courts and three classic clay courts (unique in New Zealand); a small six-hole golf course, a full-length driving range, and comprehensive short game area – including a 95m-long green and a 30m-long bunker; 96m x 75m sand equestrian arena, 120m x 110m grass competition area, and crosscountry training jumps, along with yards and stables for student horses to be kept on site; and a boat shed at Karapiro with a full range of skiffs and a land-based training centre at school. There is also a hockey turf and expansive fields for other sports as well as a state-of-the-art gym. Use of video analysis tools are also provided for top athletes. “There really is nothing like this in New Zealand,” says head golf coach, Simon Thomas, of their golfing facilities. “A visiting head coach from Stanford University some years ago even said you wouldn’t find anything close at any US high school.” Having daily access to such facilities and coaching staff helps develop students to

their full potential, some long after they have left St Peter’s. “We still get older professionals training here through the academy, which helps the students see that their ambition is achievable,” says Thomas. “It makes it all very real for them.” Across all the school’s academies, students are seeing their hard work come to fruition with National Titles adding up. Current North Island under-19 golfing champ Compton Pikari says, “It’s hard to imagine being where I’m at without the support that I’ve had and continued to get from the golfing academy”. “Our top athletes have individual mentoring, and know that academics always come first,” says principal Robb. “It is crucial that studies and homework are completed first, so students develop great timemanagement skills for life. And with 98.1% pass rate for NCEA level 2 last year, we must be doing something right!” Throughout the school, the philosophy of developing the whole person is key, so the sports academies also focus on building character and sportsmanship alongside technical ability. Robb believes that the sports academies have enticed sporting students from throughout the country. “Once they see the top academic, cultural, and other opportunities, it makes us incredibly attractive.” With the first sod of soil due to be turned next month for Bike NZ’s velodrome, head office, and high performance centre, the St Peter’s sports academy offering looks like it will be expanding again in the near future.

EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

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BOOKS

FOR THE BOOKSHELF Education Review looks at two very different books about starting out at university. UNI BOUND? STUDENTS’ STORIES OF TRANSITION FROM SCHOOL TO UNIVERSITY Elizabeth McKinley and Irena Madjar incorporate the experiences of young New Zealanders who made the transition from secondary school to university into this compelling book. In this book, 15 young New Zealanders reflect on their individual journeys from school to tertiary education. They come from a mix of rural and urban schools, located mostly in economically disadvantaged communities. Many are the first in their family to embark on tertiary education. With a mix of Māori, Pacific, Pākehā and other ethnicities, the authors capture the essence of real New Zealand in the telling of these young people’s experiences. Aimed at students contemplating whether university is for them, parents, and mentors to young people approaching this juncture in their lives, this book provides a realistic view of the joys and challenges of leaving the familiar environments of home and school to be become a university student. Elizabeth McKinley is the director of the Starpath Project for Tertiary Participation and Success, the aim of which is to improve educational outcomes for Māori, Pacific, and other students from lower-decile schools, currently underrepresented in tertiary education. Irena Madjar is also involved in the Starpath project as well as other research concerning student transition from school to university (see page 14). Uni Bound? Students’ Stories of Transition from School to University by Elizabeth McKinley and Irena Madjar was published by NZCER Press in 2010.

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EDUCATION REVIEW Postgrad, Schools of Education 2012

BA: AN INSIDER’S GUIDE REBECCA JURY gives tips to students starting out on their degree from her new book: a practical, honest introduction to getting the most out of an arts degree at a New Zealand university. »» Always go to your tutorials. »» Identify what you want to eat on campus and then find a cheap alternative. »» Don’t be afraid to be a nerd. »» If you don’t want a degree, don’t do one. »» Nail the content of your essay first, work on structure afterwards. »» Wikipedia’s a great starting point. »» Get into debt if you need to – student loans, laptops, and good stationery pay off in the long run. »» Be stingy: you’ll make the most of uni when you think about how much it’s costing you. »» Travel’s a great way to use your BA. »» Make it fun: seize opportunities to be social, self-assertive, and sometimes, silly. »» Don’t do your uni work all the time – there’s also work work, volunteering work, and having a life. »» Be prepared to be afraid, but remember, you’re not stupid, just new and finding your way. »» Always have a backup: a backup copy of your essay, a backup pen (or eight) in an exam, a backup transport option for getting to uni. »» Start learning how to study at the start of your degree, not the end. »» Lecturers are human, too – get to know them. »» Essays – just choose the most interesting question.

»» If you engage your brain during lectures, you’ll be less bored. Take pride in writing kick-ass notes. »» Get feedback from others on your essays – if they’re confused with your argument, chances are your lecturer will be, too. »» Make sure you spend one great night at the uni pub. »» It’s not about getting top grades all the time – it’s about giving it your all. »» Reward yourself for going, writing, studying – no one else will. »» Ask other people who’ve been there. »» Don’t leap into the middle of your readings – start with the introduction, that’s what it’s for. »» What did you even get it for in the first place? Make sure you find a way to use your degree.

BA: An Insider’s Guide by Rebecca Jury was published by Auckland University Press in February 2012. Copies can be purchased from Auckland University Press.


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30 Apr 2012 Postgrad SOE