Education: Theses and Dissertations

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  • ItemOpen Access
    Exploring teaching practices that support ELLs (English Language Learners) in developing their english proficiency.
    (2024) Phan, Hoa Thi Thanh
    Acquiring proficiency in an additional language is a complex process influenced by numerous factors. Of these, teaching practices in the classroom context are the most critical factors that directly impact language learners. The present study aims to explore teaching practices that support English Language Learners (ELLs) in developing their English proficiency from the perspectives of students. A qualitative research design using a case study, the aim of this research was to gain insights and perspectives from students on teaching practices that benefit their English proficiency. The present research constituted a small-scale investigation that explored the experiences of five high-school English language learners who were migrants and attended an Englishmedium secondary school situated in rural Canterbury. The research design incorporated interviews with five teachers to supplement the students' responses and provide a more comprehensive picture of the research questions. The study group was selected based on a voluntary basis. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews that focused on the students' experiences. Data was analysed using NVivo qualitative data analysis program. The analysis generated themes that described the students' experiences concerning their studies at an English-medium school and their perspectives on effective teaching practices that enhanced their English development. The results of the study found that teaching practices, namely form-focused and contentfocused teaching combination, differentiated instruction, culturally and linguistically responsive teaching practice, interactive and motivational instruction, and fostering a supportive learning environment, were particularly effective in improving the English proficiency of ELLs. In tandem with these findings, the data analysis also identified a crucial need for teachers to have a deeper understanding of additional language acquisition and to embed teaching strategies that cater to the needs of ELLs. The knowledge of form-focused and content-based language teaching in mainstream classes is crucial in teaching ELLs. This indicates the importance of close collaboration between ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and mainstream teachers in constructing effective teaching practices that cater to the unique needs of ELLs. Additionally, grouping ELLs based on their appropriate level and abilities for pull-out ESOL lessons can optimise the benefits of teaching practices for students. These findings have significant implications for school administrators and teachers. It is recommended that teachers continuously receive professional development to improve their knowledge and understanding of second language acquisition. Additionally, administrators should establish a structured and systematic framework to assist teachers in implementing effective teaching practices that cater to the needs of ELLs.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Japanese junior high school teachers’ perspectives on teaching English as a foreign language.
    (2024) Tomita, Hanako
    How do language teachers position grammar instruction and interaction in their teaching? This study postulated that, in a context where a communicative approach to language teaching is promoted over a structuralist/behaviourist approach, teacher perception of grammar instruction and interaction might be where the tension between the two approaches would surface. Exploration in this scope is relevant in Japan, where it has been twenty years since an action plan to nurture the national communicative skills in English was announced by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in 2003. The action plan prescribed the incorporation of learner-centred interactive teaching approaches, and the principles of the action plan continue to be enacted in the present Japanese national curriculum standards of junior and senior high schools (MEXT, 2017a; MEXT, 2018). Yet statistics indicate that Japanese students struggle in expressing themselves in writing and speaking (MEXT, 2019; MEXT, 2022). This study focused in on teacher perception on grammar instruction because extant literature suggests that language teachers hold persistent belief in transmitting explicit grammar rules for students’ deductive application, when research indicates that consciously attained explicit knowledge does not equate to language proficiency (Krashen & Terrell, 1983). Furthermore, the current study enquired into teacher views on interaction and bilingualism. Not only must teachers balance grammar instruction with dialogic activities, but their views of students as potential bi-/multilingual speakers might impact how they design a lesson. Based on a constructionist epistemology, relativism ontology, and a theoretical underpinning of Blumer’s (1969) symbolic interactionism, I conducted semi-structured interviews with 11 Japanese junior high school English-language teachers. A thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2022) on the collected data demonstrated that teacher perceptions regarding grammar instruction, interaction, and bi-/multilingualism were varied, depicting fluidity and uncertainty around pedagogical choices among the participant teachers, but a tendency toward communicative language teaching and scepticism toward monolingual instruction. I conclude that more theory-based discussions would lead to teacher confidence in their practice.
  • ItemOpen Access
    More than just results! Leadership actions for effective use of assessment information
    (2024) McKenzie, Dean
    The New Zealand Ministry of Education expects secondary schools to make effective use of assessment information (Ministry of Education, 2011) to guide student learning and achievement. This expectation is not unique to New Zealand. The quest for more effective data use in schools has been growing in popularity throughout the globe. My study investigates how New Zealand secondary schools are responding to the challenge of using data from the New Zealand Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) to shape their teaching and learning strategies. A pragmatist paradigm is applied to my study. This includes a mixing of both qualitative and quantitative research methods including a national online survey and semi-structured interviews. This required a form of paradigmatic pluralism, a mixing of both qualitative and quantitative methods, achieved by engaging in an explanatory sequential mixed method research design. This approach enabled a broad view of the landscape of assessment information use across a wide range of New Zealand schools. This is then followed by a narrowing of focus to explore the process of assessment information use in greater detail by focussing on a small number of case study schools. The findings reveal inconsistent use of NCEA assessment information and considerable frustration and dissatisfaction from school leaders and teachers. Challenges such as data literacy, the tension between accountability and professional development, and capacity to engage with NCEA assessment information are interrogated. The layers of leadership and the impact they have on NCEA assessment information use in New Zealand are also examined. My study aids in expanding understanding of how the process of NCEA assessment use is complex and multifaceted. NCEA assessment information use is perhaps even more complex than the education sector is currently aware. Recommendations are presented to guide practice, including a model to assist school leaders in New Zealand make effective use of NCEA assessment information. This model is built upon the foundation of the DIKW hierarchy and uses data conversation protocols, along with a visual representation of the contributing factors, to show how NCEA assessment information can be transformed from data to actionable wisdom. Although my study is firmly rooted in a local context, the results have implications for the wider challenges that school leaders face in terms of expectations to leverage nationally collected data for enhancing student learning and achievement.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Leading the transition to innovative learning environments: insights for and by principals.
    (2023) Taylor, Lynda
    This thesis examines how two principals have led the transition from teaching and learning in conventional classrooms to teaching and learning in innovative learning environments. Key findings emphasise the link between leadership and learning to ensure the necessary knowledge, conditions, abilities, and skills to maximise student learning. The study applies a qualitative case study approach focusing on two schools. Data are sourced from three interviews with principals and their leadership teams to help understand what helps and hinders the change process. A sample of teachers are interviewed alongside researcher observations, and document analysis at each site. The thesis culminates with a change leadership model using the metaphor of a windmill as a possible scaffold for principals to use for collective buy-in. This model consists of four blades, each highlighting leadership actions to initiate, implement and embed change. These blades revolve around a central hub (the students) emphasising the moral purpose of change initiatives. The complexity of this work necessitates acknowledging the uniqueness of each school when planning actions for change. The metaphor of a windmill is pertinent for principals as leaders of change, responsible for developing actions when responding to the reality of their change contexts (the unexpected winds).
  • ItemOpen Access
    Intertwining leadership and change to embed Te Tiriti o Waitangi within a university.
    (2023) Brown, Elizabeth Rowellyn
    The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (United Nations, 2007) challenged the tertiary education system at a global and individual country level to meet the needs of Indigenous peoples. In New Zealand, the indigenising of education is premised on Te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi (hereafter Te Tiriti), the founding partnership document of the nation signed in 1840. The intention of Te Tiriti, as advanced by Matiaha Tiramorehu, a high-ranking rangatira | chief, was that the “white skin would be made just equal with the dark skin” (as cited in Ngāi Tahu, 2005, section 1, Te Kerēme). To give effect to this partnership, all education leaders and managers must develop and foster stronger and more meaningful partnerships with iwi (Indigenous tribes) based on shared aspirations, goals, and outcomes. This relationship should be premised on Te Tiriti, with a recognition that power and authority need to be in balance with a focus on meeting the interests of both. Historically, this has not been the case; Māori interests and aspirations have rarely been met. However, the future can no longer be about one group being dominant over another, nor can it be about compromise by only one group – Māori. Lifting the educational achievement of Māori (the Indigenous people of New Zealand) will help to raise the overall performance of the New Zealand education system, the economy and productivity (Ministry of Education, 2013; Penetito, 2010). Future Māori leaders will need to be skilled in Māori culture and lore, as well as the universal disciplines of science, business, law, and the humanities. Therefore, a significant rationale for a strong Māori presence in higher education is linked to the national benefits likely to accrue from knowledge creation at the interface between indigenous knowledge, science, philosophy, and commerce (Durie, 2009). This case study contributes to our understanding about leading and implementing bicultural change within a university setting and to how a Te Tiriti-based relationship is manifested. Specifically, it examined how the wider institutional context created conditions for change in initial teacher education (ITE) programmes. To date, most research on bicultural change and leadership has tended to focus on the compulsory education sector, with little consideration given to the tertiary sector, particularly universities. This study therefore extends our knowledge base by examining the university sector. In this study, ‘bicultural’ was contextualised as incorporating at least two epistemological traditions; Māori and non-Māori (Penetito, 2010). Addressing this research gap is important, as future teachers within the compulsory education sector develop their pedagogical skills and knowledge and gain their qualifications from the tertiary education sector, whilst also drawing upon their own educational experiences. This study investigated the drivers and mechanisms for bicultural change and leadership within a university, and sought to acknowledge the issues and challenges, opportunities and successes that arose for academic staff as they developed their bicultural competence and confidence. Whilst this research focused on a case of ITE, it is hoped that the findings provide insights for other academic units and other areas of universities more broadly and contribute to the literature on bicultural change and leadership within a tertiary education context.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Contributions of working memory and vocabulary to inference making in Chinese children.
    (2023) Liu, Yang
    The Construction-Integration model has suggested that written discourse comprehension involves the construction of a propositional text base from which an integrated and coherent mental representation or situation model is formed. This requires readers to go beyond written words and sentences and make inferences on the discourse level to form a coherent understanding of the text. Previous research has suggested that individual differences in vocabulary and working memory explain unique variance in inferencing in the English language. However, less well understood is whether these factors play a similar role in inference making in a non-alphabetic orthography, such as Chinese characters. Given the phonological, morphological and orthographic differences between the English and Chinese languages/orthographies, better understanding of the processes that contribute to Chinese inference making is of theoretical and practical importance for Chinese readers. Studies 1 and 2 examined the contributions of vocabulary and working memory to the generation of inferences when reading Chinese texts. In Study 1, Chinese oral vocabulary, working memory (backward digit span, reading span, nonword repetition and backward spatial span) and Chinese inference making measures were administered to 65 Mandarin– speaking children in Grades 5 and 6. The Chinese inference making measure involved children reading narrative and expository passages and answering text-connecting and knowledge-based inferences on the texts. Correlational analyses found that Chinese vocabulary and verbal working memory (Chinese backward digit span, reading span and nonword repetition) were associated with Chinese inference making. Multiple hierarchical regression analyses revealed that Chinese vocabulary and verbal working memory, as measured by the backward digit span task, were found to uniquely predict inference-making scores produced by this cohort. Study 2 further explored the contributions of Chinese vocabulary and verbal working memory to inference making after controlling for the Chinese character word reading ability. Chinese oral vocabulary, character word reading, verbal working memory and inference making measures were administered to 60 children in Grades 5 and 6. Multiple hierarchical regression analyses revealed similar results to Study 1, in that Chinese vocabulary and backward digit span tasks made unique contributions to inference making in this cohort. However, after controlling for character word reading, Chinese vocabulary was not a significant predictor of inference making; Chinese character word reading and backward digit span tasks were found to explain significant variance in inference making. Separate analyses for each grade suggested different patterns: after controlling for character word reading, Chinese vocabulary and backward digit span tasks uniquely predicted inference making in Grade 5, whereas none of the factors was found to predict inference making in Grade 6. Study 3 investigated the contributions of verbal working memory and vocabulary to inference making among a group of Chinese–English bilingual children in Grade 8. The study examined potential influences of first language Chinese predictors on second language English inference making. Fifty-five eighth graders who used Mandarin as their first language and English as a second language completed parallel tests of verbal working memory, vocabulary and inference making in both Chinese and English. Participants performed significantly better in the Chinese measures. Regression analyses revealed that Chinese vocabulary uniquely predicted Chinese inference making but neither English vocabulary nor English verbal working memory predicted English inference making. Cross- language analyses suggested that Chinese vocabulary was a significant predictor of English inference making. The aim of the three studies was to inform theories of inference making in Chinese children and the findings have practical implications to educators in highlighting the importance of nurturing children’s Chinese vocabulary and word reading abilities to facilitate inference making during reading. The findings also suggest that further studies of the phonological and central executive systems of working memory would be useful in determining those factors influencing inferential comprehension, particularly for the Chinese fifth and sixth graders. Furthermore, the finding that Chinese vocabulary knowledge uniquely predicted bilingual eighth graders’ English inferential processing argues for the need to consider first language competency when investigating bilingual reading abilities.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Understanding the effects of critical reading skills on reading comprehension among Chinese university English language.
    (2023) Quan, Wenxin
    Critical reading requires readers to engage in thinking actively about a text, to ask questions when concentrating on the text, and to better comprehend the content and the meaning of the given text (Collins et al., 2018). Although critical reading has been studied among Chinese university English Language Learners’ (ELL) (Li, 2008; Liu & Guo, 2006), there is a paucity of studies on the relationships between critical reading skills and reading comprehension within the same language and across languages (in the case of the current research, Chinese L1 and English L2). This study aims to investigate whether there are relationships between Chinese university ELLs’ reading comprehension and critical reading skills in Chinese or/and English. The study also aims to determine if there is evidence that critical reading skills in one language may support the development of similar skills, or reading comprehension in general, in another language. This study comprised measures of English vocabulary size, English reading comprehension, English critical reading skills, English decoding skills, Chinese reading comprehension and Chinese critical reading skills. All measures were based on those found in the relevant literature on reading, then adapted for the current study before being piloted and revised as necessary. An English Learning Experience Questionnaire was also developed to examine the participants’ use of English outside the English classroom setting. Data for the main study was collected online. The six measures and one questionnaire were completed by 143 Chinese undergraduate students from a public university in China. The findings revealed significant moderate correlations between participants’ critical reading skills and their reading comprehension in both Chinese and English. These correlations were evident among groups of students divided into high and low English reading comprehenders. In addition, there was a significant moderate positive correlation between participants’ Chinese-L1 critical reading and English-L2 reading comprehension but this was identified in the high-level English reading group only. There was also a relationship between critical reading levels in the two languages for this group of students. Regression analyses showed that the English critical reading of the high-level English reading group is predictive of variability in English reading comprehension. A significant level of prediction is maintained after controlling students’ demographic characteristics, English learning experiences, English decoding and English vocabulary, and Chinese reading comprehension and Chinese critical reading. However, the results of the low-level English reading group suggested that the participants’ English critical reading did not explain additional variability in their English reading comprehension after controlling these same variables. For these low-level reading students, their English vocabulary levels was the main predictor of variability in English reading comprehension. Furthermore, Chinese critical reading explained extra variability in Chinese reading comprehension after controlling demographic variables in both reading groups. Also, cross-language regression analyses suggested the data may support an additional influence of Chinese critical reading on participants’ English reading comprehension in the high-level English reading group after controlling demographic and English variables. Finally, the data from the English Learning Experience Questionnaire indicated that participants’ use of English outside classroom settings was limited, particularly for the participants in the low-level English reading group. These findings suggested that the high-level English reading group may rely on both English vocabulary and English critical reading in processing their English reading comprehension. However, the low-level English reading group may rely more on English vocabulary in processing English texts rather than English critical reading. In addition, the findings of the high-level English reading group may support an additional influence of Chinese critical reading on their English reading comprehension after controlling demographic and English variables. These findings have both theoretical and educational implications, which are discussed in this thesis.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Examination of the effectiveness and fidelity of a parent-led emergent literacy intervention.
    (2023) Morton-Turner, F. L.
    Emergent Literacy (EL) encompasses the foundational early literacy related skills required for later formal literacy success. Given the importance of EL knowledge, establishing efforts to successfully enhance children’s EL development is an important avenue by which literacy outcomes for all New Zealand children may be improved. Parents play a critical role in the development of children’s EL knowledge and parent-led interventions have been identified as an important context for building children’s foundational skills. However, one limitation of parent-led EL approaches is relatively low intervention fidelity rates, which likely weakens children’s response to the intervention. In this thesis, a series of studies addressing the need to develop and trial a parent-led EL for the New Zealand context is presented, considering the impacts of various techniques designed to enhance fidelity in the delivery of the intervention. The first study utilises a descriptive design to describe the EL skills, oral language skills, and Home Literacy Environments of 118 3- and 4-year-old children attending early childhood education centres in Aotearoa New Zealand. Analysis of the obtained results indicates a relative strength in oral language and some needs in printbased EL knowledge. Most children came from well-resourced HLE. The second study explores the effectiveness of a new shared reading intervention, called Sit Together And Read New Zealand. A controlled pre-test/posttest research design was utilised to measure the impact of the 16-week intervention in supporting families to develop children’s EL skills and to strengthen their HLEs. The findings demonstrate that the intervention was effective in supporting the development of children’s CAP knowledge. This intervention effect was also observed for children with lower oral language levels within the sample. However, no effect was found with respect to the other measures. The impact of parental fidelity on the development of EL knowledge in children was also examined. The results showed that half of the parents implemented the programme with high levels of fidelity, while the remainder implemented it with a medium or low level of fidelity. The analysis indicated that there was no relationship between parental fidelity to the intervention and children’s outcomes in the PWPA (Justice & Ezell, 2001) assessment task. The third study involves a comparison of the implementation fidelity of three behaviour modification conditions designed to support parents in overcoming potential existing barriers to implementing STAR-NZ with fidelity. Parents were randomly assigned to receive either weekly coaching, praise/feedback, a financial reward ($10 supermarket voucher), or to the control condition. Through analysis of parental fidelity across the four intervention conditions, it was found that parents assigned to the financial remuneration and praise/feedback intervention condition adhered to the STAR-NZ programme with a high level of fidelity (i.e., between 80– 100%), parents assigned to the standard condition (i.e., control) adhered to the programme with medium fidelity (60%–79%), and parents assigned to the coaching condition adhered to the programme with low fidelity (<59%). Further analysis indicates that the impact of the intervention on children’s CAP knowledge was stronger under the praise/feedback condition, compared to the financial and coaching conditions. The high fidelity rates for the praise/feedback condition, alongside the strong growth in CAP scores, suggest that this is the most effective method for supporting parental fidelity regarding the STAR-NZ intervention. The fourth study provides a detailed analysis of two case studies of participants who responded strongly to the STAR-NZ intervention, in order to understand potential facilitators of success. Child factors (oral language status), parental factors (intervention condition), and educational factors (support from the early childhood centre) were identified as factors contributing to delivery of the intervention with high fidelity. Survey data from the teachers of the case study children allowed for identification of areas to strengthen in future use of the research intervention. The findings of this thesis have important implications for the development and implementation of parent-led EL interventions within the New Zealand context. The difference in effectiveness of the various techniques used to support fidelity in this study, compared to the American literature, also indicates the need to examine facilitators and barriers to implementation of evidence-based research within the context in which it will be delivered.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Fostering student agency in a maths classroom: a qualitative practitioner study.
    (2023) Mitchell, Tracey
    This thesis explores and problematises student agency in a New Zealand primary maths classroom. Although the term is widely used, the concept of student agency is less understood and definitions vary. There is an urgency for a common definition of student agency in maths to realise its potential for learners. This research focuses on understanding how student agency can be fostered during collaborative maths challenge lessons in a typical classroom from a teacher-researcher perspective. Student agency is explored through the experiences of twenty-five students using a qualitative case study design. The main data sources were participant observations, focus group interviews (using stimulated recall) and student agency reflections written by the students. Data were collected during 11 maths lessons, over a 9-month period and analysed using a thematic analysis process. The students exercised influence and control in the maths lessons by making many choices. The justifications for their decisions included personal learning orientations, maths learning intentions and intentions to fulfil the classroom norms. Thinking and talking about mathematical choices supported the students to become more aware of their decisions and actions in future maths lessons. My findings highlight the conditions necessary to foster agency in maths. These findings pertain to deliberate teacher strategies. The first is paying attention to learner intentions associated with social relationships and maths choices. The second relates to planning and setting up the mathematical task, the lesson structure and routines, and the establishment of a maths learning community to reinforce student agency. The remaining finding is about teacher responsiveness and in-the-moment encounters with students to further their agency. Within this context, examples include the encouragement of talk for maths sense-making, students’ sense of belonging and the co-construction of classroom norms. This study contributes to the understanding of the concept of student agency in the maths classroom. It demonstrates possible actions by classroom teachers to create the conditions for student agency and students’ responses through the choice of maths methods, representations and equipment.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Critiquing a neoliberal conceptualisation of education, and envisioning a compassionate alternative.
    (2023) Joy, Robert
    This thesis utilises existing literature to critique the ongoing influence of neoliberal policies on education. It investigates how they conceptualise the roles of students, teachers, educational institutes, and the part this plays in reinforcing neoliberal ideals. These ideals include the elevation of the economy, and the promotion of individualism and competition. It argues that a focus on neoliberal ideologies leads to the ignoring, or de-valuing, of aspects of education which can help create more well-rounded individuals. Furthermore, it contends that educational spaces, and their outcomes, can be particularly problematic for subjects, and groups, whose identities do not align with neoliberal tenets. The argument is made that many of the outcomes of neoliberal education systems are negative, even for those who appear to be benefiting. The thesis points to issues which include increased inequality, and environmental destruction, as consequences of neoliberal education. The role education plays in shaping subjectivity, and therefore informing behaviour, is discussed. Then, the possibility of an end to neoliberalism as the dominant political and economic theory is explored. The case is made for education systems with reduced political influence. Finally, drawing on the work of Arthur Schopenhauer, a critique of the stimulation of egoism caused by neoliberalism is offered, alongside an argument for education based on a philosophy of compassion.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Inclusive practice in mathematics : the influence of policy and assessment on teaching mathematics in New Zealand primary schools.
    (2023) Roberts, Heidi
    Since early 2000, the inclusiveness of mathematics teaching in New Zealand has become a much-debated topic. Both international (Boaler, 1997, 2008; Larkin & Jorgensen, 2016; Marks, 2013; Tereshchenko et al., 2019) and national studies (Anthony & Walshaw, 2009; Hunter et al., 2019; Hunter, 2010) have examined the teaching and learning of mathematics and found that some teaching practices can promote or prevent student access to, and engagement in learning, mathematics. This study explores how policy, assessment, and differentiated teaching practice can influence mathematics learning in New Zealand primary schools. This study was a qualitative multiple-case study involving three New Zealand primary school teachers, their students, and school curriculum leaders. By drawing on symbolic interactionism, this study considered how teacher interactions with factors such as policy, school curricula, and assessment might influence how teachers determine what mathematical content they will teach and how they facilitate student access to and engagement with learning mathematics. The findings of this study provide insights into how mathematics is represented within New Zealand primary schools and how this representation can influence how teachers teach mathematics. Analysis of three educational policies, the New Zealand Curriculum, the Numeracy Development Project, and the Mathematics Standards, suggest that mathematics is structured horizontally (by content) and vertically (by level, stage, or year group). The vertical organisation of mathematical content within policy and participating school curricula suggests a model in which students learn mathematics by building on previously taught mathematical ideas that they must know before moving on to more complex mathematical concepts. Additionally, analysis of participating school curricula and assessment expectations combined with educational policy suggests an over-representation of the number content area compared with the other content areas such as algebra, statistics, geometry, and measurement. Finally, teacher participants indicated that they used assessment data to organise students into vertical groups, referred to as ability groups. These vertical groups influenced teacher assumptions about what students could do independently in mathematics and controlled what mathematical content students were permitted access to. Given these findings, this thesis suggests that the promotion of the number content area and the vertical organisation of learning mathematics within policy and school curricula could influence how teachers conceptualise student learning needs in mathematics and therefore affect how they facilitate student access to and engagement with mathematics.
  • ItemOpen Access
    “I don't really care what they do, as long as they write”. Exploring writing beliefs and practices of years 5-8 primary school teachers.
    (2023) Stubbings, Trisha Mary
    Decreasing levels of student achievement in writing and the need for evidence about what drives New Zealand primary school teachers' practices provides the purpose for this research. This study investigates New Zealand upper primary school teachers' beliefs and influences related to writing instruction. A mixed methods exploratory sequential research design was utilised, and the first phase of data gathering consisted of eight case studies of eight different teachers of year 5-8 students. This provided the rich qualitative data required when exploring a topic with little research. Data gathering methods in this research included semi structured interviews, observations of writing practice and writing policies and planning documents. The case studies findings were analysed using the NVivo programme for constant comparative content analysis. These findings were then used to design the second phase of the study which was a nationwide online survey sent via Qualtrics to all schools with year 5-8 teachers. Descriptive statistics have been used to interpret the survey results and open-ended questions have been coded for content analysis. Both phases of data gathering have been used to discuss and answer the research questions. Findings from this research demonstrate that the influences on teachers practice are widely variable and complex, going well beyond the individual. Teachers primarily espoused constructivist philosophies about writing, and were highly focused on student engagement in writing, rather than writing achievement. Meaningful purpose and audience were considered essential to good writing practices and teachers employed a range of strategies to engage students in writing. Digital devices and tools for writing were used in a variety of ways although teachers also believed handwriting to be important. These findings raised questions of equity and time to teach a diverse range of transcription skills. Overall, teachers had difficulty articulating explicit links between classroom practice and both theory and curriculum. Writing was articulated as a complex skill to teach in comparison to other curriculum areas, partly due to the view of writing as subjective and personalised. Moreover, missing from the findings was a strong link to teacher-led, specific strategy instruction and content knowledge about writing. The strongest contextual factors influencing writing practice were identified as colleagues and resources, and the present research recommends using both these factors to influence teachers writing practice. These findings highlight the need for greater teacher support and structure in writing instruction driven from evidence of best practice research and theory.
  • ItemOpen Access
    O le Fa’atamasoali’iga a Tautai Matapalapala A Soul-Searching and Far-Reaching Voyage of the Tautai (The Master Navigator): How and why effective educational leadership can advance Pacific students' learning, health and wellbeing
    (2023) Taleni, Tufulasifa’atafatafa Ova
    Six decades ago, after World War 2, many Pacific families migrated to Aotearoa, leaving behind their aiga (families), fanua (lands), nu’u (villages) and traditional ways, but migrating with commitment and aspirations for their children to have an education that would lead to better employment and a positive future. However, the children of many of these Pacific migrants have experienced underachievement in the New Zealand education system, the realities of which can result in poverty, low-paid jobs, high unemployment, poor health, a high incidence of youth suicide and poor housing. This research is about ‘talatalaina ole upega lavelave’, untangling the tangled net of the issues that so adversely affect children and their families. The issues have motivated Pacific families and communities to work collaboratively with schools to ensure their children make a better start for their learning, health and wellbeing. Pacific parents’ educational aspirations are carried through by the waves of the echoing sound of the Foafoa (conch shell) from the Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa (Pacific Ocean) to the Land of the Long White Cloud, Aotearoa. The sound reminds them of the hope and the purpose they brought or bring to their migration, which includes securing a better future for their children through education. For approximately the last 40 years, the New Zealand Ministry of Education has developed and led robust Pacific strategies to guide planning and implementation of programmes designed to lift Pacific learners’ engagement and achievement across all school sectors. These strategies have included the development of several Pacific education plans from 2001 to 2017 and then beyond with the development of the Action Plan for Pasifika Education 2020–2030 (Ministry of Education, 2020a). Ongoing Pacific education reviews and monitoring systems over the years have provided useful reports on student underachievement and key recommendations for future improvement. One particularly important resource has been the Ministry of Education’s Tapasā: Cultural Competency Framework for Teachers of Pacific Learners (Ministry of Education, 2018a). The primary aim of this framework has been to improve teachers’ and educators’ understanding of culturally responsive practices so they can better engage with Pacific children and thereby help raise their educational achievement. The Ministry of Education has also been influential over the years in leading key Pacific initiatives and teachers’ professional development (PLD) programmes designed to improve student engagement and the partnership between schools, families and communities. These initiatives include, among others, home–school partnerships, the Pacific Islands School Community Parent Liaison Project (Gorinski, 2005), and Talanoa Ako previously known as the Pacific PowerUp programme. The current strong emphasis on supporting children’s learning in their early (preschool) years so children have a better start from the time they enter compulsory schooling was initiated by the government’s A Better Start: E Tipu e Rea project. The project was a response to one of the government’s National Science Challenges, established in 2014 “to tackle the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand” (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, 2013). Since it was launched in 2016, A Better Start: E Tipu e Rea - National Science Challenges has brought together a “community of learners” in both education and health to lead research projects directed towards helping students make a better start in their learning. A Better Start supports the work that the Ministry of Education has implemented over many decades in response to the questions that Pacific families and communities continue to ask as to why their children’s educational achievement is so slow to improve. My interest in educational leadership combined with my Indigenous Samoan leadership and Samoan epistemology inspired my research. A considerable body of research shows that effective leadership is a catalyst for influencing schools to make changes that turn low student achievement into achievement. Moreover, in regard to Pacific students, the research emphasises the need for schools to make school achievement for these students a priority and to ensure the school culture reflects those students’ cultural needs. Research furthermore shows that the critical indicators of success on both these fronts within schools include access to culturally responsive and inclusive pedagogical practices; acknowledgement and valuing of Pacific cultural identities, languages and cultures; and close connections, through respectful relationships and partnerships, with Pacific families and communities. My doctoral research is an inquiry into the educational leadership characteristics effective in bringing about the changes in schools that support Pacific children to make a better start in their learning, health and wellbeing. At a more specific level, my inquiry also sought to identify strategies that school principals use to inspire and empower teachers to improve students’ learning in culturally inclusive and responsive ways. I selected three different educational leadership groups to contribute their voices as I carried out my investigation: Samoan Matai Indigenous leaders, Pacific community leaders and school principal leaders. I used thematic analysis to interpret the conversations and discussions I had with these leaders both individually and in groups. My analysis of what they said led me to identify eight key leadership qualities that need to underpin and inform the strategies school principals use to help guide teachers as they strive to support Pacific students’ learning, health and wellbeing: ta’imua (lead from the front), tausimea (keeper of measina, treasures) tautua (service), teu le va (nurturing relationships), fa’asinomaga (identity), ta’iala (vision), auala a’oa’o (pedagogy), and agaga ma le loto (emotional and spiritual connections).
  • ItemOpen Access
    Home learning TV and continuity of learning during New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdowns
    (2023) McConnachie, Stephen J. R.
    School closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted learning for 1.27 billion school students around the world. As part of the education response in Aotearoa New Zealand, an educational television intervention was launched to provide education for the 100,000 students with limited online access. This multiple case study explores research questions on how Home Learning TV (HLTV) was used and how it contributed to continuity of learning, using the Activity Theory framework to analyse the data. The findings confirmed that: HLTV was used more in resource-constrained contexts (schools in lower socio-economic areas); HLTV was relied upon heavily by students with no online access (the target demographic for HLTV); and it was used little, if at all, in schools with high levels of online access. Teachers reported that for students who relied on HLTV, it was “a good middle ground” between having access to the school’s online programme and having no access at all, implying that HLTV addressed continuity of learning for its target demographic. Implications for school leaders and policymakers relate to the importance of integrating HLTV into broader teacher-guided programmes, harnessing the increased teacher collaboration seen during the pandemic to increase students’ exposure to HLTV and other interventions, and considering how “lockdown fatigue” impacts students’ engagement during school closures.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Higher education for sustainability in a small island state : a case study of Maldives.
    (2023) Shareef, Mohamed
    Sustainability is a subject of importance to the Maldives, because of the urgency of the ecological, social and economic challenges the world is facing today and the particular vulnerability of the Maldives. This crisis has raised fundamental questions about how individuals and societies should think and act to ensure a just and equitable futures for all. There is an urgent need to understand the role of higher education institutions in addressing the increasingly complex global sustainability concerns. This research examined academics’ and students’ dispositions, abilities and behaviour (DAB) towards sustainability and their experience of Education for Sustainability (EfS) in the context of one institute of higher education, The Maldives National University (MNU). At the time of this research, there is no extant literature concerning higher education for sustainability in Maldives. I used a qualitative case study design which involved detailed, in-depth data collection to explore academics’ and students’ perception and engagement with EfS. Social constructionism, critical theory and the DAB framework provide the theoretical foundation for the study. The results of this study suggest that academics’ and students’ understanding and interpretation of sustainability varied across faculties. This research has found that sustainability is not embedded throughout the degree programs of MNU in a holistic manner. Discrepancies exist between different faculties in terms of opportunities for students to learn and engage with sustainability. Inconsistencies were also observed across what academics said and what they did with regard to EfS. As far as teaching methodology is concerned, the majority of academics rely on traditional lecture-based methods of teaching and learning. Few students learn about sustainability across multiple disciplines. The majority of students developed some awareness of various dimensions of sustainability mostly through discussion of sustainability issues in the classroom. Limited understanding of sustainability, lack of collaboration between faculties, increased online teaching, and financial constraints were perceived as challenges for academics and students to engage with EfS in a meaningful way. This thesis suggests the current strategy being used by the university to meet the self-funding domain is creating space where it is harder for students to engage deeply with pedagogies that would strengthen their skills and knowledge for sustainability.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Posthuman Learner: Mothers, Monsters and Machines
    (2023) Pascoe, Joanna
    In response to living through and into the uncertainty and complexity of our "here and now” – the Covid-19 pandemic and climate emergency – this thesis explores the transformational possibilities for pedagogy in speculative fiction and Rosi Braidotti’s affirmative ethics of joy. The three key works of fiction examined in the thesis are the novels, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (2014) and Under the Skin by Michel Faber (2000), and the film, Ex Machina (2014), written and directed by Alex Garland. Transformational processes within speculative fiction texts offer inspiration and opportunities for learners, fostering their potentia or empowerment as they navigate their present and future, as terrestrials on our withering planet Earth. The thesis draws on concepts such as mapping cartography, creative figurations, defamiliarization, relational encounters, and the inspiration that lies within the social imaginary of speculative fiction to explore and generate posthuman pedagogy. With the aim of generating new ways of knowing, teachers and learners can co-create a transversal alliance with human and non-human others, allowing for a multiplicity of difference and incorporating the possibility of opening up to affirmative social horizons of hope. It is argued that despite the challenges of living through a pandemic and a cascading and compounding climate emergency, the relationality offered by a transversal alliance of humans, animals, the environment and machines, can help us re-imagine our world as a zoe-geo-techno community of the new, inspiring an affirmative education that supports care, engagement, learning and endurance.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The story must be told : exploring university students' learning experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    (2023) Ren, Xin
    COVID-19 has had a prolonged impact on higher education around the globe. Universities experienced sporadic closures and are transforming to the post-pandemic mode. Emerging studies suggest that the challenges of shifting between campus-based and online/hybrid learning have increased the risk of mental distress for university students. Therefore, investigating the impact of COVID-19 on students’ learning experience and wellbeing is essential in the global education recovery process. In this thesis, I investigate a thus far under-explored perspective in COVID-related research: the relationships between students’ academic-related stress, coping strategies and effectiveness, belongingness, learning-related emotions and academic burnout. Although students’ psychological wellbeing has been discussed for decades, there is a paucity of research looking at university students’ learning experience and its associations with wellbeing under the impact of the unprecedented pandemic. This thesis aims to provide a snapshot of university learning in New Zealand by exploring the influences of COVID-19 on students’ learning experiences through three individual and interrelated studies. After a nationwide lockdown, 193 New Zealand university students completed an online questionnaire incorporating qualitative and quantitative approaches. The thesis consists of three individual and interrelated studies. To begin with, the first study examines students’ perception of academic stress, coping strategies and effectiveness. The results of the thematic analysis indicate eight major sources of academic-related stress and three types of coping strategies. The multiple hierarchical regression results suggest proactive problem-solving and assistance-seeking strategies lead to effective coping instead of strategies that avoid problems. The second study examines how university students’ belongingness to the learning community relates to their learning emotions and academic burnout. The mediation analysis confirms the hypothesized structural equation model. It suggests that students with a higher sense of connection to the learning community would have a lower level of academic burnout. Students’ positive emotions experienced during educational activities would reinforce this association. The third study of the thesis examines the interactional dynamics among students’ stress, institutional belongingness, coping strategies, learning-related emotions, and academic burnout. The structural equation model suggests that a stronger sense of belonging would facilitate effective coping strategies, including proactively solving problems and seeking help; it can also improve students’ learning-related enjoyment, reducing the risk of learning fatigue. The thesis contributes to the growing literature on students’ wellbeing and learning experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The thesis conveys the voice of students’ description of academic stress during the pandemic and suggests that proactively solving problems and seeking support could significantly improve the situation. It also makes a case for greater attention to students’ sense of belonging and learning enjoyment in promoting effective coping and alleviating students’ burnout. The thesis provides practical implications for stakeholders, including lecturers and institutions, to support students transitioning from traditional learning mode to online/hybrid learning in potential future crises and post-pandemic era. The post-pandemic era calls for revitalization and innovation in higher education; however, that cannot be achieved without a range of inclusive practices supporting student learning and wellbeing.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Appreciative leadership : a mixed methods study in schools in Pakistan.
    (2023) Abdul Wahab, Shahab
    Leadership is not about having the answers to all challenges but about creating ways for new answers to emerge. It is a balance between direction and control – with less emphasis on control and more on creating clear direction by inviting people to step up and share leadership. Such collaborative culture in Pakistani private schools practically does not exist in a fully functional form. Schools in Pakistan need a collaborative working environment where teachers participate in decision-making, principals share leadership responsibilities and facilitate teachers’ and parents’ involvement in schools’ affairs. The primary purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate the readiness of Pakistani private school leadership for the future implementations of appreciative leadership – which is a strength-based approach that continually focuses on capacity building, seeing possibilities and opportunities, building relationships, integrating, and reviving abilities, and enabling colleagues to grasp their potential. Furthermore, this study examines how social learning systems can contribute to the sustainability of appreciative leadership. A survey was administered to a random sample of 550 school principals in the private sector within the nine districts of the Punjab province in Pakistan. Structural equation modelling (SEM) within a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) is used to ensure the reliability and validity of the survey questionnaire. In addition, semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 14 school principals were conducted in order to obtain an in-depth understanding of the current school leadership practice in private schools and the influence of religious beliefs and socio-cultural norms on leadership practices in private schools. The findings revealed that school principals’ leadership practices align considerably with the principals of appreciative leadership. The research results indicate that some of the socio-culture norms have a significant connection with appreciative leadership., including features of contemporary school leadership in Pakistan that can support appreciative leadership. All these associations indicate the feasibility of the implementation of appreciative leadership in schools in Pakistan. This research study makes an original contribution to the knowledge of the potential for the implementation of appreciative leadership in education in Pakistan. It contextualises appreciative leadership in the Islamic context of Pakistan and integrates consideration of societal, cultural, and institutional factors that support, or undermine, this form of leadership. This study makes a methodological contribution by adopting an explanatory sequential mixed-methods design and with development of a research instrument by combining the three different constructs to find the attributes of appreciative leadership. The research also examines the supporting role of social learning systems for appreciative leadership in creating a collaborative environment.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Parents as sexuality educators: Negotiating uncertainty, risk, and possibilities.
    (2023) Clelland, Tracy Julia
    Sexuality education has long been framed by social and historical discourses that constitute its provision as a way of governing the child to conform to the moral order of the time. While these discourses position parents as ‘sexuality educators’, young people argue that parents need to ‘do’ sexuality education differently. This thesis focuses attention on the broader sexuality education landscape in New Zealand, where discourses of health and education inform parents’ sexuality education practices. Within this thesis, I analyse 12 focus group interviews with 45 parents of children (aged 11-14 years) to consider how they experience and make sense of their role as sexuality educators in Aotearoa New Zealand. In order to do so, I use thematic analysis informed by a feminist post-structural approach focusing on discourse and subjectivity. My analysis of findings illustrates a complex landscape where neoliberal notions of individual parental responsibility converge with children’s rights to sexual citizenship and educational policy. This landscape creates much uncertainty and anxiety for participants about their role as parents and sexuality educators. While this thesis illustrates that participants are worried about how to protect their children from sexual harm, most participants recognise their children as sexual agents. My analysis draws attention to how participants are considering and devising new ways of ‘doing’ sexuality education with their children. Many are critical of moralistic and risk-based approaches that informed their childhood experiences. I argue that a relational ontology provides opportunities for parents to explore and critique the functions and purposes of sexuality education. My interest is in ways the ‘the parent as sexuality educator’ is being and can be reconfigured to highlight possibilities for doing things differently. The analysis in this thesis also draws attention to new ways of thinking about how parents are putting sexuality education to work with their children. I argue that there is a need for reframing the ‘parent as sexuality educator’ as a shared educational process that embraces educational uncertainty about knowledge—and the subject-ness (Biesta, 2022) of children in the present moment. I suggest this creates a space for parents and children to take up their interest and stake in the education process—whatever and whenever that may be. This inquiry offers valuable insight for a range of people working with/in sexuality education spaces, including affirming messages for parents as they negotiate uncertainty, risk, and possibilities as sexuality educators.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Understanding the experiences of women leaders in Ghanaian senior high schools through phenomenological inquiry.
    (2023) Korkor, Patrick Owusu
    Globally, the number of women involved in secondary school teaching does not reflect their participation in leadership positions, particularly principalship; men continue to dominate senior leadership positions in secondary schools. The gender disparity in secondary school leadership has been linked to childbearing and caring for dependents and the overwhelming domestic responsibilities of women. In Ghana and other Sub-Saharan African countries, the situation seems to have been elevated by a specific sociocultural context dominated by patriarchal norms that discourage women’s participation in leadership, school leadership included. Researchers agree that understanding the experiences of current and aspiring female principals are crucial in formulating policies and practices which support and encourage women’s participation in secondary school leadership. Most of the studies which explore the experiences female school leaders focus on developed countries, leaving gaps in the literature on the experiences of female leaders in secondary schools in developing countries. This study’s purpose was to gain a deeper understanding of female principals’ and aspiring principals’ experiences in the Ghanaian Senior High School (SHS) context, to enhance understanding of gender equitable access to senior leadership positions at this level of education. The study used a phenomenological research design to explore the lived experiences of six female SHS leaders from one region in Ghana. The primary data for the analysis were generated through semi-structured face-to-face interviews with the women leaders. The interview data were supplemented with observation notes, participants’ diaries and existing official documents, including Ghana’s constitution, Ghana’s labour act, the national gender policy, the teachers’ professional development policy, and teachers’ codes of conduct. Finally, data were analysed thematically, resulting in thirteen themes encapsulating the women leaders’ sense-making in their life and career stories and views on gender equitable access to SHS principalship. This study highlights the interplay between culture, education, school leadership, and gender norms in Ghana. The data showed that the paucity of women in SHS principalship reflects a specific cultural context that assigns roles to genders, in both private and public spheres. The findings suggest that although the traits traditionally associated with female socialisation in Ghana align with the trend in policy towards more distributed forms of leadership in the education sector, there is still widespread uncertainty about women’s ability to lead, particularly at the SHS level. The study ultimately concludes that the current government policies maintain gender imbalances in senior leadership roles by offering simplistic, ‘quick-fix’ solutions to complex barriers embedded in Ghanaian culture. The women interviewed enumerated strategies to cope with challenges associated with their gender. Although these strategies do not challenge the status quo, they help to change attitudes toward female school leaders at the micro level. However, the over-reliance on coping strategies can contribute to the ‘legitimation’ of cultural hindrances in the long term. Therefore, this study argues for change and more equitable policies and practices that can potentially yield long-term and sustainable gains for women’s participation in SHS leadership.