Education Dissertations and Theses

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    Metacognition in a secondary school : the development of a collaborative and iterative professional development programme
    (2019) Haddon, Gareth; Unitec Institute of Technology
    RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What do teachers currently believe and do that is considered to foster students’ metacognition? 2. How might teachers conduct a collaborative inquiry into building capacity for developing metacognition in their students? 3. What recommendations can be made about a Professional Development framework that is collaborative, meaningful and sustainable? ABSTRACT: There is a growing body of evidence in support of explicit metacognition instruction as a means of supporting the learning and development of secondary school students. The common appreciation for the value of metacognition is not reflected in practice, however, and there exists a need for professional development programmes to support teachers in explicitly bringing this into the classroom. A review of the literature identified the aspects of professional development that are most likely to promote meaningful and sustainable changes in practice. This theory was used to inform the development of a professional development programme for eight participant teachers from a co-educational Auckland secondary school, justified by the influence that individual teachers have on student outcomes. Qualitative data from focus groups, semi-structured interviews, an online document, and questionnaires, were gathered on the experience of these participants as they inquired into fostering their students' metacognitive capacity over a period of two and a half school terms. The results indicate that a critical, collaborative inquiry is an effective means of shifting assumptions, beliefs, and practices of teachers over time, however this does not occur uniformly. Providing encouragement for autonomy and support, together with opportunities to synthesise research and models of best practice, empowers teachers to enact changes and challenge assumptions. Whilst the developed programme was focused on fostering metacognition, a distillation of the research findings confirmed that teachers benefit from explicitly developing their own metacognitive awareness regardless of the context of the professional development which they are undertaking, reinforcing the value of a lifelong learner disposition.
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    Exploring tensions within the practice of leading ‘teaching as inquiry’ in a New Zealand secondary school and its kāhui ako
    (2019) Bryant, Nicholas; Unitec Institute of Technology
    RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What are school Middle Leaders’ and Kāhui Ako Within School Leaders’ perceptions of the purpose of ‘teaching as inquiry? 2. What are school Middle Leaders’ and Kāhui Ako Within-School Leaders’ perceptions of the nature of teaching as inquiry? 3. What are school Middle Leaders’ and Kāhui Ako Within-School Leaders’ perceptions of the practice of leading ‘teaching as inquiry? 4. What are school Middle Leaders’ and Kāhui Ako Within-School Leaders’ perceptions of the and challenges and benefits of leading ‘teaching as inquiry? ABSTRACT: ‘Teaching as inquiry’ has been established as a pedagogical model in the New Zealand Curriculum for more than a decade. It is promoted as a highly effective process for professional development and for improving student learning outcomes, particularly in addressing issues of equity. However, it has been ineffectively implemented in schools. This study investigated the perceptions of Middle Leaders and Kāhui Ako Within-School Leaders regarding the purpose and nature of ‘teaching as inquiry,’ the nature of its leadership and its challenges and benefits. Data were collected using online surveys and focus group interviews within eight schools in one Waikato Kāhui Ako. Leaders saw the purpose of ‘teaching as inquiry’ as improving teaching and as improving student learning outcomes. It was seen to follow cyclical, iterative steps and promote adaptive pedagogical practice. Leaders used a variety of strategies to lead it and preferred to develop relational trust instead of following compliance-based accountability processes. There were tensions identified, including confusion over which roles held the primary responsibility to lead ‘teaching as inquiry;’ time limitations that existed within other complex and competing professional expectations; challenges in dealing with resistance from other staff and the visibility and credibility afforded to leader’s roles and the implications of their ‘teaching as inquiry’ processes. These challenges were linked with a perceived lack of professional development opportunities that focussed on leadership. The benefits of ‘teaching as inquiry’ were seen to be the opportunity to collaborate and connect with other teachers and leaders’ autonomy, enjoyment and ultimately retention in the teaching profession. It is recommended that the capacity for collaborative inquiry is strengthened at national, local and individual levels.
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    Secondary to tertiary transitions : current trends
    (2019) Thumath, Andrea; Unitec Institute of Technology
    RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What are the secondary school leader’s perceptions of the transition for students from secondary to tertiary education? 2. What are the tertiary transition challenges for secondary students from a tertiary institution leadership perspective? 3. In which ways could secondary to tertiary transition be improved? ABSTRACT: The number of our young people transitioning from secondary to tertiary education in New Zealand continues to decline despite multiple interventions, policies and programmes put in place. This study focusses on the current trends in secondary to tertiary transition by investigating the perceptions of this transition from the perspectives of senior secondary and tertiary leaders. The research was conducted in four Auckland secondary schools and one Auckland institute of technology. Four senior leaders from the secondary schools and three senior leaders from the tertiary institution were interviewed in semi-structured interviews to gather qualitative data to identify current transition trends across both sectors. The study highlights the significant contributions across both sectors in the provision of secondary to tertiary transition programmes. Three central themes emerged from the research: the importance of collaboration, the value of pathway programmes and teams and the barriers created by policy versus practice. These themes and the feedback received from the leaders interviewed provided a set of recommendations. The recommendations place a focus on: the establishment of an Advisory Panel including the various stakeholders from across each party involved in this transition, the establishment of dedicated transition pathway teams in both secondary and tertiary institutions and the call for our secondary schools to collaborate, sharing knowledge and resources across their wider community.
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    Internal moderation of assessment in an ITP sector institution : translating policy into practice
    (2019) Simpson, Jean; Unitec Institute of Technology
    RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What are the key expectations for moderation policy? 2. What is the practice of internal moderation from the perspectives of lecturers? 3. What are the challenges experienced by lecturers during the internal moderation process? ABSTRACT: The emergence of ‘quality’ as a key focus of educational leadership reflects current international trends in educational management that place policy emphasis on improvements to quality assurance and accountability. Moderation of assessment has come to embody this emerging policy focus and plays an increasingly important role within tertiary sector quality assurance systems. This small scale qualitative study drew on a case study research framework to investigate the perceptions and experiences of lecturers and moderators who are implementing the internal moderation policy of an undergraduate programme at an ITP sector institution. This research investigated issues associated with the translation of moderation policy into practice, particularly the underlying practitioner values and the associated practice challenges and tensions. The research method utilised was semi-structured face to face interviews with six lecturers/moderators. The research found evidence of a complex and distinct moderation culture among practitioners in the School that is supported by a range of values that underpin the approach. Strong support was found for moderation as an academic quality assurance process, along with resistance to a focus on compliance, and there was also found to be an aspiration for moderation to support and drive improvements to the student experience and learning outcomes. It was found that practitioners rated the skills, experience, knowledge and workload capacity of moderators to be the key factor in determining the effectiveness of moderation, with policy playing a less important, supporting role. A range of challenges to effective practice are outlined, including the identification of policy tensions related to the recognition and management of moderator workloads and professional development. This research highlights the complexities and challenges for educational leaders in the development and implementation of effective moderation policy, which needs to recognise and support the diversity of a positive moderation culture within an institute, while resolving the tensions that are inherent in achieving a balance between quality assurance and supporting teaching and learning.
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    Student perspectives of secondary to tertiary transitions : influences on the decision making process
    (2019) Sommerville, Sarah; Unitec Institute of Technology
    RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What are the beliefs and experiences of students who have recently transitioned from secondary to tertiary education in one New Zealand polytechnic? 2. What are the beliefs and experiences of students who are likely to transition from secondary to tertiary education to this polytechnic? 3. What strategies could be suggested to improve secondary to tertiary transitions? ABSTRACT: There has been a steady decline of students enrolling straight from secondary school into tertiary study in recent years. This decline has prompted emphasis to be placed on the transition process between secondary schools and tertiary institutes. However, there is never one simple explanation behind how they came to make their decisions. These decisions are complex and multifaceted, and without interventions can result in students not completing the transition process or successfully transitioning into tertiary study. The literature reveals a wide range of influences and barriers, but no clear understanding of the student’s perspective. This study set out to investigate the student perspectives of secondary to tertiary transitions; to examine influences on the decision making process; and to make recommendations for institutions and secondary schools to consider when engaging with students who are about to transition out of secondary school and into tertiary education. An interpretive approach was adopted for this study which used qualitative data about the experiences and perspectives of secondary school and tertiary students. To collect the data two focus groups were held, the first focus group had seven secondary school students from one West Auckland secondary school. The second focus group had seven first year tertiary students from my own institute. The study found similarities and differences between the responses of secondary school students and first year tertiary students concerning the transition from secondary school to tertiary education. Both groups placed an emphasis on parents and the highly influential role they play in the decision making process. While both groups spoke of pathways and the importance they played in the journey, the secondary school students spoke of open pathways and the tertiary students focused more on structured pathways and support. Both groups highlighted key barriers to transition, with focus placed on how to recognise and remove them. This study recommends that more importance be placed on the student voice and that there is a need for closer collaboration between secondary schools and tertiary institutions.