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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Abstracts

'The Privilege and the Price': are they listening?

Autumn 2006; Pages 3–5
Kevin Mackay

The tension between the deeply felt need to be a ‘carer’ and the contractual obligation to be a ‘manager’ is the source of resentment among Victorian principals, according to a 2004 report by Saulwick Muller Social Research. System level administrators tend to identify good management too narrowly with budgetary compliance and accountability to government expenditure reviews. In contrast, the ‘real world of teaching and learning’ demands that principals exercise caring leadership, which can come into conflict with bureaucratic efficiency. The Saulwick Muller report notes that this has created an ‘us and them’ divide between administrators and principals, whose values tend to be ‘primarily those of the carer, not of the manager’. The misalignment of expectations is a significant contributing factor to the stress suffered by many principals and deputies. The Victorian Department of Education and Training’s response to the report has been disappointing. No concerted effort has been made to reduce principals’ administrative workload; rather, it has increased. ‘Enhanced’ computerised school administrative systems are demanding extra time and training, especially for schools that are yet to benefit from the Department’s three-year broadband telecommunications rollout. New recruiting and performance managements systems have been introduced as part of 21 wide-ranging initiatives implemented through the Blueprint for Government Schools. One such initiative, establishing local administrative bureaus to assist networks of small schools, offers some hope of reducing principal workload. School leader performance management seems to be based on the assumption that ‘there is some withheld capacity to work more and harder’, and that ‘only what can be measured can be resourced’. The Department should include among its Blueprint initiatives a strategy for identifying work that can be eliminated, and a way to make caring a measurable aspect of school leader performance.

KLA

Subject Headings

Education policy
Education management
Education and state
Job satisfaction
School leadership
School principals
Victoria

Film, Television and New Media in Queensland: the 2006 syllabus

Volume 41, Summer 2005; Pages 103–104
Michael Dezuanni

Twenty-five years after Film and Television was introduced as a senior secondary subject in Queensland schools, a new subject, Film, Television and New Media, is taking its place. Film and Television was introduced in 1981 in response to the Radford Committee report, which emphasised educational experiences relevant to local communities’ and students’ needs. The number of Queensland schools offering Film and Television has increased each year, reaching 110 in 2005. A committee met to update the syllabus over 2003 and 2004. A number of challenges were encountered. The first was overlap with the increasing number of media texts in the senior English curriculum; the second was securing the relevance of Film and Television in the face of emerging technologies. The committee identified three key distinguishing features for the learning area: that it focuses specifically on the moving image; that it recognises the need for the integration of theory and practice; and that it is underpinned by concepts of language, technology, representation, audience and institution. Focusing on these five concepts enables assessment across a wide variety of media. The syllabus is flexible and enables teachers to ‘play to their strengths’, for example, while new media must be covered, this can occur through Design and Critique work rather than Production, depending on resource availability or teacher preferences. The syllabus is constrained only in that students must explore a range of key concepts and contexts, and undertake assessment in Design, Critique or Production, with set proportions of these elements for Year 12. The syllabus also outlines a number of suggested learning experiences that are grounded in the philosophy of the subject, reflecting an aim to encourage inquiry, creativity and experimentation. The freedom in the syllabus may be daunting for many teachers, especially as they begin to work with less familiar media forms. New approaches to learning may be engendered, as teachers rely increasingly on the expertise of students to create a shared learning environment.

Key Learning Areas

The Arts

Subject Headings

Mass media study and teaching
Audiovisual education
Queensland
Television in education
Films

Multimedia in a science learning environment

Volume 14 Number 2,  2005; Pages 151–167
Sribhagyam Srinivasan, Steven Crooks

Despite widespread interest in technology and multimedia among teachers, its application in classrooms remains limited. Teachers’ resistance to multimedia may arise from concerns about accessibility, lack of support or doubts about whether it delivers genuine benefits for learning. Opposing views exist in literature on computer-based instruction. Some experts argue that it is the actions of the teacher that influence learning regardless of medium, whereas others contend that both medium and instruction are important, as some children rely on certain types of media to enable them to construct knowledge. Computer-based instruction has not been found to be effective in itself, but dependent on context, purpose and design. It does, however, offer an excellent opportunity for self-paced, exploratory learning, consistent with a constructivist approach. For science education, it can obviate student ‘phobias’ about performing experiments, enabling them to conduct virtual experiments that are often ‘more organised and clean’ than real-life experiments. However, the value of virtual experimentation depends on its realism, as pictures can foster misconceptions or displace important hands-on experience. Successful integration of multimedia depends on a number of factors. Words and pictures should be coordinated in multimedia presentations, to send consistent messages through students’ visual and auditory channels of reception. Extraneous words and pictures should be kept to a minimum. Animation should be combined with verbal narration rather than on-screen text. A case study has shown that on-screen text diverts students’ visual faculties away from animations, reducing the benefits they may gain from pictorial representation. Further case studies have shown that multimedia activities involving self-directed problem-solving improve students’ ability to transfer knowledge between contexts. Students who preferred to reproduce rather than transfer knowledge favoured print resources over multimedia. Illustrated texts resulted in better student performance than text alone. Scaffolding multimedia activities proved to be very important, to ensure students knew how to derive the most benefit from multimedia resources, especially those involving a high level of student choice.

Key Learning Areas

Science

Subject Headings

Multimedia systems
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Science

The call to teach: identifying pre-service teachers' motivations, expectations and key experiences during initial teacher education in Australia and the United Kingdom

Number 144, Summer 2005; Pages 38–49
Jacqueline Manuel, Sue Brindley

An international longitudinal study is comparing the motivations, expectations and experiences of graduate pre-service secondary teachers in English. The pre-service teachers were in two cohorts, 30 Australian students in the first year of a two-year Master of Teaching degree at Sydney University and 22 British postgraduate students at the University of Cambridge. Participants filled out questionnaires at the commencement and completion of their initial teacher education. They were also interviewed after school placements. Their educational and professional backgrounds were generally in literature or in a combination of language and literature, although a large minority were from backgrounds in media studies, linguistics or drama. They had often chosen teaching as a career quite early in their lives, under the influence of teacher role models or work experiences in related areas like youth assistance. Many of them ‘professed love’ of English as a subject. Over half the Australian students and just over a fifth of the British students came from existing career backgrounds. These backgrounds were diverse. More than 90 per cent of those from both countries who had previous careers displayed ‘intrinsic and altruistic motivations to teach’. Salary did not figure as a significant reason for the initial decision to teach, but pay may have deterred some people from entering teacher education courses, and may deter some teacher education graduates from taking up positions. Participants were ‘overwhelmingly committed’ to teaching for at least ten years. When asked to describe the qualities of an effective teacher of English, they strongly emphasised interpersonal behaviours rather than adherence to particular teaching methods. The Australian respondents had spent 40 per cent of their course time in school placements, the British respondents 66 per cent. This substantial school experience was reflected in their answers when they were asked to describe potential impediments to their adoption of teaching careers. The impediments they saw ranged from under-resourcing of schools to ‘profound questions of teacher professionalism, potential deprofessionalisation, poor school culture, bureaucratic demands and fears of marginalisation’ from cynical and demoralised peers. The participants’ responses were similar in terms of country, gender, age and background. A follow-up study will interview the participants during the early years of their teaching careers.

Key Learning Areas

English

Subject Headings

Educational evaluation
Motivation
Great Britain
English language teaching
Teacher training
Teaching profession

Tracking current events: using the Internet to explore unfolding stories

Volume 70 Number 3,  2006; Pages 160–164
Joseph O'Brien, Aaron Grill, Stacia Schwarz, Jennifer Schlicht

The authors designed an interactive website, called Track Current Events, that helps students to document news stories electronically as they unfold day by day in the media. A teacher registers on the site as an editor, which allows them to create a 'track', or set of web pages that sets out a current affairs exercise for students. The editor/teacher registers each student in a class and has access to each student's work, which is not seen by other students. The teacher can generate an online survey through which each student can select and rank current affairs topics that interest them. Selected topics are then set up for student input on the website. The teacher writes a summary statement to introduce each topic. From a given summary page the student clicks through to online news articles on the topic that the teacher has selected and stored on the site. The teacher sets questions about each article. Each student answers the questions, then writes opinions about the issues raised. Teachers need to select news stories that interest students, address significant topics, and raise issues that can generate controversy. The topics should be open to various cultural and political interpretations as well as being relevant to long-term public issues. They should also be aligned to the wider curriculum and should cover material that is accessible to students. The selection of websites is difficult and time-consuming for teachers. Students themselves struggle to find suitable sites but should be guided by teachers to do so. Students need to learn criteria by which to judge websites. They should learn to check who created the site, which is sometimes hidden. They should examine whether the creator's point of view and motivation are explicit or implied, whether the content is current and whether it comes from authoritative sources. Students need to distinguish the style from the substance of a site. The article describes responses to the Tracker by four teachers in the USA who have used it with Year 8–12 classes.

Key Learning Areas

Studies of Society and Environment

Subject Headings

Teaching and learning
Websites
Literacy
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Elearning

Improving school music education: we all have a role to play

Volume 5 Number 1, March 2006; Pages 34–39
Nita Temmerman

School music experiences have a significant impact on people's attitudes to music after they leave school. However, the quality of school music education is uneven. It tends to have low status in the curriculum. Insufficient time is allocated to it during teacher education. As a result generalist teachers are often expected to take music classes when they have little confidence or competence to do so. Music education in undergraduate primary teaching courses has undergone significant reduction in face-to-face contact time over the past decade. Music education in secondary school often lacks relevance to teaching tasks. Music, and the arts in general, need to be given a higher priority in education due to the comprehensive learning experience that they can provide. Research has found strong links between the study of music and drama and success in mathematics, spatial reasoning, reading and problem-solving. Music and drama have also been shown to enhance the academic and social outcomes of disadvantaged youth. Music and arts education meet the demands for more creativity and innovation, for lifelong learning, and also the life-wide learning that embraces the home and the community as educational sites. Music and the arts fit easily into an interdisciplinary approach to learning. School music education would benefit from more extensive partnerships with universities. Deakin University’s Bachelor of Teaching course includes subjects that integrate music and other arts with language and literacy and with studies of society and the environment. School music education should include the types of music that students currently experience outside school. When students have opportunities to play music in groups outside school they are more likely to remain involved in school music, especially during the transition from primary to secondary school. School music needs deeper links with the ‘mass of community-based music making’ in performing arts centres and community-based arts groups. An organisational mechanism is needed to establish these links.

Key Learning Areas

The Arts

Subject Headings

Music
Arts in education
Drama
Teacher training
School and community

Assessment: learning communities can use it to engineer a bridge connecting teaching and learning

Volume 27 Number 1, Winter 2006; Pages 16–20
Dylan Wiliam

Improving student learning begins with improving teacher quality. Guidelines for teacher professional development have been established in the USA through the NSDC's Standards for Staff Development. Effective teacher professional development needs to be sustained and collective, take account of local circumstances, and be centred around a powerful focus area. Research indicates that professional development which focuses on day-to-day assessment strategies (assessment for learning) is most effective in helping teachers 'keep learning on track'. Assessment for learning involves five general strategies. Firstly, research shows that many students do not understand what is expected of them in assessments. Asking students to assess sample answers to test questions can provide clarification. Effective classroom discussion is a second strategy used within assessment for learning. A practical way to facilitate discussion might be choosing students at random to answer questions and appraise answers given, providing explanations where necessary. Thirdly, feedback on student work should encourage self-correction, for example teachers might indicate how many mistakes are in a piece of work but give students time in class to find and improve on their answers. The fourth strategy, self-assessment, might be encouraged using a 'traffic light' system, where students place a coloured cup on their desk to indicate green (confident they have understood), yellow (a few uncertainties) or red (substantial confusion). 'Green' students can be called on to instruct 'yellow' ones, while the teacher speaks to the 'red' group. Peer assessment, the final assessment for learning strategy, may be facilitated by giving students 'two stars and a wish' (two positive things and one to improve) to allocate to another student's work. Successfully integrating such strategies depends on effective professional learning. Teachers should understand the research basis behind their practice so that they can submit well-reasoned requests to try new techniques, and make informed decisions about adapting practical strategies to suit specific circumstances. Successful adaptation may involve some trial and error, and initial failure should not deter practitioners from refining and retrying their ideas. Teachers should be able to choose a small number of their practices to change at a time, be held accountable in monthly meetings for implementing their plans, and be provided with ample support from colleagues and school leaders.

KLA

Subject Headings

Assessment
Professional development
United States of America (USA)

Beyond the pleasure principle? Confessions of a critical literacy teacher

Number 144, Summer 2005; Pages 17–25
Ray Misson, Wendy Morgan

Critical literacy approaches to reading from a ‘reality principle’ that focuses on social and political meanings. It is suspicious of the ‘pleasure principle’, and suggests that if texts are aesthetically enjoyable they are more likely to seduce the reader into swallowing dubious ideologies. In fact, critical literacy needs to work with, not in opposition to, the pleasure on offer in aesthetic texts. Reading critically and reading pleasurably are not mutually exclusive, as they are too dissimilar to oppose. Critical literacy refers to an understanding of the inherently social nature of all language, whereas aestheticism refers to a quality inherent in certain kinds of texts. Feeling is as important as thinking in reading aesthetic texts, as the emotions they inspire are part of their meaning. Aesthetic texts’ reliance on emotional response means they are highly subject to interpretation. A sample aesthetic text, Donne’s ‘A Valediction forbidding Mourning’ is provided. This has powerful aesthetic value in its urgent, passionate portrayal of two lovers’ pain at separation. A purely critical reading would immediately generalise the poem into a patriarchal vision of gender relations, ignoring the specific qualities of the particular relationship which may touch its readers. Such a reading is not wrong, or misguided. There is considerable value in the opportunity critical literacy presents to ask ‘disrespectful questions’ of even canonical texts. However, a wholly critical reading is ‘simply inadequate to the experience that the text is offering’. It would be a pity if students and teachers could not revel in the wit and daring of Donne’s descriptive language. Readers should allow themselves to be absorbed and subjugated by the pleasure of aesthetic texts. Subjugation to the text does not mean acquiescence to whatever ideology may underlie it. Rather, it enables the reader to enter a state of fluidity in their response to the text, where they may adopt and move between numerous standpoints, sometimes being led to respond contradictorily by their heart and their mind. Word-play and exploring multiple meanings are legitimately part of the critical literacy classroom, and passion is necessarily part of the drive for social justice out of which critical literacy has emerged. (The article was first presented as a keynote paper at the AATE/ALEA National Conference, July 2005.)

Key Learning Areas

English

Subject Headings

Reading
Literacy
English language teaching

A comparison of the cognitive processes underlying reading comprehension in native English and ESL speakers

Volume 8 Number 2,  2005; Pages 207–231
Pauline B Low, Linda S Siegel

An increasing number of students are starting school in Canada with little or no English-language experience. A University of British Columbia study compared the reading progress of 284 ESL students to their native-English-speaking peers. No ESL students in the study had learnt English before entering school, but since then they had received at least two years of fulltime English classroom instruction. ESL and non-ESL students underwent a series of tests to measure reading-related cognitive processes: single-word reading, reading comprehension, phonological processing, verbal working memory and syntactic awareness. Details of these tests and subsequent data analysis are provided in the article. Tests showed that, in spite of their later exposure to English, ESL students were as skilful as native-English speakers in manipulating the sounds of English (phonological awareness), and using phonological decoding to read unfamiliar words with ease and speed. However, ESL students were not as proficient in understanding syntax and grammatical structures in oral language. ESL and non-ESL students showed comparable skills in single word reading. This might not have been expected, given the ESL students’ oral English skills, and suggests that oral English proficiency for ESL students should not be taken as an indication of reading proficiency. In reading comprehension, ESL students lagged slightly behind their native-English-speaking peers, but the difference was so small that it would be unlikely to be noticed in a classroom setting, with both groups scoring comfortably within the expected average proficiency range. The ESL students were set a reading comprehension test using fictional content which required minimal prior knowledge or context-specific vocabulary. ESL students’ performance matched non-ESL students’ on this task, suggesting that contextually neutral texts can reduce disadvantage for ESL students.

Key Learning Areas

English

Subject Headings

English as an additional language
English language teaching
Reading
Thought and thinking

Education and assessment in Sweden

Volume 13 Number 1, March 2006; Pages 113–128
Christina Wikstrom

Swedish education is free. Socioeconomically, schools have traditionally been fairly homogenous, with equity a key element of schooling policy. The National Agency for Education administers school education. In the 1980s and 1990s Swedish education underwent major changes. Financial and administrative responsibility for schooling was devolved from the central government to municipalities. Funding was extended to private schools, the number of which grew from 16 to 241 between 1992 and 2005. Government schools were permitted to become selective. Decentralisation of the system was widely supported but also increased ethnic and social segregation. In 1994 a new curriculum was introduced. It defines 'goals to be reached and goals to be pursued', with municipalities and schools determining syllabi and methods for reaching these goals. Teachers and students 'claim to have problems with the vague wording and generally described and non-specific objectives' of the goals, but they also 'seem to be positive about the new system'. Teachers ‘generally find support in the goal descriptions’ when reporting to parents. In assessment, the norm-referenced grading system, which assigned gradings to set percentages of students nationwide, was replaced by a goal-oriented system. Teachers 'have the entire responsibility' for assessing and grading students. Centrally issued and standardised tests are available for Swedish, English and maths and can be used by teachers for moderation of student results, but weaknesses in the system create problems of comparability. Senior secondary schools in competitive situations tend to be disproportionately generous in the student grades they assign, especially in the case of private schools. A set of core subjects is compulsory for all students. Senior secondary students have flexibility to select and change their non-core subjects. Students tend to avoid senior secondary courses in which it is more difficult to get high marks. The current system ‘has had some positive effects on pedagogical renewal processes’ but tends to be of disproportionate benefit to students from high-SES and Swedish ethnic backgrounds. Swedish education has suffered cutbacks over the last decade, and relatively low and declining scores on the PISA and TIMSS international comparative studies.

KLA

Subject Headings

Sweden
Equality
Educational administration
Educational planning
Educational evaluation
Assessment

The empty schoolhouse: staffing rural, remote and isolated schools

Volume 5 Number 2, May 2006; Pages 38–41
Phil Roberts

A study has investigated ways to reduce staff turnover in rural and remote schools. The author carried out an online survey of existing rural teachers and undertook a literature review of earlier education research into the policies and practices of education departments and union staffing policies. Earlier studies have found that a significant number of teachers who remain in rural and remote schools have come from such schools themselves. Measures should be taken to encourage teachers with these backgrounds to teach in rural and remote schools. Preservice training which describes rural teaching conditions and includes visits to such schools has had a positive impact on teachers’ view of rural appointments. A range of social and economic incentives would help to retain teachers in rural schools. They include reduced workload during the first year; induction and mentoring programs; payment of HECS fees and provision of bonded scholarships; housing assistance; travel time at the start and end of terms; payment of relocation costs, home loan subsidies; facilitation of interaction between schools, including ICT; allowing principals to trial teaching staff before they offer substantive positions; and targeting casual teachers for recruitment to rural schools.

KLA

Subject Headings

Rural education
Teaching profession
Teachers' employment
Educational planning
Educational evaluation

Contemporary character education

Volume 6 Number 5, January 2006; Pages 16–20
Matthew R Smith

In the USA, the 1983 report A Nation at Risk prompted a range of legislative and regulatory reforms in school education. The report’s call for character education reforms has been largely eclipsed by the focus on academic performance and standards-based accountability. However, research has shown that effective character development programs also have a positive effect on students' academic development. Character education has become particularly important in a time when the moral conduct among young adults is perceived to be in decline. For character education to be most successful, it is necessary for it to be integrated with, not supplementary to, the standard academic curriculum. For example, moral education can be integrated into language arts or social sciences; living skills can be undertaken by counsellors or vocational instructors; service learning involves students in community service programs; and drug and violence prevention are often included in physical education classes or cocurricular activities. Religious education, although limited in the USA by the Bill of Rights, can still be provided by public schools through religious history courses or religious clubs that help students understand the role of religion in society. Character education must address student needs, as demonstrated by such programs as Family Resource Centers and 21st Century Learning Centers. The school community needs to provide a caring environment and develop two types of social capital: bonding and bridging. Bonding social capital refers to collaboration between administrators, teachers, parents and the community to share responsibility for student character development, send consistent messages, and promote a sense of harmony and respect. Bridging social capital creates links between schools and external stakeholders, such as medical and social agencies, to better meet student needs and provide outside reinforcement. Character education programs should also focus on teaching students specific universal values. Values associated with moral character might include honesty, caring or generosity, while ‘performance character’ can be strengthened with values like hard work or resilience. Successful character education programs in secondary schools can complement academic performance by providing positive, safe, caring and ethical learning environments.

KLA

Subject Headings

United States of America (USA)
Values education (character education)

Teaching Aboriginal Studies: producing inclusive Australian citizens

Janet Mooney, Rhonda Craven

It is generally acknowledged that Aboriginal people remain the most disadvantaged group in Australian society. Poor health, employment, housing and income perpetuate poor educational outcomes. Policies and practices throughout Australia’s history, such as the notorious Assimilation policy, have served to disempower Aboriginal people. Historically, education has been seen only as a means of training Indigenous Australians to perform work to support European Australians and uphold western ethnocentric views of cultural superiority. From 1972, the Whitlam government sought to reverse this trend, establishing such bodies as the National Aboriginal Education Committee. Since then, there have been other genuine attempts to foster Indigenous self-determination and self-management, but these have been hampered by a lack of understanding of Aboriginal peoples on the part of European Australians, and ongoing suspicion of government interventions on the part of Indigenous Australians. The most significant government report on Indigenous education has been the Hughes Report (1988), which advocated a National Aboriginal Education Policy (AEP). The AEP came into effect nationally in 1990 and was expanded in 1993. A strategic plan for implementing the goals of the AEP was developed by a dedicated MCEETYA Taskforce, backed by strong policies at a state and territory level. The importance of teaching Aboriginal studies to all Australian students is founded on equity and social justice. It serves to break down stereotypes and prejudices, and cultivate inclusive Australian citizens. As many preservice teachers have never met an Aboriginal person, effective teacher training in Aboriginal studies is essential. Teacher training programs must audit their existing units of study to ensure that Aboriginal perspectives are represented across the curriculum. Secondly, they need to introduce a core Aboriginal Studies course. It is essential that the multitude of other subjects to be covered does not squeeze Aboriginal Studies out of the formal curriculum. To foster an inclusive society, all Australian students need to understand and respect the authenticity of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal culture, and Indigenous students need to be provided with curriculum that recognises and has relevance to their culture, experiences and identity.

KLA

Subject Headings

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Indigenous peoples
Teacher training
Education policy

A case study: introducing and teaching core Aboriginal Studies

Janet Mooney, Rhonda Craven

Teaching Aboriginal Studies to all Australian children is the first step in achieving reconciliation. Over the past decade, a number of Australian primary teacher education programs have begun to introduce core Aboriginal studies units. This case study focuses on the Aboriginal Education Centre at the University of Western Sydney, which collaborates with the Faculty of Education to provide a core Aboriginal Studies unit for preservice teachers. The ten-week unit is taught by Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff, to provide a combination of personal Indigenous perspectives and role models for non-Indigenous preservice teachers. Current research is applied to embed Indigenous teaching and learning practices into contemporary pedagogy. For example, relatively recent western teaching theories of narrative inquiry resemble story-telling practices that have long been used in Indigenous cultures. The unit aims to ensure that preservice teachers are able to integrate Aboriginal perspectives across the curriculum. Themes for the weekly lectures and tutorials include Indigenous history and language, constructions of Aboriginal identity, race and racism, government policies, health issues and opportunities to build partnerships with Aboriginal communities. Assessment is undertaken through presentations, reflective journals and an essay task. A handbook provided for the course includes guidelines for using appropriate and respectful language for discussing Indigenous issues in the classroom. Interviews with program facilitators and participants elicited an ‘extremely encouraging’ response from students, with most commenting that the course had made a difference to their thinking. For many, it was the first time they had encountered in-depth information about Aboriginal issues. Practicums undertaken in schools with significant Aboriginal populations were also highly valued by the students. A few negative responses from students mentioned feelings of ‘blame’ or an ‘us and them’ perspective, emphasising the need for great sensitivity in course facilitators. The short duration of the course was another area of concern, as it did not allow time to cover both Aboriginal issues and practical strategies for teaching them. As a consequence, although many students reported enhanced awareness of Aboriginal issues, they did not yet feel confident that they could teach an Aboriginal Studies program.

KLA

Subject Headings

Teacher training
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
New South Wales (NSW)

Exploring first-year preservice teachers' confidence to teach art education in the classroom

Sue Hudson

Many generalist primary teachers enter the profession with little background in art and lack confidence to teach it. As a result, art often gets marginalised or omitted in the generalist primary classroom. Art educators have a strong belief in the value of art education, particularly as ‘art can provide a “fundamental lens” for understanding and interpreting the world in which we live’. Researchers investigated the impact that seven weeks of two-hour art education workshops would have on the confidence of preservice teachers to take art classes. The workshops, provided to a first-year class of preservice teachers in an Australian regional university, modelled a variety of teaching strategies, and included opportunities for the preservice teachers to create their own artworks. Emphasis was placed on the art experience, rather than the final product, to preserve the freedom of self-expression. Surveys, questionnaires and interviews were conducted with participants before and after the course. Overall, the preservice teachers recorded an increase in their confidence in all aspects of art teaching as a result of the course. Comments from participants confirmed that prior experiences of art education have significant influence on preservice teachers’ perceptions and confidence. More than half had experienced poor quality art teaching at primary or high school, with one remarking that ‘teachers only taught art when it was raining and we couldn’t go outside for sport’. An encouraging, supportive teaching environment, and the provision of ideas to enable participants to explore art materials, were typically identified by participants as the most valuable elements of the course. Areas in which participants still had uncertainties included lesson planning and conducting art appreciation activities.

Key Learning Areas

The Arts

Subject Headings

Teacher training
Arts in education