Leadership for school and student learning – what do we know?
Volume 29 Number 2, 2004; Pages 34–35
Mulford describes the research findings from the Leadership for Organisational Learning and Student Outcomes (LOLSO) project. The project's focus was on the relationship between school reform and improved student outcomes, and it involved schools and students in
The art of posing problems and guiding investigations?
Volume 10 Number 3, October 2004; Pages 140–147
This article is an account of the authors’ observations of an expert mathematics teacher, and his ability to instil problem solving skills and dispositions in his students. The article contains lengthy excerpts of the dialogue between the teacher and his class as they move through a lesson, and it highlights critical points in the discourse so as to bring to readers' attention the various pedagogical strategies and techniques being used. Some of the key aspects of the dialogue included encouraging students to define and own the mathematical problem they were trying to solve; getting the whole class to participate; focusing students’ attention on the problem; and creating a ‘safe’ environment in which student participation was uninhibited. The authors’ analysis of the dialogue demonstrates the ways in which these aims were achieved, and provide a model for educators to emulate.
Key Learning AreasMathematics
Subject HeadingsMathematics teaching
What is leadership?
Volume 29 Number 2, 2004; Pages 27–33
Hawkes tackles the question entitling this article from two perspectives. Firstly, he considers the qualities of a leader, and how leadership can be differentiated from management. With regards to the former, he reduces leading to 'being followed' and suggests that leadership is open to all who, at some time, set an example which is followed. Leadership and management are distinct activities, as leadership, in its inspirational and creative modes, may not be constrained by the management priorities of order and procedure. Secondly, Hawkes traces different kinds of leadership through history, contrasts old models of leadership with their contemporary counterparts, and, finally, considers the possibility of leadership qualities being instilled in young people, and the benefits of doing so.
Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership – an evaluation
Volume 29 Number 2, 2004; Pages 25–26
Kefford draws upon Greenleaf's essay, The Servant as Leader (1969), to proffer a model of leadership, and, more particularly, student leadership. Servant leadership is of the kind that emerges from the New Testament, where leadership is about putting oneself at the service of others or an organisation, and were its ultimate purpose is the betterment of others through one's leadership. In this article, Kefford suggests that, in a world of rampant individualism, there is a need to resurrect this notion of leadership in schools, particularly amongst students, and he describes the kind of relationships and environments that will be needed to nurture it.
Appreciating diversity: confronting homophobia at school
Summer 2004; Pages 26–28
School structures and culture are complicit in the construction of gender identities and, as such, there is a need to identify the kinds of overt and covert messages they give students about gender and gender identity. Sengstock explains how male students are able to establish accepted masculinities, through violence and selective use of language, to the exclusion of other versions of masculinity and homosexuality. Observing that masculine identities are central to male suicide and learning difficulties, Sengstock suggests that schools acknowledge homophobia as a problem, and take steps to address it. This article contains recommendations to help schools confront the problem of homophobia through a whole-school approach, and which encourage schools to involve community welfare agencies and parents in combating violence and harassment. Measures as simple as ensuring more seating in student areas have led to male students exhibiting more communicative and sympathetic behaviour.
No-man’s land: boys’ education in Australia
Summer 2004; Pages 16–18
This article is based on a submission made to the Senate Committee Inquiring into the Sex Discrimination Bill in April 2004. In it West argues that low academic performance of boys in schools is attributable to the absence of male teachers. This absence, along with the prevalence of single parent, female headed households, has left boys bereft of models of masculinity, and of sympathetic, adult males in their formative years. West asserts that male teachers are more likely to understand and accommodate boys' ways of learning, and that schools with younger staff are less likely to see boys' learning styles as aberrant behaviour. His recommendations, listed in the article, include assisting men to join the profession and to stay in teaching, encouraging primary schools to 'target male teachers', and using male students in their Gap year, in some capacity, perhaps as sports coaches in schools.
Subject HeadingsTeaching profession
Teacher preparation in Indigenous Australian studies
Volume 24 Number 3
Reforms in the school curriculum since the mid-1990s have supported Indigenous Australian studies. However, many teachers remain reluctant to teach it, due to a perception that it invites racist hostility from students, colleagues or parents, and because of a fear of 'doing the wrong thing', especially with regard to issues such as terminology. Teacher education at Griffith University includes a mandatory unit on Indigenous Australian studies, in which a cross-cultural teaching method is applied. A team of Indigenous teachers challenge the students to develop new understandings of cultural difference. The course was evaluated in 1999, when students were surveyed and interviewed, and, after they completed the course, they were asked to complete evaluation sheets on the unit. The participating students indicated strong increases in their knowledge of, and engagement with, Indigenous studies. The article discusses the issue in the context of two national studies in 2000 - Teachers in Australian Schools and the National Inquiry into School History.
Subject HeadingsTeacher training
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Why do students drop advanced mathematics?
Volume 62 Number 3, November 2004; Pages 61–64
Horn describes her research, which examined the reasons behind students' success in advanced mathematics. Her work included tracking students from schools with different social profiles, and her research instruments involved interviews, assessments and classroom observations. In this article she recounts the contrasting experiences of two female students - one from each of the schools in the research sample - only one of whom was able to maintain her performance in mathematics, even though both had previously initiated successful 'turnarounds' in their mathematics performances. Horn found that a curriculum which fostered high expectations, timetabling that made allowances for remedial work or for students to retake courses, and teacher collaboration were instrumental in maintaining students' performances once they had made a successful turnaround in mathematics achievement.
Key Learning AreasMathematics
Why does the gap persist?
Volume 62 Number 3, November 2004; Pages 9–13
Barton isolates the factors that contribute to educational achievement, and matches them to the experiences of minority (Black and Hispanic) students in the United States, in an effort to explain the persistent divide in educational outcomes for white students and those from socially disadvantaged minority groups. Barton nominates fourteen different factors, and groups them into two categories, namely ‘Before and Beyond School’ and ‘In School’. The former includes factors such as the home environment, parental supervision and participation and student mobility. The latter includes influences such as curriculum, teacher experience, class size and school safety. Barton finds that students from socially disadvantaged minority groups are more prone to have a negative experience on every one of the key influences on their education. In the home they are less likely to be supervised, less likely to have their parents participate in their education and more likely to move from school to school as their parents’ work or housing requirements demand. In school they often experience large class sizes, a curriculum that lacks rigour and teachers who lack experience.
Subject HeadingsSocially disadvantaged
United States of America (USA)
The threat of stereotype
Volume 62 Number 3, November 2004; Pages 14–19
Most educators would be aware of the concept of social stereotyping, and the negative consequences it can have on teachers’ expectations of students’ abilities. This article looks at the concept of stereotype threat, in short the way students from disaffected and minority groups cope with their awareness of the existence of negative stereotypes, and the impact this has on their educational achievement. This article asserts that students from social groups who are aware of the negative stereotyping of their respective group can be adversely affected educationally. For instance, they will either compensate for this awareness by being overly anxious to perform well, or choose subjects and educational pathways which are less demanding because they guarantee success. When students feel vulnerable – that is to say, when their competence, sense of belonging and security are questioned – their motivation and achievement will suffer. Stereotyping increases the risk of vulnerability, and thus decreases their chances of achievement. This article describes the research into stereotype threat, and shows teachers how to reduce its influence in classroom learning and achievement.
With girls and boys in mind
Volume 62 Number 3, November 2004; Pages 21–26
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of boys’ underperformance in school, and attention has shifted from girls’ educational opportunities and performance to boys’ underachievement. Gurian and Stevens argue in this article that gender differences exist in boys’ and girls’ education because of the differences in the development of male and female brains, and that schools and educators need to do more to recognise this difference and accommodate it. MRI technologies make it possible to see the way an individual’s brain responds to certain stimuli and problems, and, from this, it has become possible to gauge the gender difference in the development of the brain, and thus the impact of gender on educational achievement. The authors are at pains to stress that while these differences exist, they are not evidence for genetically determined streaming of male and female students, or for the altering of expectations of girls’ and boys’ achievement in certain subjects. What they do highlight, however, are the different ways boys’ and girls’ learn, and educators should use the research to alter their teaching strategies to accommodate those differences. The article provides a description of the differences in male and female brain development, and provides teachers with practical advice on how to teach boys and girls more effectively.
Subject HeadingsGirls' education
‘A’ is for assessment
Volume 42 Number 1, September 2004; Pages 24–27
McNair introduces teachers from all key learning areas to three different kinds of assessment - pre-assessment, formative assessment and summative assessment - and their purposes. The first, pre-assessment, assesses students' prior knowledge of a concept or skill before it is taught. Formative assessment gauges students' understanding of what is taught as it is being taught, to improve their learning as they progress. Summative assessment is the tangible results of what students have achieved and can do with their learning. McNair pairs the three kinds of assessment with various assessment tools and strategies - such as drawing, keeping journals, interviewing, dramatic presentations and so forth - and advises teacher as to what form of assessment is best used at particular stages of the learning process.
November 2004; Pages 40–42
New technologies, such as mobile phones and the Internet, have made cheating more sophisticated but, as this article points out, its occurrence can be minimised by vigilance and improved teaching. The wholesale plagiarism of work copied or bought from the Internet is, in the minds of some, the same as pirating music or games from the Internet. Students, therefore, have to be informed of what constitutes cheating and plagiarism, as well as the consequences of such actions. Teachers, on the other hand, need to be prepared to ensure that their students' work is their own, by both checking it against search engines on the Internet, and being aware of their students' capabilities. The latter is preventative action, and should be accompanied by having students work through drafts of their work in class, as well as by creative and relevant assignment questions which avoid encyclopaedic answers. According to this article, assignments should be set in such a way that they engage students' own opinions on the subject matter, and ask them to compare concepts, ideas and events, strategies of good teaching which would minimise, if not eradicate, cheating.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Turning the tables
November 2004; Pages 36–37
This article considers how schools in some United States jurisdictions have used student-led parent-teacher evenings to inform parents of their children's educational outcomes. At these events, students, with the help of teacher assisted preparation and a portfolio of their work, outline to their parents what they have learned, as well as what their future learning goals may be. Students are able to take responsibility for their work and ownership of their progress, and parents are able to participate directly in their child's development by honestly confronting their educational strengths and weaknesses. Additional advantages include a greater level of parent attendance at such evenings, as their attendance is expected by their child as opposed to the school, and the elimination of delays, as parents no longer have to wait until the teacher is able to see them before discussing their child's work. This article cautions that much preparation goes into these evenings, and teachers need to prepare students, and be on hand to assist them and supervise the 'conferences'. A checklist is contained in the article.
Subject HeadingsEducational evaluation
Parent and child
Teaching for conceptual understanding
Volume 42 Number 1, September 2004; Pages 29–32
This article describes a unit of work in which primary students were challenged to modify, or correct, their prior conceptual understandings of the Earth's relationship to the Sun. Students were asked to demonstrate their prior understandings of the relationship through drawing and role-play, before a 'discrepancy event' - a slideshow which demonstrated the actual relationship - was used to challenge their misconceptions. After the 'discrepancy event', students were asked to evaluate their own work as if they were teachers, an exercise which saw them correcting their own misconceptions and explaining their newly formed understandings.
Key Learning AreasScience
Subject HeadingsScience teaching
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