Reflecting on how education researchers are tackling some of Australia’s pressing issues.
With a focus on sharing personal insights into timely and relevant topics in education research, these seminars will engage participants in a lively discussion of some of the pressing issues affecting Australia’s academics, schools and society today.
All talks for 2012 have now been completed. 2013 program out soon!
The ‘science pipeline’ in Australia is under threat because not enough budding scientists are moving through from school to university to science-based jobs. The aim of this research was to retrospectively survey current Australian and New Zealand scientists to ascertain why they chose to study science. The quantitative data from 722 respondents showed that, unsurprisingly, the main reasons were that they were interested in science and they were good at science. Secondary school science classes and one particular science teacher also were found to be important factors. Of more interest are their anecdotes about the challenges of becoming a scientist, some of which will be shared in this presentation.
“Individual(s) ….embrace a new paradigm for all sorts of reasons ... . Some of these … lie outside the sphere of science entirely. Others depend upon idiosyncrasies of autobiography….” (Kuhn, 1970, p.l52). I will highlight some “idiosyncrasies of autobiography” that have led to enjoying an academic life – the opportunity to research and teach, to construct and communicate knowledge. I plan to illustrate how psychometrics, a field in which I had the opportunity to ignore or embrace an emergent, non-standard statistical paradigm, has lead beyond mathematical modelling to areas such as the philosophy of science, the sociology of knowledge and academic controversy. I plan to also illustrate the challenges in negotiating the complex world of academic research and communication.
Controversy continues to surround national student assessment in Australia. However, I argue that testing is neither good nor bad: the devil lies in what people – teachers, school, systems and even parents – do about the tests and the data they generate. I report the experiences of principals, teachers and curriculum consultants in one educational authority to describe how responsibility for interrogating, interpreting and applying data has gradually shifted from an external top-down approach to an internal bottom-up model in a planned, sustained and centrally supported manner, during the past eight years.
Privacy has been defined as “the protective buffer within which people can avoid another party’s taking something from them, keeping watch over them, or entering into their lives in a way that is both unwelcome and undesirable”. It is a premise of this paper that such a position needs to be taken very seriously as school personnel have the capacity to engage in practices which show great disregard for individual and family privacy. This is demonstrated through the results of a preliminary comparative case study, thus also illustrating the value in comparative education for understanding Australian educational issues. The intention in conducting the case study was to illustrate a scenario that has the potential to become widespread, if it is not already so. Particular attention is paid to assessment, pedagogical and curricular practices that derive from patterns of systematic and mandatory disclosure that are confessional, performative and public.