Date of Award

1-1-2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Carlisle Sheridan

Abstract

The stories that students tell in the classroom have the potential to be an invaluable resource for teachers. Through a focus on the language used, these stories can provide teachers with information about their students' sociocultural backgrounds and therefore, the knowledge that students bring to the context of the classroom. In today's diverse classrooms, teachers need to discover this information about their students to enhance the planning process for students' learning. The stories that students tell provide teachers with one avenue by which they can begin to meet the requirements of the Curriculum Framework for Kindergarten to Year 12 Education in Western Australia (Curriculum Council, 1998). The study investigates the potential of collecting and using the language in students' stories, as told in the classroom, to discover information about the students' sociocultural backgrounds. The study took place in a pre-primary classroom situated in the South West of Western Australia. The students' stories were collected, transcribed and analysed. Following this, six students were selected whose stories were notable in their ability to reveal much information about those students' sociocultural backgrounds. The parents of those six students were interviewed in order to confirm or negate the information about the students' sociocultural backgrounds as collected from their stories. The teacher of the class was also interviewed in a bid to confirm or negate the information about all the students' sociocultural backgrounds overall as collected from all the stories. Language was seen as a "key" to use to unlock information about students' sociocultural backgrounds from their stories. A broad definition of story was adopted and an analysis procedure was developed. Both of these tools allowed for a focus on the language in the stories and were used to discover much information about the students' sociocultural backgrounds. The analysis procedure also highlighted some aspects of' the interactions that facilitated the students to tell such stories. As much of the information about the students' sociocultural backgrounds was confirmed and expanded upon by the parents and teacher, it was demonstrated how the stories that students tell can be used to discover more information about the students. Home-school links can be forged or improved upon in the process.

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