Date of Award

1991

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr Ross Latham

Second Advisor

Dr Peter Sloan

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to focus on the progressive stages through which six teachers moved in their efforts to improve children's writing of informational texts. An action research approach was used to control and monitor the work of the researcher and the six teachers as they sought to improve their classroom practice in the teaching of writing. The essential features of the approach were for the teachers to collaborate with the researcher in: a) discussing their problems and in devising suitable solutions; b) formulating a working hypothesis; c) working out an appropriate plan comprised of the steps of action; and, d) monitoring this plan as it was implemented. In order to monitor the implementation of the plan, data from three sources were collected, analysed and collated: a) personal-professional journals; b) pupil questionnaire supplemented by teacher student-discussion; and, c) the pupils' actual writing. Since the process through which the teachers progressed was the focus of this study the following data sources were also used: a) researcher-teacher interviews; b) teacher questionnaires; c) observation by the researcher; d) tape-recordings of the meetings held with each group of participating teachers; and, e) personal-professional journals kept by participants and researcher. The action research process progressed through three cycles over a period of four months. During this time the teachers encountered many problems as they changed their approach to the teaching of writing. It was concluded that to improve their teaching of writing, these teachers needed detailed knowledge of the different types of written texts, support by an specialist in the field, a simple plan to show them how to begin to implement the new teaching strategies, support of ti1eir school principal and teaching colleagues, and time to collaborate with the school staff and the acknowledged specialist. The findings of this research project have clear implications for an education agency such as the Ministry of Education Western Australia. In the area of promoting change in school curriculums and classroom teaching practices, little improvement is likely to occur if the change is imposed ''from the top”. A simple and effective information disseminating strategy is needed at school level to keep teachers informed about advances being made in curriculum content and teaching practices, so that teachers will see the advantages of changing their knowledge and instructional methods. The trend of holding one-shot inservice courses, lasting one or two days, is not sufficient to effect change. Key specialists in each subject area, and for each geographical location, must be trained and assisted in moving about amongst the participants as individuals and as members of planning, reporting and supporting teams. Such specialists need to be well versed in recent trends in their area of specialisation and in the use of action research aimed at collaborative implementation of change. Specialists and teachers, working in collaboration, will effectively change school curriculums and classroom teaching practices thus enhancing school development.

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