Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Professor Bernard Harrison


The purpose of this study is to develop and review strategies and policies to drive retentive teaching-learning environments for disaffected students, modifying their modus operandi sufficiently for them to qualify and retain a tertiary place or position in the workforce, or sustain a return to mainstream schooling. I employed action research methods to examine Strike Four. an educational model servicing students with severe social and/ or emotional difficulties and behavioural disorders. I tested the Strike Four model during an intensive study period on two programs. Part 1 of the thesis comprises three Chapters. An introduction to the issue of the marginalisation and exclusion of troublesome students in mainstream education is presented in Chapter 1. The review of associated literature, which follows in Chapter 2, examines: early attitudes to crime and deviant behaviour; some modem sociological and psychological attempts to diagnose, categorise, or "cure" deviance; school-based behaviour modification •strategies; and various Australian states' attempts to service disaffected students with education. The theoretical framework presented in Chapter 3 includes the rationale for my choice of qualitative methods, discussion and selection of an action research model, and the position taken on the issues of anonymity and authenticity. Part 2 of the thesis, "The Study", comprises four chapters, and a concluding chapter. A grounded autobiography that clarifies my personal position, whilst demonstrating how my modus operandi was transformed through personal critical moments, is offered in Chapter 4. This provides a base from which to consider the potential for personal critical moments, texts, and mentors to transform an individual's ideology and modus operandi. The educational theory and ideological underpinnings held to underlie the Strike Four model are presented in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 comprises a critical examination of the evolution of Strike Four policy, in particular:, how and if the educational theory and ideological underpinnings claimed to underlie the model are apparent in model policy. Chapter 7 deals with three program strategies: harnessing golden teaching moments; using curriculum as a tool to shape behaviour; and the use of positive contracting to encourage behaviour self-management skills in troublesome students. In this chapter I critically examine how and if policy and ideology is reflected in practice on the programs, and if the various policies, and the three key strategies, are proving successful in modifying the modus operandi of the young people sufficiently to facilitate their functioning in mainstream society. An end piece to the fieldwork is included to fill in "gaps" resulting from the reporting of selected case studies. Chapter 8 includes the findings and recommendations for future research. The model's success in modifying students' modus operandi is demonstrated through the individual case studies and tables. Almost 100% of the students (on entry classified severely alienated) maintained their placement in work, technical college, or mainstream schooling for the three month post support period.

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