Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Faculty of Education and Arts


Western Australian tertiary graduates who enter the visual arts education profession are often well acquainted with the theoretical underpinnings of the Western Australian Curriculum Framework. This knowledge base, in combination with their own visual arts training, typically enables them to enter teaching theoretically well equipped to support students in the development of arts ideas and studio works. The important outcome areas of visual arts history and visual arts criticism often present major challenges for graduates. In the absence of significant post-university support and more importantly, within the context of limited pre­service training where visual conceptual understandings and studio skills repertoires have priority, many beginning-teachers are often left to their own devices in sourcing visual arts history/criticism content and pedagogy. Uncertainty in either one or both of these key areas of visual literacy education tends to create unsustainable levels of stress for beginning-teachers and often results in attrition.

The Graduate-Mentor Project research examined the experience of 20 beginning-teachers as they moved from the pre-service phase of their career through to the end of the first year post graduation. The findings underscore the value of mentoring during the first year. Mentoring significantly impacted the induction experience of the beginning-teachers and in many instances made it possible for them to survive when they would otherwise have left teaching. The research reinforces the need for new approaches to initial teacher education and the essentialness of first year of teaching induction. In addition, there is a need for a partnership approach involving: universities, professional associations and school-based teachers, in establishing a reciprocal mentoring framework. The most valuable aspect of the research, was the development of an innovative 'reciprocal mentoring' Artist-in-Residence model, which reframed the status of the pre-service teachers from that novice to expert artist. The program answered one of the most troubling questions to emerge from the study, that of how best to ensure ongoing procurement of mentors for new graduates.