Building capacity for year 9 reform: learning from the teachers’ perspectives

PhD Thesis


Seward-Linger, Rebecca. 2016. Building capacity for year 9 reform: learning from the teachers’ perspectives . PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/5bf627d2bc4a3
Title

Building capacity for year 9 reform: learning from the teachers’ perspectives

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorSeward-Linger, Rebecca
SupervisorDowden, Tony
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages305
Year2016
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/5bf627d2bc4a3
Abstract

In Australia, Year 9 is generally the third year of secondary school catering for students aged 14-15 years. Year 9 has been identified in the literature as a
problematic period with high levels of student is engagement, absenteeism and teacher stress. In order to improve Year 9 education, some Australian schools have instigated separate campus programmes dedicated solely to Year 9. This instrumental case study centred on a Tasmanian independent school that engaged in such reform. Whilst research regarding the middle years of schooling (Years 5-9) has grown significantly in Australia over recent decades, studies on middle years’ reform have often neglected teachers’ voices. This study examined the process of Year 9 reform with a specific emphasis on the teachers’
perspectives, recognising that teachers are the key agents in enacting school change.

The study was underpinned by constructivist inquiry and collected qualitative data from multiple sources, using the tools of: full participant observations, semistructured
interviews, school document analysis and Email dialogues. The researcher gained full access and participation in the Year 9 reform as a teacher employed at the case school.

From the teachers’ perspectives, this study uncovered the case school’s rationale and vision for Year 9 reform; eight key roles teachers play in reform; and factors that contribute to capacity building for successful change. The findings of this study resulted in two significant recommendations for reform in the middle years. Firstly, in order for reform to be holistic and successful, schools need to adopt a strategic, research-guided approach that involves teachers at every stage. Secondly, schools need to take a three-fold approach to capacity building so that all facets of capacity – personal, interpersonal and organisational – are duly developed for successful change.

This study provided the first Tasmanian perspective on the rationale and vision for Year 9 reform. Importantly, it identified eight key roles that teachers play during reform and gave recommendations on how these roles could be enhanced
for greater teacher leadership. The findings of this study are significant for future middle years’ reform; the generation of theory on the roles of teachers in reform;
and rationale and vision for Year 9 reform in Australia.

KeywordsYear 9; Tasmania; middle years of schooling
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390306. Secondary education
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
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