Bronwen Cowie

Research Projects

27 Sep 17
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoENew Zealand Council for Educational Research: NZCER categories: Kaupapa MāoriLiterature reviewResearchSchoolsEnvironment

This report summarises the findings from the Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools research project, undertaken for the Ministry of Education by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and the University of Waikato between June 2002 and June 2003.

The research included three components: a literature review, a critical stocktake (survey) of nearly 200 schools involved in environmental education, and case studies of environmental education practices in eight schools and kura kaupapa Māori.

The research findings are reported in four volumes. This report (Volume 1) describes the overall research project, summarises the findings from each of the research components, and responds to the research questions. Volume 1 also highlights implications of the research for future policy, resourcing, practice, and research in environmental education in New Zealand schools. Volume 2 is the full report from the literature review, Volume 3 is the full report from the critical stocktake, and Volume 4 is the full report from the eight case studies.

28 Aug 17
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoENew Zealand Council for Educational Research: NZCER categories: ResearchEducation & TrainingSchoolsEnvironment

This research looked at current practice in environmental education in New Zealand schools using a range of methods.

Three key goals of the research were to:

  • analyse and present characteristics of environmental education practice in New Zealand schools to inform schools' environmental education programmes and practices;
  • provide direction for the Ministry of Education and Government with respect to future initiatives in environmental education in New Zealand schools; and
  • facilitate further discussion between New Zealand policy-makers, researchers, and practitioners in environmental education.
16 Sep 16
Commissioned
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: ResearchTeachers

This is the second of three National School Sampling Study reports. This initiative to investigate how teachers work with the curriculum began in 2001 and continued into 2003, as part of the Ministry of Education's Curriculum Stocktake. This report details teachers' experiences in teaching from the New Zealand national curriculum documents: English; Languages (Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Samoan); Science; and Social Studies.

11 Nov 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: EvaluationResearchCommunity DevelopmentEarly Childhood EducationPedagogySchoolsKaupapa

This report addresses the following research questions exploring assessment practices around learning outcomes information in ECE services and the first years of school.

  • What learning information would/do parents and whānau, teachers in ECE services and junior schools value?
  • What is the practice around learning outcomes information in ECE services and the first years of school?
  • What learning outcome information is documented and exchanged between parents and whānau, ECE services and schools at transition points? How is the information used? What, if any, additional information would the different groups like/be able to use? In what ways do ECE services and junior schools articulate the difference they are making to a child's learning to parents, family and whānau?
  • How well are current systems used by ECE services and schools able to describe learning outcomes for their learners-for an individual child as well as at the service or school level?

Data were collected from a purposive sample of schools and ECE services with 'thoughtful' practice in four mainly low income communities in the North and South Island of New Zealand. There were one or two schools in each community, with two or three contributing ECE services for each school. These are referred to as "hubs" in this report. In addition, the assessment practices in four pairs of a single school/kura and ECE service/kōhanga reo are described. In total eight primary schools, one kura kaupapa Māori and 19 ECE services were involved in the data collection. A separate report, Case Studies of Assessment Practice, presents a full description and analysis of the case studies of the hubs and pairs.

Data were gathered through interviews with ECE teachers/educators, new entrant teachers and principals together with focus group interviews with parents in each setting. Examples of assessments of learning progress and outcomes that were valued were collected including photographs of wall displays and other ways of recording or communicating about children's learning.

11 Nov 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: Literature reviewResearchEarly Childhood EducationPedagogySchools

This report sets out the Literature Scan for the Continuity of Early Learning project. The literature scan focused on current practice in documenting and sharing learning progress in the early years, summarising New Zealand and International approaches.

The report has three parts:

  • Part One: Vision and Debates with a reference list.
  • Part Two: The Literature Scan: Introduction and Framework; Competence; Community and Continuity.
  • Part Three: The Abstracts for the literature in Part Two.

The debates in the Vision and Debates section provide a wide and visionary view of this project, setting out the different theoretical positions in each Debate and including some of the literature that contributes to an understanding of the issues and to further discussions of a New Zealand vision for the future.

Debate 1 raises two questions: Which educational outcomes are valued? and What educational outcomes should be assessed? It looks at views of valued learning for the mid 21st century and discusses the relationships between knowledges and dispositions/competencies.

Debate 2 raises another two questions: Who does the assessing? and Who is it for? This debate emphasises assessment as a system and combines the two questions in the discussion.

Debate 3 builds on Debates 1 and 2 to consider two final questions about continuity and progression: What are the timeframes? and What are the intended and unintended consequences of the outcomes that have been made visible or demonstrated in assessments? It looks at the notion that learning and therefore assessment is a long-term matter, and includes issues about single and multiple pathways and the constructions of progressions.

The three sections in Part Two—Competence, Community and Continuity—are aligned to these three Debates, and scope some of the literature that informs the ways in which the Debates have been explored or exemplified in research and practice in New Zealand and elsewhere.

11 Nov 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: EvaluationResearchVoluntary & CommunityEarly Childhood EducationPedagogyTeachersSchools

This report should be used as a background resource to the Continuity of Early Learning: Overview Report on Data Findings. The report provides detailed findings from the four hubs which comprised a school and its associated early years centres and four pairs of a school and its associated early years centre which were constructed as case studies. It provides details of the assessment practices reported by teachers/educators and parents interviewed over the course of a one day site visit. Hence the data reported here is self-report, complemented by participant commentary on illustrative examples of site assessment practice(s), including photographs of wall displays and other examples of student work

The cases provide evidence of the richness and variation in assessment practices across and between the different sites. There are limitations to the collection of data in interviews over the course of one day. The cases therefore provide a broad overview of a site's practices rather than detail on the nuances of teacher/educator curricular and pedagogical foci.

18 Feb 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: EvaluationTeachersE-LearningScience & Technology

The purpose of this evaluation is to investigate the impacts of the Laptops for Teachers Scheme: TELA (referred to from here as the TELA scheme) on teachers’ work over a period of three years (2006, 2007, 2008) and to record emerging changes in laptop use. This evaluation report presents findings from the three annual cycles of national focus groups and questionnaires with Years 1 to 3 teachers in New  Zealand primary schools.

In this evaluation, two methods of data collection were used: first, three focus groups were held with teachers in face-to-face meetings and second, a questionnaire was sent to teachers in a range of schools. The focus groups allowed teachers to talk about changes in their use of the laptop over the three years. Focus groups were held in the Taranaki, Wellington and Marlborough areas. The questionnaire asked teachers about various aspects of their laptops experience, including school support for laptops, professional development, their use of laptops at home and in school, and their goals for future use. In this final report, questionnaire results are presented together with the results from the focus groups held over three years.

18 Feb 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: EvaluationTeachersE-LearningSchoolsScience & Technology

The purpose of this evaluation was to investigate the impacts of the Laptops for Teachers Scheme (referred to from here as the TELA scheme) on Years 4 to 6 teachers’ work over a period of three years (2004-2006) and to record emerging changes in laptop use. The investigation focused on the Ministry of Education expectation (Ministry of Education, 2004) that teacher access to a laptop for their individual professional use would lead to gains in confidence and expertise in the use of ICTs, to efficiencies in administration, would contribute to teacher collaboration and support the preparation of high quality lesson resources. It was also anticipated that teacher would use their laptop in the classroom for teaching and learning.

18 Feb 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: EvaluationTeachersE-Learning

The purpose of this evaluation was to investigate the impacts of the Laptops for Teachers Scheme: TELA (referred to from here as the TELA scheme) on teachers’ work over a period of three years (2004-2006) and to record emerging changes in laptop use.

This evaluation report presents findings from three annual cycles of national focus groups and questionnaires with Year 7 and 8 teachers in New Zealand primary and intermediate schools.

18 Feb 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: EvaluationTeachersE-LearningSecondary Education

The purpose of this evaluation was to investigate the impacts of the Laptops for Teachers Scheme: TELA (referred to from here as the TELA scheme) on teachers’ work over a period of four years (2003-2006) and to record emerging changes in laptop use. This evaluation report presents findings from three annual cycles of national focus groups, questionnaires and case studies with Year 9 to 13 teachers in New Zealand secondary schools

18 Feb 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: ResearchLiteracy & NumeracySchoolsChildren

This report outlines the findings from a research project that examined videotapes of six groups of four children participating in the NEMP Farmyard Race task. The videos were analysed using a sociocultural framework. The findings from the analysis highlight that children’s participation in group mathematical tasks has intellectual, physical-spatial, material and social-relational dimensions: The findings suggest:

  • a context can be motivating but difficulties can arise when children are expected to engage with a context whilst simultaneously ignoring factors that would be pertinent in a “real-life” situation;
  • understanding and expression of mathematical ideas is bound up with language;
  • the meaning of ordinal words can be ambiguous in relation to a particular context;
  • children make decisions by deferring to an authoritative member, by democratic means and or by the aggregation of information;
  • children find it difficult to aggregate information;
  • manipulatives can serve as a means of organising a task, a problem space for its solution and a final product that is the outcome of the solution process;
  • momentary configurations of manipulatives and children’s talk interlock to form and shape multimodal communication;
  • manipulatives can serve as focal artefacts for collaborative problem solving;
  • the physical-spatial arrangement of children in relation to a task problem space shapes access to collaborative work;
  • group activities rely on children having and deploying a range of social practices;
  • a child’s social standing and skills influence access to talk and materials;
  • the child/ children who assume leadership responsibility impact on group goals and achievements;
  • children’s purposes shift and take form as they interact about a task;
  • children’s mathematical goals are interwoven with the context and artefacts of a task.

A sociocultural interpretation of children’s participation in group mathematics assessment tasks highlights several aspects. These are:

  • the product of a group deliberation provides a restrictive view of what children know and can do;
  • information about the process of reaching a solution provides more insight into children’s thinking;
  • tasks do not always constrain children’s thinking in ways that lead them to being able to accomplish the task as it was intended;
  • a contrived context relies on children’s appreciation of the nature of school mathematical tasks;
  • a contextualised task can introduce language demands to do with the boundary between everyday language and experience and the particular ways language is used in the register of mathematics;
  • children’s lack of familiarity with a task structure may obfuscate what they know and can do;
  • a task needs to demand that all children contribute to its conceptual and practical outcome to evoke genuine cooperation.
18 Feb 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: EvaluationSchoolsPolicy

This is the final report for the research project Curriculum Implementation Exploratory Studies Phase 2 (CIES 2). Over two phases and three years the CIES project has developed an analytical account of the various ways in which innovative schools and individual teachers have been working to implement the revised New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007).

CIES 1 employed case studies as the main methodology (Cowie et al., 2009). CIES 2 continued the case studies with nine schools from CIES 1, and added a case study of a low-decile, rural, full primary school. CIES 2 also involved “mediated conversations” with two groups of school leaders (Auckland, Christchurch) and two groups of teachers (secondary in Auckland, primary in Wellington). For these conversations, participants came prepared to talk to three or four other participants and a researcher for around 15 minutes. They introduced and discussed an artefact generated through or representative of their curriculum implementation practice. Subsequent to these short sessions the MOE research questions were introduced and discussed. During CIES 2 we also reviewed existing research about community involvement to produce a short synthesis (Bull, n.d.). After conducting separate analyses of the case studies and the mediated conversations we merged the overall findings to produce this final synthesis. The report also takes account of key findings from CIES 1 (Cowie et al., 2009) to document the implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum across all three years of the project.

18 Feb 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: EvaluationSchoolsPolicy

Throughout the history of schooling in New Zealand the national curriculum has been revised at fairly regular intervals. Consequently, schools are periodically faced with having to accommodate to new curriculum. In between major changes other specifically-focused changes may arise; for example, the increased recent emphasis upon numeracy and literacy.

A new national curriculum represents a large undertaking for those responsible for schools and classroom teaching. The 2007 New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) is an example. It developed out of an earlier period of “rolling revision” from the 1950s to 1980s, where curriculum was revised subject-by-subject with a haphazard timeline. Change was largely led by Ministry of Education (MOE) curriculum personnel with close links to teacher unions and teachers. During the 1990s the form of revision changed. An overarching curriculum framework (Ministry of Education, 1993) outlined a design of achievement objectives organised into eight levels from Year 1 of schooling to Year 13. Content was designated through seven learning areas and a statement for each was written and promulgated through the 1990s.

By 2000 feedback from schools led the MOE to carry out a “stocktake”, resulting in approval by the Minister of Education to undertake a phase of systematic revision from 2003. A draft New Zealand Curriculum was disseminated to schools and the community in 2006 and a final document ratified by the Government for publication in late 2007 and full implementation by 2010. Some components of the 1990s curriculum statements were retained with little change. They included the design of objectives and content for eight levels over 13 years of schooling. However some major changes also emerged from all this activity. They included:

  • a shift from “essential skills” to “key competencies” that integrate knowledge, skills, attitudes and values
  • expanded statements on values in the curriculum
  • inclusion of four future-focused themes: sustainability; citizenship; enterprise; and globalisation
  • guidelines on school-based curriculum design
  • a clearer vision statement
  • advice on pedagogy and on assessment
  • a reduction in the achievement objectives in all learning areas and the inclusion of these in one streamlined document rather than separate documents
  • increased emphasis on the teaching of languages other than English.

Notwithstanding the involvement of as many people as possible in the Curriculum Project, the MOE anticipated that the scope of these changes would be challenging for many teachers and schools. It was anticipated that considerable support would be needed as each school worked towards understanding how all the changes might come together in their school setting. Accordingly, the MOE explored ways of supporting schools with implementation of the new curriculum, including “teacher-only” days for concentrated time on change, and on-line resources to support the change process. Inevitably, some school leaders were ahead of others in adopting the curriculum innovations and adapting them to meet their school’s specific needs. With the imperative for all schools to be engaged in the implementation process by 2010, the MOE determined that it would be helpful if the successful experiences of schools that got underway with the process sooner rather than later be documented, analysed for common themes and used to help determine the most productive ways to support other schools. That was the aim of the research project reported here.

18 Feb 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: International ResearchLiterature reviewResearchPedagogyTeachersSchoolsGovernance & KaitiakitangaPolicyInnovation

This review analyses the literature on the effects of curricula and assessment on pedagogical approaches and educational outcomes, i.e. student achievement. The review looks at whether there are differences between mandated or local curricula in terms of their impact on teaching practice and student learning. It also examines the effects of different assessment regimes including national or state-wide testing, on student learning. It focuses particularly on the role of formative assessment. International and New Zealand research are examined.

18 Feb 15
Completed
with: Ministry of Education: MoE categories: EvaluationMonitoringPedagogyTeachersLiteracy & NumeracySchoolsSpecial EducationPolicyChildrenMāoriPacific PeopleVulnerable & Disadvantaged

This research report outlines the findings of an evaluation of the Literacy and Mathematics: Programmes for Students 2011, a Ministry of Education initiative to provide additional teacher time to enable selected schools to organise programmes for students who were assessed as ‘below’ or ‘well below’ the National Standards in mathematics, reading or writing.

This initiative allowed a primary or intermediate school to design programmes in mathematics, reading or writing for a group of students to work intensively with a selected teacher.