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Associate Professor John Buchanan

Biography

John Buchanan has been involved in education and teacher education for a number of years. Apart from his current teaching area, he has teaching interests in a number of areas including English as an additional language, LOTE (Languages other than English), regional and global studies, civics and citizenship and studies of religion.

John's main research interests are in intercultural education.† He is also interested in the experiences of early career teachers as they adjust to the new culture of their schools.

Image of John Buchanan
Associate Professor, Teacher Education Program
Core Member, Centre for Research in Learning and Change
Director, Centre for Research in Learning and Change
DipEd (STC), BA (Syd), GradCertTESOL (UNE), GradCertHEdT&L (UTS), MEd (UWS), Doctor of Education, EdD
 
Phone
+61 2 9514 5285
Room
KG02.02.84

Research Interests

Research interests focus on the constructs students and teachers have of themselves, of each other, of their educational institution and, particularly, of the topic at hand as they engage in education, and the impacts these variables have on educational outcomes. In particular, he is interested in Australian teachers' and students' potential constructs of an 'otherness' with regard to intercultural studies.

More broadly John's interests include sociology and social justice, intercultural education, studies of religion, literacy, Aboriginal education and local history.

John is currently President of the Primary Human Society and its Environment Teachers' Association (PHSIETA).

Can supervise: Yes

Current teaching areas are sociology and environmental education and English as an Additional Language in the BEd program at UTS.

Book Chapters

Buchanan, J.D. 2006, 'Splashing in puddles? What my teaching and research tell me about my teaching and research' in Aubusson P, Schuck S (eds), Teacher Learning and Development: The Mirror Maze, Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 131-144.
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Books

Buchanan, J.D. 2013, History, geography and civics education: Teaching and learning in primary education, 1st, Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne.
This book outlines and draws links between theory and practice behind the teaching and learning of socio-environmental education in the primary years, in the context of an emerging Australian Curriculum.
Schuck, S.R., Aubusson, P.J., Buchanan, J.D. & Russell, T. 2012, Beginning Teaching: Stories from the classroom, 1, Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
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The recruitment and retention of new entrants to the teaching profession has long been an important aspect of education, as so often these new entrants renew and refresh practice in schools. At times there have not been enough recruits or there are high levels of attrition, at other times there have been too many teachers. This has often resulted in either emergency measures to educate them quickly or a pool of unemployed teachers. There have also been concerns about the quality of teaching, the content of the curriculum and the ever-present need for more rigorous assessment procedures. We have witnessed an unwarranted rise in government intervention in teacher education and the spiralling out of control of quality measurement through inspections, evaluations and long lists of standards to be met. Fortunately, despite these problems, many young people still aspire to be teachers and many experienced teachers remain in schools and in universities due to mainly altruistic reasons such as helping to realise others+ potential and providing a better life for young people
Buchanan, J.D. 2007, Macquarie Revision Guides: HSC Studies of Religion, Macmillan Educaton Australia Pty Ltd, South Yarra, Vic.

Conference Papers

Ljungdahl, L., Maher, D., Buchanan, J.D., Currie, J.L. & Staveley, R.M. 2012, 'Swimming for new horizons: targeting retention and success for future teachers.', The International First Year in Higher Education Conference. New Horizons. 15th International FYHE Conference 2012., Brisbane, June 2012 in New Horizons. 15th International First Year in Higher Education (FYHE) Conference., ed Nelson, K., First Year in Higher Education., Brisbane, pp. 91-91.
Strategies to maximise success and retention of first year pre-service teachers.
Aubusson, P.J., Buchanan, J.D., Schuck, S.R. & Russell, T. 2008, 'Making sense of teaching through shared observation and conversation', International Conference on Self-study of Teacher Education practices., Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, England, August 2008 in The seventh international conference on self-study of teacher education practices. Pathways to change in teacher education: Dialogue, diversity and self-study, ed Heston, M., Tidwell, D., East, K. & Fitzgerald, L., Self-study of teacher education practices special interest group, Iowa: USA, pp. 18-21.
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Buchanan, J.D. 2008, 'Internal discourse: What does Foucault have to tell us?', UTS, Sydney, December 2008 in 11th International Conference on Experiential Learning (ICEL 2008): Identity of Experience: Challenges for Experiential Learning, ed NA, ICEL, pp. 1-11.
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Schuck, S.R., Prescott, A.E. & Buchanan, J.D. 2007, 'Sharing and supporting through an online network: Four studies with newly appointed teachers.', Australian Association for Research in Education, Adelaide, Australia, November 2006 in Engaging pedagogies: AARE 2006 International Education Research Conference Proceedings, ed P.L. Jeffery, AARE, Adelaide, Australia, pp. 1-18.
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The paper discusses the experiences, needs and concerns of newly appointed teachers in four separate studies conducted by UTS teacher educators over the years 1999-2006. Newly appointed teachers were invited to participate in an online support network in each of the studies. The studies were all small in scale, and allowed teachers to express their concerns, aspirations and experiences to others in the online network. Although participation in the online network was limited, those who did participate found the network to be supportive and helpful in providing much-needed advice and suggestions. Support was offered by mentor teachers, lecturers from the university and the other newly appointed teachers in the network. The paper will highlight the common issues regarding online access to support, as well as aspects of online interaction that were found to be beneficial to participants. It will also discuss issues of participation as highlighted by the different designs of the four studies, and indicate the strengths and weaknesses of each of the research designs with regard to meeting the needs of the participants.
Schuck, S.R., Buchanan, J.D. & Gordon, S.E. 2007, 'Improving student learning through teaching: Questions we should be asking', 14th Improving Student Learning International Symposium, Bath, UK, September 2006 in Improving Student Learning Through Teaching. Proceedings of the 2006 14th International Symposium., ed Rust, C., Oxford Centre for Staff Learning and Development, Oxford, UK, pp. 282-292.
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Journal Articles

Burridge, N., Buchanan, J.D. & Chodkiewicz, A.K. 2014, 'Human Rights and History Education: An Australian Study', The Australian Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 17-36.
An Analysis of the coverage and teaching of human rights issues in the History curriculum in Australian schools. Includes a focus on the new Australian curriculum
Buchanan, J.D., Prescott, A.E., Schuck, S.R., Aubusson, P.J., Burke, P.F. & Louviere, J.J. 2013, 'Teacher retention and attrition: Views of early career teachers', The Australian Journal of Teacher education, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 112-129.
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The provision and maintenance of quality teachers is a matter of priority for the profession. Moreover, teacher attrition is costly to the profession, to the community and to those teachers who leave feeling disillusioned. There is a need to investigate the experiences of early career teachers to consider how these issues contribute to decisions about staying in or leaving the profession. This paper reports on an aspect of a larger study on teacher retention. It describes and analyses the experiences of teachers participating in the study and highlights implications for teacher retention. The study proposes the notion of `resilient stayers+, and how beginning teachers+ resilience might be strengthened and supported. It asks what combination of circumstances in the school and the system, and individual resources of resilience on the part of early career teachers, might maximise the chances of teachers choosing to remain in the profession.
Burke, P.F., Schuck, S.R., Aubusson, P.J., Buchanan, J.D., Louviere, J.J. & Prescott, A.E. 2013, 'Why do early career teachers choose to remain in the profession? The use of best-worst scaling to quantify key factors', International Journal of Educational Research, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 259-268.
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Many countries report high attrition rates among beginning teachers. The literature cites many factors that influence a teacher+s decision to remain in the profession. These include remuneration, workload, support, administration and parents. It is unclear, however, which factors matter most to teachers and, consequently, where best to direct limited resources. This study uses Best-worst Scaling (BWS) and complementary experimental design methods to quantify the relative importance of these factors. The results suggest that improving student engagement, experiencing professional challenges and enjoying collegial support are the most important factors influencing teacher decisions to stay in the profession. Beginning teachers nominate remuneration, recognition, and external factors (e.g., class size; location) as playing a lesser role in their decision to remain teachers.
Schuck, S.R. & Buchanan, J.D. 2012, 'Dead certainty? The case for doubt in Teacher Education', The Australian Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 37, no. 8, pp. 1-11.
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In this conceptual paper we discuss the value of doubt in teacher education for ourselves and, by implication, more broadly. We develop an argument for the value of doubt in teacher education that grows out of the recognition of the complexity of teaching. We interrogate meanings of doubt in this context and debate the value of doubt and certainty. We also indicate the challenges of fostering and nurturing doubt in teaching and teacher education. We suggest that doubt is a necessary element of teacher education as its presence helps to prepare our students for their careers as teachers in a complex and uncertain world. It is also more fundamentally honest than a professed certainty on the part of the teacher educator.
Buchanan, J.D. 2012, 'Telling tales out of school: Exploring why former teachers are not returning to the profession.', Australian Journal of Education, vol. 56, no. 2, pp. 205-217.
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Teacher attrition is a cost to the community and, often, to the teachers concerned. One ready potential source of teachers is those having left the profession, particularly recently, and who may be willing to return. For this article, 22 former teachers were interviewed about their journey into and out of teaching. Understanding what made teachers leave may inform us on what it might take to get them back. This paper reports on these former teachers' professional intentions in light of their changing constructs of teaching through time, comparing, where possible, their former and current constructs of teaching and of their teacher-selves. The study constitutes a series of 'before and after' pictures, providing stark contrast at times. The findings generate theory on factors leading to these changes. One emerging inference is that the teaching profession fails to apply some of its corporate pedagogical knowledge to its own newcomers.
Buchanan, J.D. 2012, 'Improving the Quality of Teaching and Learning: A Teacher-as-learner-centred Approach', International Journal of Learning, vol. 18, no. 10, pp. 345-356.
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Much of what is called quality management is imposed on teachers from above. This paper adopts the argument that if we accept the mantra of student-centred learning (however we might define that), we should be willing to apply it to teacher professional development, assuming the needs and existing expertise of the teacher to be central to the process. In short, such an approach seems to ignore what many believe to be central to effective learning, in this case, professional learning. Much current teacher professional development is imposed on teachers, with little acknowledgement of the expertise, experience and professional knowledge they bring to their work. Such is likely to undermine teacher confidence and leave teachers feeling disempowered, which would appear to be contrary to an enhancement of their work. The paper proposes some elements of teacher professional development that are designed to build community among teachers, and to provide a safe forum in which they can experiment and take risks
Buchanan, J.D. 2011, 'Quality teaching: Means for its enhancement?', Australian Universities Review, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 66-72.
The pursuit of enhancing quality in tertiary education and educators is noble. Increasingly, however, universities are resorting to stark, reductionist representations of educational quality, such as decontextualised mean figures generated by student surveys, to measure and report on this. This paper questions the validity and reliability of such mean scores. Universities are using these results for high-stakes ends, and disclose them to ever-broader audiences. This paper focuses on the broader publication of these mean scores pertaining to individual staff members. The paper investigates forces that drive such an approach and the attractions thereof, and enumerates its outcomes and effects, while investigating potential theory-method mismatches. The paper evaluates this evaluation method against four criteria: (measurement of) quality teaching; ethical practice; managerial relations; and research methodology and methods. The paper also proposes some alternative approaches to interrogate and enhance teacher quality.
Buchanan, J.D. 2011, 'Racist In The Woodpile? Prejudice And Education', Intercultural Education, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 179-188.
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Even in totalitarian regimes, freedom of thought presumably cannot be outlawed, provided that such thought remains unspoken and unwritten. In Australia, freedom of expression is taken-for-granted. This paper sets out to theorise my teaching practice/s, a
Buchanan, J.D. 2011, 'Teacher Dis/appointments? Transitions Into And Out Of Teaching', Curriculum Perspectives, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 12-23.
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TEACHER ATTRITION COMES AT A PROFESSIONAL, social and individualcost. The seeds of professional contentment or discontent are potentially sown early in one's career. Of the considerableresearch into teacher attrition, and into the early years of teaching
Buchanan, J.D. 2011, 'Embedding education for sustainable development in curriculum: Chalks walking the talk?', The Social Educator, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 26-35.
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The imperative for education sustainable development (ESD) is surely stronger than at any point in the intertwined history of humans and the planet (Fien, 2004; Reynolds, 2009; UNESCO, 2004), given rising populations and an increasing impact of each individual on the environment. This paper, largely conceptual in nature, attempts to set out a framework of effective characteristics for ESD, with some illustrative examples. The paper is informed by a research report contributed to by the author (Steele, 2010) on mainstreaming education for Sustainable Development into a Bachelor of Education (Primary) curriculum (Littledyke, Taylor & Eames, 2009), incorporating knowledge, values and skills (Summers, Childs & Corney, 2005), in the hope and expectation that this will assist our students in doing likewise in their P-6 teaching. This paper derives principally from staff focus groups on inclusion of ESD, and, to a lesser extent, student responses on the potential of campus-based sustainability projects.
Buchanan, J.D. 2010, 'May I Be Excused? Why Teachers Leave The Profession', Asia Pacific Journal of Education, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 199-211.
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Considerable research has been conducted into teacher retention. Less is known of ex-teachers' circumstances: salary, workload, working conditions, ojob prestigeo. For this study, telephone interviews were used to ask 21 ex-teachers about their journey f
Buchanan, J.D. 2010, '"I speak textbook Jewish": Confessions of an outsider', Journal of Religious Education, vol. 58, no. 4, pp. 53-62.
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Two religious education modes have co-existed in public education for 'some time. In NSW, these are known as General Religious Education (GRE) and Religious Instruction (RI). GRE is seen as non-sectarian in nature. Teaching of GRE is typically conducted by the classroom teacher, perhaps supported by visiting experts. Its aim is primarily to inform about the faith and its adherents; education by outsiders, catering for outsiders. RI, by contrast, is usually conducted by a visiting faith adherent, and is persuasive in purpose. This paper compares each approach, and asks who is best positioned to instruct on religion/s, in terms of the subject's audience and purposes. It investigates what faith 'insiders', or outsiders bring and fail to bring to GRE pedagogy. Can outsiders transcend 'textbook knowledge'? This dichotomy is illustrated by encounters between the (outsider) author and an insider-colleague. Three strands intertwine in this paper: my discussions with a colleague; my understanding of my teaching; the implications for related curriculum.
Buchanan, J.D. & Griffin, J.M. 2010, 'Finding a place for environmental studies: Tertiary institutions as a locus of practice for education for sustainability', Journal of Teacher Education for sustainability, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 1-16.
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Education for sustainability involves not only curriculum, but also demands responses in terms of management of resources and of grounds. It is asserted here that inclusion of education for sustainability in the curriculum, whether in a school or university context, is hollow and insincere in the absence of practical and social action on site and perhaps beyond. The present study focuses on students. views of opportunities and barriers with regard to maintenance of grounds and management of resources in a tertiary institution context. A cohort of approximately 140 third year primary teacher education students were surveyed to ascertain their views on the value of, barriers to and opportunities for practical sustainability projects conducted by students in their tertiary context. Such projects are a precursor to similar endeavours that could be undertaken in the students. school contexts.
Burridge, N., Buchanan, J.D. & Chodkiewicz, A.K. 2009, 'Dealing with Difference: Building Culturally Responsive Classrooms', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Jo..., vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 68-83.
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Australia continues to develop as a multicultural society with levels of immigration increasing significantly in recent years. The current financial turmoil, continuing threats from terrorism and environmental concerns, have all intensified the challenges of dealing with difference in our society. In response, schools continue to face the challenges of the impact of a range of different cultures, languages and religions among their student and school communities. How effectively schools deal with difference and how well they are supported in their endeavours to build culturally responsive classrooms is a perennial issue for policy makers, teachers and teacher educators. A major challenge for teachers in particular, is to at a minimum, understand cultural differences as they manifest in their particular school settings. Also to draw on approaches that support student learning in culturally appropriate ways so to assist them to better realise their full potential. In this paper we will consider cultural diversity in the context of current school policies, and highlight a number of frameworks for addressing cultural diversity in the classroom. We draw on the findings from a recent qualitative study of representations of cultural diversity in a number of Sydney schools to discuss the need for greater resource and policy support for progressive and innovative teaching approaches that will support the development of inclusive communities.
Buchanan, J.D. 2009, 'Where are they now? Ex-teachers tell their life-work stories', Issues in educational Research, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 1-13.
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Considerable research has been conducted into teacher retention and attrition (Huberman, 1989; Dinham, 1995; Ewing & Smith, 2002). Little is known, though, of the circumstances of ex-teachers, in terms of factors such as salary, workload, working conditions and 'job prestige'. For this paper, telephone interviews were conducted with 22 ex-teachers, asking what led them into and out of teaching, and views on their current working conditions compared to those of teaching. The interview protocol for this project foreshadows a questionnaire that could be used more broadly, nationally and internationally. This paper reports on respondents' perceptions of their current circumstances compared with those of teaching. Few of these ex-teachers regret their decision to leave the profession, and few consider their current circumstances inferior, even those whose raw salary is lower. The findings have implications for teacher recruitment, education, the provision of working conditions in the teaching profession, and for the public perceptions and promotion of teaching.
Buchanan, J.D. 2009, 'The use of teachers' expertise in subsequent careers: Brain drain, skill spill?', Education and Society, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 35-50.
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Buchanan, J.D., Gordon, S.E. & Schuck, S.R. 2008, 'From mentoring to monitoring: the impact of changing work environments on academics in Australian universities', Journal of Further and Higher Education, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 241-250.
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Universities in many western nations are experiencing increasing performance measures for academic accountability. This paper maps the pitted pathway that has led Australian universities from mentoring to monitoring and from performance enhancement to performance evaluation, and reviews implications for teaching and learning in higher education. We explore understandings of good mentoring and its effects and examine the social and political climate out of which quality assurance processes have arisen, to articulate the aims and philosophies underpinning these approaches. Drawing on the published literature, we critique processes that have as their main goals monitoring rather than mentoring, and performance evaluation rather than performance enhancement. From our perspectives as teachers in higher education in Australia we raise issues for consideration, including the tensions between practice and promise and the roles of mentors and monitors in promoting growth or compliance. We discuss criteria and models for evaluating mentoring and monitoring.
Schuck, S.R., Gordon, S.E. & Buchanan, J.D. 2008, 'What are we missing here? Problematising wisdoms on teaching quality professionalism in higher education', Teaching in Higher Education, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 537-547.
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In this discussion paper we seek to challenge prevailing wisdoms in higher education regarding the value of measuring teaching quality, prescribing standards for professionalism and using student satisfaction as an indicator of teaching effectiveness. Drawing on the literature, we explore and probe four wisdoms in an attempt to identify and problematise popular assumptions about teaching and professionalism. We suggest that externalising procedures for assessing quality can be counter-productive to effective teaching and learning and propose core values we see as central to enhancing higher education practice: collegial reflection on practice, consideration of ethical issues and risk-taking.
Schuck, S.R., Aubusson, P.J. & Buchanan, J.D. 2008, 'Enhancing teacher education practice through professional learning conversations', European Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 215-227.
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The paper discusses the value of peer observation followed by professional learning conversations for the professional development of teacher educators. The authors analyse their shared learning experiences and articulate what challenged them in these experiences. They discuss the ways in which their perceptions of this process differed or were similar. The grounding of the experience in a context of trust and professional relationship was seen as an essential part of the learning process. The authors highlight the importance of the cognitive-emotional and personal-professional aspects of teacher educators' lives in supporting their learning through the combination of peer observation and ongoing professional learning conversations.
Buchanan, J.D. 2007, 'Civics Education: Questions we should be answering and answers we should be questioning.', The Social Educator, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 22-27.
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Buchanan, J.D. 2006, 'What they should have told me: six beginning teachers' reflections on their pre-service education in the light of their early career experiences', Curriculum Perspectives, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 38-47.
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Buchanan, J.D. 2006, 'Itadakimasu: Who's getting the most out of Asia education in Australia?', Pacific-Asian Education, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 7-21.
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Buchanan, J.D. 2005, 'Towards a future for the study of Asia in Australia. Asia on a shoestring?', The Social Educator, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 39-49.
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Buchanan, J.D. 2004, 'The Thais that bind: the contribution of an international practicum to students' intercultural understanding', Pacific-Asian Education, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 22-37.
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Buchanan, J.D. & Harris, B. 2004, 'The world is your oyster, but where's the pearl? Getting the most out of global education', Curriculum Perspectives, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 1-11.
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Buchanan, J.D. 2003, 'Are we there yet? Preservice teachers' constructs of Asia and their readiness to teach about Asia', Education and Society, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 53-74.
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Buchanan, J.D. 2002, 'The emergence of Asia: Development of studies in Asia in one Australian school', Issues in Educational Research, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 1-18.
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The need for an understanding of Asia has attracted increasing attention in Australia in recent years. One strategy in response to the need for greater Asia literacy has been the development of networks of Access Asia schools. The Asia Education Foundation (AEF) supports Access Asia schools in their efforts to increase and improve the Asia content in their curricula. This paper reports on the development of studies of Asia in one western Sydney primary school, which is a member of an Access Asia network. The project adopts a case study approach and attempts to provide comprehensive observations on the forces which drive and constrain the introduction of curricular change in this school. The study also features dialectic hermeneutic circles, seeking diverse opinions of various staff members, such as the Access Asia coordinator and the librarian, ascertaining factors such as the amount and availability of resources, and the attitudes of the school staff. In particular, the research pointed to the centrality of teacher practice in implementing change in schools, and the interplay between teachers and curriculum. It found that while some staff members have expended great energy in producing resources and encouraging others to undertake studies of Asia, the teaching of Asia related material in the school is somewhat sporadic.

Reports

Schuck, S.R., Aubusson, P.J., Buchanan, J.D., Louviere, J.J., Burke, P.F. & Prescott, A.E. 2012, 'Retaining effective early career teachers in NSW schools', UTS: CRLC and CENSOC, Sydney, pp. 1-193.
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This project was commissioned by the NSW Department of Education and Training. This four and a half year research project had the aims of tracking a cohort of final year (2005) preservice teacher education students through their post-graduation experience into 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, in order to understand more clearly the reasons why some early career teachers (ECTs) in NSW public schools choose to leave the profession, and why others choose to remain; and in order to develop strategies to increase the retention rate of effective teachers during their early years of teaching.