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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 2008): Education - overseas

Changing services to children with disabilities and their families through in-service training - is the organisation affected?

M. Karlsson, E. Björck-Ĺkesson and M. Granlund

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 23, 2008, p. 207-222

One way to ensure children with disabilities and their families receive relevant support and high quality service from professionals is through in-service training. In this Swedish study, the authors pose the question - is it possible to change ways of working through in-service training? The investigation itself builds on a longitudional design that distinguished between two forms of change in organisational development; first-order change which refers to change within work, without the addition of anything new, and second-order change which is a change in the ways of working. The authors state that if in-service training aims at changing the work outcomes produced by an organisation, then second-order change is required. The aim of this study was to first analyse perceptions of in-service training among professionals, teams and managers in relation to these orders of change and, secondly, to ascertain whether perceptions were the same at different leves of the organisation.

Contemporary trends and developments in early childhood education in China

J. Zhu and J. Zhang

Early Years, vol. 28, 2008, p. 173-182

Early childhood education in China has made great progress in the past two decades. Contemporary early childhood education is becoming diverse in its forms and educational approaches, aligning itself with the increasingly open and diversified society. It is clear that early childhood education in China is strongly influenced by sociocultural changes and is a hybrid of traditional, communist and Western cultures. The authors recommend a continued commitment to promote reform and development in early childhood education.

Developing creativity and promoting social harmony: the relationship between government, school and parents' perceptions of children's creativity in Macao-SAR in China

K-I. Vong

Early Years, vol. 28, 2008, p. 149-158

The promotion of creativity in young children has been included in the agenda of the educational authorities in mainland China since 2001. Since then attempts to implement this policy have appeared in different forms. While some kindergartens endeavour to restructure their programmes in order to accommodate the development of creativity, most practitioners are not yet ready to embrace this idea. Based on an ethnographic study, this article argues that there are gaps between the government's, practitioners' and parents' views of creativity and means to foster such ability in young children. It also highlights the fact that the observed phenomena might be explained in terms of the social hierarchy that has been thriving in Chinese culture for centuries. Finally, the author suggests that a reciprocal relationship amongst the three parties is yet to be built in order to form a strong support for the development of children's creativity in this southern Chinese city.

The development of early childhood education in rural areas in China

L. Zhao and X. Hu

Early Years, vol. 28, 2008, p. 197-209

Early childhood education has developed greatly in rural areas in China since the 1980s. Recognising the status of early childhood education as 'the foundation of basic education', the authorities in China have set up ambitious objectives for rural areas. However, the development of early childhood education in these areas has been facing tremendous difficulties and challenges. This paper provides an overview of the past 25 years, addressing issues of policies, funding, curriculum and the status of rural teachers. A case study of early childhood provision in a typical remote rural village, Gao Cun, in Northwest China, is presented as an example of the challenges faced

Development of the state audit of the educational system in Israel

A. Zaro

International Journal of Public Administration, vol.31, 2008, p. 878-894

This article deals with the process of development of the state audit of the education system in Israel, while comparing this process in general with its development in the Arab educational system. State audit of the Arab educational system lagged behind the development of state audit as a whole. The first report containing a chapter on the Arab educational system did not appear until 1971, and then focused on the sphere of legality and regularity, in other words a traditional audit. The article divides state audit of the educational system into two periods. The first period, 1949-1972, was characterised by a strong emphasis on regularity and propriety, and the necessity for legislative change to correct recurring basic defects. In the second period, 1973-2005, the audit focused more on the effectiveness of the educational system and safeguarding moral integrity in it, on the propriety of the decision-making process, and on Ministry of Education policy.

Differential grading standards and student incentives

B.C. Eaton and M. Eswaran

Canadian Public Policy, vol. 34, 2008, p. 215-236

This study examines some recent time-series data on grades awarded by discipline in three Canadian universities. In these data, there are persistent and significant differences across disciplines in both the percentage of students awarded high grades and in the average grade awarded. It appears that a very substantial portion of these differences is attributable to differences in grading standards. To the extent that grading standards are not uniform across disciplines, the grade point averages (GPAs) of students with different course mixes cannot be meaningfully compared, and therefore GPAs cannot legitimately be used to assess their relative achievement. Yet GPAs are used in this way to award scholarships, honours, and degrees and to ration access to courses and jobs. The authors conclude that differential standards raise a fundamental issue of integrity for universities.

Globalisation and higher education funding policy shifts in Kenya

G. Wangene-Ouma

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 30, 2008, p. 215-229

This paper identifies, examines and discusses higher education funding policy shifts that have taken place in Kenya. The author argues that these shifts, from free higher education to cost-sharing, privatisation and commercialisation, are predominantly products of the country's encounter with globalisation. Local, social, political and economic dynamics have been an equally significant influence. Thus, the country's higher education funding policies have been products of a convergence of both the dynamics of globalisation and local contextual imperatives. Furthermore, the point is made that the shift from free higher education to cost-sharing, privatisation and commercialisation, was symptomatic of a global transition from a development paradigm that was predominantly based on Keynesianism to a neo-liberal paradigm that privileges mean expenditure on social services (such as higher education) and the market logic.

Improving student retention in higher education: the role of teaching and learning

G. Crosling, L. Thomas and M. Heagney (editors)

London: Routledge, 2008

The book explores the issue of student retention in higher education, and teaching and learning approaches that encourage students to continue with their studies. Underpinned by research indicating that students are more likely to continue if they are engaged in their studies and have developed networks and relationships with their fellow students, the book exemplifies best practices in innovative and inclusive teaching and learning approaches, from a range of countries. The book:

  • Frames the major aspects of the topic of student retention
  • includes action research-based cases by higher education (HE) teachers globally
  • discusses practical curriculum development strategies that are student responsive, engaging and active
  • features chapters exploring student diversity, alternative teaching and learning approaches and disciplinary study
  • includes reflective reader questions that underpin curriculum development, and thus consider teaching, learning and students

International handbook of distance education

T. Evans, M. Haughey and D. Murphy (editors)

Bingley: Emerald, 2008

This handbook is intended as a reference work for practitioners, researchers and administrators engaged in forms of distance education in both public and private sectors from school level right through to distance education at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The contributors' contexts and experiences also reflect a diversity of national, social, political and economic perspectives which reflect the work and circumstances of distance educators in other nations. While the practices of distance education have become infused into 'mainstream' education over the past two decades, this handbook re-draws the boundary around distance education so that its substance, theories and practices can be recognised and appreciated as distinct and important ways in which countries educate their citizens.

International large-scale assessment of vocational education and training (VET-LSA)

M. Baethge and L. Arends

CESifo DICE Report, vol. 6, Summer 2008, p. 29-35

VET-LSA is a concept for an international comparative study of young adults' competencies developed through vocational education and training. The purpose of VET-LSA is to investigate the ways in which young adults are prepared for the world of work on different vocational tracks in Europe. The aim of the survey is to provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of VET programmes in different occupational fields so that different countries can learn from each other.

A new agenda for higher education: shaping a life of the mind for practice

W.M. Sullivan and M.S. Rosin

San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008

This book is composed of two narrative threads. The first offers a new agenda for American higher education which explores in detail the teaching practices previously highlighted in the Life of the Mind for Practice, an interdisciplinary seminar convened by The Carnegie Foundation to identify and discuss best teaching practices across professions and disciplines. This particular thread is concerned with revealing how far the American academy has to go in order to become more responsive to the practical contexts and challenges that await students. The second thread highlights what is required for the agenda of practical reasoning to become a viable topic of faculty formation and again the authors believe that the Life of the Mind for Practice seminar provides an example that can help faculty recognize how the various professions and disciplines depend on and might learn from one another.

New European learners? An analysis of the 'trendsetter' thesis

R. Brooks and G. Everett

Journal of Youth Studies, vol.11, 2008, p. 377-391

This paper draws on life history interviews with 90 young people in the UK to consider Manuela du Bois-Reymond's claims about the increasing prevalence of 'trendsetter' learners across Europe. Du Bois-Reymond has argued that certain groups of young adults are at the forefront of developing new forms of learning in response to what they perceive to be the failings of formal education, namely the disjuncture between theory and practice within the education that they are offered and a lack of respect from many teachers. The findings suggest that the degree of autonomy, freedom, and creativity in young people's patterns of learning that underpin du Bois-Reymond's analysis is over-stated. Young learners continue to be very influenced by the social status of formal educational institutions, in terms of the reputed quality of the education provided, and for more practical reasons such as CV-building. Much learning after graduation is structured by the expectations of employers and the necessities of the workplace. Finally, it is suggested that some of the characteristics of 'trendsetter learners' can be explained more adequately in terms of theorists who provide a less upbeat account of recent changes in young people's lives.

Participation in learning: diverse perspectives

J. Salisbury and M. Jephcote (guest editors)

Research in Post-Compulsory Education, vol. 13, 2008, p. 137-226

The articles in this special issue have a varied provenance as the issue draws together a number of papers presented at the 2007 Conferences of the European Education Research and British Education Research Associations and also includes papers based on interim and end of award research reports. The volume is an eclectic mix of empirical material, theoretical ideas and critiques of recent and current policy that contributes to the ongoing exploration of participation in learning through addressing such perennial and important themes as widening participation, work-based training, further education teachers, and assessment modes or learners' experiences inside classrooms.

Rewarding excellence and promoting improvement in higher education teaching in Australia

T. Walshe

Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 30, 2008, p. 273-282

Current implementation of Australia's Learning and Teaching Performance Fund rewards universities that demonstrate outstanding performance. This paper critically evaluates the capacity of the fund to promote improvement in learning and teaching. Analysis of past data describing institutional performance clearly shows that the rank order of universities has varied little over time. The author argues that this stability implies that incentives for investment in improved teaching and learning will be restricted to those universities that tend to score close to the funding threshold. An alternative approach to funding is advocated, involving graphical communication of trends in performance using control charts. This approach seeks to broaden incentives for better teaching and learning by explicitly, (a) acknowledging excellence in any one funding round, and (b) rewarding improvement in performance over time.

Second Chance Programmes: a response to educational needs in compulsory education

A. Sánchez Asín A. and Boix Peinado J.L.

European Journal of Special Needs Education, vol. 23, 2008, p. 179-188

This paper asks whether the integrated training provision currently offered through the different Spanish Second Chance Programmes (SCPs) constitutes a valid response to the educational needs and deficits known to exist among those young people who do not satisfactorily complete the Compulsory Secondary Education stage (ESO). The objectives of the current Social Guarantee Programmes (SGPs) are examined and the Programmes of Initial Vocational Qualification (PCPI), envisaged in recent educational legislation, are also discussed. The paper concludes with a number of proposals for improving the educational response to the challenges raised and for developing a system of inclusive education which would overcome the education deficits of the young people concerned.

Towards a worldclass education system: accountability and responsibility

T. Townsend

International Journal of Management in Education, vol. 2, 2008, p. 249-270

The past 20 years have seen substantial changes in schools worldwide, with a much greater focus on accountability. This trend has been driven by the use of international comparisons of educational performance. Research shows that accountable schools can raise their performance through the development and use of data-driven decision-making skills. Classrooms and student learning can also be made more effective by focusing on three specific areas: curriculum and classroom management, the development of thinking skills, positive relationships between those involved in the education process.

Trends in the development of technology and engineering education in emerging economies

P.A.O. Adegbuyi and J.O. Ohomoibhi

Multicultural Education and Technology Journal, vol. 2, 2008, p. 132-139

This paper reports on the nature of technology and engineering education provision in Nigeria. Tertiary engineering education in Nigeria has remained unchanged for more than five years. First degree courses last five years. Students progressing from first degrees to postgraduate study enter doctoral or masters programmes structured to provide training for research. The system needs to be reviewed in the light of the need for Nigerian educated engineers to compete in a global market and the impact of information and communication technologies which facilitate virtual and distance learning.

University reforms: roles of classification in resource allocation and management

K. Phusavat

International Journal of Management in Education, vol.2, 2008, p. 318-339

The aim of university classification is to define the position of a university relative to a set of agreed criteria. It should be possible to use such a classification as an aid to decisions on budget and resource allocation. This study aimed to develop a comprehensive classification framework for public universities in Thailand, based on the system developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The proposed classification consists of five dimensions: university characteristics, teaching, research, student body and management. Two experiments were also conducted to demonstrate how results from the classification exercise could be linked to resource allocation.

Vocational training and the labour market in liberal and coordinated economies

G. Bosch and J. Charest

Industrial Relations Journal, vol. 39, 2008, p. 428-447

In recent decades, differences between the education and training systems in liberal and coordinated market economies have increased. Vocational education and training (VET), and particularly apprenticeship systems, are deeply embedded in different national production, labour market, industrial relations and status systems. In order to better understand the dynamics of VET, the authors examine recent developments in general and vocational training and its links to the labour and product market in five contrasting countries: Denmark, Canada, Germany, Korea and the USA. It is concluded that differences in industrial relations, welfare states, income distribution and product markets account for the persistent high level of diversity in vocational training systems. In coordinated market economies, the modernisation of vocational training is seen as contributing to innovation in the economy, while in liberal market economies, it is seen as a siding into which weaker pupils can conveniently be shunted.

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