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Title: A View of Asia Engagement in Two Queensland Schools Through the Lens of Realist Social Theory
Contributor(s): Roberts, Amanda Lee (author); Quinn, Frances  (supervisor)orcid ; Zhang, Zuocheng  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2024-03-08
Copyright Date: 2023
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The Asia engagement agenda in Australian schools was initiated as a government priority and integrated into the national curriculum as a cross-curriculum priority of ‘Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia’. Schools are encouraged to cultivate what the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] terms Asia literate students for a globalised world. However, the implementation and resourcing of this priority are determined by individual states and territories and schools, leading to variations across different contexts

This investigation is focused on Asia engagement practices in Queensland schools. Adopting Archer’s (1995, 2007, 2020) realist social theory, it considers the structure (e.g., context, systems and policies) and agency (people navigating the structures by relating their concerns, values, goals to the structures and forming courses of action) and the interplay between these two aspects within Asia engagement programs in schools. A case study methodology was selected to provide a contextualised examination of Asia engagement practices in two Queensland schools. Three research questions guided this study:

RQ1. What elements are incorporated into Asia engagement programs in the selected Queensland schools with a view to building intercultural understanding in students?

RQ 2. What structural properties (e.g., social or cultural) have influenced the delivery of Asia engagement programs in the selected Queensland schools, and in what way?

RQ 3. How has the agency of staff in the selected Queensland schools interplayed with structures relating to Asia engagement in the schools? What are the outcomes?

The data were collected through a questionnaire, interviews and social media sources. The analysis of the data provided insights into the intricate interplay between agency and structure, specifically highlighting how agents can be either empowered or constrained, depending on how they relate their concerns to the structures.

High School Preparation programs for international students were the main element of Asia engagement in both schools, but appeared to be more of an income-generating enterprise than a vehicle for intercultural understanding. One school had an additional domestic program (through International Baccalaureate) which aligned more with the Australian definition of fostering intercultural understanding

Several social and cultural properties influenced the delivery of Asia engagement programs within the two selected schools. These included the Australian Curriculum, international student policies established by each of the sectors, the International Baccalaureate framework, governance and leadership structures, staff expertise, school priorities and funding.

School leaders and teachers’ agency interplayed with the structures in complex ways. Some educators responded to structural properties in a way that facilitated their courses of action and enhanced their Asia engagement programs, while other educators were constrained by structural properties and experienced negative emotions.

The significance of this study is its contribution to understanding Asia engagement in practice. The findings will be useful for educators, policy makers and researchers, fostering a deeper understanding of the factors that shape Asia engagement practices and their implications for educational effectiveness in Australian schools.

Publication Type: Thesis Masters Research
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 390102 Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development
390402 Education assessment and evaluation
390410 Multicultural education (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Māori and Pacific Peoples)
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 160205 Policies and development
160301 Assessment, development and evaluation of curriculum
160303 Teacher and instructor development
HERDC Category Description: T1 Thesis - Masters Degree by Research
Description: Please contact if you require access to this thesis for the purpose of research or study
Appears in Collections:School of Education
Thesis Masters Research

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