Graduation day in Mildura

Close to 80 La Trobe University Mildura students will celebrate their 2011 graduation ceremony on Friday May 27. Among the graduates will be Faculty of Education Campus Coordinator, Debbie Neal, the first academic to be employed at the Mildura campus.



Ms Neal will become Dr Neal when she receives her PhD titled: Teachers' Perceptions of the Impact of a University-School Partnership on their Pre-service Practicum Education. Her research tested the assumption that the partnerships offer benefits for pre-service teachers’ placement.

‘It is the first study to survey practising teachers' perceptions of their own experiences of partnerships and their practicum education.  My findings affirmed that teachers in the Sunraysia district perceived that university-school partnerships had significantly improved the quality of their placement during their course,’ she says.

Until 2008 the Bachelor of Education degree at Mildura only offered two years of the course with students relocating to Bendigo to complete their degree. Since the entire course could be completed in Mildura it brought more local students back into the district’s workforce and cemented the university-schools partnership.

‘I began my PhD on this topic when all four years were offered on the campus which provided greater opportunities to collaborate with the Sunraysia Primary Principals Association. They were keen to have local students return and work throughout the district. The partnership provides a great incentive for La Trobe students to teach in the community,’ says Dr Neal.

Emerging from the research is a series of recommendations associated with implementing partnership arrangements between universities and schools. This includes better communication for a more supportive teaching environment and strengthening ties.

Dr Neal says she is excited about her research findings as it will open new doors on how to successfully help teachers learn during their placement and ways the Faculty of Education can become leaders in supporting the next generation of teachers.

‘Pre-service teachers view practicum education as the most important part of their studies. This research will provide a greater understanding of that and it also marks for me a significant opportunity for collaborative research with district schools to continuously improve the outcomes for graduating teachers,’ she says.

Dr Neal and this group of graduates will join the backbone of a new wave of professionals helping ease the shortage of workers in many vital fields across regional Victoria says Campus Director Mr Neil Fettling.

‘Our graduates understand that getting a degree is a step towards improving their life and employment prospects. In our area, we are also an important contributor to the supply of professionals who choose to work in regional Victoria,’ says Mr Fettling.

The ceremony will be held in the Ballroom at The Grand Hotel at 2.15pm.

Debbie Neal and Neil Fettling are all available for media interviews.  Please contact Rebecca Cameron on 0417 323 470.