Date of Submission



This thesis is a qualitative study exploring and comparing the perceptions of stakeholders engaged in trying to improve the numeracy achievement of students in low socioeconomic status (SES) schools. The research was conducted as part of the Leading Aligned Numeracy Development (LAND) research project a national literacy and numeracy pilot initiative, funded by the Australian government (DEEWR, 2008). The outcomes of the LAND research were designed to inform future policy work by the commonwealth, state and territory governments. The purpose of this study was to support these outcomes by trialling a framework and related tools for tackling wicked problems, applying both framework and tools to the specific problem of low numeracy achievement, so that the potential of this type of framework could be tested on a real life problem. The literature on wicked problems identifies the need for stakeholders to develop a shared understanding for the problem to be successfully tackled. A framework (entitled the Niche Wicked Problem framework) is introduced as a means of supporting tackling wicked problems. The framework was distilled from the literature and informed by the professional experience of the researcher. It includes three interrelated areas: people, systems and context. A shift from 'taming' to 'tackling' in the responses of stakeholders to wicked problems is also required. The framework and the associated use of boundary objects such as causal maps have been used to facilitate this development. Three types of data collecting methods were conducted within a broad ethnographic methodology. (i) Survey data from the LAND project were utilised as a foundation for developing (ii) causal maps that were then used as boundary objects in a facilitated collaborative dialogue process during the LAND workshops. (iii) Observations made during the project were used to shed light on the completed causal maps....


School of Educational Leadership

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


259 pages


Faculty of Education