6,763 results for VUW ResearchArchive

  • Improving the Generalisation of Genetic Programming for Symbolic Regression

    Chen, Qi (2018)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Symbolic regression (SR) is a function identification process, the task of which is to identify and express the relationship between the input and output variables in mathematical models. SR is named to emphasise its ability to find the structure and coefficients of the model simultaneously. Genetic Programming (GP) is an attractive and powerful technique for SR, since it does not require any predefined model and has a flexible representation. However, GP based SR generally has a poor generalisation ability which degrades its reliability and hampers its applications to science and real-world modeling. Therefore, this thesis aims to develop new GP approaches to SR that evolve/learn models exhibiting good generalisation ability. This thesis develops a novel feature selection method in GP for high-dimensional SR. Feature selection can potentially contribute not only to improving the efficiency of learning algorithms but also to enhancing the generalisation ability. However, feature selection is seldom considered in GP for high-dimensional SR. The proposed new feature selection method utilises GP’s built-in feature selection ability and relies on permutation to detect the truly relevant features and discard irrelevant/noisy features. The results confirm the superiority of the proposed method over the other examined feature selection methods including random forests and decision trees on identifying the truly relevant features. Further analysis indicates that the models evolved by GP with the proposed feature selection method are more likely to contain only the truly relevant features and have better interpretability. To address the overfitting issue of GP when learning from a relatively small number of instances, this thesis proposes a new GP approach by incorporating structural risk minimisation (SRM), which is a framework to estimate the generalisation performance of models, into GP. The effectiveness of SRM highly depends on the accuracy of the Vapnik-Chervonenkis (VC) dimension measuring model complexity. This thesis significantly extends an experimental method (instead of theoretical estimation) to measure the VC-dimension of a mixture of linear and nonlinear regression models in GP for the first time. The experimental method has been conducted using uniform and non-uniform settings and provides reliable VC-dimension values. The results show that our methods have an impressively better generalisation gain and evolve more compact model, which have a much smaller behavioural difference from the target models than standard GP and GP with bootstrap, The proposed method using the optimised non-uniform setting further improves the one using the uniform setting. This thesis employs geometric semantic GP (GSGP) to tackle the unsatisfied generalisation performance of GP for SR when no overfitting occurs. It proposes three new angle-awareness driven geometric semantic operators (GSO) including selection, crossover and mutation to further explore the geometry of the semantic space to gain a greater generalisation improvement in GP for SR. The angle-awareness brings new geometric properties to these geometric operators, which are expected to provide a greater leverage for approximating the target semantics in each operation, and more importantly, to be resistant to overfitting. The results show that compared with two kinds of state-of-the-art GSOs, the proposed new GSOs not only drive the evolutionary process fitting the target semantics more efficiently but also significantly improve the generalisation performance. A further comparison on the evolved models shows that the new method generally produces simpler models with a much smaller size and containing important building blocks of the target models.

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  • Training gender: Discursive analysis

    Lobrot, Sarah (2010)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The aim of this thesis is to examine the discursive practices that have arisen from gender training in peace operations with the following research questions: “how is the discourse of ‘gender-awareness’ constructed through UN gender-training material for peacekeepers? How does this discourse contribute to further shaping representations of gender, violence and security?” To help answer my research questions, I proceed to a discourse analysis of the gender-training package created in 2001 by the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO) called Gender and Peacekeeping In-Mission Training. The analytical frameworks chosen for this research paper are Michel Foucault’s notion of discourse and Laura Shepherd’s ‘analytical strategies’. Using Foucault’s understanding of discourse, this paper examines the social practices of gender in the military field (peace and security): how are these social practices embedded in knowledge (in what ways are the notions of gender approached? Do they form a universal truth?)? How does this discourse act through and upon subjects (male and female peacekeepers)? Building on Shepherd’s work, this thesis seeks to interrogate and deconstruct the concept of ‘gender-awareness’ in the UN training material around three dominant discursive sites (called Shepherd’s ‘nodal points’): [1] ‘how the relations between women and men are structured’ (gender), [2] ‘how they are affected by violent conflict’ (gender and violence), and [3] ‘how the mere presence of peacekeepers further impacts on those relations’ (gender, violence and security). The literature review first addresses the construction of feminities and masculinities in war and peace. It demonstrates that women are constructed as being ‘peacemakers’ and that their feminity is shaped as being ‘peaceful’ and as ‘mother of the nation’ whilst masculinities are shaped through war. Secondly, it looks at the ways in which gender has been integrated (or mainstreamed) into UN policies: showing gender as a synonym for women. The research discovers that ‘gender-awareness’ as a discourse in the UN gender-training material is composed of: [1] gender that equates ‘sex’ and ‘women’, [2] the dichotomy between women positioned as ‘victims’ and men as ‘heroes’ (expected normal behaviour) and [3] universals such as women’s rights, which ignore cultural contexts in their approach to gender. The paper also further investigates the discourse of ‘gender-awareness training’, which I argue has been established as a ‘tool’ in the military field, but not as a critical concept. This tool seeks to produce understanding (knowledge, i.e. what is produced as truth) of gender, violence and security and to regulate the agents’ (i.e. male peacekeepers’) behaviours. These findings are important as they add to the literature which demonstrates how gender is de-politicised while sex is politicised and how women are excluded from both the realm of peace (security) and the realm of war (violence). It reinforces the idea that discourse is repeated and that for the UN to (re-)think gender in meaningful and creative ways, it becomes necessary to deconstruct the way power structures are shared.

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  • Learners' perceptions of learning gains in self-access

    Richards, Heather M. (1999)

    Scholarly text
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Self-Access Language Learning (SALL) is now a significant part of many second language educational institutions world-wide. However, research findings reveal that there are clearly different views on the role of SALL and the contribution it makes to learners' development. The evaluation of self - access as a learning environment has been perceived as difficult for several reasons; self-access systems are complex, they are concerned with meeting a variety of learners' individual needs, and each learning environment is seen as unique. Most Self-Access Language Learning evaluation has been prompted by the main stakeholders and has largely been concerned with numbers attending the SALL facilities, the materials used, and general learner satisfaction with programmes and centres. More recent research shows that many Self - Access facilities make good attempts to help learners analyse their needs and establish learning goals and outcomes. However, before we can say that SALL is truly effective in developing leamers' proficiency, it is necessary to investigate learners perceptions of their gains in a SALL environment. This study investigates the perceptions of five adult second language learners from two different groups who used the SALL facility at a New Zealand university for one trimester. One group of students were native speakers of English from the school of European languages enrolled in a first year French course. The other group were non-native speakers of English from the English Language Institute enrolled in the English Proficiency Programme. This study explores the relationship between learner activity in the SALL facility and the learners' perception of its contribution to their (a) language proficiency and (b) their development as independent learners. The results show that self-selected, motivated, language learners perceive that work in a SALL environment contributes to both language proficiency and to the development of independent learning. The implications of the findings are that effective SALL requires, ongoing learner support, ongoing learner familiarisation and review of the SALL facilities, and programmes that promote understanding of the role and benefits of learner self-assessment. It suggests the teacher's role in ensuring the continued development of effective SALL is significant.

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  • What we still need to know about the impacts of medical marijuana laws in the United States?

    Chu, Yu-Wei Luke (2018)

    Scholarly text
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Past-month marijuana use among adolescents does not increase after the passage of medical marijuana laws in the U.S. It is crucial for future research to explore causal mechanisms affecting different types of marijuana users to bring a deeper understanding of behavioral responses to marijuana polices.

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  • A framework for professional learning and development in science for New Zealand upper primary teachers

    Cizadlo, Theodore (2018)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This doctoral thesis describes the development of a framework to guide the creation and delivery of bespoke professional learning and development programmes (PLD) in physical science for groups of Year 7 and 8 teachers. It identifies key principles and provides practical advice needed to produce PLD programmes specifically focused on the topics selected, in consultation with the teachers involved, that are tailored to the school environment and adhere to design principles informed by research, and tested in the New Zealand context. The framework was developed using a design-based research approach involving three iterations of use, analysis, and improvement. Audio recordings, structured interviews, classroom observations, concept maps, and field notes provided data for a qualitative analysis paradigm. The research employed a social-constructivist lens, with an emphasis on learner-centred science investigations, leading to the development of a new framework for physical science PLD design and delivery consisting of five major focus areas: Subject selection / curriculum, Subject matter understanding, Teaching practice, Support, and Logistical considerations. This research highlighted the challenges faced by generalist teachers with limited science backgrounds in working with New Zealand's non-prescriptive national curriculum, to develop specific physical science units that are relevant to their local school environment. Specifically, teachers with limited subject matter knowledge face challenges selecting topics from the New Zealand Curriculum, balancing breadth and depth of topic coverage, and selecting curriculum support materials. After participating in the PLD teachers were able to use their subject matter knowledge and teaching experience to select materials and confidently teach the physical science topics covered in the PLD.

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  • Revitalization and gentrification in Newtown: Can urban regeneration strengthen an existing community?

    Wilson, Jennifer Bernice (2016)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis examines gentrification and the process of urban regeneration through proposing an adaption of a modernist heritage building in Newtown, Wellington, New Zealand to prevent the displacement of an existing community. Council policies for urban regeneration support future residential development in Newtown (eg. Adelaide Road – Planning for the Future, Wellington Urban Growth Plan 2014-2043, NZ Transport Agency (Let’s Get Wellington Moving Project)) and, as funding is geared towards upgrading the city to become more liveable, private investment will potentially occur. These initiatives may attract affluent user groups, increasing the likelihood of lower income residents becoming displaced. Newtown therefore is a suburb where existing residents may be displaced as gentrification occurs. Although there have been studies on urban regeneration and the effects of gentrification in Wellington, none have attempted to offer a built environment design solution to mitigate the adverse effects of gentrification on an existing community in Wellington. The Riddiford Building, which is part of an Institutional Precinct - a hospital site, and may be demolished. This thesis argues that building adaption to accommodate a new user group for this building is feasible and could save a building with cultural significance from demolition. Further, the building could accommodate students and lower socio-economic occupants in order to prevent the displacement of existing Newtown residents.

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  • Geodetic, hydrologic and seismological signals associated with precipitation and infiltration in the central Southern Alps, New Zealand

    Oestreicher, Nicolas (2018)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The Southern Alps of New Zealand is an actively deforming mountain range, along which collision between the Pacific and Australian plates is manifest as elevated topography, orographic weather, active contemporary deformation, and earthquakes. This thesis examines interactions between surface processes of meteorological and hydrological origin, the ground surface deformation, and processes within the seismogenic zone at depth. The two main objectives of the thesis are a better understanding of the reversible repetitive ground surface deformation in the central Southern Alps and the analysis of the evolution of the rate of microseismicity in the area to explore relationships between seismicity rates and the hydrologic cycle. Surface deformation in the central Southern Alps is characterised by a network of 19 continuous GPS stations located between the West Coast (west) and the Mackenzie Basin (east), and between Hokitika (north) to Haast (south). These show repetitive and reversible movements of up to ∼55mm on annual scales, on top of long-term plate motion, during a 17 year-long period. Stations in the high central Southern Alps exhibit the greatest annual variations, whereas others are more sensitive to changes following significant rain events. Data from 22 climate stations (including three measuring the snowpack), lake water levels and borehole pressure measurements, and numerical models of solid Earth tides and groundwater levels in bedrock fractures, are compared against geodetic data to examine whether these environmental factors can explain observed patterns in annual ground deformation. Reversible ground deformation in the central Southern Alps appears strongly correlated with shallow groundwater levels. Observed seasonal fluctuation and deformation after storm events can be explained by simple mathematical models of groundwater levels. As a corollary, local hydrological effects can be accounted for and ameliorated during preprocessing to reduce noise in geodetic data sets being analysed for tectonic purposes. Two catalogues of earthquakes (containing 38 909 and 89 474 events) in the area spanning the period 2008–2017 were built using a matched-filtered detection technique. The smaller catalogue is based on 211 template events, each of known focal mechanism, while the latter is based on 902 templates, not all of which have focal mechanisms, providing greater temporal resolution. Microseismicity data were examined in both time and frequency domains to explore relationships between seismicity rates and the hydrologic cycle. Microseismicity shows a pronounced seasonality in the central Southern Alps, with significantly more events detected during winter than during summer. These changes cannot be easily accounted for by either acquisition or analysis parameters. Two models of hydrologically-induced seasonal seismicity variations have been considered — surface water loading and deep groundwater circulation of meteoric fluids — but neither model fully explains the observations, and further work is required to explain them fully. An observed diurnal variation in earthquake detection rate is believed to originate mostly from instrumental effects, which should be accounted for in future seismological studies of earthquake occurrence in the central Southern Alps. Relationships and correlations observed between hydrological, geodetic, and seismological data from the central Southern Alps provide clear indications that surface processes exert at least some degree of influence on upper-crustal seismicity adjacent to the Alpine Fault.

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  • Designing an augmented reality video game to assist stroke patients with independent rehabilitation

    Petrie, Regan (2018)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Early, intense practice of functional, repetitive rehabilitation interventions has shown positive results towards lower-limb recovery for stroke patients. However, long-term engagement in daily physical activity is necessary to maximise the physical and cognitive benefits of rehabilitation. The mundane, repetitive nature of traditional physiotherapy interventions and other personal, environmental and physical elements create barriers to participation. It is well documented that stroke patients engage in as little as 30% of their rehabilitation therapies. Digital gamified systems have shown positive results towards addressing these barriers of engagement in rehabilitation, but there is a lack of low-cost commercially available systems that are designed and personalised for home use. At the same time, emerging mixed reality technologies offer the ability to seamlessly integrate digital objects into the real world, generating an immersive, unique virtual world that leverages the physicality of the real world for a personalised, engaging experience. This thesis explored how the design of an augmented reality exergame can facilitate engagement in independent lower-limb stroke rehabilitation. Our system converted prescribed exercises into active gameplay using commercially available augmented reality mobile technology. Such a system introduced an engaging, interactive alternative to existing mundane physiotherapy exercises. The development of the system was based on a user-centered iterative design process. The involvement of health care professionals and stroke patients throughout each stage of the design and development process helped understand users’ needs, requirements and environment to refine the system and ensure its validity as a substitute for traditional rehabilitation interventions. The final output was an augmented reality exergame that progressively facilitates sit-to-stand exercises by offering immersive interactions with digital exotic wildlife. We hypothesize that the immersive, active nature of a mobile, mixed reality exergame will increase engagement in independent task training for lower-limb rehabilitation.

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  • Analysis and Prediction of High Frequency Foreign Exchange Data

    Kennedy, Adrian Patrick (2018)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis investigates the stochastic properties of high frequency foreign exchange data. We study the exchange rate as a process driven by Brownian motion, paying particular attention to its sampled total variation, along with the variance and distribution of its increments. The normality of its increments is tested using the Khmaladze transformation-2, which we show is straightforward to implement for the case of testing centred normality. We found that while the process exhibits properties characteristic of Brownian motion, increments are non-Gaussian and instead come from mixture distributions. We also introduce a technical analysis trading strategy for predicting price movements, and employ it using the exchange rate dataset. This strategy is shown to offer a statistically significant advantage, and provides evidence that exchanges rates are predictable to a greater extent than current mathematical models suggest.

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  • Safeguarding Sarawak's intangible cultural heritage: A knowledge management approach

    Bolhassan, Rashidah (2018)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The importance of indigenous knowledge is receiving increasing recognition. Some cultural institutions (CI) are responsible for safeguarding indigenous knowledge and they acquire, document, and record works and images of indigenous knowledge which are contained or embedded in the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of their indigenous communities such as songs, rituals, arts, and medical wisdom. These items of ICH become ‘knowledge objects’ or ‘representations of knowledge’ when documented, which are unlikely to represent the indigenous people's knowledge holistically. Indigenous knowledge embedded in the ICH requires interpretations of the processes, rituals, experiences and practices from the indigenous communities. This interpretivist study, using a knowledge management (KM) lens, examined the knowledge sharing processes of the indigenous people of Sarawak, Malaysia, to understand the nature of indigenous knowledge and knowledge sharing from the perspectives of the indigenous people of Sarawak, in order to assist Sarawak’s cultural institutions in safeguarding their ICH. This research used narrative inquiry as a research methodology, acquiring stories from two clusters of participants, purposively selected from three ethnic groups and from cultural institutions in Sarawak’s Civil Service. This study used a knowledge management perspective in analysing the findings. The findings on the nature of indigenous people’s knowledge highlight a three-tiered knowledge system. The findings on the CIs’ safeguarding efforts elucidate the gap in the management of the CIs’ organizational knowledge on safeguarding. This study makes several important contributions. First, it contributes to the literature about the cultural protocol requirements of the indigenous people of Sarawak before they can share their knowledge. Secondly, this study elucidates the indigenous people’s knowledge as a three-tiered system which influences the people’s knowledge sharing ways. This system can be used to guide the CIs’ practices of safeguarding ICH. The third contribution of this study is that it expands our understanding of the complexity of indigenous knowledge, and creates a conceptual model to aid and guide this understanding. Fourth, this study also contributes towards a greater understanding of the importance of the CIs including the indigenous peoples in the safeguarding practices in order to avoid the decontextualization of the ICH. Thus, this study confirms the importance of the participation of the indigenous people in the CIs’ practice of safeguarding ICH. Another contribution of this study, based on its findings, is the adaptation of three elements of a KM spectrum (Binney, 2001) for the CIs’ KM approach in managing their organizational knowledge on safeguarding ICH.

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  • 'The Bitter Sweetness of the Space Between': Creative Reflections of Pasifika Ethnic Mixedness

    Fatu, Emily (2016)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This Master of Arts thesis investigates and draws conclusions regarding how creative arts present accommodating spaces for articulating and understanding cultural mixedness amongst Pacific populations in New Zealand. New Zealand is home to an expanding Pacific population; statistics identify a growing number of these Pacific people who are multi-ethnic, and who are claiming their mixedness in official census data. As Pacific populations have grown, Pacific artists have risen to national prominence in visual, literary and performing arts. Many of these artists have themselves been of mixed ancestry. This thesis examines the work of three female New Zealand artists of mixed Samoan-English or Samoan-Indian descent, asking, “How do these artists and their work express their cultural mixedness?” Discussion centres on mixed media visual artist Niki Hastings-McFall, who is of English and Samoan descent; spoken word poet Grace Taylor, also of English and Samoan descent; and musical performer Aaradhna Patel, who is of Indian and Samoan descent. Placing both the creative work and public commentary of these three artists at its centre, this thesis explores how these artists publicly identify with their Samoan heritage as well as their other heritage(s); how they use their art as a platform for identity articulation; and how creative arts provide flexible and important spaces for self-expression. The thesis draws its theoretical underpinnings from Pacific studies, art history, transnational cultural studies and postcolonial studies, and utilizes Samoan and Tongan conceptions of vā as a key analytic tool.

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  • Chasing "Zampanalogs": Advancing the Synthesis of the Zampanolide Macrocycle

    Geyrhofer, Sophie (2018)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    (-)-Zampanolide (1), a natural product isolated from a marine sponge, is a microtubule-stabilizing agent that exhibits activity in the nanomolar range against various cancer cells, including in P-gp pump overexpressing cells. This attribute makes (-)-zampanolide an interesting target for further investigation. In this work, a new method for a modular and convergent total synthesis of optically pure zampanolide was investigated, which would also allow the generation of “zampanalogs” following the same basic strategy. Their biological activity may then be assessed to allow the elucidation of structure-activity relationships of (-)-zampanolide and its analogs in tubulin binding. The synthetic plan consisted of the modular combination of four major fragments, which would be connected in the late stages of the synthesis and could therefore be easily exchanged to allow the generation of analogs. The C15-C16 bond would be connected via an alkynylation reaction, and a subsequent reductive methylation would install the trisubstituted alkene. The connections at C1 and C3 could be achieved through a Bestmann ylid linchpin reaction, while the macrolactonization would be completed using a ring-closing metathesis to form the C8-C9 alkene. The side chain could be attached at C20 using one of the established aza-aldol methods. The fragments necessary for the formation of the macrocycle were synthesized successfully. The purification strategy throughout the synthetic route was rationalized and provides an improvement with respect to yield and time compared to work previously done in this research group. Alongside these fragments, modified fragments that were originally intended to serve as model systems were synthesized, which could also be used as building blocks in the synthesis of “zampanalogs”. Several methods for a stereoselective alkynylation at C15 were tested. These led to only meager successes, so an approach using a non-stereoselective alkynylation, followed by oxidation and a stereoselective CBS-reduction, was chosen. For the installation of the trisubstituted alkene a reductive methylation with vitride was tested, but this only led to the reduction of the alkyne without methylation. This product may be employed for the synthesis of C17-desmethyl analogs. The reductive methylation at C16-C17 was ultimately achieved using the Gilman reagent in a similar manner to the installation of the C5 methyl group in the C3-C8 fragment. A linchpin strategy with the Bestmann ylid simultaneously formed the connectivity at C1 and C3. This process was successfully performed on multiple substrates arising from the model systems used in the alkynylation and reductive methylation reactions, yielding precursors to the ring-closing metathesis and potentially enabling the synthesis of various analogs. The ring-closing metathesis proved to be difficult in analogs lacking the C17 methyl group and cis-tetrahydropyran ring, and due to this tendency further investigations are necessary. Once the macrocycle has been closed, a global deprotection and oxidation of hydroxy groups is necessary to allow for the installation of the sidechain.

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  • Truthmaking and the world-time parallel

    Leniston-Lee, Gareth (2013)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    There is a close structural parallel between the way we talk about time and the way we talk about modality (i.e. matters of possibility, necessity, actuality etc.). A consequence of this is that whenever we construct a metaphysical argument within one of these domains, there is a parallel argument to be made in the other. On the face of it, this parallel between possible worlds and moments in time seems to commit us to holding corresponding attitudes to the ontological status of non-present and non-actual entities. In this thesis I assess a claim made by Sider (2001: 41-42) that truthmaking – the idea that truth is grounded in existence – provides a way to avoid the commitment to ontological symmetry that this world-time parallel seems to foist upon us. Truthmaking challenges presentists, who deny the existence of past entities and actualists, who deny the existence of merely possible entities, to come up with a way of grounding truths that are ostensively about the events and entities that they deny exist. Sider’s claim can be broken down into three propositions: 1. Truthmaking provides reason to reject presentism. 2. Truthmaking does not provide reason to reject actualism. 3. Truthmaking breaks the ontological symmetry between time and modality. In this thesis I argue that while 1 is false, 3 remains true. While I am not a presentist myself I do not think that truthmaking provides a sound basis for rejecting the position. Much of this thesis is dedicated to defending presentism against the challenge truthmaking poses. I also don’t believe that truthmaking undermines actualism, but do not commit myself to any particular actualist response to the truthmaking challenge in this thesis. My central aim is to show that the presentist has a viable response to the truthmaking challenge and that this response does not have a viable parallel in the modal case. So while I think that both presentists and actualists can provide adequate responses to the challenge truthmaking poses, truthmaking still breaks the symmetry because the arguments made in defence of each position are very different. So one might rationally accept one argument but not the other.

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  • Supporting staff in their interactions with children who have learning support needs: The role of a student music therapist

    O’Rourke, Helen (2017)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This research explores the question “How can a student music therapist support staff in their interactions with learners in a special education setting?” To answer this question secondary analysis of data was used to examine clinical notes that had been collected as part of my music therapy practicum experience at a special education school. The data selected for thematic analysis was collected between March and May 2017, and focused on three groups which were co-facilitated by myself and other school staff. Six main themes emerged; Expanding on Existing Music use; Collaboration; Interaction Styles; Supporting Staff in Music; Staff Witnessing Student in Music; and Expanding on Māori Materials. In addition to this, three sub-themes emerged relating to the use of; Elements of Music; Instruments; and Repertoire. The main themes relate to ecological approaches to music therapy such as community music therapy (Ansdell, 2002) and resource oriented music therapy (Rolvsjord, 2016). They indicate that the student music therapist engaged with a broader approach to music therapy than traditional closed door models of practice. The integrated model of team work in the school was important in creating an environment of fluid knowledge sharing and collaborative approaches. This integrated approach to music therapy work can enrich the culture of the special education context and is in line with Ministry of Education Special Education policy and philosophy (Twyford, 2009).

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  • No More Than Comfort? A logics approach to the 'grip' of cost-benefit analysis in a New Zealand public policy decision

    Markham, Julie Clare (2018)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This study explores an apparent paradox: cost-benefit analysis (CBA) requires a series of highly subjective decisions to calculate, yet is employed for its perceived objectivity. The dominant view of CBA in the academic and policy literature is as a neutral technology, offering an objective resolution to difficult resource allocation problems. However, this view has been much challenged, with long-standing and still-unresolved debates on CBA’s technical calculation and methodological approaches, as well as critiques of its underpinning socio-political assumptions and its consequences. Drawing on the literature considering accounting as a form of discourse, this study investigates CBA and its discursive use in the debate between 2006 and 2008 around the public policy decisions regarding New Zealand’s public funding of Herceptin (trastuzumab) for early HER2-positive breast cancer (‘the debate’). The repeated use of cost and CBA in arguments by the participants in this debate was striking, with both those for and those against funding appearing to regard CBA as especially authoritative. This authority – even dominance – of CBA in public policy decision-making has been addressed from several perspectives, but its affective (embodied, emotional, non-cognitive) dimensions remain under-explored. This study addresses that gap through a qualitative documentary analysis employing the post-structural critical discourse-theoretic approach of Glynos and Howarth’s Logics of Critical Explanation (LCE) framework (Glynos, J., & Howarth, D. (2007). Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Political Theory. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge). It offers the following contributions: (a) it provides knowledge of how CBA is presented, positioned, contested, and defended in the Herceptin debate; (b) it generates a genealogically-inflected understanding of how these have come about; (c) its offers an explanation for CBA’s ‘grip’ (continued authority despite its difficulties); and (d) it proposes some alternative presentations, positionings, contestations, and defences of CBA.

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  • Does rumination function as a longitudinal mediator between mindfulness and depressive symptoms?

    Jury, Tasmin (2018)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The present study was designed to longitudinally examine the relationships among dispositional mindfulness, rumination, and depressive symptoms in adults and determine whether rumination mediated the expected negative association between mindfulness and depressive symptoms across time. A community sample of 483 New Zealand adults completed self-report measures of mindfulness, rumination and depressive symptoms initially and again after three months and a third time a further three months later. The predicted cross-lag associations were found, and in consequence, the predicted longitudinal mediation was supported in the data as well. That is, rumination mediated the negative association between mindfulness and depressive symptoms. In addition, three of the five facets of mindfulness (acting with awareness, non-judging, and non-reacting) exhibited the longitudinal mediation through rumination to depressive symptoms. The findings of this research suggest that certain aspects of mindfulness function to reduce rumination, which then serve to diminish depressive symptoms.

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  • Explaining the moderate platform of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood: Against the inclusion-moderation hypothesis

    Booysen, Hanlie (2018)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Throughout its existence, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB) has consistently maintained a moderate policy on governance. The main aim of this study is to explain this moderation. Previous literature has usually explained moderation in similar movements by an “inclusion-moderation hypothesis”, which holds that moderation results when movements have the opportunity to participate in pluralist political processes. However, the SMB has been progressively excluded from the Syrian political arena since 1963. The inclusion-moderation hypothesis implies, as its converse, that exclusion leads to radicalisation. This study shows that contrary to this expectation, the SMB’s ultimate exclusion from the Syrian political arena in 1982 was in fact the primary driver of its moderate policy. The SMB also participated in parliamentary politics in its early history, and therefore has not moderated over time, as the inclusion-moderation hypothesis would require. Thus, the inclusion-moderation hypothesis does not work for this case, and this dissertation advances an alternate explanation for the SMB’s continued commitment to a moderate policy on governance. This study’s central thesis is that the SMB’s moderate policy on governance can be explained by the Brotherhood’s primary target audience, that is to say, the political force which, in the SMB’s view, can deliver its political objective. As this definition implies, the target audience shifts over time, in accordance with changing circumstances. In 1980, the primary target audience comprised diverse actors in opposition to the al-Asad government: the Fighting Vanguard, the Syrian ulama, and the secularist opposition. In 2001, the audience was the Bashar al-Asad government. In 2004, it was the secularist opposition; and in 2012, it was the foreign sponsors of the secularist opposition.

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  • Investigating the Intrafollicular Factors Affecting Oocyte Developmental Competency

    Clark, Zaramasina (2018)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The number of cycles of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) performed increased by ~9.5 % globally between 2008 and 2010. In spite of this, the success rate in terms of delivery was only ~19.0 % (Dyer et al., 2016). This discrepancy between the demand for, and success of, these technologies necessitates the development of tools to improve ART efficiency. To facilitate this, a better understanding of how the microenvironment changes within the developing follicle to culminate in a mature, developmentally-competent oocyte is required. This study employed an in vivo and in vitro ovine model to investigate the relationship between the surrounding microenvironment and oocyte maturation, and in particular, the attainment of oocyte developmental competency and high-quality embryos. The first objective of this PhD study was to comprehensively investigate the changing microenvironment of in vivo matured, presumptive preovulatory (PPOV) follicles from wild-type (++) and high ovulation rate (OR; I+B+) ewes. The high OR ewes were heterozygous carriers of mutations in BMP15 (I+) and BMPRIB (B+). Functional differences in follicular somatic (granulosa and cumulus) cells between these genotypes, including differential gonadotropin responsiveness of granulosa cells, composition of follicular fluid and gene expression profiles in cumulus cells were evident. These differences emerged as part of a compensatory mechanism by which oocytes from smaller follicles, containing fewer granulosa cells, achieved developmental competency in I+B+ ewes. The second objective of this PhD study was to develop new approaches for improving current in vitro maturation (IVM) strategies. The first approach utilised in this study focused on developing biomarkers that could be used to improve prediction of developmental competency in oocytes and in vitro produced embryos. This involved interrogating the hypothesis that a combination of molecular and morphokinetic biomarkers would better predict the developmental competency of oocytes and embryos compared to using these biomarkers alone. The second approach utilised in this PhD study tested the effects of modulating IVM conditions to better mimic the follicular microenvironment of a high, compared to a low, OR species on oocyte developmental competency and embryo quality. This involved supplementing IVM media with different ratios of two oocyte-secreted growth factors, i.e. GDF9:BMP15, that were representative of low or high OR species. These approaches demonstrated significant potential and warrant further investigation. The most significant finding of this study was that despite variances in the surrounding microenvironment during in vivo and in vitro oocyte maturation that culminated in differential gene expression patterns in cumulus cells, and divergent gonadotropin-responsiveness of granulosa cells, the gene expression signatures of developmentally-competent oocytes and the morphokinetics of high-quality embryos were unaltered. This confirms the value of developing such biomarkers for oocyte development competency and embryo quality that remain unaltered despite a changing surrounding environment. Interestingly, simulating the ratio of GDF9:BMP15 that oocytes from high OR species are exposed to during maturation improved developmental competency in oocytes as demonstrated by increased blastocyst rates. Furthermore, this study has demonstrated that combinations of molecular (cumulus cell gene expression) and morphokinetic biomarkers improved the ability to predict developmental competency in oocytes and embryos. Overall, this study revealed novel information regarding the follicular microenvironment during final maturation and identified several novel approaches to improving the efficiency of ART.

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  • Building and Sustaining Connections through Music Therapy with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Special Learning Centre of a Primary School in New Zealand

    Kong, Jingyuan Cici (2017)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This research project helped me, a student music therapist, to understand the process of building and sustaining connections through music therapy with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The clinical work took place in eight months and I employed secondary analysis of music therapy session data as my research strategy to look at how to build and sustain connections through music therapy with children with ASD in a special learning centre of a primary school in New Zealand. This study showed the results of my work with four students, by reusing my clinical notes, reflective journal and notes from discussions and meetings with staff members in March and May. I used thematic analysis as my analysis method to identify themes from my data, in order to answer my research question. This research suggested that the building of connections and later sustaining them seemed to occur in stages, not identical for each child, but showing a certain type of pattern, characteristic of children with autism. I used some strategies to address the challenges in my music therapy practice, and these are the codes and themes that I identified in the findings. The process of my research improved my music improvisation skills, verbal communication skills, ability to establish and hold boundaries, and self-confidence.

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  • What are young Pacific peoples understandings of leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand?

    Faletutulu, Grace (2017)

    Masters thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis is an exploration of the way leadership is understood by young Pacific peoples. It looks at the possible relationship between leadership and education outcomes for young Pacific peoples. It is located in an interpretative paradigm, and uses qualitative methods and seeks phenomenological date. This is because individuals interpret experiences differently, therefore understanding how these young Pacific people interpret ideas can help answer the thesis question. As Pacific research it foregrounds Pacific concepts such as vā and Pacific methods such as talanoa. These features seek to alignment with the community participating in the study. The findings suggest that young Pacific peoples understand leadership as a negotiation between Pacific and Western ideas. This negotiation is performed contextually. However, young Pacific peoples are also redefining leadership for themselves and a way they are doing this is by combining their Pacific and Western understandings of leadership. From the research there were three implications found for young Pacific peoples. Firstly, too much focus on culture can become a problem. Secondly, the different contexts that young Pacific peoples are being raised in influences their leadership beliefs, especially compared to the older generation. Lastly, young Pacific peoples need to receive recognition for their ability to negotiate ideas between the Pacific and Western worlds. Therefore, recommendations for future research come under two main categories environment. This is focused on rethinking leadership, firstly for young Pacific peoples in New Zealand-Pacific context, then rethinking for young Pacific peoples in a Western context. The second recommendation discusses ways to improve leadership development programs for young Pacific peoples in New Zealand.

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