Are You Worth Your Mark? – Results

My project focused on the New South Wales HSC, including ATAR’s and scaling and the overall last years of a person’s school life, whether if it is focused on studies or more social aspects of High school. The test was also supposed to elaborate on people’s feelings towards the HSC and whether they enjoyed their last years of schooling life. The results of the tests were found through focus groups conducted involving UOW students who are currently studying at Wollongong. There were four participants, their names won’t be used for privacy reasons, however they will be referred to as “C”, “N”, “M” and “O” if they are mentioned. The use of a focus group was efficient and created the ability for me to gain an in-depth understanding of peoples experiences from High School and how it affected their marks.

By reading through the transcript and listening to the audio of the focus group, I have more of an understanding of various peoples experiences at school based on what school they attended, what they enjoyed and what they disliked about school. There was a variety of answers which made it difficult to find a definitive answer on whether the way we approach the last few years of school life are the right ways to approach them. The HSC is typically a stressful time that the majority of high school students have to endure, even from my own personal experience, it is stressful and nobody would disagree with that. There were various opinions on whether the way the HSC is structured is an efficient and effective way of testing students and helping them decide which careers they would like to pursue, for example scaling. Overall everyone who participated in the focus group agreed that scaling wasn’t the best way to approach marking as it has the potential to lower or increase someone else’s marks based on the amount of effort that another individual has put in. They believed that the marks should be created based on what you as a student put in, however didn’t show much knowledge of how it worked beyond that.

The students who participated all believed that they didn’t work to their full potential at school. This affected the marks they received at the end of year 12 and in some cases affected the career in which they wished to pursue. 2 of the 4 in the focus group believed that their marks didn’t affect their career path they’ve chosen, for “O’s” marks, they didn’t affect her choices due to the fact that she didn’t know what she career she wished to pursue. Whereas it affected “C” and “N’s” career choices. 3 of the 4 individuals involved in the focus group didn’t attend the university they wanted to originally, however all 4 people are happy with the outcome of their HSC a few years after the HSC.

The results helped elaborate on how people experience their schooling, and how it can be different due to the amount of effort a person puts in. An individual’s experience can be changed based on the topics or subjects that they choose for their last years, and from the results, ¼ of the focus group would change the subjects that they did to possibly get something better out of their education. 100% of the people involved in the focus group believed that they could’ve worked harder at school to help them receive a better ATAR, in-tern helping them go to the university they wanted and to help them start the degree they originally wanted to do.

The issues with using a focus group with this particular question was difficult, however I wanted a detailed response from only a few people. A survey would’ve been an excellent way to do this task and in future, a survey would be my first choice as it would provide more answers but a lack of detail.

The study was effective in the fact that it showed how people how others experience their last years of school. It shed light on how people feel about the HSC, including scaling, the amount of subjects and the core concept of the ATAR. The use of a focus group gave detailed responses to the questions, however was time consuming and inefficient. Time management was the main issue with this focus group as there was not much time to find more people and create more detailed questions that would have produced more detailed answers. It would have also produced more answers which would’ve given us more information to understand the various ways a person experiences their last years of school. I’d like to thank everyone who was involved, and gave us the information to help this study.


Thank You,

Harrison Thomas


Research Project Update

Just a quick update on my research project about the HSC and the concept of the ATAR, and how it isn’t an efficient/effective way of displaying the potential of the students in Australia. I have decided to conduct focus groups in order to receive information based on the experiences of my peers at school. I’m taking into account the various other factors that affect the school experience and a persons achievements during school, for example the socioeconomic factors that surround issues at school, Poverty or a low income has the ability to affect the potential of the students that attend school, it also has the potential to affect the amount of dropouts at certain schools. Using a focus group, i personally think was a good way to approach the study. As focus groups have the potential to give quality, detailed information that will greatly help the outcome of the study. By using focus groups, it allows me to get a more in depth discussion about the education system and how certain people feel about it, based on their experiences and their lives in general. However there are some disadvantages as well, it doesn’t allow me to get solid, concrete statistics like quantitative data would. The information that i receive will be placed on my blog (this website) for all to see as long as I get permission from the participants to upload it here. It will all be uploaded soon.


Debates in the Public Sphere

That link I put up the top of this blog take you to a show called Q&A, where they bring in certain people, including  politicians, professors and various other intellectuals or people who have strong opinions on certain topics that are circling the public sphere. In that particular episode they discuss Homeland security, hunting and housing. The use of panels and guest speakers allows various different opinion on important topics within society to be expressed in a safe environment specifically designed for debate. Within the show, Q&A uses audience interaction to help introduce average peoples opinions on important matters. This allows a contribution from various different people and sheds light on their perspectives and personal experiences with certain situations.

With it being put on television and being able to be streamed online, this allows access from two different and substantial types of media. The show helps educate people and shows different perspectives in order to help individuals create their own opinion on a matter, which in tern has the ability to spread through word of mouth, like in a conversation amongst friends and colleges or a discussion at university. According to the polls taken within the audience at the time of recording, there were Coalition 37%, ALP 30%, Greens 12%, Other/Unspecified 21% people attending the show.

Despite being shown on ABC and streamed on their website, I have seen small videos of the show on my Facebook feed, being shared or liked by my friends, this helps spark a discussion and with the use of commenting on Facebook, it has the potential to also share various insights and opinions.

I know, i’ve repeated myself a bit. My point is however, the amount of people who have a say in certain matters is substantial. Through watching shows like ABC’s Q&A, The Project and heaps of other shows gives everyone the chance to voice their opinions and with the connection between friends, family, colleges and peers on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some opinions might be researched better than others and some might not even be the slightest bit researched at all, just an opinion through experience. I personally prefer opinions from people who have researched and studied the topic to create my own personal view, but people create their own perspectives from other things. The debates that take place on various media platforms help create a more educated society and a better understanding of various situations that can be misunderstood.

Who Owns our Media?

There are various corporations that own heaps of different media companies. For instance, lets put Rupert Murdoch under the blog spotlight for a little bit.

Rupert Murdoch, owns and has shares in a lot of different news outlets which span across Film, TV to Newspapers. One of the more recognisable companies he has owned (now owned by his son), is “21st Century Fox”. “21st Century Fox” owns Fox News (a highly watched news station, whether it’s good or not is irrelevant). He also owns another large news organisation called “News Corp”. “News Corp” owns basically everything. In Australia alone, “News Corp” owns “The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Courier Mail, The Advertiser,,, Busienss Spectator, Eureka Reports,, FOX SPORTS PULSE, and local dailies” and thats just in Australia.

Some of the other companies that he either owns or has shares in include: “Wall Street Journal, CIO Journal, CFO Journal, CMO Journal and international WSJ editions, Wall Street Journal Digital Network, Factiva, DJ Risk & Compliance, Dow Jones Newswires, Barrons, MarketWatch, Dow Jones Private Market, DJX and also The New York Post”.

This is just one individual and the companies he owns or is involved in. It’s kind of incredible and a little scary. As mentioned in previous blogs, the fact that one person has the potential and the opportunity to change the way news is portrayed, the way its broadcasted and the amount of coverage it receives is an interesting topic and can actually happen, and more than likely is happening already. This is why I personally get my news from independent articles and news website, such as Al Jazeera.

I personally don’t trust a news article until i’ve researched, by reading various other articles in order to see bias, this allows me to create an educated perspective or opinion on a topic without being led astray by untruthful or biased representations of current events. Also recently fake news has really blossomed due to the lack of research and the ease of sharing though social media like Facebook. It makes it difficult to actually get the truth, so research is needed. With large companies, like the ones owned by Rupert Murdoch, I personally don’t have as much trust as I used to maybe 5 years ago. As I learn more about who owns what News Corporations and media outlets, I tend to lean more towards Independent News Outlets.



Al Jazeera Website –

USA Today, Rupert Murdoch –

The real issues surrounding media

Media has always had its issues. There are various issues involving the news and the way we receive it. This includes bias, fake news, and unintentionally misrepresented facts.

However the real question is “What are the current issues involving people and their use of media?

These issues could involve the misunderstanding of facts from the person who tells and gives the news to the person who receives the news, the audience. They could possibly have the same interpretation of the news or the understanding of the topic could be different to the original intention and understanding, despite the way its conveyed.

There are a wide number of different ways in which we as an audience can receive news, such as television (including news and sitcoms/morning shows such as “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “The View” or “Sunrise”), newspapers, online news articles, online blogs and word of mouth. Only a few of these can convey their message to a mass audience, possibly showing the news in the way they choose to, which allows the possibility of bias. Don’t get me wrong, word of mouth and others still have the chance to share their news bias whether it be political or otherwise, but when the news is being brought to a mass audience, it has a higher chance of actually making a difference and changing the way people think about a situation.

For example, the news brought attention the Anti-Vaccination and Autism “link”, Jenny McCarthy believed her child had Autism due to vaccinating her child. Which was debunked numerous times and is factually incorrect. However due to mass audience, this was shown to millions of people around the world.

The next question is “How does (if it does) the history of media audience research help us make sense of this?”

In some ways i believe that media research has the ability to hurt/hinder rather than to help the progression of media and its audience. For example the recent increase of fake news. By narrowing its target market and understanding who to cater for with their news stories. A good example of this is all the fake Donald Trump and 2016 US Election articles. There were various articles that even the Presidential candidate (now President) Donald Trump believed himself, and still continues to believe and quote today. With the use of media research it allows news corporations to find their target market and with the use of persuasive language has the ability to present their possible bias.




Are you just a mark?




Honestly, I didn’t do that fantastically in the HSC. A lot of my friends from High school didn’t do too well either, and when you receive a “low” ATAR or the ATAR that you didn’t think you should’ve received, from the Board of Studies, has the potential to really damage self esteem. I know the feeling. Spending years of your life to get a mark that doesn’t really (in my opinion) represent how smart you are as an individual.

I’m going to ramble just for a little bit on this topic, but to start off, i’ll use my opinion and  later on, as i learn and understand more about the topic with the use of qualitative and quantitative research, i’ll see if my opinions were somewhat correct or incorrect about whether a person is more than their mark during the HSC.

I’ll repeat, this from now on, this is my opinion.

The way the HSC is currently designed doesn’t really reflect a persons intelligence, also the way in which we had to learn during High School doesn’t really work for all students, as all students are different and learn in various ways. For example, I prefer more hands on learning, that’s why learning instruments and music was the way for me to go during school. I enjoyed it more than Mathematics, Business Studies, PDHPE and the majority of all the other subjects I had taken in my 6 years of school. I enjoyed English, however I never memorised an essay or a creative writing piece, I made them up on the spot. I am horrible at remembering large pieces of writing, and remembering things in general. I’m more than likely uploading this the day after or at the very last second, instead of uploading when it is actually due because of my horrible memory.

My plan is to ask various types of individuals and find out whether other people share my idea’s and whether they have anything more to put into this argument. By asking people like teachers, principals, aspiring teachers, university students, and High School students soon to sit the HSC and receive their ATARs.

How are people supposed to flourish and fulfil their potential if they are put into a system that doesn’t tend to their needs in learning? Are people more than their mark?


The Internet of Things

What is the internet of things (IoT)?

“The internet of things (IoT) is the internetworking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices“)” -

Thanks to Wikipedia for explaining things to me.

It’s basically the connection between electronic devices and what not, becoming a part of an integrated network. To me, when i first heard of this, sounded like futuristic expectations and what we are going to have in a couple of decades, however it has come out of nowhere and surprised the crap out of me. I’m just excited for talking robots that do my laundry and clean my dishes. IoT is a thing that we all expected to happen in the future, however the future is now. Its mind boggling, and is something we saw on TV shows and movies, set way in the future. Its incredible.

The only issue is, in almost every movie, they’re used for something bad like surveillance or they turn on humans. Which in the world we live in today, at least one of those possibilities is very, very possible (i’ll let you guess which one it is).

Please comment and tell me what you reckon could happen! Lets have a discussion.