Culturally responsive students: Integrating meaningful community service/action with instructions and reflections

Kiprono Langat, Jane Wilkinson

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The increasing cultural diversity in schools provides both opportunities and challenges for current and future educators. Teachers need to develop culturally responsive pedagogies to be able to meet the needs of all students. Teaching-learning processes should engage critically and through meaningful action to changing classroom demands. This paper will present a collaborative university partnership that benefits the local community while improving educational outcomes for Charles Sturt University (CSU) teacher education students. Since 2010, CSU students have been participating in the Refugee Action Support (RAS) program which is a partnership between CSU, the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) and the NSW Department of Education and Communities. Pre-service teachers from the School of Education are recruited, trained and placed in schools in the Riverina region. These tutors provide much needed and appreciated literacy, language and learning support for recently arrived children and youth of refugee background. The study examines how the RAS program is enabling pre-service teachers integrate meaningful community service with instructions and reflections to enhance their educational outcomes—teaching and learning experience, active civic responsibility, agents of just change, and strengthen regional communities for the common good. Using the action research concept of ‘students as co-researchers’ (Smit, 2013), pres-service teachers who have been trained as tutors/mentors are working in partnership with the researchers to examine how the RAS program is creating sites and spaces for them to reflect and to interrogate their own practices. Through reflective writing, learning portfolios, and using pupils’ artifacts (e.g. work samples) as stimulus for reflection, pres-service teachers are supported on site (in the RAS schools) to explore the notion of ‘difficult knowledge’ (Pitt & Britzman 2003) by which we mean how are teachers dealing with the historical changing practice and conditions (Kemmis 2009) of their workplace? How are issues of increasing cultural diversity, identity, teaching students with traumatic life experience, racism, etc been dealt with in current mainstream classrooms in regional Australian schools? And in what ways do partnership opportunities like the RAS program preparing the participating pre-service teachers and former refugee students to face current and future demands of school(ing) practices through a win-win approach? Reference list Kemmis, S. (2009). Action research as a practice-based practice, Educational Action Research, Vol. 17, No. 3, September 2009, 463-474. Pitt,A. & Britzman, D. (2003). Speculations on qualities of difficult knowledge in teaching and learning: An experiment in psychoanalytic research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. Vol.16(6), p.755-776. Smit, B. H. J. (forthcoming). Young people as co-researchers: Enabling student participation in educational practice. Professional Development in Education. Summer 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 09 Nov 2013


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