Impacting practice: The undergraduate teacher and the Aboriginal student

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The purpose of this research was to explore through the lens of pre-service teachers, factors that impact on Aboriginal students’ learning and engagement. This paper explores how pre-service teachers were able to understand, engage with and respond to Aboriginal students in a field-site reading program. Critical aspects of program success, such as cultural knowledge and engagement highlighted by Burridge and Chodkiewicz (2012), were investigated.Twenty-four second year pre-service teachers from a regional Australian university were matched in one-on-one teaching dyads with Aboriginal students from Kindergarten to Year 6. The reading program, which ran for one-hour sessions two afternoons each week for five weeks, was conducted as an after-school program ‘on their turf’ at a local Aboriginal housing estate.Each week, group cultural debrief sessions were conducted by an on-site Elder and gatekeepers to help pre-service teachers reflect on their engagement with students. Weekly on-campus focus group discussions with pre-service teachers were led by the principal investigator and reviewed pedagogical aspects of teaching and learning.Data, based on a qualitative case study approach, were obtained from a semi-structured 13-item questionnaire completed by the pre-service teachers at the end of the program. This was triangulated against data collected by the principal investigator from informal observations of the pre-service teachers and from semi-formal interviews with the Elder and gatekeepers. Major themes distilled from the analysis of the findings include: cultural connections, developing cross-cultural relationships with Aboriginal children and culturally-appropriate engagement. The findings have implications for teacher education programs across Australia as they shed further light on culturally-appropriate pedagogical practices that impact on teacher education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKnowledge makers and notice takers
Subtitle of host publicationTeacher education research impacting policy and practice
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventAustralian Teacher Education Association Conference - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Duration: 30 Jun 201303 Jul 2013


ConferenceAustralian Teacher Education Association Conference


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