Modeling Cultural Responsiveness: An action research study

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

197 Downloads (Pure)


This action research (AR) study sought to explore with educators who are, or have been associated with an undergraduate Indigenous program, their understandings of cultural responsive/ness (CR) and how they believe it is enacted in practice. Three (3) cycles of action that involved nine (9) participants; five (5) Indigenous and four (4) non-Indigenous who were full-time, part-time, contracted or casual staff were involved in the study. Three (3) of the participants were males and six (6) were females.

Three (3) cycles of activity were undertaken over a period of nine (9) months.

Figure 1: Cycles of action

Cycle 1.
Initial data collection involved participants being asked to take photos of images that reflected their understanding of CR and bring these to a ‘yarning’ session with the researcher. The images provided by the participants using photo elicitation (PE) and the yarning sessions were the primary methods used to generate data. Each yarning session was digitally recorded and subsequently transcribed for analysis. These data sets were probed using a thematic analysis technique (Gibbs, 2002). The researcher reflected on the analysed data asking the following questions:

 Do you teach and think the same as I do or are we thinking differently?
 Do you and I understand the meaning of CR?
 Do you and I recognise the connection of CR to education?
 Why is it important for me and you as an educator to be CR?

Cycle 2.
A conceptual framework was developed to reflect the participant’s understanding of CR and how they believe it is enacted in practice. A modified Delphi Technique was adopted to test the efficacy of the framework. Modifications were made to the initial framework as an outcome of this procedure and conversations with the Director of the Djirruwang Program resulting in an edifice that could be adopted by the team to assist students understand and embody CR in their practice.

Cycle 3.
Participants agreed that a common understanding among the teaching team of CR and how it can be enacted was necessary. A professional development resource (Learning for Life) was developed to support educators involved in the delivery of the undergraduate Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health) Djirruwang Program to understand the concept of CR and how it can be enacted.

It is recommended CR training be integrated into the Djirruwang Program. Furthermore, the professional development resource developed through this research, could be adapted to meet the teaching/learning requirements for other tertiary courses that seek to actively and meaningfully engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Broader applications exist for the creation of cultural professional development programs to promote social inclusion within the health industry. The resource may be adapted for use in a corporate setting where diversity is celebrated and respected and ongoing reflective practices exist beyond the health sphere. Further research is warranted to evaluate the impact of the edifice as a teaching tool and a model for engaging others.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Health Science
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Francis, Karen, Principal Supervisor
  • Fitzgerald, Geraldine, Principal Supervisor
  • Anderson, Judith, Principal Supervisor
  • McMillan, Faye, Principal Supervisor
Award date01 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling Cultural Responsiveness: An action research study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this