Deep exploration of student attainment and retention in Tasmania

Year: 2016

Author: McLeod, Catriona, Smith, Caroline

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In Tasmania, levels of student attainment and the related concept of retention are the lowest of any Australian state. Attainment is characterised as a wicked and seemingly intransigent problem where there are no quick fixes and simple solutions, and hence are beyond the capacity of a single organisation to address adequately. Navigation of wicked problems such as attainment calls for interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches. This paper presents frameworks derived from Integral Theory (Riedy, 2016) and Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) (Inaytullah, 2004) which provide useful tools to explore the attainment space from deeper and more nuanced perspectives that go beyond the usual deficit approaches and hence have the potential to open up novel spaces for considering attainment in the context of 21st century education. Integral Theory proposes four irreducible perspectives of reality, two of which have almost entirely excluded from academic discourse. Exclusion of any perspective results in only partial, and fragmented understandings and ineffective solutions and policy. CLA contends there are four levels of reality and ways of knowing: the litany and the systemic; then the deeper intersubjective cultural dimensions of worldview/paradigmatic commitments and myths and metaphors that frame the way sense is made of the issue, often unconsciously. These two frameworks have been used to review reports, documents and academic literature on attainment to reveal hidden or unanticipated factors which have a bearing on attainment, particularly at the worldview and mythic levels. By using both frameworks simultaneously, paradoxes, gaps and dilemmas are revealed that then open up potential new directions for creating deeper transformative spaces for addressing attainment.ReferencesInayatullah, S. (2004). The Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) reader. Theory and Case Studies of an integrative and transformative methodology. Taipei: Tamkang University.Riedy, C. (2016). Interior transformation on the pathways to a viable future. Journal of Futures Studies 20 (3), pp. 35-5