Research on Indigenous experience: Listening with more than the ears

Year: 2019

Author: Light, Richard, Evans, John R

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation reflects on the use of a combined narrative inquiry and constructivist, grounded theory methodology in a study on the development of expertise in Australian Indigenous athletes as a process of learning. It reports on a three-year ARC funded study that inquired into Indigenous AFL and NRL players development of expertise as a process of culturally situated learning and was conducted by an Indigenous and non-Indigenous researcher. The study used a combined narrative inquiry and constructivist grounded theory methodology to identify the central importance of Indigenous culture for learning expertise and transitioning into professional sport.

Complementing the importance of telling stories in Aboriginal culture, the study was guided by the Indigenous cultural concept of Dadirri. Dadirri emphasises deep listening and understanding, requires empathy, sensitivity and openness on the part of the researcher and made a significant contribution to the nature of the data generated, the findings and the researchers’ understanding of the participants and of themselves. This approach requires the researcher remaining non-judgemental with understanding generated through non-intrusive observation, deep, active listening that involves ‘hearing with more than the ears’, building knowledge through sensitivity and awareness, and developing understanding though contemplation and reflection.

The focus of this presentation is not only on the process of the study and its findings but also on the presenter’s personal and professional experience of the study and the reflection it encouraged