Beliefs and Attitudes about Educational Equity in Australia

Year: 2019

Author: Lee, Jung-Sook, Lee, Jihyun

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This study aims to uncover the beliefs and attitudes about educational equity held by the Australian public. The main questions to be addressed include: 1) what is Australian public’s understanding of equity in education?; 2) whether Australian people regard educational equity as an important goal in education?; and 3) what do they view as appropriate approaches to promote educational equity in Australia?

Although it is generally believed that students with different backgrounds (e.g., family SES, gender) should have equal opportunities in education, there has not been a consensus in the meaning of equal educational opportunities (Zalta et al., 2017). Countries adopt different approaches to address educational equity (PISA, 2018), and there is a substantial amount of disagreement among people within a country about the ways to design, implement, and promote policies around this issue. Any decisions made by the government would need public support. In this regard, the public’s opinions about educational equity needs to be sufficiently understood before any policy measures are developed and advocated. In the current state of education research, there is a scarcity about the public opinions about educational equity.

This study has two phases. A phase 1 survey with open-ended questions will be used to draw responses from individuals who are likely to have some level of knowledge about a broad range of social and educational issues in Australia. Utilizing a convenient sampling, UNSW staff (target sample size = 30) will be invited to the phase 1 survey. A phase 2 survey will be administered to the general public to gather a broad range of views on educational equity. The phase 2 survey will include: 1) close-ended questions that are constructed based on the phase 1 survey outcome and literature review; and 2) open-ended questions. The phase 2 survey will invite a representative sample of the NSW adults who are aged 18 years or over (target sample size = 600).

The findings of this study will provide an initial understanding of the beliefs and attitudes about educational equity held by the Australian public. The outcomes will be used for further refinement of the survey questionnaire to be used to broader audiences nationally and internationally. It is also hoped that the outcome of this study would be utilized by policy makers in improving their understanding of the Australian views of educational equity, and developing the initiatives and approaches suitable for the Australian education system.