Opening the blind eye: Causal modelling of perceived discrimination and academic disengagement for Indigenous students

The issue of minority groups showing patterns of disassociation from the academic environment has received considerable attention within both national and international psychological and educational literature. At the national level, some research has focused on Indigenous Australian students dissociating from academia, however to date, such research has either been circumstantial and/or has been based on small samples of Indigenous Australian students. The purpose of the study reported in this paper was to quantitatively explore the academic disengagement, anxiety, uncertain control, and self-sabotage of Indigenous students through the use of a longitudinal structural equation modelling techniques. Specifically, utilising self-report surveys from a sample of Indigenous Australian high-school students (n = 271), home socio-economic resources (SER), and perceived racial discrimination were examined to explore their causal rtelations. While SER was found to causally predict lower levels of self-sabotage, perceived discrimination causally predicted both higher levels of disengagement and low control. These findings suggest that future interventions need to focus not only upon socio-demographic factors, but also the psycho-social variables that may play a strong role in influencing Indigenous students' engagement or disengagement within the schooling system.