Signatures Of Quality Teaching For Indigenous Students

Year: 2015

Author: Boon, Helen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper presents findings of Phase 2 of a larger three phase project. The impetus for the research stems from findings which show that a lack of congruence between the culture of the school and that of the student is associated with Indigenous students’ limited success in school. For example, the absence of culturally responsive practices have been linked to low engagement in Indigenous American students and in New Zealand, to high suspension rates, over‐representation in special education, and low retention rates for Maori students. While many voices have advocated for improved teaching pedagogy to raise educational outcomes for Indigenous students in Australia, research has not led to conclusive evidence of ‘what works’ in influencing Indigenous students’ learning.
The overall aims of this study are to investigate what works in classrooms to enhance Indigenous students’ outcomes. As a first step, the study obtained from Indigenous parents/carers and students what they considered to be culturally responsive pedagogies; those pedagogies that have a positive influence on Indigenous student learning.
Characteristics of culturally responsive pedagogies established through interviews with Australian Indigenous parents and students generated characteristics and themes which were then distilled into survey items. The resulting instrument was applied to practicing teachers to obtain their endorsement and validate the instrument.
Sample and analyses
A total of 141 elementary and secondary teachers from diverse schools completed the survey.
Analyses using Item Response Theory, employing the Rasch model, confirmed that the instrument
measured a unidimensional latent trait: culturally responsive pedagogy. Seven subscales, initially
qualitatively determined by a panel of experts who examined each item for content validity, were statistically confirmed.
The instrument proved suitable to measure teachers’ self-reported nuances in pedagogical practice. Significant differences between elementary and secondary teachers’ were detected and important facets of teacher pedagogy in the two different school contexts emerged.
Illustrations of particular teacher’s profiles highlight the utility of the instrument in assisting teachers to focus on particular aspects of their own practice to meet the needs of their students. An in depth analysis of four of the subscales of the instrument, Indigenous cultural value, self‐regulation support, literacy teaching and explicitness, is presented in the context of current emphases on quality teaching, and in relation to Indigenous student outcomes.