Research and projects
On this page you will find information about research and education projects being undertaken by academic staff in the Faculty of Education which engages with a range of issues which impact on the provision of education to Indigenous students.
Desert and Ice - Learning without boundaries
Project team: Dr Zane Ma Rhea, Dr Barry Judd, Dr Jill Brown, Professor Peter Sullivan (Monash University), Professor Eva Alerby, Dr Krister Herrting, Dr Karolina Parding (Lulea University, Sweden)
A research and development project of learning between Sweden and Australia. The aim of this Project is to develop collaboration between researchers, teachers, post graduate students (PhD, Masters, Honours and Diploma of Education students) and undergraduate students in the North of Sweden1 and the South of Australia2 to create networks and develop higher education in highly innovative ways that directly benefits teaching and learning practice in both Sweden and Australia. In developing these scholarly networks this Project will engage in original and ground breaking comparative research concerning the meaning of learning among children and teachers in the far North of Sweden and the remote red centre of Australia.
The broad aim of the research to be undertaken in this Project is to elucidate and develop greater understandings of difference (cultural, racial, historical etc.) by seeking children's and teachers' experiences of learning in their culture as well as between cultures. We want to understand the meaning of learning both in school and in leisure time, which includes formal and informal, traditional and 'western', learning in these two settings. Adopting a highly inclusive concept of learning the research will investigate educational processes that occur in areas such art, language, history, culture, health and sport. The Project aims to develop new knowledge by enabling children and teachers living under different social and cultural conditions to voice their lived experiences concerning learning in formal and informal settings in opposite parts of the world in which the educational experiences of the north (Sweden) and the south (Australia) are compared, contrasted, and analysed.
1 At Department of Education, Department of Health Sciences and Department of Human Work Sciences, Lulea University of Technology (LTU), Norrbotten, Sweden.
2At Faculty of Education and Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Victoria, Australia.
An Evaluation of the Early Years Literacy Program
South Australian Government Department of Education and Childhood Services (SA DECS), 2008: $99,340
The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of professional learning provided to teachers through their involvement in the EYLP, and the extent to which it has achieved its aims of assisting teachers to reflect on their literacy practices, to optimise the achievement of all learners through effective, inclusive literacy pedagogy, and to meet the needs of particular learners through the most effective intervention strategies.
The key strategies to be evaluated are:
The evaluation will also include:
Enhancing mathematical learning for Indigenous students in remote communities: A design research approach
Professor Robyn Zevenbergen (Griffith University); Professor Peter Sullivan; Professor Steve Lerman (London South Bank University); Professor Jo Boaler (University of Sussex)
ARC Linkage Grant 2007-2011 - $249,656, with industry partner: Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia. Administered by Griffith University
Students attending schools in remote community schools need to have quality learning practices that are sustainable in hard‑to‑staff regions. Indigenous students are not performing at acceptable levels in many measuresof mathematical achievement so the project is of national significance in addressing this social phenomenon. The cultural‑mathematical approach of the project is novel and offers new potential for learning. The project takes a holistic approach to this issue to include teachers, students and Aboriginal Education Workers in a partnership of learning mathematics. The principles developed through this project can be applied to learners and learning mathematics in other contexts.
Maximising Success in Mathematics for Disadvantaged Students
Professor Peter Sullivan, Ms Judy Mousley, Professor Robyn Zevenbergen
This project aims to identify strategies that teachers can use to overcome the obvious disadvantage some school students experience in learning mathematics. Currently working class and Indigenous students in Australian schools are performing very much worse than their peers in mathematics. Some currently recommended teaching strategies may be actually exacerbating this disadvantage. This project will identify the factors contributing to the lack of success of these students, and offer strategies that teachers can use to ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have the same opportunities to learn mathematics as other students.
The literacy practices of Kunibídji children
Dr Glenn Auld and the members of the Kunibídji community in Maningrida.
This project identifies the beliefs and attitudes Kunibídji people have towards reading digital Ndjébbana texts. In collaboration with the members of the Kunibídji community, talking books were developed in Ndjébbana, which is their preferred language of communication. These Ndjébbana talking books were loaded on touch screen computers and placed in several homes for members of the community to access. This project upholds the linguistic human rights of speakers of a minority language and privileges their right to access their language on computers at home. This doctoral work was presented on DVD with academic, plain language and Ndjébbana texts for different stakeholder audiences.
The above project has lead to other research projects in Maningrida that are currently being undertaken by Dr Auld. He is investigating the problems of multimodality while working with members of the Burarra community to make digital talking books about their everyday practice in a remote homeland community. Another project involves the knowledge construction around digital talking books. An important feature of this project is the opportunity for members of the community to purchase computers from the local store. Dr Auld will be researching the ways the participants construct knowledge around the purchasing of these computers and the subsequent viewing of the digital texts at home.
Food, Traditional Aboriginal Knowledge and the Expansion of the Settler Economy
Professor Lynette Russell; Professor Marcia Langton; Dr Zane Ma Rhea
This project will strengthen our understanding of Australian Indigenous settler history by focusing on the role of food and traditional Aboriginal food knowledge. It will also represent a timely engagement with worldwide debates about the role of Indigenous knowledge in a modern world. As well as producing scholarly outcomes including books the project will establish and maintain a database of this knowledge which will be accessible to Indigenous communities, scholars, land users and managers. A further benefit will be the repatriation of knowledge and information located in archives and other repositories to descendant Aboriginal communities in culturally sensitive, socially and historically contextualised Community Reports.
Please email your enquiries about this project to Indigenous.Food@arts.monash.edu.au.
The organisation of participation structures in everyday learning routines
Professor Marilyn Fleer and Ms Denise Williams Kennedy
The proposed study seeks to examine the organization of children's participation structures in everyday routines in some Indigenous communities within central Australia and rural Victoria. Through understanding how learning is organised in families, cultural knowledge important for teaching and learning in schools/centres can be determined. This will have an impact on how teacher education programs and school / centre teaching programs are framed and implemented. Previous research (Fleer and Williams-Kennedy, 2002) has shown that family learning structures are not well understood in education.
How young Indigenous people are faring
Mr Michael Long
The Centre for the Economics of Education and Training (CEET) has been commissioned by the Dusseldorp Skills Forum (DSF) to investigate the educational and labour force participation of young Indigenous Australians. The project builds on previous collaboration between CEET and DSF in the annual report How young people are faring (see DSF papers) and involves partnership with an Indigenous community group.
The project is based on analyses of the 1996, 2001 and 2006 Censuses. It compares changes in the educational and labour force participation and educational attainment of young Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians over the last decade. The analyses will examine differences for males and females, states and territories and urban and regional areas.
National Accelerated Literacy Programme (NALP)
Assoc Prof Brenton Doecke and Dr Jennifer Rennie
The Faculty of Education has been engaged by The Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) as a consultant to evaluate and report on the effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness of the National Accelerated Literacy Programme (NALP). The programme uses Accelerated Literacy methodology (AL) to help improve low literacy levels in remote communities, and is jointly funded by DEST and the Northern Territory Government through the Department of Employment, Education, and Training (NT DEET). Five jurisdictions are currently involved in testing the Programme methodology and measuring the affect it has had on Indigenous students’ learning outcomes. The jurisdictions include: Shalom Christian College, Queensland; The Aboriginal Independent Community Schools, Western Australia; The Catholic Education Commission (CEC); Western Australia; and the Department of Education and Children’s Services, (DECS), South Australia.
The final report to DEST has made recommendations on ways the current programme can be improved.
Bubbles on the surface: a place pedagogy of the Narran Lakes
Professor Margaret Somerville
The project will provide Aboriginal, ecological humanities, and pedagogical input into the problem of environmental sustainability in the Murray Darling Basin, complementing current physical science initiatives. It will have immediate national benefit in the production of educational resources based on alternative and previously invisible stories of water in the Narran Lakes area, an icon site in the Murray Darling Basin. The findings will have longer term national benefit by identifying the elements of a general pedagogy of place, drawn from the specific local case study of the Narran Lakes, which will be applied in adult and community education.
Enabling place pedagogies in rural and urban Australia
Professor Margaret Somerville, Professor Bronwyn Davies; Dr Kerith Power; Dr Sue Gannon
This project will tell us how children and adults learn about place in the local areas where they live and work. The findings will be applied in action research with teachers in early childhood, school, and adult education settings, and in the preparation of teachers. It will address two Research Priority areas, 1: An Environmentally Sustainable Australia and 2. Strengthening Australia's economic and social fabric, which we argue are inseparable. Incorporating the findings into the curricula of teacher education will ensure that the project will have sustained long term benefits as well as the immediate application built into the study.