‘We got a different way of learning.’: A message to the sector from Aboriginal students living and studying in remote communities

Judith Wilks, Anna Dwyer, Sandra Wooltorton, John Guenther

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

‘First know your students’, is a well-known saying in teaching. But do Australian universities really know their students? In this paper we present findings from research conducted in remote and very remote Australia where Aboriginal higher education students and educators were asked about their learning and teaching needs, and their views on things the sector could do to better support them in their journey into and through university. They shared with us experiences and thoughts about their ways of learning in face-to-face and online contexts, in particular the role of cultural security; community partnerships; Aboriginal knowledges; pathways and transitions; and student assessment and support strategies. The depth and richness of the skills, knowledges, and capacities of Aboriginal learners, and indeed of the communities in which they reside and study are vital foundations for participation, retention and completion. However, respondents related that in the main, these attributes are not acknowledged by metropolitan-based course designers nor university administrations. We conclude that learning experiences and university operations that are designed to embrace these students’ strengths and to work in and with their communities, are more likely to retain Aboriginal students and facilitate their participation and success, enabling beneficial outcomes for all university students and ultimately society as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-38
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Universities' Review
Volume62
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aboriginal students
  • remote communities
  • Australian universities
  • higher education

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