Whose knowledge?: Science education, Indigenous knowledges and teacher praxis

PhD Thesis


Desmarchelier, Renee. 2016. Whose knowledge?: Science education, Indigenous knowledges and teacher praxis. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.
Title

Whose knowledge?: Science education, Indigenous knowledges and teacher praxis

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorDesmarchelier, Renee
SupervisorHenderson, Robyn
Abawi, Lindy
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages300
Year2016
Abstract

This study investigated how a group of secondary school science teachers considered the implementation of a Cross-Curriculum Priority that mandated the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures in all learning areas. The inclusion of Indigenous content and perspectives, as a way of promoting intercultural understanding, has been advocated in the Australian context for some time. However, classroom implementation has been lacking with teachers feeling unsure about how to satisfy these curriculum initiatives.
With the introduction of the new (national) Australian Curriculum such content and perspectives were mandated. This context enabled an exploration of science teachers’ responses to the Cross-Curriculum Priority as they attempted to translate the intent of the curriculum into classroom practice.

The investigation took place through a collaborative and collegial approach using Participatory Action Research. A group of five teachers from different schools proceeded through cycles of inquiry, action and reflection framed by the curriculum requirements. Across the participant group these cycles operated asynchronously as the individual teacher participants had to negotiate their schooling contexts while still being guided by group participation. The teacher participants’ needs and perspectives directed the topics of discussion and progress of the cycles. Advice and guidance around cultural sensitivities inherent in the research were given by three Critical Friends of the project, who all self-identified as Aboriginal people. A bricolage approach was taken to data collection allowing the capture of the experiences of the participants through
interviews, group meetings, one-on-one discussions with the researcher, documentary analysis and observation of classroom activities. Data were analysed using a critical theory and pedagogy lens.

The study showed that teachers approached the Cross-Curriculum Priority with a hope that it would lead to socially just learning opportunities for both
Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Teacher participants took different approaches to implementing lessons in the science classroom and not all of them
implemented classroom activities with Indigenous content or perspectives. The study found that the approach and classroom implementation taken by teachers are related to their epistemological, pedagogical and political positioning. The neo-liberal context of the Australian schooling system was also found to confine and constrain teachers’ efforts in classroom implementation. The study
recommends that all of these interconnected factors need to be considered in understanding how teachers engage with such a curriculum innovation. The findings of this study will assist in moving beyond the rhetoric around such
curriculum initiatives towards practical implementation of science education inclusive of Indigenous knowledges and perspectives in classrooms.

Keywordssecondary school; teachers; Indigenous content; intercultural understanding; Cross-Curriculum Priority
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390199. Curriculum and pedagogy not elsewhere classified
450299. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Teacher Education and Early Childhood
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https://research.usq.edu.au/item/q3y36/whose-knowledge-science-education-indigenous-knowledges-and-teacher-praxis

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