Year

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Education

Abstract

Dr Andrew Refshauge, the then-Minister for Education and Training in the New South Wales (NSW) Government, recognised the work of teachers as the ‘make or break’ element in improving Aboriginal student outcomes and recommended that non-Aboriginal teachers required better preparation in their teacher training programs. (NSW DET & NSW AECG 2004; Aboriginal Human Resource Development Plan 2006-2008). Dr Refshauge challenged the schooling sector to dramatically improve the learning outcomes of Aboriginal students and announced that these outcomes needed to match or be better than those of the broader population by 2012.

In response to this recommendation, the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) and the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG), in conjunction with the Australian Catholic University (ACU), designed The Enhanced Teacher Training Program (ETTP). The purpose of the enhanced program was for selected pre-service teachers to enhance their knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal history and cultures, develop effective cross-cultural communication skills and gain experience of appropriate pedagogy and classroom management strategies in schools with high Aboriginal student populations.

The aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of the seven non-Aboriginal preservice teachers undertaking the year-long ETTP at the University of Wollongong. A qualitative methodology was applied to this study to investigate the prospective teachers’ experiences and the methods utilised to gather the data, including focus groups, semi-structured interviews, email communication and document analysis.

The study revealed that non-Aboriginal preservice teachers’ cross-cultural learning was enriched through the ETTP. The study highlighted that partnerships between universities, the NSW DET and highly-committed individuals were critical to ensuring policy translated effectively into practice. The findings and recommendations of this enquiry will add to the development of future ETTP at the University of Wollongong and contribute to the literature on cross-cultural teacher education for non-Aboriginal preservice teachers.

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