A study of attendance and classroom participation among Aboriginal (Nyungar) students in a West Australian metropolitan senior high school
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My thesis combines an analysis of the reasons behind changing attendance and participation of Aboriginal students at a West Australian metropolitan senior high school with an appraisal of the role of Aboriginal students in its school curriculum, 1993-1997. This study also incorporates an examination of teacher attitudes towards Aboriginal students and culture with an ethnographic study as well as a qualitative survey of the attitudes of Aboriginal students towards school and the curriculum process. This thesis begins with an explanation for the choice of Aboriginal students and their experience at school as my research topic. Some autobiographical details of the author and my position on staff at school, 1994-97, then follows. A general background to Aboriginal Education and metropolitan senior high school is provided, with a specific discussion of the role of Aboriginal students and the place of Aboriginal Studies in the life of the school. A concise analysis of the secondary literature is then undertaken which provides, inter alia, a knowledge base for the 'ethnographic' interviews. The various strategies introduced in an attempt to improve the attendance and participation at school of Aboriginal students are then analysed, including an assessment of the success of the Aboriginal Studies programme.The next section focuses on the attitudes and actions of Aboriginal students and their teachers, giving a detailed account and appraisal of a series of interviews. My thesis then concludes by outlining some of the major factors influencing Aboriginal attendance and participation at school, as well as examining some of the key areas where Aboriginal education may be improved. My thesis does not purport to provide definitive answers to these issues, but rather points to an embryonic strategy for improvement, based upon the necessarily limited focus provided by this research. A ++ series of appendices follow my written conclusions. No manuscript collections were consulted in the course of undertaking this research. However, many interviews and questionnaires have been extensively used with a voluminous selection of secondary source material, a selection of which is detailed in the bibliography.
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