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Inside Teaching : April 2010
THERE’S NO DOUBTING THE DISPARITY THAT ExISTS BETWEEN INDIGENOUS AND NON- INDIGENOUS STUDENTS. INDIGENOUS STUDENTS ARE LESS LIkELY TO HAVE ACCESS TO TExTBOOkS, A COMPUTER, AN INTERNET CONNECTION, ADESkOREVENA QUIET PLACE IN WHICH TO STUDY. Inside Teaching | April 2010 RESEARCH 38 students than non-Indigenous students, although both Indigenous and non- Indigenous students reported similar levels of interest in and enjoyment of mathematics. Indigenous students also had a significantly lower appreciation of science or desire to study the discipline. Despite this, they reported putting just as much effort into and persisting in their study as non-Indigenous students. Indigenous students had significantly lower levels of confidence in their ability to effectively handle tasks in mathematics and science as well as in their general studies. They also had lower levels of self-concept in mathematics and science, and reported higher levels of anxiety about studying mathematics. As is often found, males, regardless of Indigenous status, reported significantly higher levels of self-concept in these areas than female students. One important finding, since it’s something that can be affected by teachers and schools, is that self-efficacy in mathematics and science were found to have one of the strongest associations with students’ performance among Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike. Students’ learning strategies and preferences There was little difference shown between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in managing their own learning – both groups used memorisation strategies with similar frequency in their studies, particularly when learning mathematics. The same was found for their use of elaboration strategies, although Indigenous students used them less often when studying mathematics. Indigenous students were less likely to use control strategies in mathematics that involved checking what they had learned and working out what they still needed to learn. Indigenous and non-Indigenous students had similar preferences for competitive learning situations in learning mathematics and for cooperative learning situations in their general studies as well as mathematics. Learning environ ments – schools and classrooms Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students had similar attitudes towards school, their relationships with teachers and discipline – a positive finding that indicates Australian schools are succeeding in providing a supportive and welcoming environment to all students. There were no significant differences between Indigenous and non- Indigenous students in terms of their sense of belonging at school or in the level of support their teachers showed in English and mathematics classes, although Indigenous females indicated receiving greater support when studying mathematics compared to Indigenous males. Indigenous and non-Indigenous students reported positive views about discipline in their English classes, although Indigenous students reported significantly fewer disciplinary problems in their mathematics lessons compared to non-Indigenous students. Putting it all together Home and family matters put the low academic achievement of Indigenous students into context. Generally, Indigenous people have poorer socioeconomic outcomes than the non- Indigenous population. This inequality is reflected in lower than average levels of household income and high levels of house overcrowding and homelessness. Indigenous people have less access to the resources they need for study and are more likely to have parents with lower levels of educational experience.