Improving the success of Pasifika tertiary students
“How do we know that what we are doing to support Pasifika student success is working?” and "What does success mean to Pasifika students?” These questions provided the focus for the collaborative project Enhancing Pasifika student success at Canterbury Tertiary Institutions, completed by Pauline Luafutu-Simpson, Dr Elena Moltchanova and Danielle O’Halloran - University of Canterbury, Dr Lorraine Petelo - Lincoln University and Sam Uta’i - Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.
Pasifika cultural frameworks, such as Fausiga o le Fale Tele, Talanoa, and Teu le Vā, underpinned the research’s strengths-based approach. Pasifika methodologies and pedagogy were utilised throughout, to role model how Pasifika knowledge could be embedded, integrated, and included in programmes, content, and teaching practice throughout institutions.
Feedback indicated that Pasifika students perceived their success in studies to be linked to their families and communities. Responding to this, the team recommended that institutions should find ways and opportunities to integrate these groups throughout the institutional structure and course content, rather than just at times of consultation.
The team developed the Pasifika Success Toolkit for use within the three institutions. The toolkit includes:
- Exemplars for enhanced student reporting on Pasifika success – particularly for educational performance within courses and learner support programme participation.
- Professional development resources and workshops for staff on culturally responsive practices. Fostering deeper understanding of Pasifika cultural values using the Fausiga o le Fale Tele metaphorical frame and effective practices to enhance Pasifika student success from the research findings.
- Further investigation and recommendation of preferred effective models of Pasifika learner supports, such as integrated or supplementary academic supports and individualised mentoring programmes.
- A Pasifika Success Toolkit web presence – an online space where the toolkit resources are made available.
Building from this work, Liz Keneti, Director of Pasifika Development at University of Canterbury is leading an Ako Aoteaora co-funded project to implement, evaluate and refine the Pasifika Success Toolkit across the three Canterbury institutions. The newly-approved project involves many of the team members from this initial work.