Training manual for teachers working with Pacific students: Engaging Pacific learners
This resource aims to assist teachers working with Pacific students in tertiary settings by providing ways to enhance their ability to engage in class discussion and content.
Sandy Thompson, Fraser McDonald, Malia Talakai,
Venusi Taumoepeau and Aue Te Ava – Pacific Centre for Learning, Teaching and Research, and Community and Health Services at Unitec.
Video 1: Chapter 1 (Culturally responsive pedagogy)
Pacific students’ lack of engagement in classroom discussions and with the classroom curriculum has been identified as the result of many factors including the tertiary educational environment being a foreign place. Unfamiliar educational pedagogies and curriculum content often leave Pacific students feeling lost and alienated. Feelings of loss and alienation lead to missing classes, lack of engagement in class discussion and with class curriculum. The lack of attendance in class, the lack of engagement in class discussion and with the class curriculum results in poor achievement, low success and high drop out rates. It is therefore argued that appropriate teaching methodologies, and cultural contextualisation and customisation of teaching, will enhance Pacific learners’ engagement in the classroom discussion and with the class curriculum.
It was in the context of our work with Pacific students at Unitec Institute of Technology that we identified the need to employ appropriate teaching methodologies, and use cultural contextualisation and customisation of teaching to respond to Pacific learners. This initiated the work around embedding Pacific knowledge, values and practices in the Unitec curricula in an effort to enhance Pacific learners’ learning through engagement in class discussion and with class content. This included preparing student centred delivery which utilized specific teaching tools such as metaphors, stories as well as creating positive learning environments through identifying and supporting cultural nuances, contextualisation and customisation of teaching of teaching content.
This training manual is prepared by Unitec’s Pacific Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research and teaching staff from Unitec’s Department of Community and Health Services. It comprises a text based e-resource that is written to accompany video clips, pod-casts and photographs. The goals of this e-resource is to assist teachers that work with Pacific students in the tertiary environment by providing ways to enhance Pacific learners’ ability to engage in class discussion and with class content.
The Pacific Centre for Learning, Teaching and Research
The Centre’s vision is to “Embrace Pacific Cultures to enhance student experience through improvement of student engagement and achievement so that students become valued leaders and contributors to Pacific communities and New Zealand society”. The main function of the centre revolves firstly, around providing academic and pastoral support for Pacific students. Secondly, through the provision of advice and support for academic lecturers. Finally, through engagement and working closely with Pacific families and communities.
The Nakuita, which is Fijian for 'octopus', was developed by the Pacific Centre’s Director, Linda Aumua in 2008, to inform the work of the centre. The octopus has one central body which metaphorically refers to the centre and its tentacles as the Pacific support provided through the learning development lecturers infiltrating the departments and services.
The concept started out with the centre employing learning development lecturers. The learning development lecturers are nurtured at the centre before they are placed in the departments, usually in the staff member’s area of expertise. The idea is that the staff member will be able to provide content support and learning development support for Pacific students. The flexibility of the octopus framework enabled the centre to collaborate with departments to co-employ the learning development lecturers with the aim of the departments picking up full employment of the Pacific staff.
The success of the Nakuita has extended into the area of staff support. This include providing professional development workshops on understanding Pacific learners; engaging Pacific learners; providing input into curriculum development around embedding Pacific dimensions into the curricula and collaborating with staff on Pacific research. Through collaboration with the two lecturers in the Graduate Diploma in Not-For-Profit Management, Sandy Thompson and Fraser McDonald we are also able to produce this training resource. This collaboration started with the centre providing support for the Pacific students on their programme. This has extended to a co-employment of a Pacific staff member to provide focus support for students in this programme.
This manual is divided into five chapters.
- Chapter 1 is the introduction and includes a triangulation of a literature review on engagement of Pacific learners, students’ evaluation and tutors learning experiences.
- Chapter 2 draws on the experiences of the above Unitec staff and looks at meaningful ways to engage Pacific learners in classroom discussions and class content.
- Chapter 3 provides some example of teaching plans
- Chapter 4 consist of a list of references used in this work.
- Chapter 5 is a resource/information section that will provide additional information and resources to support the work of teachers.