A comparative perspective on learning among indigenous and western students in primary school
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A Comparative Perspective on Learning among Indigenous and Western Students in primary School. Lectures at the 17th EECERA Annual Conference in Prague, 29th August – 1st September, 2007 Ole Fredrik Lillemyr & Frode Søbstad

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A comparative perspective on learning among indigenous and western students in primary school l.jpg

A Comparative Perspective on Learning among Indigenous and Western Students in primary School

Lectures at the 17th EECERA Annual Conference in Prague, 29th August – 1st September, 2007

Ole Fredrik Lillemyr & Frode Søbstad

Queen Maud’s University College of Early Childhood Education, Trondheim, Norway

30th August 2007

ofl@dmmh.no and fsob@dmmh.no


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Co-authors & Presenters Western Students in primary School

  • Co-authors

    • Ole Fredrik Lillemyr, QMC, Norway

    • Frode Søbstad, QMC, Norway

    • Kurt Marder, UWS, Australia

    • Terri Flowerday, New Mexico, USA

    • Camilla Bang, QMC, Norway

  • Presenters

    • Ole Fredrik Lillemyr

    • Frode Søbstad


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A Socio-Cultural Perspective on Play and Learning: Research Focus

  • Student motivation is a great challenge in school

  • The Objective of Equal Opportunity in Education – an optimal aim in all these countries (independent of background)

  • A comparative research study in Australia, USA & Norway, focusing third and fourth grade (8-10 yrs)

  • Focus on play, learning, self-concept, intrinsic motivation in a socio-cult perspective (Vygotsky,1978;Deci & Ryan,1991; Maehr & Midgley 1996)

    • Play important – cf. learning through play

    • In play, intrinsic motivation is natural and typical

    • Learning in a broad sense incl social aspects to promote engagement & motivation

    • Self-Concept has a central role in school

  • Earlier research: focused older students and not including play



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Theories Focus

  • Sociocultural theory; Vygotsky (1978): children’s dev. and sense of relatedness important to cultural identity(zone of proximal developm)

  • Motivational theories

    • Goal theory – personal investment (IM)=sense of self, motivational orientation, perceived options Maehr & Midgley1966

    • Self-determination (Deci & Ryan, 1991; 2002) and internalization of extrinsic motivation, according to:

      • Need for competence

      • Need for self-determination

      • Need for relatedness (belonging)

    • Social motivation important to social learning (Cf. Wentzel, 2005; Ladd, 2007; Lillemyr, 2007)

  • Play important to all children + in any culture (Huizinga, 1955; Levy, 1978)


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Children’s relatedness – in socio-cultural Groups Focus

  • According to theory, children’s language development and sense of relatedness, important to developm. of cult identity (cf. Vygotsky, 1978; 1986)

  • In the Indigenous groups included in our study, the teaching language varies heavily; with consequences for cultural identity

  • Furthermore, our groups have quite different school conditions otherwise as well; parent involvements in school, their culture’s focus in the curriculum, degree of task or performance orientation, amount of free choices available in class

  • All Indigenous people struggle for recognition, justice, respect for their culture in the society – so General Self in general and sense of relatedness in particular are important (cf. Vygotsky, 1986; Deci & Ryan, 1991)

  • Sense of relatedness plays an important role for students’ social motivation and their academic ambitions (Deci and Ryan, 1991)


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Indigenous People of Norway: The Sámi - People of the Sun and Wind

  • The Sámi, divided betw four nations (Norway,Sweden,Finland,Russia)

  • Their territory is called Sápmi (or Sámiätnam)

  • The Sámi comprise around 70.000 people, in Norway 50.000 (1%)

  • As Indigenous people, the Sámi have strived to preserve their culture

  • Excesses and injustice has been committed to them by ethnic Norwegians through the years

  • Duodji (handicrafts), joik (singing), Sámi clothing

  • A Sámi Parliament (1989), Sámi Curriculum (1997), Sámi Allaskuvla (1989), museums & centers

  • Sámi Allaskuvla is the only university college in the four countries teaching in Sámi to Sámi students


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The Aboriginal Australians - People of the Dream Philosophy and Wind

  • Aborigines, lit. :people here from beginn. (at least 40.000 yrs back)

  • Indigenous Australians= Aborigines + Torres Strait Islanders

  • Population today close to 460.000 = 2,3 % (of Australia)

  • A tribe is formed of clans, believe in same Dreamtime stories, speak same language, celebrate same customs and rites

  • Several hundred tribes, community often used to describe Aboriginal groups; today 6-10 large com.’s in Aus (e.g.Koori)

  • Colonization (1788) imposed change on culture & lifestyle, took their land, destroyed food sources, diseases, killing, forbidden to learn language to children & separation from family

  • Today famous for art (handicrafts), didgeridoo playing, etc.


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Native Americans: The Navajo’s – Naabeehó Dine’é and Wind

  • The Navajo’s are a sovereign native American tribe

  • Their reservation (Navajo Nation) covers 70.000 square km’s of land in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah (largest in USA). Some Navajo’s also live in other states

  • The Navajo’s, traditionally known as Diné encompass today around 300.000 people (1 % of US population, 2/3 of Native Americans)

  • Their language is: Navajo and English (also in schools)

  • Registered as a N, when a ”blood quantum” of one fourth

  • Important: Oral stories are mediated from gen to gen


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Research Questions and Wind

  • What are the similarities and differences between Indigenous and Western students’ learning preference (dir or free), interests in play (dir or free), motivational orientations, and self-concepts (cognitive, social, general self) in Australia, USA and Norway?

  • What gender similarities and differences exist within the Australian, American and Norwegian student groups?


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Research Methods and Wind

  • Study 1: Questionnaire

    • Harter’s Self-concept scales (Academic, Social, General Self-esteem) + Søbstad: Humor Self

    • Harter’s IM scales (challenge, curiosity, mastery)

    • Lillemyr’s Interest scales (learning, play, l c a)

    • McInerney’s scale of school motivation

  • Study 2: Interviews of students and teachers


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Main results and Wind

  • More differences between Indigenous & Western students, than between Indigenous groups

  • Indigenous students, favoring teacher directed learning more

  • Different concepts of learning dominate among boys and girls

  • Play is essential to all soc-cult groups, help them learn better

  • Indigenous students lower General Self and Social Self, no group differences on Academic Self

  • Norway: Teachers teaching Western students – more play in class + more student influence – not in Australia

  • Major challenge for teachers: the gender difference, particularly Indigenous students


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Discussion and Wind

  • Indigenous students preferance according to Vygotsky

  • Gender differences in all socio-cultural groups

  • Play important for school learning

  • Teachers reluctant to student influence

  • Challenges regarding equality of education


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Conclusions and Wind

  • It was found more diff’s betw Ind & W sts, than betw the different Ind student grs

  • Indigenous grs endorsed stronger a teacher-dir learning (trad concept of learning), corresponding to Vygotsky’s theory

  • Gender differences in interest of free learning within the Indigenous student groups

  • Indigenous students (Abor & Nav) lower GSe than Western grs, and lower social Self (Sámi)

  • No differences found between Ind grs and West grs on Academic Self

  • In particular, it is important for school to be aware of gender differences within Indigenous student groups