Date of Award

1992

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

David Prescott

Abstract

The provision of education to Aboriginal students has been the subject of many reports and inquiries over the years, each expressing various degrees of concern about aspects of Aboriginal participation and retention in the school system and the generally low levels of academic performance achieved by Aboriginal children. Numerous theoretical explanations have been proposed to account for the serious inequities which continue to exist between the academic performance of Aboriginal children and their non-Aboriginal peers. Some of these are reviewed in this thesis so as to provide a conceptual framework in order that readers may judge the results of this study against such theoretical explanations. Most social scientists seek to examine school failure from the assumption that the cause lies in the background of the child. This assumption is influenced by the ideology of the scientist and aspects of a child's difference are noted with the main thrust of research being to determine the nature and extent of the identified differences. Such a preoccupation prevents social scientists from examining the diverse range of factors that may contribute to the high levels of underachievement among Aboriginal children. This study was not grounded in a particular theory and sought to evaluate students' perceptions of their schooling experiences against some of the more recent and credible explanations suggested in the literature for minority-group academic failure. The subjects studied were selected from an existing group of students at school within an Aboriginal enclave and were characterised by having previously underachieved or withdrawn from W.A. government secondary schools. The students were asked to account for their previous lack of academic success. Questionnaires were devised and trialled among a group of similarly-aged Aboriginal students elsewhere. Two instruments were used in the study: the first, a prescriptive questionnaire, used a Likert Scale in which responses were graded against a statement. This questionnaire was supported by the use of an affective questionnaire, administered during a personal interview with respondents. The students' perceptions are discussed in terms of their compatibility with research findings reported in the literature.

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