Australian Journal of Indigenous Education
The University of Queensland
Office of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Equity and Indigenous)
Research on transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991), particularly within the context of higher education, has demonstrated the significant impact university learning can have on a wide range of cohorts across diverse learning contexts. However, the extensive body of literature pertaining to transformative learning remains largely silent on the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students and the extent to which their engagement with academia can be transformative. Nevertheless, Nakata’s (2007b) cultural interface theory has shaped policy, practice and thought in Indigenous higher education, elucidating the nuances, complexities and challenges that confront Indigenous students in their journey through university. In bringing together these two critical theories, this study investigated the journeys of three undergraduate Indigenous university students finding that university can indeed be a site of positive personal transformation. Such changes were fostered through critical peer support relationships, relationships with family and loved ones as well as a growing confidence and pride in their cultural identities. These findings have important implications for the way institutions support and teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and provides a nuanced insight into their university journeys at the cultural interface.
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