A pedagogical model for engaging Aboriginal children with science learning

Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Science Teachers Association


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Education




Hackling, M., Byrne, M., Gower, G., & Anderson, K. (2015). A pedagogical model for engaging Aboriginal children with science learning. Teaching Science: The Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association, 61(1).27-39. Available here


Aboriginal children experience social and educational disadvantage and many are not engaged with schooling or learning, which results in significantly lower levels of educational attainment. The Aboriginal Education Program delivered by Scitech to remote Western Australian schools has been shown to significantly increase student ratings of their enjoyment of science, curiosity about science phenomena and their rating of science as a favourite subject. Teachers reported that student focus and engagement was very high during the Scitech activities and that student attendance and behaviour was better than usual (Hackling, Byrne, Gower, & Anderson, 2012). This study investigated the practices used by the Scitech presenters that generated high levels of student engagement. Analysis of classroom observations and transcripts of classroom dialogue from lessons that generated high levels of engagement showed that a set of 11 pedagogies underpinned this engaging practice. The pedagogical practices addressed: relationship building, facilitation of effective hands-on activity work, participation in classroom discourse and connecting the science activities to the student’s experiences and local context. The findings of this study elaborate the Primary Connections Indigenous perspectives framework (Australian Academy of Science, 2008), and provide a model to underpin approaches to teaching Aboriginal children, and possibly other children, who are not engaged with learning science.

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