Author Identifier

Mary-anne Macdonald

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education

First Supervisor

Associate Professor Glenda Campbell-Evans

Second Supervisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Third Supervisor

Dr Martin Cooper


Indigenous and remote Australians have lower education and employment levels than non- Indigenous and urban Australians and face continued socio-economic disadvantage. Many contemporary voices have called for quantitative evidence for Indigenous education policy. The current thesis responds to this gap in the literature by developing a factor model of Indigenous education engagement, and supports this with regression equations and qualitative interviews exploring the impact of various experiences on Indigenous engagement with secondary school. The current study found that, despite gap in attendance rates, Year 12 completion rates, and tertiary education enrolment and completion, Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants alike ascribed a high value to the benefit of completing secondary education. For both groups, students were more likely to attribute benefit to schooling when they encountered a Positive School Culture, Promotion of Indigenous Culture, Pathway Development, and opportunities to develop Self-Efficacy. Yet, Indigenous secondary students in this study who ascribed benefit to secondary education appeared to make that decision at an earlier age, and did not often ascribe equal benefit to higher education. Compared with non-Indigenous participants of the current research, Indigenous students make education decisions with the belief that it will be harder for them to attain success in post-secondary education due to lower academic achievement, social discourse and discrimination surrounding Indigenous identity, geographic remoteness, and economic concerns. Furthermore, qualitative analysis revealed that non-Indigenous secondary teachers are likely to look to more superficial aspects of culture, rather than the epistemological and ontological aspects desired by Indigenous students, when developing a culturally inclusive environment. Finally, the Revised Factor Model developed in this thesis explained 46% of the total variance amongst variables measuring student experiences of and attitudes toward the utility of education.


Paper Location