Vol. 33 No. 2 (2018)
Research Articles

How to Ensure Academic Success of Indigenous Students Who ‘Learn Where They Live’

Jan E Cochrane
Sask Polytechnic School of Nursing
Bio
Sithokozile Maposa
University of Sask. College of Nursing
Bio
Published June 3, 2019
Keywords
  • Indigenous students,
  • distance education,
  • online education,
  • academic success,
  • technology support.

Abstract

Background. Distance Education (DE) allows Indigenous students to learn where they live. However, barriers to successful completion of programs include limited flexibility of the course duration, lack of interaction with instructors or peers, and balancing one’s learning needs with family needs (Ball, 2007). To better understand how DE programs can be enhanced, we examined Indigenous students and instructors to answer the following questions: 1) What are unique learning needs of Indigenous students completing DE pedagogies? 2) How can DE meet the Indigenous students’ goals for academic success and indigenization?

Methods: The study was conducted using a qualitative, interpretive descriptive design (Thorne, 2008) and grounded in ways of Indigenous cultural knowledge (Mussell, 2005). A convenience and survey sampling method (Thorne, 2008) was used to recruit participants in the study area. Literature review, individual interviews, and sharing circles were conducted. Thematic analysis was used to characterize experiences of the learners’ academic needs.

Findings: The following themes were revealed: 1) Personal interaction with the instructor and peers is essential, 2) learning tools should be sensitive to learning needs and visual learners, 3) flexibility must be an integral part allowing for learning family needs balance; 4) preference for cultural relevance and appropriate materials enhance learning, and 5) technological access and ongoing support in its use is imperative.

Conclusion: With flexibility in the pedagogy design, ongoing technological support, and culturally relevant learning approaches, Indigenous learners can benefit from DE programs that allow them to learn where they live. However, addressing the barriers to personal interaction and teacher support, technological issues, and cultural appropriateness enhance course completion.


Résumé

Contexte. La formation à distance (FAD) permet aux étudiants autochtones d’apprendre de chez eux. Cependant, des obstacles tels que la flexibilité limitée de la durée du cours, le manque d’interaction avec les enseignants ou les pairs, et la conciliation entre les études et la famille (Ball, 2007) entravent le chemin menant au terme des programmes. Pour mieux comprendre comment les programmes de FAD peuvent être améliorés, nous avons mené une recherche auprès des étudiants autochtones et des enseignants en vue de répondre aux questions suivantes : 1) Quels sont les besoins spécifiques aux étudiants autochtones étudiant dans le cadre de pédagogies de FAD ? 2) Comment la FAD peut-elle atteindre les objectifs des étudiants autochtones en matière de réussite scolaire etd’autochtonisation?

Méthodes : L’étude a été menée selon une approche qualitative, interprétative et descriptive (Thorne, 2008) et ancrée dans les modes de pensée de la culture autochtone (Mussell, 2005). Une méthode d’enquête par échantillonnage non-probabiliste (Thorne, 2008) a été utilisée pour recruter des participants dans le champ de l’étude. Une revue de littérature, des entretiens individuels et des groupes de discussion ont été mis en œuvre. Une analyse thématique a été utilisée pour caractériser les besoins académiques exprimés par les apprenants.

Résultats : Les thèmes suivants sont ressortis : 1) l’interaction personnelle avec les enseignants et les pairs est essentielle, 2) les outils d’apprentissage doivent être adaptables aux besoins d’apprentissage et aux apprenants visuels, 3) la flexibilité doit être totale afin de permettre la conciliation études/famille; 4) le choix de la pertinence culturelle et du matériel approprié favorise l’apprentissage et, 5) l’accès aux technologies et à un soutien continu dans leurs usages est impératif.

Conclusion : grâce à la souplesse de la conception pédagogique, à l’assistance technologique continue et aux approches de la formation adaptées à leurs cultures, les apprenants autochtones peuvent profiter de programmes de formation à distance qui leur permettent d’étudier de chez eux. Cependant, il convient de s’attaquer à ce qui limite les interactions et le soutien de l’enseignant, les problèmes technologiques et l’appropriation culturelle, pour accroitre la persévérance dans le cours.

Mots-clés : étudiants autochtones, formation à distance, formation en ligne, réussite académique, assistance technologique.

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