Thesis on cultural practices in academic settings
Phyllis Callaghan graduated with her PhD with a research focus on education. She was the recipient of the Emeritus Professor Roger Green, ONZM Award for Top Thesis in 2017.
Her thesis was entitled "In what ways do 'Indigenous cultural practices' foster success for students in tertiary and work settings: A case study of Toi Māori, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievement in higher education and vocational settings?"
This study examines the importance of cultural practices within academic and vocational settings for both Māori and Aboriginal peoples. This research interrupts Western theorizing of Indigenous practices across tertiary and vocational settings as the minority. It aims to challenge the status quo of hegemonic institutions which categorize First Nations codified ways of knowing as the other.
Through culturally responsive pedagogy and culturally responsive environments, this study aims to highlight and document success models within Indigenous fields that use cultural connectors, such as; whanau, racism, death, and identity to produce high outcomes for Aboriginal peoples.
In understanding both negative and positive coding structures within First Nations’ populations, this research builds a platform which honours and celebrates Indigenous knowledge forms, like Māori art, elders, and dream time to understand how they create hybrids of cultural excellence which garner mastery within higher education and work settings.
In discovering the grounds for cultural impetuses within higher education and vocational spaces, the findings of this report will help to close the disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples within such institutions.
A further recommendation of this study is to develop research which understands the psychology for motivation and a motivation amongst Indigenous populations. In establishing research within these fields, it will help to reduce disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations across social, economic, and political environments.
Dr Callaghan's thesis is available from Te Kōputu Kōrero a Tā Hirini Moko Mead
Dr Phyllis Callaghan: Doctor of Philosophy (Education)
As a teacher, I became aware that English education systems and cultural practices could not provide a strong, responsive cultural lens for Māori. I saw a whole population of Māori students who were disenfranchised. Some were finding success in kapa haka or waka ama but many more were being left behind. That’s how I began my journey – I wanted to find out why they weren’t succeeding or being understood, and how to improve their path through the system.