Date of Award

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Schools and Centres

Education

First Supervisor

Richard Berlach

Abstract

This study is unique in that it investigates the nature of the relationship between classroom management strategies, neophyte teachers and Indigenous students, in remote area classrooms. Given that the student population and teaching conditions in remote schools is usually significantly different from the demography of the students encountered in pre-service practica, the purpose of this research is to determine the effectiveness of course-specific classroom management strategies with Indigenous students located in a specific remote region of Western Australia.

This study was undertaken in both Department of Education and Catholic Education Office schools within the Kimberley region of Western Australia. This region was selected as over 65% of the total primary-aged student population identifies as being Indigenous and just over 33% of all teachers placed in this remote region are graduate teachers. Both the Department of Education (WA) and Catholic Education Office (WA) spend significant resources providing support and training for beginning teachers in the areas of Indigenous education programs and classroom management strategies each year.

This research is a qualitatively-based interpretive study that uses the ethnographic tools of semi-structured interviews, classroom observation and a functional behaviour analysis to collect the data. Data was collected in-situ on two separate occasions and grounded theory methodology was used to code and compare the data, enabling the emergence of a new theory termed ‘cultural frame-switching’.

Cultural frame-switching involves demonstrating an understanding of and insight into the lives of the students and the cultural mores of the remote community. Research findings suggest that cultural frame-switching is the foundation upon which the effectiveness of classroom management strategies rests. The study found that the utilisation of classroom management strategies per se was not as significant in engendering compliance as was cultural frame-switching. That is to say, the mastering of otherwise laudable strategies was insufficient to induce compliance.

The findings of this study have the potential to assist in targeting the cultural training of both pre-service and beginning teachers thus potentially reducing attrition rates in remote locations. Recommendations are made regarding the preparation of pre-service teachers to better equip them for remote teaching upon graduation. Such recommendations are aimed at assisting teachers to learn about the local Indigenous culture prior to establishing any classroom management protocols.

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