Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Education (Thesis)

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Associate Professor Shane Lavery

Second Supervisor

Dr. Glenda Cain


The purpose of this research was to observe and describe the effect of Montessori pedagogy in a remote Aboriginal Early Childhood program to ascertain whether this alternative approach to education provides a more culturally appropriate practice than past methods. The significance of the study lies in the need to "close the gap" (Department of Premier & Cabinet [DPMC], 2016, p.1) between the achievement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The study endeavours to describe the effect of Montessori pedagogy through the response of those most closely associated with Aboriginal education: students, parents, caregivers, community members and educational professionals.

Three dimensions of the context contributed to an understanding of this study. These three dimensions were: geographical setting, the Ngaanyatjarra Lands School Network and the Papulankutja Remote Community/Campus. These contextual dimensions outline the background, setting and environment where this study was undertaken.

The review of literature highlighted three topics, which formed the conceptual framework for this inquiry. These topics were: current policies and practices in Early Childhood education in Australia; current policies and practices in Aboriginal education; and principles and practices in Montessori pedagogy.

The theoretical framework for this study was located within the interpretive paradigm of qualitative research. Specifically, the interpretive lens underpinning this inquiry was that of phenomenology. The methodology used in the research was an individual case study that sought to explore the effect of Montessori pedagogy with remote Aboriginal Early Childhood students in the Papulankutja Remote Community. The individual case study utilised four methods of data collection: video recording and observational framework by the teacher-researcher; journal writing by the teacher-researcher; ten observational frameworks by the critical friend; and three one-on-one interviews with the informant. The method of data analysis for the qualitative data followed a format similar to that outlined by Miles and Huberman (1994): data collection, data reduction, data display and conclusion drawing. The data were coded v and analysed according to themes taken from the four specific research questions for this study.

The findings of this research are consistent with four themes: student response to Montessori pedagogy, student behaviour in response to Montessori pedagogy, language development within Montessori pedagogy, and community involvement within the early childhood classroom. The findings suggest that various fundamental characteristics of Montessori pedagogy align with traditional Aboriginal child rearing techniques such as autonomy and movement. In addition, Montessori teaching pedagogy provides Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers with a consistent collection of teaching activities and materials to work one-on-one with students in the home language (Ngaanyatjarra) before transitioning to Standard Australian English. The results of this research have the potential to inform future educational practices for Aboriginal students in remote communities.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Education Commons