Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Doctor Marguerite Maher

Second Supervisor

Doctor Kevin Watson


In the current educational climate of teacher accountability, the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers require teachers to demonstrate their level of competence in meeting the descriptors of the Standards that are grouped into three domains of teaching: Professional Knowledge, Professional Practice and Professional Engagement. The professional knowledge domain includes Standard 1 ‘Know students and how they learn’, and Standard 2 ‘Know the content and how to teach it’ (AITSL, 2011, p. 3). Teachers in New South Wales, Australia, have been familiar with Teaching Standards for many years, however, with the introduction of National Standards across Australia, two new Standards appeared that are the key focus areas related to the current study:
1.4 Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students; and
2.4 Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Phase 1 of the current study, within a cultural interface theoretical framework and using a multiple case study methodology, investigated to what extent successful, experienced teachers felt competent to meet the two new Standards. A purposive sample of primary school teachers (n=32) from five Sydney Catholic schools took part in all phases of the study, data being collected in semi-structured group interviews. Findings in this phase of the research were that there was general lack of confidence in teachers’ ability to meet these Standards and participants identified professional learning and development (PLD) they would find useful.

In Phase 2 of the research, a PLD framework was developed in response to participants’ needs. Working in an adult education and teacher professional development theoretical framework and using design-based research methodology, the PLD was implemented over two days in the first school. Feedback acquired through group interviews allowed for refining and tailoring of the PLD. Following the tenets of design-based methodology, the PLD was then provided consecutively at the participant schools with participant feedback informing further amendments each time. Findings were that participants considered the experience of being on Country and then relating the learning experiences to their children in school, to be the most useful aspects of the PLD. Together with participants, background information summaries and suggested teaching strategies for each of the learning experiences were developed, refined and finalised.

In Phase 3 of the study, still working in an adult education and teacher professional development theoretical framework, elements of qualitative evaluation methodology provided opportunity to determine the long-term views of participants on the extent to which the PLD had altered their classroom practice and what the impact on children had been. Feedback was gained from participants a few months, a year, and two years after they had undertaken the PLD to gain their wisdom with hindsight. Findings were that participants would value ongoing support. Consequently, a password-protected blog was developed, creating a community of learners who were afforded the space to ask questions and share resources with peers.

This Doctor of Education thesis by publication comprises three peer-reviewed journal articles written as part of the study and they are woven into the fabric and story of the thesis.

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

Included in

Education Commons