SEED projects 2018 – He vaka moana: Navigating Māori and Pasifika student success
Enhancing Success for Pacific first-year Social Work Students
The Enhancing Pacific Success (EPS) Lalaga (to weave) project explores key interwoven strands that enhance Pacific students’ engagement with, and academic success at, the University of Auckland. The project consists of creative interwoven approaches with three core elements: Relationship and Engagement, Pacific in Social work (University role modelling); and Integrating Culture into Curriculum.
To foster Relationship and Engagement, we facilitated four talanoa (focus groups) with past and present Pacific students. These identified a range of approaches that support meaningful relationships within the University setting. We also supported the development of the Va’atele project.
Initiatives to further Pacific in Social work included organising and co-facilitating two workshops at our 2017 retreat as well as talanoa with first year Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) lecturers regarding their aspirations and experiences of supporting Pacific student development.
Initiatives to further integrate Pacific knowledge, world views and cultural ways of being into curriculum development included: Redesigning tutorial processes inclusive of Pacific & Māori practices; Leading a lecture with purposeful inclusion of Pacific material and concepts; and Expanding the EPS*Lalaga team.
The project had some excellent outcomes. The talanoa identified a range of approaches that support meaningful relationships within the University setting. Comprehensive analysis of academic success data from 2009-2015 identified unique academic features for Pacific and non-Pacific students in the BSW. The SEED event, “EPS*Pacific Fono” attracted key stakeholders within the Faculty of Education and Social Work and across the University of Auckland. We have also developed the EPS*Lalaga teaching and research team which has unique and complementary skill sets.
This project highlighted the need for further staff development and training in pedagogically sound curriculum design that responds to the learning needs of Pacific and equity groups.
Findings from the mixed methods study highlighted the resilience of Pacific students, and indicate avenues for intervention.
In response to the project findings, we developed Pacific ‘Challenge and Concept Cards’, simple and accessible resources that demystify ways to engage with Pacific students and Pacific resources.