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SEED projects 2018 – He vaka moana: Navigating Māori and Pasifika student success

Explicitly addressing the importance of diversity & equity in Physics

Cushla McGoverin

Cushla McGoverin

Cushla McGoverin, Dr Kathleen Foote, Kate Hannah, and Dr Neil Broderick (Faculty of Science)

Stage One courses, Advancing Physics 1 and 2, are taught in an interactive studio format where students solve problems and discuss concepts in groups. The project’s primary objective was to enhance current training on how to work in groups through instructor training about addressing diversity and ways to support Māori and Pasifika students, through producing group training videos featuring a diverse group of students.

The training videos exceeded expectation. We asked for expressions of interest – to write the script or act in the videos – from the first-year physics class, the Tuākana attendee list and through the Science student centre. Initial interest was not overwhelming, however the final group were enthusiastic and did a great job.

The script writer chose a concept and wrote a script that presented the information required in an engaging manner. The videos were produced by the professional team at Media Productions. The comedic tone of the group training videos was more appealing to the student cohort than the previous videos. The videos currently have only English sub-titles, but we intend to add te reo sub-titles, followed by Pasifika languages. The videos will be available online to a wider audience and the link sent specifically to professional teaching fellows initially within Faculty of Science departments, and, later, to a wider audience within the University.

The instructor training was a 30-minute session focusing on inclusive classrooms and being more aware of diversity in the classroom. This training session was run by staff from Learning Disabilities, Tuākana Physics and myself. Discussion questions included “How do you address under- or over-participation?” It was interesting to see how the instructors’ group dynamics influenced the level of engagement in the discussions and this was used to highlight to the participants how the situation was analogous to first year students in class being uncomfortable working in newly established groups. This exercise highlighted the need to constantly and consistently reinforce awareness of diversity in the class room and to reiterate strategies that establish an environment comfortable for Māori and Pasifika students.