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

Global methods, local data: Activating Māori and Pacific data stories for culturally responsive teaching and learning

Dr Heti Afimeimounga

Dr Heti Afimeimounga

Dr Heti Afimeimounga, Susan Wingfield, Liza Bolton, Anna Fergusson, and Isaac Morunga (Faculty of Science)

Initially the objectives for the project were to include more Māori and Pacific data stories in course content and assessment for our large introductory statistics course. We aimed to co-construct knowledge with students catalysed by personally relevant data stories. We also wanted to create guiding principles for sharing these stories in our course and beyond. We hoped that would encourage our teachers by building greater awareness of, and confidence in, quantitative kaupapa Māori (Māori values) research methods and culturally responsive data. As the project developed we realised we needed to find out more from our ākonga (students) before assuming the best way forward. We, therefore revised our project objectives to focus on what we could learn from informal interviews with Tuākana (mentoring) students, particularly what kind of data contexts and stories would be engaging and relevant from their perspective.

This refocus led to the inclusion of a Stage Three Statistics Tuākana student, mentor and ambassador to assist with a more culturally-grounded and student-focused approach. He worked with us to arrange a hui (meeting) with our Statistics Tuākana students, and to develop questions and edit the video footage from interviews to clearly show key themes from our students’ responses. These videos contain strong, personal and powerful stories from our Māori and Pacific students that will provoke discussion with our statistics teaching team. We are confident that by hearing the student stories, other teachers will understand the importance, and need, for more positive, diverse and inclusive case-studies which genuinely reflect Māori and Pasifika communities.

From this project, we have learned that even data with negative connotations can capture the attention of students in a positive sense: that we could learn more about the issues that the data has raised, and help students see statistics as a tool for further investigation, insight and possible solution for these issues.