SEED projects 2018 – He vaka moana: Navigating Māori and Pasifika student success
Marina McCartney (Faculty of Arts)
“Vaka Moana” is an academic enhancement programme established by Pacific Studies in 2014 and grounded in Oceanic values. Rather than teach general academic skills or tutorials that are aimed specifically at Māori and Pacific students, it provides topic specific workshops run by all the course Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) that are targeted to the assessments and are inclusive of everyone enrolled in the course. It privileges the collective gathering of knowledge through intense group work, which nurtures relationships between students and tutors and reminds us that in a world which can prioritise individualism, our collective values not only exist in an academic space, but also work.
We ambitiously proposed several objectives for our original project. The main objectives we were able to achieve were to: Develop workshop templates for our undergraduate courses supported by the Vaka Moana programme; Pilot these templates across our undergraduate courses supported by the Vaka Moana programme; Track, record and analyse historical student attendance at workshops against individual assessment marks.
This year we were able to nurture and support the academic development of 619 undergraduate students who attended Vaka Moana (VM) voluntary workshops. We trialed the templates for coursework and exam workshops and felt that these provided a great skeleton for tutors to use. In addition to this, the analysed data for PACIFIC 100 and PACIFIC 105 from 2015 to 2017 showed the following: 84% of students who attend a VM workshop pass the corresponding assessment; 62% of students who do not attend a VM workshop pass the corresponding assessment; 47.7% of students who attend a VM workshop will score at least the average pass mark; 31.5% of students who do not attend a VM workshop will score at least the average pass mark.
These findings have given us the evidence base we need to strengthen future funding applications to continue to expand the Vaka Moana programme.
The SEED grant enabled us to develop our workshop templates. While we feel we have a solid template for our Stage 1 courses, we believe the Stage 2 and 3 templates require more development. We hope future funding will help us with this.