top of page
Pedagogy of difference

Scroll down for more publications

Pedagogy of difference

Effective Teaching Practices for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students: 
A review of the Literature


Natalie Lloyd, Brian Lewthwaite, Barry Osborne, Helen Boon

James Cook University


This paper presents a review of the literature pertaining to the teacher actions that influence Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander student learning outcomes. The review investigates two foci: the identification of teacher actions influencing learning outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students and the methodological approach to how the influence of teacher behaviours on student learning has been determined. The literature review identifies that published literature in the effective teaching area is predominantly in the ‘good ideas’ category; that is assertions are made by authors with no research-based evidence for supporting such claims, especially through quantitative research which seeks to test the influence of specific facets of quality teaching, especially those facets identified by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students as the qualities of effective teachers. The review ends by supporting Craven, Bodkin-Andrews and Yeung's (2007) assertion that “there is astoundingly little known about what Aboriginal students see as the qualities of effective teachers and the impact this has on educational outcomes.” 






Seeking a Pedagogy of Difference: What Aboriginal Students and Their Parents in North Queensland Say About Teaching and Their Learning


Brian Lewthwaite, Barry Osborne, Natalie Lloyd, Linda Llewellyn, Helen Boon

James Cook University


Tammi Webber, Gail Laffin, Codie Kemp, Cathy Day, Jennifer Wills, Megan Harrison,

Diocese of Catholic Education, Townsville


Abstract: This study presents the outcomes of the first phase of a three phase research initiative which begins by identifying through the voices of Aboriginal¹ students and community members the teaching practices that influence Aboriginal student engagement and learning. The study occurs within the Diocese of Townsville Catholic Education schools in North Queensland, primarily in the Mount Isa area. Through open-ended interviews, Aboriginal students and community members express their views of the characteristics of effective teachers and effective teaching. Considering that the national education discourse in Australia is monopolised by discussion on teaching and teacher quality, we problematize this discourse based upon what members of the local Aboriginal community assert as characteristics of effective teachers and their practice. Further phases of this research initiative which investigate the effect of adjusted practice based upon what community members’ assertions are also presented.


Development of an instrument to measure a facet of quality teaching: Culturally responsive pedagogy



Helen J. Boon, Brian Lewthwaite

James Cook University



This paper presents findings of Phase 2 of a larger three phase study examining culturally responsive pedagogies and their influence on Indigenous student outcomes. 


Characteristics of culturally responsive pedagogies obtained through interviews with Australian Indigenous parents and students generated characteristics and themes which were distilled into survey items.  The resulting instrument was applied to practicing teachers for validation.


The survey was piloted on a sample of 141 elementary and secondary teachers from diverse schools.  Analyses using Item Response Theory, employing the Rasch model, confirmed that the instrument measured a unidimensional latent trait, culturally responsive pedagogy.  Seven subscales, initially qualitatively determined, were statistically confirmed.  The instrument proved suitable to measure nuances in pedagogy and to detect significant differences between elementary and secondary teachers.


© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Pedagogy of difference


Signatures of quality teaching for Indigenous students 

Helen Boon and Brian E. Lewthwaite, 

James Cook University


Abstract This paper presents findings from the validation of a survey instrument constructed in response to what Indigenous parents/carers and students believe constitutes culturally responsive pedagogies that positively influence Indigenous student learning. Characteristics of culturally responsive pedagogies established through interviews with Australian Indigenous parents, community members and students generated themes which were distilled into survey items by a team of Indigenous and other educators. The instrument was then put on trial with 141 teachers for statistical validation. Analyses employing the Rasch model confirmed that the instrument measured a unidimensional latent trait: culturally responsive pedagogy. Seven subscales, content validities of which were determined by a panel of experts, were also confirmed. Results highlighted differences between primary and secondary teachers’ self-reported practice, and important facets of teacher pedagogy in the two different school contexts emerged. Analyses of four of the subscales of the instrument—Indigenous cultural value, self-regulation support, literacy teaching and explicitness—are presented in the context of current emphases on quality teaching and Indigenous student outcomes. The instrument can be used to
measure teachers’ nuances in pedagogy, and the resulting teacher profiles can be used to assist teachers to focus on particular aspects of their pedagogy to meet the needs of their students




Pedagogy of difference


Teacher Ethics:

The Link between Quality Teaching and Multi-ethnic and Multiracial Education

Helen J. Boon, Brian E. Lewthwaite

James Cook University

Many current economic and social challenges lead to waves of migrating people. The countries where migrants seek refuge can be ethnically homogeneous and monolingual such as Greece, or more frequently, ethnically diverse with local Indigenous populations which have been subjugated and marginalized, such as the US or Australia. In either context, a significant corollary of migration is the absorption of children into the local educational system. Migrant children, much like the local Indigenous marginalized children of the host countries, have language barriers and different customs from those of the host country. Cultural mismatches between the culture of the child and that of its teacher have been empirically shown to result in a range of negative outcomes for the child, including behavioural infractions, low academic outcomes and dropping out of school. This research illustrates findings from the second phase of an extended study. The study aim was to identify what constitutes culturally responsive pedagogy in Australia to support the needs of Indigenous Australian students. Indigenous Australian students, like their counterparts in New Zealand and North America, have the lowest academic attainment of any students in Australia. Through qualitative interviews with Indigenous parents, teachers and students, we identified a range of teacher behaviours deemed by Indigenous people to be indicators of teacher quality as indicated by culturally responsive pedagogy. From these we constructed a teacher survey which was piloted with two waves of practicing teachers. Latent Trait Analyses using the Rasch Model validated the survey and its underlying factors. Findings showed that teachers’ ethic of care strongly predicted their pedagogical expertise. Implications of the research include redefining quality teaching as a pedagogy based on strong ethical standards driven by a vocational disposition which seek to benefit all students including those from ethnically diverse groups such as Indigenous students, refugees and recent migrants.



Quality Teaching Pratices:

Quality Teaching Practices as Reported by Aboriginal Parents, Students
and Their Teachers: Comparisons and Contrasts

Brian E. Lewthwaite, Helen J. Boon, Tammy Webber, Gail Laffin

James Cook University

Abstract: This paper summarizes the findings from the first phase of a
three-part project which, overall, investigates what Aboriginal1 students
perceive as the qualities and actions of effective teachers and subsequently
seeks to determine the impact of the enactment of these identified qualities
on educational outcomes. This first phase of the research was centered on
gathering accounts of quality teachers and teaching practice from students,
parents and their teachers from phenomenologically aligned interviews.
Similar and contrasting themes among these three groups are presented,
with the intention of exposing potential mismatch in perception of the
construct of ‘quality’ teaching. Finally, we present implications of this
research in light of the more recent development of professional standards
for Australian teachers that seek to define and evaluate high quality


Pedagogy of difference
Pedagogy of difference




Pedagogy of Difference news
bottom of page