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2019/20 Equity Fellow Katelyn Barney

Building a stronger evidence base to support effective outreach strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students: Increasing impact and university participation

Dr Katelyn Barney (University of Queensland)

Project Outline

This Equity Fellowship focuses on developing evidence to demonstrate success factors and highlight areas to strengthen outreach initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Many universities run outreach initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students that attempt to elevate aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to go to university. Many of these programs involve week-long intensive camp experiences that bring school students onto university campuses for information sessions, workshops and events that attempt to demystify university culture and cultivate a sense of belonging to build and sustain student engagement.

However, research-based evidence of impact of these programs is limited; there is a relative dearth of publicly available, peer-reviewed research or evaluation on the effects of outreach initiatives. This project will fill that gap by strengthening the evidence and research base about the effectiveness of intensive camp outreach strategies targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and assist in strengthening outreach programs by identifying effective practice. Improving the evidence base for ‘what works’ in effective outreach camps will highlight the strengths of these programs and assist in improving and implementing stronger programs to support the transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student into higher education. This will be achieved through a high-quality research project that will build the evidence base of effective outreach intensive activities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

I will draw on the important work done on evaluation to identify the range of strategies and initiatives that are used to increase higher education access specifically for Indigenous students, and then will summarise and evaluate the evidence of the effectiveness of the initiatives.

The Fellowship will involve a case study methodology to document and evaluate a number of intensive outreach camp programs specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at universities across Australia. Working closely with staff at selected universities, qualitative data will be collected from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tertiary students who had previously attended a high school involved in outreach activities before their transition to university.

The project will also involve interviews with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outreach staff and community members to explore their perspectives on the impact of outreach activities. Quantitative data regarding the number of students who have participated in intensive outreach activities and the correlation to successful transition into higher education will also be examined.

The project findings will establish strategies that can be adopted by all universities across Australia to strengthen and improve outreach equity initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

What I hope to draw from the Fellowship

I hope the results will raise the profile of higher education institutions efforts to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student numbers and improve and strengthen the evidence base of effective outreach for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to assist them in transitioning into higher education.

Outputs will include strategies to support institutions across Australia to strengthen and improve outreach activities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Embedding the outputs will be achieved through the national symposium with key stakeholders to share findings from the evaluation of intensive outreach programs, and to share the strategies developed.

The program of activities builds on my established collaborations by working closely with an expert Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group.

For me personally, it will be an opportunity to continue to collaborate and work closely with a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues and leaders across Australia to strengthen outreach equity initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. I will also work closely with staff to build capacity to implement the strategies to strengthen outreach initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in universities in Australia.

The big picture objectives during the Fellowship are to bring further sector-wide impact to the issue of low numbers of Indigenous tertiary students widely across the higher education sector. My vision is to continue to grow networks and foster initiatives to achieve improved access, participation and success for Indigenous tertiary students.

Collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Education will provide a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge to inform policy and programs focused on equity in higher education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

About myself and my background

I developed an interest in pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into, and through, university through my work in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit at The University of Queensland.

This current Fellowship will build on my longstanding partnerships in the field of Indigenous higher education. Most recently I’ve undertaken a National Teaching Fellowship in close collaboration with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group to improve and support the transition from undergraduate study to Higher Degrees by Research for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. I also continue to collaborate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues on ethnomusicological research projects.

I’m particularly passionate about the possibilities of collaborative research projects and partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers as a way of work to privilege Indigenous knowledges, build dialogue, and contribute to a way forward for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to jointly work together.

Posted 31 July 2019 Posted in First in Family, General, Indigenous, Low SES, Regional

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