Te reo o te ākonga me ngā whakapono o te kaiako : Student voice and teachers’ beliefs
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
The beliefs that teachers have about teaching and learning have an influence on the practices that teachers implement. This is particularly relevant, although not exclusively, to teaching practices that meet the needs of Māori students in our bicultural learning environments of New Zealand. There is a growing amount of research to support the use of student voice data, the benefits of which can be seen at a school level, at the classroom teacher level as well as for the individual students themselves.
This research project focused on exploring the impact of students sharing their thoughts and opinions about their learning, (i.e.: student voice data) on influencing teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning. In doing so it explores effective facilitation of this process in a bicultural learning environment. In particular it investigates the potential of a combination of specific tools, notably student focus groups and coaching conversations with teachers to influence teachers’ beliefs.
This study took place in two low decile schools in Christchurch. It involved focus groups of Māori and non-Māori primary-aged students, alongside teacher reflective interviews being conducted on repeated visits. Its findings identified approaches for accessing authentic student voice in a bicultural learning environment. The thoughts and opinions shared by Māori students highlighted a focus on their own learning as well as celebrating their culture. Teachers reacted to student voice by making connections to their classroom programmes, and by accepting or dismissing more provocative statements. These reactions by teachers helped emphasize the most helpful methods for reflecting on this data. Their reflections, used alongside a specially designed ‘Teacher Belief Gathering Tool’, ascertained that teachers’ beliefs were both reaffirmed and changed through guided reflection and coaching conversations on student voice data. Teachers’ knowledge of effective teaching and learning, their motivation for changing their teaching practices, as well as witnessing success were all considerable factors in teachers changing their beliefs.