Academic success amongst a cohort of gifted and talented Māori and Pasifika secondary school boys: Elements that have contributed to their achievement
Miller, G. O. (2015). Academic success amongst a cohort of gifted and talented Māori and Pasifika secondary school boys: Elements that have contributed to their achievement (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9779
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9779
In recent years Māori and Pasifika students have been the focus of much discussion and a significant amount of research relating to underachievement. Despite this, many Māori and Pasifika secondary school boys are achieving highly in the academic sphere within the context of mainstream boys’ state secondary schools in New Zealand. Achievement aside, evidence shows that Māori and Pasifika secondary school boys are seriously under-represented in programmes for the gifted and talented. This enquiry examines factors in relation to identifying gifted and talented students, and investigates how their abilities are forged and nurtured. The reasons for student success merit serious investigation because of how the multiple elements contributing to their achievement are likely to be applicable to others, and are a pressing concern for academic attainment in the New Zealand education system. This qualitative study examines why 30 academically successful Māori and Pasifika secondary school boys achieved highly in the mainstream education system. The boys ranged from 13 to 19 years, the youngest being in his first year at high school as a Year 9 student, and the oldest being in his second year at university. The thesis argues their academic success was due to the complex interplay of home and school environmental elements, and the boys’ intrapersonal characteristics. The study explored the boys’ and parents’ narratives to explain why students had achieved highly, and examined both the parents’ and boys’ perceptions of how well the schools had provided for their intellectual, emotional and cultural needs. Sociocultural learning theory is the main theoretical lens through which the findings are viewed. The methodology is primarily built upon narrative inquiry. The main method of data collection was by semi-structured interview, both individually and in focus groups. Supplementary methods utilised were questionnaires and observation. An issue in the research was the disparity between the cultural and ethnic background of the participants and myself as the researcher. However, an endeavour was made to mitigate this by consulting with Māori and Pasifika educators, a kaumatua (elder) and iwi (tribal) representative prior to the research commencing. In addition, models developed through this study were submitted to Māori and Pasifika educators for their comment and approval prior to being included. With its focus specifically on highly-achieving Māori and Pasifika secondary school boys, this thesis makes an original contribution to the national and international discussion about raising student achievement. It provides a platform for further research to address the particular concerns around the underachievement of Māori and Pasifika secondary school boys. While there are several implications arising from the research, all are linked to the need for policy makers and educators to address the issue of the underrepresentation of Māori and Pasifika students in programmes for the gifted and talented. Policies, practices and relationships need to be examined to evaluate how effectively they contribute to gifted and talented Māori and Pasifika students receiving the academic opportunities they deserve. A key part of this examination will need to include consultation with students and their whānau.
University of Waikato
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