Northeastern Saskatchewan Aboriginal Students' Perceptions Of Their Distance Education Experiences And The Relationship To Their Aboriginal Culture
Newton, Patricia L.
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The central issues explored in this research were the ways in which the current Eurocentric model of education has failed to provide for the unique educational needs of Aboriginal people, and the ways in which distance education provision can be redesigned in order to provide a more culturally appropriate educational model for Aboriginal communities. The purpose of this case study was to identify the key factors relating to Aboriginal students’ values, beliefs and practices that contribute to a positive distance education experience for six adult Aboriginal students studying at a community college in Northeastern Saskatchewan. These factors were compared to those identified in the literature and from this research recommendations were made for changes and additions to the support services necessary for these community college students to realize successful distance education experiences. The literature showed the importance of addressing the issues of cultural sensitivity and cultural integrity when designing and delivering distance education courses for Aboriginal learners. The reviewed literature was categorized under three broad topics: Aboriginal education and cultural factors, distance education barriers, and access issues and support issues in distance education. A case study research design was used where participants were interviewed in written and oral formats. The interview questions were based on information researched in the literature review and from these interviews general themes were identified and then confirmed in a focus group session. Research results identified the value of community, the need for a common area to study and incorporation of aboriginal beliefs and content in course curricula. Student transience and alleviation of various stressors were also determined as factors affecting distance education experiences. From this research support services necessary for promoting/fostering successful adult Aboriginal distance educational experiences for these students were recommended. The recommendations include on-reserve distance education, tutoring, library and transportation services, crosscultural education provision and orientation/transition sessions. Provincial distance education course accessibility and delivery would also benefit these students.
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