UniSA Case Studies

Case Study: ASSETS

CSIRO logoThe [xe] project aims to understand how Australian universities are developing initiatives to improve Higher Education study pathways for Indigenous students in the disciplines underpinned by science and mathematics.

To meet this aim the University of South Australia has undertaken research using a case study approach to examine 6 university exemplars.

One of the initiatives studied was the Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS).


Core features Engagement strategy: Annual residential summer school (10 days)
Student catchment: Australia-wide with merit-based student selection process
Age-group: Years 10-11
Funding source: Philanthropic (including BHP Billiton Foundation)
Outcomes Of the 20 participants in the 2008 summer school, 14 were contacted in 2010: 7 studying at university; 1 working full-time and studying part-time; 3 in full-time careers; 2 trade apprenticeships; 1 traineeship with TAFE study.
Strengths Free to students. Incorporates academic, cultural, social, identity components. Culturally appropriate accommodation. Delivery by scientists, Indigenous academics, mentors and Elders. Time on Country. High stakes final presentations to scientific audience. Now offered in three locations (Adelaide, Townsville and Newcastle).
Challenges Ongoing support for ASSETS participants during their final years of schooling through transition to university. Competition with other science summer schools. Requires ongoing financial investment to ensure continuity and sustainability.

From the report:

A significant observation of the ASSETS program is its strong focus on scientific learning and research that is responsive to contemporary issues, and the continued outreach/engagement activities with local Indigenous communities. The integration of Indigenous knowledges and Western content through scientific investigations improves fluency and speed of border crossing cultures.

A key ingredient to ASSETS‘ success seems to be coupling self-esteem and identity to the validation and celebration of Indigenous cultures using science.

It is clear the program succeeds in increased student cultural pride, enjoyment, satisfaction and self-belief from feeling valued and understood as an Indigenous
learner.

Full report: Strengthening Indigenous Participation and Practice in STEM: University Initiatives for Equity and Excellence (PDF) >>

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