Investigating the perceived benefits and difficulties associated with academic mentoring for Maori students within secondary education in Aotearoa-New Zealand
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Citation:Millar, S. (2014) Investigating the perceived benefits and difficulties associated with academic mentoring for Maori students within secondary education in Aotearoa-New Zealand. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management, Unitec Institute of Technology.
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/2569
This study set out to examine the perceived benefits and difficulties associated with academic mentoring for Maori students within secondary education in Aotearoa-New Zealand. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research, which focused on two mainstream secondary schools. At each school, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the educational leader in charge of the academic mentoring programme, and focus group discussions were undertaken with staff, whanau and Maori Year 12 and 13 students. This study sought to approach the research from a strengths-based perspective, meaning that the schools selected were consistently producing results for Maori students above the national average in their decile range. The data collected were used to identify themes and commonalities across the schools in a cross-school analysis. The findings indicate a variety of approaches to how academic mentoring can be offered in secondary schools. However, there are commonalities which impact on the perceived benefits and difficulties associated with academic mentoring for Maori students in mainstream secondary settings in Aotearoa-New Zealand. The literature and the data show that academic mentoring is an approach which could assist Maori student achievement if certain conditions exist. These conditions are: supporting Maori student academic decision making with data; including whanau in the implementation and running of the programme; addressing any sustainability issues associated with the programme; and being aware of the cultural pedagogy staff require to educate the whole child. Conversely, a challenge identified is that the experience of academic mentoring for Maori students is dependent on the academic mentor. This means not all teachers are equipped with equal skills when it comes to academic mentoring. These findings suggest that school leaders need to consider carefully how they will introduce, implement and run such programmes. The academic mentoring programme cannot be an ‘add-on’; it must be integrated into a school-wide approach which supports culturally responsive pedagogy based on timely, easy-to-access academic data. The recommendations arising from this study have implications for schools that include: schools having good student data management systems; schools allocating adequate time to the academic mentoring programme; schools working with staff to make sure they are using culturally-responsive pedagogy; having support available to professionally develop academic mentors; ensuring the mentee groups are of a manageable size; and involving staff, whanau and Maori students in the setting up and development of the academic mentoring programme.