Foundations for Student Persistence and Success in Inuit Nunangat

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: social sciences, education, Inuit

Principal Investigator: O'Gorman, Melanie (2)
Licence Number: 16536
Organization: University of Winnipeg
Licenced Year(s): 2019 2017
Issued: May 09, 2019
Project Team: Melanie O'Gorman (Co-Investigator, University of Winnipeg), Kirk Anderson (Principal Investigator, Memorial University of Newfoundland), Kathy Snow (Co-Investigator, Cape Breton University)

Objective(s): To discover what is contributing to Inuit students’ persistence in school, particularly at grade transitions, and to learn how the achievement of Inuit students is being assessed.

Project Description: This project aims to address two questions:
1. What is contributing to Inuit students’ persistence in school, particularly at grade transitions?
2. How is the achievement of Inuit students being assessed?
The objectives of this research are to answer these questions by gathering knowledge through case studies, data analysis and narrative sharing, and to disseminate such knowledge to educators across the Canadian North.

In this research the research team will adopt an assets-based approach, respectful of different forms of knowledge and existing expertise in Inuit Nunangat. That is, the team will focus on what factors are leading to students attending school, excelling in school and graduating from school, rather than why they are not. This work will consist of the following 6 methods, with the work in Tuktoyaktuk focused on part 6 below:
1. A Scan of Existing Programming and Policies - the team will gather information on what is already known and what is already taking place in practical terms in Inuit jurisdictions. This will involve the team learning about academic streams in the high school, hearing about adult education programming, initiatives to increase attendance, cultural-based education, on-the-land programming, the extent of bilingual education, etc. The research team would like to learn as much as they can about the school in Tuktoyaktuk to form a thorough ‘picture’ of education in the community.
2. Literature Review. The research team have begun a review of the academic literature on Indigenous/Inuit student persistence, transitions, achievement and culturally-responsive assessment.
3. Statistical Analysis of Existing Data. The research team will analyze existing data for further evidence of factors affecting Inuit student persistence and achievement. This will involve an examination of Statistics Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Survey.
4. Analysis of School Records. The research team would like to access school records for schools with a large percentage of Inuit students in the Northwest Territories. Using this data, the team will search for factors associated with high grades and strong attendance.
5. Narrative Sharing. The research team held an Inuit Education Forum in Nain, NL in February 2017 which education leaders from across Inuit Nunangat gathered to share best practices. The team hope to produce a video of the Forum that will be shared to educators across the Canadian North.
6. Case Studies. The research team will deepen strengthen the understanding of of factors contributing to student persistence and success by conducting case studies in Inuit-majority high schools identified as having high rates of student persistence and success. These case studies will involve interviews with parents, teachers, Elders, Principals, District Education Authorities and Department of Education officials on factors leading to success in their particular community.

This research will be driving by local needs and desires. That is, the research is focused broadly on the determinants of student persistence and success in school. Specific research foci and methods will be guided by community wishes. The hope is that this research aids in identifying effectives policies, programming and approaches in education that can be disseminated to other Northern communities and which will be available for future generations in Tuktoyaktuk. The dissemination of such best practices for culturally-appropriate, high quality education should have social, cultural and economic benefits in Tuktoyaktuk.

The Principal Investigator will write a report for the education stakeholders in Tuktoyaktuk based on my findings, and email/mail a hardcopy of this report to all those that I met/spoke with. The research team will also write an academic paper based on the results of this case study and the others in Aklavik, NWT, Hopedale, NL, Ivujivik, QC and Taloyoak, NU. The results will also be presented at a conference in 2019 and the team would love for a researcher from Tuktoyaktuk to present such results alongside the research team.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from May 7, 2019 to May 30, 2019.