Academic journal article Journal of Research in Rural Education (Online)

Connecting for Innovation: Four Universities Collaboratively Preparing Pre-Service Teachers to Teach in Rural and Remote Western Australia

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Rural Education (Online)

Connecting for Innovation: Four Universities Collaboratively Preparing Pre-Service Teachers to Teach in Rural and Remote Western Australia

Article excerpt

Background

Despite the findings of an Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report (2000) and teacher education reports (Ramsey, 2000; Western Australia Ministerial Taskforce, Education Workforce Initiatives, 2007; Vinson, 2002), rural education has remained an undervalued, under researched and underfunded field. Typically, academics have worked in isolation on small- scale research, addressing relatively localized concerns. The First International Symposium for Innovation in Rural Education (ISFIRE) in 2009 provided a global platform for four academics from the four Western Australian public universities to meet, and expand their community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991) in pursuit of improvements in the field of rural teacher education. In 2010 these academics formed the Tertiary Educators Rural, Regional and Remote Network (TERRR) Network as they held a collective concern about the adequacy of pre-service teachers' preparation for teaching in rural and remote areas, but had previously felt isolated and disempowered in their capacity to make a signi fi cant impact for improvement. Typical of the fi eld of higher education, academics, especially in marginalized research fields such as rural education, operate in academic silos (Macfarlane, 2006).

The collegial interaction of the TERRR network created energy and synergies that supported academics' individual work and provided collective opportunities for research and development in the field of rural education. The network secured funding for a project to strengthen research fields such as rural education, operate in academic silos (Macfarlane, 2006).

The collegial interaction of the TERRR network created energy and synergies that supported academics' individual work and provided collective opportunities for research and development in the field of rural education. The network secured funding for a project to strengthen the capacity of universities to prepare pre-service teachers for employment in rural schools. This paper provides a summary of the outcomes achieved by the project, including reflection on the collaborative process. Despite challenges, this collaboration among universities and academics has supported the improvement of outcomes for pre-service teachers in rural teacher education and sustained academics in the field of rural education.

The challenges of attracting teachers and other professionals to rural and remote areas within Australia and internationally are well documented (Barley & Beesley, 2007; Boylan & McSwan, 1998; Davis, 2002; Miles, Marshall, Rolfe & Noonan, 2004; Ministerial Council on Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs, 2003; Western Australia Ministerial Taskforce, Education Workforce Initiatives, 2007). In Western Australia, with the largest rural and remote area in Australia, these challenges are particularly evident. Over 31% of students are located in non-metropolitan schools, with 23% in provincial areas and 8.2% in areas classified as remote and very remote (Department of Education, Western Australia, 2012a, p. 124). Western Australia has more than 300 country schools; of which approximately 120 are identified as difficult to staff, and more than 40 schools are identified as remote (Department of Education, Western Australia, 2012b). Staffing these schools with quality teachers and achieving equitable learning outcomes for students pose major challenges to educational authorities. National data identify stark gaps between the performance of rural students and their metropolitan counterparts (Green & Reid, 2004; Lyons, et al., 2006). The educational outcomes of students in remote contexts are below those of their metropolitan counterparts in all areas reported in the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy data (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2012). The results are particularly poor for Aboriginal students located in remote contexts. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.