Support for first-year degree Maori students for engagement, retention and success is one of the priority outcomes the Tertiary Education Commission (2007) has directed for higher education providers in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The challenge (te wero) is to develop culturally relevant support for this cohort of students. There is evidence which shows that enhanced support for first-year Maori learners, particularly at the beginning of the first year of tertiary studies, has a positive impact on successful outcomes (Earle, 2007). This paper will show that engagement and retention of tertiary learners, particularly Maori, is of strategic importance. The Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-2015 (Ministry of Education, n.d.) remains focused on increasing Maori learner involvement and success, and, while there has been significant growth in the number of Maori people enrolling in tertiary education in recent years, engagement and retention have continued to be problematic. For Maori learners, it is important to contextualise culturally relevant support in the tertiary sector. Finding ways to enable and support students from diverse backgrounds to persist with their studies and to complete their qualifications has become the topic of much research and debate over the last two decades. This paper will attempt to investigate the notion that enhanced culturally relevant support for first-year Maori learners, particularly in the open and distance learning (ODL) environment and at the beginning of the first year of study, has a positive impact on successful outcomes.
Rawlings, C. (2010). Creating a culturally relevant model of support for Maori learners in the tertiary sector. In 4th International Traditional Knowledge Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.