I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the traditional owners of Australia, and pay my respects to the Elders past and present.


The exemplars and resources on this site were developed as an outcome of a Teaching Fellowship awarded by the Australian Learning & Teaching Council (ALTC) to Dr Christine Asmar at the University of Melbourne. The Fellowship was titled Indigenous Teaching and Learning in Australian Universities: Developing Research-based Exemplars for Good Practice. Christine's work has been in close collaboration with a largely Indigenous Advisory Group and is based on research interviews with university teachers. Ethics Approval was obtained from the University of Melbourne (#0931480).


What is 'Indigenous Teaching?'

'Indigenous teaching', for the purposes of this website, is very broadly defined. Teachers may be Indigenous themselves, or not. Students may be Indigenous, or not. Indigenous teaching can be said to include:

    - teaching Indigenous, or 'Indigenised', curriculum to any students; and/or
    - teaching any curriculum to Indigenous students.


Who are the teachers?

This is a complex area of teaching, with diverse challenges and much overlap. Many teachers teach or have taught in both the categories above. While over half the teachers interviewed were known to be Indigenous, the individual teachers quoted have not been identified in terms of their own Indigeneity. Sometimes, however, it was necessary to indicate who the students are.


Who are the students?

Indigenous students are Australians of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent. Students, whether Indigenous or not, may may have voluntarily chosen to study Indigenous subjects or courses; or they may be obliged to study Indigenous curriculum as part of mandatory course content in 'mainstream' disciplines such as Education, Medicine, etc.

Students in the Australian 'mainstream' are mostly non-Indigenous (given that Indigenous students comprise less than 2% of all Australian students). The 'mainstream' also includes international students enrolled in Australian university courses; as well as Study Abroad or Exchange students spending short periods in Australia.

The context for 'Indigenous teaching' also includes courses run specifically for particular groups, for example mature-age Indigenous students arriving in university via 'non-traditional' educational pathways, such as:

    - Foundations courses preparing students academically for enrolment in the 'mainstream', or;
    - 'Block Mode' courses set up for Indigenous students coming onto campus from regional or remote communities, for intensive blocks of face-to-face tuition, before they return to their professional roles and jobs (and continued distance learning) in their communities.

For all these reasons I define Indigenous teaching in very general terms, and the range of exemplars provided are likewise very broad.


What does 'Indigenous Studies' include?

Many of the teachers interviewed refer to 'Indigenous Studies' as a discipline. This term is debated, partly because it is seen by many as a separate discipline area in the academy – yet is in itself multi-disciplinary. An Indigenous Studies course might draw on anthropology, history, politics, literature, law, health, environmental science, or education (to name just a few) in order to teach students about Indigenous Australia as a whole.

Where did the quotes come from?

To find out the approaches these experienced teachers were adopting, the simple question 'What do you do in your teaching?' was put to them. This question elicited very comprehensive responses, which were then analysed and categorised under the 15 headings.

To make the material more accessible, it has been reduced wherever possible to brief extracts, or 'exemplars' from the interviews. All the quotes are reproduced with permission. In some cases individuals are named; in others, only their institutions.

All interview extracts are verbatim, with any extra explanatory information added in italics. [All the interview transcripts were analysed using the software package NVivo8].


Long exemplars or short vignettes?

This Fellowship aimed to provide 'research-based exemplars for good practice'. The extracts below are indeed research-based, but they are brief. Technically, it would be more accurate to call them 'mini-exemplars', 'examples', or 'vignettes'.

It was felt that it would be more useful for people accessing this website to be shown a large number of shorter exemplars, across a number of contexts and discipline areas, rather than to focus on a smaller number of in-depth cases which might or might not be relevant.