Wednesday, August 1, 11:30-12:00, SUB Ballroom B, Theme: Partnership

The aim of this study was to explore the potential of a service-learning immersion program to promote pre-service teachers' development of cultural competency in the area of Aboriginal education. That is, the research focused on ways the immersion program helped pre-service teachers (a) develop awareness of cultural implications in teaching in a remote school and (b) understand and respect Aboriginal people with a view to reconciliation.  The program has operated since 2013 and occurs in a remote Aboriginal school and community in Western Australia.   The duration of the immersion is eight days and is open to early childhood, primary and secondary pre-service teachers. The underlying epistemology of the research is constructivist, specifically interpretivist in nature, with a symbolic interactionist lens.  That is, the research attempts to “give voice” to the participants through their own language.  Content analysis was the methodology used to explore the pre-service teachers’ experiences and perceptions while undertaking their service-learning immersion.  Data collection methods included focus group interviews, participant journals and a questionnaire. These data were collected over a four-year span from 2014 to 2017. The findings indicate that the service-learning immersion has enabled pre-service teachers to explore their interests and passion to teach Aboriginal students in both rural and remote locations.