Virtual School Meanderings

January 7, 2011

HICE 2011 – Motivation In High School Student Success: The Case Of Aboriginal E-Learners In Rural And Remote Canada

The final session that I am able to blog from the 9th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Education was:

Time: 8:00 – 9:30 AM 1/7/2011 Room: Iolani 5
Session Topic: Cross-disciplinary Areas of Education
Session Chair: Richardson, Jeanita

Motivation in High School Student Success: The Case of Aboriginal E-Learners in Rural and Remote Canada
Bourgeois, Monique – Memorial University of Newfoundland
Sharpe, Dennis – Memorial University of Newfoundland
Philpott, David – Memorial University of Newfoundland

And you can see all of the K-12 Online Learning presentations that I was able to find in the program.

Monique began with her background of growing up in a small, rural, economically depressed community and how she was not motivated as a high school student, but at some point during her undergraduate studies was “bitten by the bug” and became interested in motivation in education.  She continued with some background about the study itself, which was a part of the larger Killick Centre for e-Learning Research in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland, specifically part of the Participation of High School Students in the Isolated Aboriginal Communities of Coastal Labrador in Web-delivered Learning (Aboriginal Study). One of the main issues within this particular line of inquiry was looking for ways to address the 25% drop-out rate among aboriginal youth (and I’m not positive I caught that statistic correctly).

This particular presentation was focused on the second phase of the study.  The first phase explored challenges related to e-learning in aboriginal communities in Labrador (I believe the EDGE 2010 – Where Do We Go From Here? A Canadian Perspective On Aboriginal E‐Learning presentation that I blogged about this past Fall). The main finding from this first phase, was if e-learning projects were to be expanded, obstacles to student learning needed to be removed.

The second phase of the study was a pan-Canadian study that examined whether other e-learning educators were finding similar obstacles to those found in Labrador and what they were doing to overcome those obstacles.  The study used a snowball sample, based on initial recommendations from Ministries of Education and then from study participants.  The data collection methods were primarily interviews, although two participants choose to submit the data via an e-mail questionnaire.

There were three main challenges that were found:

  1. Technological competence
  2. Student Dispositions
  3. Context/Culture

Challenges that were across the board:

  • Technology competence: Limited knowledge of technology – high school
  • Student Dispositions: Lack of focus – high school students

Challenges that seemed to be more focused on programs serving aboriginal populations included:

  • Technology competence: technology not valued culturally – some no experience, students typically tend to be older, less technologically competent
  • Student Dispositions: need for face-to-face interaction, need for greater individual attention, need for intrinsic/self motivation, need for independent learning skills, need for hands-on approach (problem solving), need for extrinsic motivation (“bigger picture)
  • Context/Culture: historical trauma, primacy of community ways of life, limited literacy, other social/emotional issues, culturally insensitive institutions (curriculum/pedagogy), rigid school structure (related to previous)

Some of the strategies for success that were listed:


  • Early technology integration
  • Orientation packages
  • Integrate technology into the communities

Student Dispositions

  • Screening
  • Special education help/alternative programming
  • Communicate student responsibilities
  • Support systems (e.g., parental, teacher, community, local facilitation, face-to-face)
  • Quick feedback (immediacy
  • Community
  • Instructor-led pedagogy (specifically in mathematics courses)
  • Less text-based course design
  • Structured courses
  • Shorter class period
  • Face-to-face contact with teacher/other students


  • Culturally relevant curriculum
  • Trust/good relationships
  • Community involvement in education
  • Balanced approach to student encouragement
  • Less text (literacy)
  • Flexible course structure with option of synchronous modality
  • Short (modularized courses
  • Skills upgrading (foundation courses)

Based on these strategies, Monique identified four best practices.

  1. Modularized (continuous intake programs in addition to structure one)
  2. Redress contextual factor
  3. Local facilitator is essential
  4. Ultimately “success” needs defining (graduation rates may not be success for many of these aboriginal communities)

I will admit that Monique prepared more material than she was able to share, so had to rush through some of her discussion (which is reflected in my notes).

1 Comment »

  1. […] HICE 2011 – Motivation In High School Student Success: The Case Of Aboriginal E-Learners In Rural … […]

    Pingback by Aboriginal Focused Programs in Canada « Virtual School Meanderings — January 18, 2011 @ 9:06 am | Reply

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