Improving Aboriginal Secondary School Outcomes Through Imaginative Education

Principal Investigator(s)/Chercheur principal (Chercheurs principaux):

Mark Fettes, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC


Co-Investigator(s) /Co-chercheurs :



Funding /Subvention :

SFU/VPR SFU/VP Research (Amount: $9,900)


Duration /Durée :

2008-2009 (Status /Statut : Ongoing)


Contact Information /Personne contact :

Tel: 778-782-4489 Webpage: Office: Education Building 8543 SFU, Burnaby, BC


Background /Contexte :

Aboriginal student’s academic performance rates are below average in comparison to the rest of the student population in school systems across Canada. Graduation rates, provincial exam scores and qualitative measures of student engagement as well as learning: All are indicators of this phenomenon. There is a growing school-age body of Aboriginal students across the country. The present research builds on prior work in three BC school districts and involves the implementation of an approach known as Imaginative Education. The theoretical foundation for this work predicts that imaginative, culturally inclusive classrooms will be more successful places for Aboriginal and minority students.


Project Objectives /Objectifs du projet :

(1)The Imaginative approach will allow students to develop a deep, energetic and flexible understanding of the subject matter found in the provincial curriculum. (2)The Imaginative approach will help prepare students to contribute to the future of their communities in a more creative and wise way.


Research Plan/ Plan de recherche :

Over the last four years university researchers have worked collaboratively with school districts and First Nation Partners to train teachers in the Imaginative Education approach, to build curriculum and to study the implementation of the approach in classroom settings. In the latest stage of this research, we have followed students in four Prince Rupert classes through an entire school year (2007-2008), in an effort to evaluate the value of this approach for a range of students and teachers. Significant positive feedback was obtained in the realm of performance for a substantial proportion of students deemed to be at risk of early academic failure. A continuation of sustained longitudinal studies is needed to determine the impact on academic success at the high school level. We have  addressed this concern by  embarking on a three-year project to study the implementation of the Imaginative approach in grades eight and nine in two Prince Rupert high schools.


Significance /Importance :

The current research will pave the way for a future longitudinal study that will track cohorts of students from grades six to nine. Research on learning and engagement across this span will provide evidence for the Imaginative approach in dealing with the challenge of Aboriginal secondary student outcomes in a sustained and reproducible way.