Integrating Indigenous Perspectives into a Literacy Methods Course

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Pooja Dharamshi, Faculty of Education

Project team: Natalie Knight and Camila de Campos Miranda, research assistants

Timeframe: April 2017 to March 2018

Funding: $6000

Final report: View Pooja Dharamshi's final report (PDF)

Course addressed: EDUC 472 – Designs for Learning: Elementary Language Arts

Description: In 2015, the new British Columbia K-9 curriculum was implemented with a focus on integrating Aboriginal perspectives into the curriculum in thoughtful and meaningful ways. The new curriculum is designed to incorporate more Aboriginal content and culture for the purposes of immersing pupils in Aboriginal perspectives from an early age and to develop a foundation of empathy and respect. As a result, teacher preparation programs have been called on to rethink the ways in which they prepare future teachers. Student teachers must be prepared to not only understand the new BC curriculum but to also engage with the curriculum in an authentic way. My intention for this study is to bring attention to Indigenous perspectives in my teaching of EDUC 472 Designs for Learning: Elementary Language Arts, which is part of the Professional Development Program (PDP) teacher certification program at SFU.

My broad aim for the literacy course is to have student teachers develop broadened conceptions of literacy as a practice. This means understanding literacy beyond simply reading and writing and as a practice in which we make sense of the world. By integrating components into the course (e.g, academic/professional readings, music, Aboriginal Knowledge Keepers) I hope to introduce Indigenous perspectives and ways of knowing to student teachers and have them begin to develop ideas on how to embed these perspectives in their future classrooms and into all parts of their curriculum in a meaningful way. Particularly, storytelling and narrative will be a focus to help student teachers explore their own identities while engaging first-hand in expansive literacies.

Questions addressed:

  • In what ways could a critical literacy approach to literacy teacher education provide student teachers with opportunities to better understand Indigenous perspectives?
  • What are student teachers views on the relationship between literacy and Indigenous perspectives and how do these views change over the term of a literacy methods course?
  • Are there changes in student teacher perspectives and perceived learning of Indigenous perspectives as they relate to Language Arts?
  • What do students think about and learn from the exercises and experiences in class related to Indigenous content and ways of knowing?

Knowledge sharing: Dissemination is an important element of good research practice, and a crucial part of the research process. For this reason dissemination of findings will occur in several ways. Dissemination activities will include the following: (1) Papers presented at scholarly conferences, notably AERA, CSSE, and LRA, (2) publication through peer-reviewed journal articles, (4) modeling of approaches in pre-service and in-service work at SFU in PDP and Field Programs, and (5) sharing of findings with our graduate students, both those involved in our research and others with whom I supervise.

Dharamshi, P. (2019, April). Integrating Indigenous Perspectives in Literacy Teacher Education: Studying Perceptions of Student Teachers. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, April 5-9, 2019, Toronto, ON.

Keywords: Indigenous, Aboriginal, literacy, teacher preparation, teacher education