What do we know about evaluation in Indigenous higher education contexts in Australia?


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Presenter:  Associate Professor James Smith, Program Manager - HEPPP Whole of Community Engagement, Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership, Charles Darwin University

Date: Aug 15, 2017

Time: 2:30pm to 3:30pm

Contact person:  Northern Institute
T: 08 8946 7468
E: thenortherninstitute@cdu.edu.au

Location:  Northern Institute, Yellow Building 1, Level 2, Room 48 (Savanna Room)

Target audience:  Open To The Public - All Welcome – Please Share

Abstract: The Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (2012) provided a clear mandate for investing in policies and programs that support Indigenous pathways, participation and achievement in higher education in Australia. While there have been notable investments and significant national reforms in Indigenous higher education over the past few years, the recommendation within this report to develop a monitoring & evaluation framework is yet to be actioned. Similarly, there is scant publicly available evaluation evidence about the effectiveness of program and policy investments in this space. In parallel, both the Productivity Commission and Australian Government have emphasised the importance of strengthening evaluation in Indigenous program and policy contexts across Australia. Bringing these two national conversations together, this presentation will examine what we currently know about evaluation in Indigenous higher education contexts in Australia. It is based on qualitative research project currently being conducted through the Office of Pro Vice Chancellor – Indigenous Leadership at CDU. This has been funded through the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. Human research ethics approval has been obtained. It will draw on empirical evidence derived from individual interviews with two participant groups - (a) Indigenous leaders and scholars within higher education institutions; and (b) government policy-makers with a role in equity and/or Indigenous higher education program and policy development and reform. Narratives from individual interviews with these two participant groups will be compared and contrasted to identify key themes and areas for improvement. Findings will be used to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with building evaluation capital in Indigenous higher education contexts in Australia. Feedback will also be sought in relation to the development of tools and resources to guide enhanced evaluation practice in this space.

Justification statement: This nationally significant research provides direction in relation to strengthening evaluation in Indigenous higher education contexts in Australia. It relates to using evaluation evidence more effectively and positioning Indigenous practitioners as the leaders of Indigenous evaluation work. It responds to a number of national reviews and policies relating to Indigenous higher education and/or programs. It explicitly relates to the ‘build systems’, ‘use findings’ and ‘diverse identities’ sub-themes.

About Associate Professor James Smith: Associate Professor James Smith was recently awarded a nationally prestigious 2017 Equity Fellowship with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education hosted by the Office of Pro Vice Chancellor – Indigenous Leadership (OPVC-IL) at Charles Darwin University. He is also the Co-Lead of the Indigenous Leadership Research and Evaluation Network at CDU. Prior to this role he was the Program Manager for the Whole of Community Engagement initiative at CDU. Previous to these roles he held senior management and executive positions in both government and non-government contexts in health and education sectors, in urban and remote settings across the NT. James is a Fellow and former Board Director of the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA) Ltd. James is an Associate Editor of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia and the International Journal of Men’s Health; and Consulting Editor for the Australian and International Journal of Rural Education.
He sits on the Board of Management for Melaleuca Refugee Centre and the Heart Foundation (NT Division). He is the Chair of the Community Advisory Committee for the NHMRC funded NT Data-Linkage project; and Deputy Chair of the Community Advisory Council of the NT Primary Health Network. He has won a range of accolades for his work in Indigenous education, research, health promotion, health policy, community engagement and men’s health. This includes the 2016 CDU Vice Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Performance in Research (Emerging Researcher) and 2016 Australian Rural Education Award from the Society of the Provision of Rural Education. James holds a PhD in public health and medicine from the University of Adelaide, where he investigated men’s help seeking and health service engagement practices.     

RSVP  by Monday 14 August 2017 via Outlook or thenortherninstitute@cdu.edu.au

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