Lynette Riley is gaining widespread recognition for her award-winning research.
A new study into the school performance of Aboriginal students in NSW has found high-achievers had a strong and positive sense of their cultural identity.
The finding is part of a new thesis study called 'Conditions of Success for Aboriginal Students’ which was undertaken by PhD student, Lynette Riley from the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education (IPPE).
Lynette’s qualitative research focused on high-achieving Aboriginal students who had been placed in the top 10 – 25 per cent in their NAPLAN year five tests.
She undertook a total of 123 interviews, speaking to students, their parents, teachers and Aboriginal staff in three metropolitan and four regional schools in New South Wales. “Research has shown that Aboriginal students are up to 36 months behind their non-Aboriginal peers in learning. We need to close this gap,” said Lynette.
“For kids to succeed, they need strong and positive sense of their cultural identity as well as supportive parents who understand how the education system works and are able to guide their children through it.”
Lynette said that culturally competent school principals and staff were also important factors in determining educational outcomes for Aboriginal students.
“I found that successful students are taught by long-term teachers who are competent in their craft or are taught by competent new career teachers with greater world experience who, therefore, understand cultural difference.”
She her research may be crucial information for schools, regional and state programs that support Aboriginal students. She suggested that it could provide guidance on effective structures within school and parent engagement programs to support improved academic outcomes for Aboriginal students.
Lynette now plans to disseminate her research to regional and state education departments and organisations such as the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, hoping to strengthen conditions which will support Aboriginal students in their academic ventures.
A Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi woman from Dubbo and Moree, Lynette has over 30 years’ experience working as a teacher and in Aboriginal education and administration at schools, universities, TAFEs and state education offices across New South Wales.
Lynette is already winning recognition for her research. She recently came first in ACU’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition and was also awarded the People’s Choice Award, as voted by members of the audience.
3MT is a research communications competition, held at universities around the world. Students have just three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. You can find out more information here.
IPPE is ACU’s largest research institute. It focuses on leading world-class scientific research in positive psychology and education that encourages disadvantaged individuals and groups to thrive and flourish. More information about IPPE here.