Peer support: Mentoring responsive and trusting relationships
Purpose: The aim of the research was to gather information about Indigenous and non-Indigenous students' classroom experiences. This chapter examines what made the classroom environment in this course, Balancing Worldviews, different to other classroom experiences. It was also undertaken for students to provide their standpoints on how safe classroom environments are created for students and lecturers to share their views and perspectives. Methodology: The study employed a Collaborative Community Participatory Action Research (CCPAR) model. The praxis and sequencing of action requires practical, reflective engagement focused upon solution development, as identified by the collaborative community (Indigenous and non-Indigenous students). Qualitative data was collated via focus groups and individual in-depth interviews with students. Findings: We learnt through the research Classroom experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students: Building safe engagement by sharing stories that demonstrated a particular theme and situations of the week; the stories were about family, political issues, working experiences. These stories supported student learning and transformed the learning space into a place that was safe for students to share their experiences. This way of learning was acknowledged as personal, nonhierarchical and relational, establishing connections between the learner and sharer of the story. Value: This research focused on how students' experience of safety shaped the nature and level of their engagement and their ability to provide peer support. The stories shared by students are indicative of the necessity of growing safer classrooms. The emphasis was on story-telling and knowledge sharing, which is circular and takes time to develop within a group. The focus group discussions established a number of themes that were taken up and explored further in the in-depth interviews. Practical implications: We believe this research interaction is vital in cultivating an effective progressive evaluation process incorporating students' input (knowledge, experiences and voices), rather than through the systemic university model of student survey that demands a limited response. With the findings of the research we hope to share these experiences with our peers. Copyright © 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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