UWS Learning and Teaching Action Plan Projects by yangxichun


									     Indigenous Australians and Psychology –
    improving cultural awareness and cultural
   sensitivity in UG and PG psychology training
                      at UWS

                A UWS Learning and Teaching
             Action Plan (LTAP) 2006-2008 Project

Project leader: Helen Correia
Project report: Helen Correia
LTAP project no: P7241

                                           Final Report P7241 Page 1 of 6
                            TABLE OF CONTENTS

Project aims                                                                       3

Actual outcomes achieved:                                                          3


Relevant resources, community services, and professional development               3

Standards, guidelines, and approaches                                              4

Curriculum and content                                                             5

Summary                                                                            6

                                                       Final Report P7241 Page 2 of 6
Project aims

This project will identify how the current UWS psychology programs can integrate
knowledge and experience of Indigenous Australians to enhance cultural sensitivity.

Actual outcomes achieved

Relevant resources were identified and requested through the library if not already
available. This generated a resource list, as well as a listing of relevant services which
can be used by psychology interns when working with clients from indigenous
communities. Relevant content has been integrated into the course (eg first year
psychology with indigenous guest lecturers) with specific feedback collected from
students, and school specific graduate attributes created. Professional development
was offered through the hosting of a workshop conducted by experts from UniSA. A
review of existing practices was conducted, including a review of content currently
included in the course, identification of standards and guidelines used by other
universities, and a focus group (indigenous psychologist, staff, student) generated
themes for future directions (this review will be incorporated in the upcoming major
course review being conducted in the School of Psychology).


The project scoped the range of existing resources and practices relevant to the field of
psychology, and teaching and training in psychology in order to support the integration
of content and approaches into the undergraduate and postgraduate psychology
curriculums. This included identifying UWS related resources and practices, as well as
identifying resources and approaches used by other universities. An outline of
outcomes and tangibles is presented below, and relevant documents etc produced as
part of the project can be found in the accompanying CD sent with a hard copy of this
report. The report below is sectioned according to the aims and objectives achieved as
part of this project and summarises the documents available on the CD.

   1. Relevant resources, community services, and professional development

       As part of the project, a resource list was created to identify current books,
       journal articles, websites, multimedia, and other resources that may be of
       relevance to academic staff who are teaching in psychology. This included, for
       example, books and DVD’s that provide a sociohistorical context for Indigenous
       psychology, but also specific resources relevant to working with Indigenous
       Australians in specific clinical contexts. Resource lists from other universities
       and organisations (eg list created by the UniSA Psychology team that had
       received Carrick funding for an Indigenous psychology project, AIATSIS
       publications lists) and guest lecturers in Indigenous psychology were also
       consulted to identify items that could be ordered by the library to enhance the
       existing UWS pool of resources. Many of these resources are relevant across a
       number of disciplines (eg Book: Addictions and Healing in Aboriginal country)
       and copies have since been ordered by the library and are now available to the
       broader UWS community. The result of this process is a resource

                                                                  Final Report P7241 Page 3 of 6
   listing/database that identifies a range of resources and their relevance to the
   discipline areas in psychology (See CD: Resources).

   In addition to this, a listing of services was developed that is relevant to mental
   health and Indigenous communities in the Greater Western Sydney area. This
   provides links to potential future community partners as well as acting as a
   resource for intern psychologists being trained in the school who may be
   working with Indigenous clients or associated community members (See CD:

   As well as an emphasis on resources, professional development opportunities
   were also sought and this resulted in a half day workshop delivered by a team
   of experts from UniSA (School of Psychology) on strategies for embedding
   Indigenous content into university curriculums and improving cultural sensitivity.
   The UniSA team were funded by Carrick to deliver workshops and seminars on
   Indigenous Australians and the psychology curriculum, although for this
   workshop their presentation was more general to be inclusive of academics
   from a broader range of disciplines. Academics from across UWS attended (eg
   School of Law, School of Business, School of Social Sciences) including those
   from other related LTAP’s (See CD: Workshop). The workshop was useful in
   providing a context and case example of integrating content relevant to
   Indigenous Australians into the university curriculum.

2. Standards, guidelines, and approaches

   The project also identified a range of existing standards and guidelines that are
   of relevance to, and may impact on, the development of any strategic plan of
   integrating relevant content and processes into the undergraduate and
   postgraduate psychology curriculum. This included identifying relevant
   professional codes and guidelines, UWS policies and developments, and
   approaches used by other universities (See CD: Guidelines and Approaches)
   Generally speaking, there are a number of approaches, ranging from dispersing
   relevant content throughout the curriculum (as relevant to an individual unit)
   through to including a core unit in the Psychology program that specifically
   focuses on Indigenous Australians and the sociohistorical development that
   contextualises contemporary issues in Indigenous communities. These
   approaches were discussed with a small UWS-specific focus group (indigenous
   psychologist, lecturers, and students) to identify possible future directions. The
   themes from the focus group emphasise the importance of having better
   foundational content (eg history and background) in first year to enable
   psychological knowledge and skills to be appropriately contextualised when
   presented in discipline specific areas in later years (See CD: Curriculum). This
   theme reflects the current UniSA model, and it is one that has been supported
   by Carrick. Although there is very little research or data comparing outcomes
   across the different approaches, the data available from UniSA suggests
   positive responses to this approach, providing that students are clear about the
   rationale for the learning objectives.

   The recommendations that arise from the standards, guidelines, and
   approaches will be referred to in the major course review that will be conducted
   in the School of Psychology in 2009 (See CD: Guidelines and Approaches).

                                                              Final Report P7241 Page 4 of 6
3.   Curriculum and content

        An initial review of the curriculum was conducted through an external
        professional accreditation process and initial changes made to the
        curriculum in 2007. Since then and in parallel with the LTAP project the
        curriculum has developed to further include content relevant to Indigenous
        Australians. This has been bolstered by the identification of guest lecturers
        with expertise working with Indigenous communities. A more specific review
        of content in the curriculum has also been conducted and graduate
        attributes constructed that will necessarily have an impact on future course

     A. First year psychology

        Modifications to the first year unit, Psychology: Human Behaviour, have
        been particularly pronounced. Changes were made to the learning
        outcomes and a prescribed textbook that specifically includes content and
        research relevant to Indigenous Australians was adopted. Specific lectures
        and tutorial content were included in the learning program and a relevant
        assessment topic subsequently included. Importantly, while the lectures
        were initially delivered by the unit coordinator, guest lecturers with an
        Indigenous background and relevant expertise were later identified and now
        deliver the lectures.

        Specific feedback questions regarding the inclusion of such content in the
        first year unit were developed in collaboration with Associate Professor
        Berice Anning and data collected from students in early 2008 (See CD:
        Curriculum). Many students recognised the importance of the lectures and
        the topic in regard to the development of their professional skills and
        knowledge. However, a number of students questioned the relative
        importance about the topic and revealed some negative attitudes,
        suggesting that further work is needed on improving attitudes and to
        emphasise the importance and relevance of such inclusion. One particular
        consideration may be that because many of the students are enrolled in the
        unit as an elective, some students may deem the topic as being less
        relevant to their own discipline. Whilst, this may change as the inclusion of
        Indigenous issues becomes more strongly embedded across UWS more
        broadly, the rationale and contextualisation for inclusion of content may
        need to be emphasised more specifically. The feedback will be used to
        improve the future inclusion of relevant content in the first year unit.

     B. Other curriculum developments

        With regard to other areas of the program, the identification of lecturers with
        such expertise was an important progression, given that there is an
        extremely limited pool of people with expertise in working with Indigenous
        communities within the disciplinary context of psychology. This progression
        has meant that the delivery of relevant content has been considerably
        improved and subsequently included across the program (eg Health
        Psychology, Master of Education and Developmental psychology).

        A review of units was also conducted in 2008 to identify the inclusion of
        Indigenous content across the programs (See CD: Curriculum). What was
        noticeable from the review, based on the information provided by
        academics, was that content and assessments were distributed across units

                                                               Final Report P7241 Page 5 of 6
     but were being driven by a small pool of academics in the School.
     Furthermore, in the undergraduate program, specific content was more
     commonly included in electives rather than in core units.

  C. School specific graduate attributes:

     In parallel with the development of the Indigenous Graduate Attribute at
     UWS, school specific graduate attributes as relevant across the range of
     UWS graduate attributes were developed in collaboration with Associate
     Professor Berice Anning (See CD: Curriculum), as well as in conjunction
     with members of the Quality Learning Unit who, in 2008, were developing a
     broader range of school specific graduate attributes. Consideration of these
     will be included in future course reviews to ensure that the curriculum
     across the undergraduate and postgraduate program aligns with the
     graduate attributes.

4. Summary

  The project outcomes, as described above, provide an important context for
  curriculum changes, not only in providing relevant resources for academic staff,
  but also in facilitating course reviews to align with the direction of UWS and the
  psychology profession. While curriculum changes have happened at a small
  scale to date, and outcomes have been smaller than expected, the project has
  necessarily had to proceed in line with other developments at UWS. The project
  outcomes do, however, provide critical background as the school prepares for a
  major course review in 2009. As such, although the specific LTAP project has
  ceased, the psychology programs will continue to develop iteratively and in
  liaison with relevant staff, such as Associate Professor Berice Anning and other
  staff from Badanami.

                                                            Final Report P7241 Page 6 of 6

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