Professor Susan Page is an Aboriginal academic whose research focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experience of learning and academic work in higher education and student learning in Indigenous Studies. Her current position is Professor in the Centre for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledges, where she is collaborating on a university wide Indigenous Graduate Attribute project. Early in her academic career, Susan was awarded a university Excellence in Teaching Award (University of Sydney). Susan’s Australian Research Council funded research (with Professor Michelle Trudgett and Dr Neil Harrison) explored best practice for the supervision of Indigenous doctoral students. Other recent research includes, examining Indigenous student engagement in Australasian Universities, a project to explore student learning in undergraduate Indigenous Studies, investigating Education curricula inclusive of Darug knowledge traditions and examining the roles of Indigenous academics in Australian Universities. Susan is a Director of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium (Aboriginal Corporation).
Coordinator: Aboriginal Sydney Now (013992 &013993)
Page, S. & Asmar, C. 2008, Indigenous academic voices: Stories from the tertiary education frontline.
Harrison, N., Trudgett, M. & Page, S. 2017, 'The dissertation examination: identifying critical factors in the success of Indigenous Australian doctoral students', Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, vol. 42, pp. 115-127.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Indigenous Australians represent 2.2% of the working age population, yet account for only 1.4% of all university enrolments. In relation to higher degree research students, Indigenous Australians account for 1.1% of enrolments, but only 0.8% of all higher degree research completions. This paper reports on findings that emerged from an Australian Research Council-funded study which aimed to establish a model of best practice for the supervision of Indigenous doctoral students. The project identified the dissertation examination as one of the critical factors underpinning the success of doctoral candidates. Whilst research into the examination process for doctoral students is limited, the research that specifically explores the examination of dissertations submitted by Indigenous students is entirely inadequate. Our research identified key epistemological concerns that impact approaches to the examination process, to demonstrate how the dominance of Western methods of research impact the examination process for Indigenous doctoral students. This paper explores the experiences of 50 successful Indigenous Australian doctors with a specific focus on their examiner preference and disciplinary requirements. It highlights the limitations that some Indigenous students and their supervisors experience in finding an appropriate examiner.
Bodkin-Andrews, G., Whittaker, A., Harrison, N., Craven, R., Parker, P., Trudgett, M. & Page, S. 2017, 'Exposing the patterns of statistical blindness: Centring Indigenous standpoints on student identity, motivation, and future aspirations', Australian Journal of Education, vol. 61, no. 3, pp. 225-249.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© 2017, © Australian Council for Educational Research 2017. This article engages with an Indigenous Quantitative Methodological Framework to examine links between a positive sense of cultural identity, future aspirations, and academic motivational tendencies. Utilising a sample of Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal and First Generation (Migrant) Australian students in years 7–10, results showed strong psychometric properties across the three groups for the measures utilised. Whilst few differences were identified between the First Generation and non-Aboriginal Australian students, Aboriginal students consistently had lower future aspirations and less adaptive motivational tendencies than the two other student groups. Importantly though, Aboriginal students held a stronger sense of cultural identity. Key links between motivation and cultural identity were identified, and both were associated with stronger educational and life aspirations. The implications suggest that researchers and teachers need to recognise the importance of cultural identity as a positive driver for schooling motivation and future aspirations, and that First Nations theory and research should be engaged to override the erasing effects of Western epistemological standpoints when utilising statistical methods.
Trudgett, M., Page, S. & Harrison, N. 2016, 'Brilliant Minds: A Snapshot of Successful Indigenous Australian Doctoral Students', Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 70-79.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
© Copyright The Author(s) 2016. Drawing on demographic data collected from interviews with 50 Indigenous Australians with a doctoral qualification and 33 of their supervisors, this paper provides the first detailed picture of Indigenous doctoral education in Australia, with the focus on study modes, age of candidates, completion times and employment. It also analyses data produced through interviews with supervisors including age, employment levels and academic background. The study confronts a number of common perceptions in the higher education sector, to find that many Indigenous Australians are awarded their doctoral qualification in the middle stages of their career. This particular cohort is more likely to be studying in the arts and humanities, employed in higher education and enrolled on a full-time basis. This Australian Research Council (ARC) funded research provides new and important data to inform government policy, and to allow universities to implement strategies and recommendations arising from the Behrendt Report of 2012.
Asmar, C., Page, S. & Radloff, A. 2015, 'Exploring anomalies in Indigenous student engagement: findings from a national Australian survey of undergraduates', Higher Education Research and Development, vol. 34, pp. 15-29.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Increases in participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in higher education across Australia continue to be promising. However, it is also known that Indigenous students' attrition, retention and completion rates remain areas of concern. In this paper, we report our findings from an analysis of Indigenous student responses to the 2009 Australasian Survey of Student Engagement. Overall, Indigenous Australian students express positive responses in relation to engagement, but are more likely than non-Indigenous students to be planning to depart. We explore this somewhat unexpected anomaly, whilst also suggesting that much more needs to be known about our Indigenous students, including, for example, whom they may interact with at university; where they turn for support; and why they may decide to leave. Our findings strongly indicate that better national and institutional data are needed to address the current gaps in knowledge relating to Indigenous student populations in Australia and around the world.
Page, S. 2014, 'Exploring new conceptualisations of old problems: researching and reorienting teaching in indigenous studies to transform student learning', The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, vol. 43, pp. 21-30.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Indigenous Studies can be both exciting and challenging for teachers and students. This article will examine how an existing learning theory can be harnessed to help teachers better understand these challenges and manage some frequently seen student behaviours. Much of the discussion in Indigenous Studies pedagogy to date has focused on the curriculum and what we should be teaching, with a growing body of literature, for example, related to the inclusion of Indigenous Knowledges. However, there is less written about how students learn in Indigenous Studies. Drawing on the notion of the Cultural Interface and the 'zone of proximal development' to highlight the complexity of Indigenous Studies classrooms as a site of necessary struggle for students, the article considers possibilities for reconceptualising and reorienting teaching. The paper explores using the threshold concepts framework to gather evidence about how students learn or indeed don't learn, in Indigenous Studies. Threshold concepts are key ideas, critical to mastering discipline specific knowledge, which facilitate students' ability to think like a discipline experts.
Harrison, N., Page, S. & Finneran, M. 2013, 'Generative methodology: an inquiry into how a university can acknowledge a commitment to its Aboriginal community', The Australian Educational Researcher, vol. 40, pp. 339-351.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This paper maps ethical and epistemological issues around attempts by a university to negotiate with the traditional custodians of the Sydney basin, the Darug, to facilitate the intergenerational transmission of knowledge within their community, and through the university curriculum. The theory and practice of research raised some important methodological questions about what constitutes knowledge in Aboriginal and western contexts. The project brought us to reflect upon the epistemological basis of our research to consider whether it was history, ethnography, cultural resource management or memory work. As we worked through these issues during the process of consultation and negotiation with Senior Darug, the inquiry began to focus on how a university can acknowledge a commitment to its community. Such a commitment for a university must be built around attentiveness and respect, rather than an epistemology of control. We find that respecting the power structures and organisation of an Aboriginal community is a crucial step for a university in performing such a commitment. Respect for the established power relations in these communities constitutes the very basis of a generative methodology.
Mercier, O.R., Asmar, C. & Page, S. 2011, 'An Academic Occupation: Mobilisation, Sit-In, Speaking Out and Confrontation in the Experiences of Maori Academics.', The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, vol. 40, pp. 81-91.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Māori and other Indigenous scholars have been calling for the Indigenisation of academic space for decades. But what is the day-to-day experience of Māori academics within Aotearoa–New Zealand universities, and how does this experience reveal or enact the commitments to claim space? We interviewed 12 Māori academics and analysed and organised their experiences in the following way: the university can be understood as a site of (1) mobilisation of Māori staff and students; (2) sit-in, or infusing the institutional system with Indigenous values; (3) speaking out, thereby educating not only students, but staff and the public about Indigenous issues; and (4) at which confrontation is part of the academic terrain. The most common outcome of confrontation was negotiation and reclamation of space for Māori people, norms and values. In spite of this apparent willingness of the university to compromise, we find that capitulation (being moulded to the norms of the academy) and (self-)eviction (reconciling difference by leaving the university) are ever-present possibilities for Māori academics. In shaping and presenting the Māori academic occupation as a 4-stage commitment to affirm Māori identity, norms and scholarship, we present a framework within which Indigenous and minority academic work may be understood.
Asmar, C. & Page, S. 2009, 'Sources of satisfaction and stress among Indigenous academic teachers: Findings from a national Australian study', Asia Pacific Journal of Education, vol. 29, pp. 387-401.
Page, S. & Asmar, C. 2008, 'Beneath the teaching iceberg: Exposing the hidden support dimensions of Indigenous academic work'.
Rose, D., Rose, M., Farrington, S. & Page, S. 2008, 'Scaffolding academic literacy with indigenous health sciences students: An evaluative study', Journal of English for Academic Purposes, vol. 7, pp. 165-179.
Page, S., Farrington, S. & Daniel-DiGregorio, K. 2007, 'The student experiences study: Using research to transform curriculum for Indigenous health sciences students'.
DiGregorio, K.D., Farrington, S. & Page, S. 2000, 'Listening to our students: Understanding the factors that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students' academic success', Higher Education Research and Development, vol. 19, pp. 297-309.
Farrington, S., Digregono, K.D., Page, S. & others 1999, 'Yooroang Garang issues in Aboriginal health worker training: Listening to students', Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal, vol. 23, pp. 17-17.
Farrington, S., DiGregorio, K.D. & Page, S. 1999, 'The Things That Matter: Understanding the Factors That Affect the Participation and Retention of Indigenous Students in the Cadigal Program at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney.'.
Page, S., Farrington, S. & DiGregorio, K. 1999, 'Promoting academic success through valuing and supporting diversity amongst Indigenous students in a block mode health science program', HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Inc) Annual International Conference.
Page, S., DiGregorio, K.D. & Farrington, S. 1997, 'The Student Experiences Study: Understanding the Factors that Affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students' Academic Success', Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education, Brisbane.
Page, S., 'Intersecting and Overlapping Spaces: Combining teacher and student perspectives to identify threshold concepts in Indigenous Australian Studies.'.
Page, S., DiGregorio, K.D. & Farrington, S., 'INTRANATIONAL PERSPECTIVES: UNDERSTANDING THE FACTORS THAT AFFECT ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER STUDENTS'ACADEMIC SUCCESS'.
Page, S., Trudgett, M. & Harrison, N. 2015, 'A sociocultural approach to supporting Indigenous Australian success' in Macfarlane, A., Macfarlane, S. & Webber, M. (eds), Sociocultural Realities: Exploring new horizons, Canterbury University Press, Christchurch, New Zealand, pp. 155-167.
Asmar, C., Mercier, O.R.I. & Page, S. 2009, ''You do it from your core: priorities, perceptions and practices of research among Indigenous academics in Australian and New Zealand universities', pp. 146-60.
Page, S., Trudgett, M. & Bodkin-Andrews, G. 2016, 'Exploring an Indigenous graduate attribute project through a critical race theory lens', Research and Development in Higher Education: The Shape of Higher Education, Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Annual International Conference, HERDSA, Fremantle, Perth, pp. 258-267.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Graduate attributes are a mechanism not only for developing employability skills, but also for fostering graduate abilities to be productive contributors to social change. There is growing recognition that university graduates can and should contribute to enhancing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians signaling the need for dedicated Indigenous curriculum for all university students. Consider the transformative possibilities of significant numbers of graduates empowered to work effectively in partnership with Indigenous Australians. In 2014 almost 10,000 students graduated from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Reflecting the organisational culture, graduate attributes also illustrate the values of an institution. In 2014, responding to the Behrendt Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (2012) call for whole of university approaches, UTS approved the development of an Indigenous Graduate Attribute (IGA) Framework for all university courses. Recognising that resources would be required to support the implementation of such an ambitious project, a proposal was made to establish an Indigenous academic expertise centre to support the implementation of IGAs in all courses. In this paper the Aboriginal academic staff leading the IGA project will draw on Critical Race Theory (CRT), including the work of Ladson-Billings, to reflect on our experiences in the first year of the project. We use CRT to highlight the ways in which institutions might work with Indigenous academics to optimise the success of complex projects such as the UTS Indigenous Graduate Attribute project.
Page, S. 2015, 'Theoretical learning spaces: exploring threshold concepts, the cultural interface and the zone of proximal development to better understand student learning in Indigenous Studies'.
Asmar, C., Page, S. & others 2009, 'Sharing the load [Indigenous cultural policy in the post-Bradley era.]', APN Educational Media.