An investigation into Māori students' academic disengagement from the mainstream education system and re-engagement in the alternative education system : a thesis completed in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Psychology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The purpose of this study was to understand the academic disengagement and re- engagement process from the perspective of Māori students enrolled in New Zealand Alternative Education (AE). Specifically, this study focused on students’ perceptions of the factors that influenced their lack of success in the mainstream school setting, the motivational and engaging factors that lead to them enrolling in an alternative education school, and the factors that are maintaining their success either in the Alternative Education setting or back in mainstream education. Six Māori students participated in semi-structured interviews. The criteria for selection were that the students had shown positive re-engagement to their academic learning. The main barriers to student success in mainstream education were their poor attendance along with disruptive behaviour. Students did not feel that teachers and peers in mainstream believed they could do the work and they lacked self-efficacy while attending mainstream in that they could not perceive themselves achieving academically. The findings from this study confirm what the literature suggests, in that becoming academically disengaged is a process taking place over a period of several years and not a one off event. Interpreting the ‘voices’ of the students strongly suggested that early intervention in addressing issues of academic engagement could reduce the number of students disengaging from mainstream education. Students interviewed in this study retrospectively became aware of the negative effect of their behaviour on their learning in mainstream after experiencing the Alternative Education. Students developed a new sense of self belief and determination and the new engagement with their academic work seemed to directly fuel even further motivation to succeed at their schoolwork. The Alternative Education system was highly beneficial and directly responsible for the students re-engaging in their academic learning.