Tag Archives: culturally responsive pedagogy

Module Four – Culturally Responsive Inclusion of Stories

Taking into account the importance of involving community members along with educators as co-creators of culturally responsive education with a sense of place, I wanted to explore what resources support or exemplify such partnerships and approaches to learning and storytelling.

(1) Listening to Our Past

With the community support and involvement of sixty-seven Nunavut elders, ten scholars, dozens of students and numerous interpreters, translators and proofreaders, twelve books were made available online on this site, most of which were produced as a research project, Iqaluit Oral History. It is a tri-lingual site with dynamic links to imagery and stories spanning a range of relevant topics. The Francophone Association of Nunavut hosts his website, produced in partnership with multiples parties including the Nunavut Arctic College, the Iqaluit Elders Society, Laval University, the governments of Nunavut and Canada, and many others.

(2) National Film Board of Canada Unikkausivut – Sharing Our Stories

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB), in collaboration with a number of Indigenous government and community organizations, selected more than 60 films from its collection that represent all four Canadian Inuit regions (Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut and Inuvialuit). Some are available in Inuktitut. Filmmaking reflects multidisciplinary and highly collaborative work, exemplified in some of the traditional stories found on the NFB site. For example, animator Co Hoedeman’s work is represented in films such as Luumaq, The Owl and the Raven, The Owl and the Lemming and The Owl Who Married a Goose. Although NFB is famous for animation and documentary, and many of its Indigenous stories are documentaries, traditional stories, produced in collaboration with a range of community members, are present in the collection.

(3) Culturally Responsive Instructional Resources for American Indian/Alaska Native Students

The Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) is a collaboration of WestEd and CRESST, two American leaders in the standards and assessment field. This page on their site provides an extensive list of resources that support culturally responsive teaching for American Indian/Alaska Native students and whose lessons can be applied to other Indigenous contexts. CSAI defines culturally responsive teaching as “the application of cultural knowledge, prior experiences, perspectives, and performance styles of AI/AN students to develop more personal connections to classroom learning.”

(4) Principles for Culturally Responsive Teaching

The Education Alliance at Brown University has published a page dedicated to communicating the principles of culturally responsive teaching. This is a simple and useful reference (with resources) that could be modeled or adapted by educational organizations seeking to define and educate its stakeholders, and hold itself accountable for its own approaches to culturally responsive education. It defines the characteristics that the institution operates according to, by explaining What, Why and How under each of the following:

  • Positive perspectives on parents and families
  • Communication of high expectations
  • Learning within the context of culture
  • Student-centered instruction
  • Culturally mediated instruction
  • Reshaping the curriculum
  • Teacher as facilitator

(5) Miscellany: Publications

The following publications cover a range of pedagogical and social issues that can inform culturally responsive Indigenous education in Canada. They are listed in no particular order, reflecting diverse geographic and social perspectives that contribute to the larger discussion.


Module 1: Martha Attridge Bufton

Culturally responsive assessment
I am interested in thinking my way through the issue of culturally responsive (or appropriate) assessment of student learning. As scholars such as Hare (2011), Marker (2006), and Bowers, Vasquez, and Roaf, (2000) suggest, the tools we use in learning environments are culturally biased, i.e., we privilege certain tools and strategies that are congruent with a particular worldview. For example, quantitative assessment tools such as surveys are scientific and fit a Western, reasoned approach to education.

However, do quantitative approaches to assessing student learning fit with an Indigenous view of education that favours observation, listening and doing (Hare, 2011)? Where knowledge is transferred orally, through stories, from elders to young people? I hope to have at least some answers to these questions by the time I finish my research project (and maybe identify some tools to try).

To begin my research journey, I have looked for resources related to assessment of Indigenous student learning. I have already done some research on culturally responsive/inclusive pedagogy so I decided that I would wait to circle back to this broader topic. I am interested in Canadian materials as well as international resources, particularly those from Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia where I know that educational research and practice is evolving—sometimes faster than it is here in Canada. The following five resources seem like a good place to start.

Bowers, C.A., Vasquez, M., & Roaf, M. (2000). Native people and the challenge of computers: Reservation schools, individualism, and consumerism. American Indian Quarterly, 24(2), 182-199. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/journal/amerindiquar

Hare, J. (2011). Learning from Indigenous knowledge in education. In D. Long & O. P. Dickason (Eds.), Visions of the heart. Canadian Aboriginal issues (3rd ed.). Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

Marker, M. (2006). After the Makah whale hunt. Indigenous knowledge and limits of multicultural discourse. Urban Education, 41(5), 482-505.


Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
The mission of the ACER is to support the development of learning environments by providing “research-based knowledge, products and services” (2017). In the area of assessment, ACER researchers have created a number of assessment products which might not be accessible to me. However, They publish an Indigenous education update (the latest in 2016) as well as an article of related to assessment in higher education. Given that Australia has a similar colonial history to Canada, some of the materials available through the CREA might suggest approaches or tools that might be transferable to a Canadian context, or provide alternatives that might suggest new pathways to developing appropriate assessment strategies. The site does not seem to link to those of other organizations.

Canadian Education Association
The Canadian Education Association is a national organization of educators that supports pedagogical research and innovation that will lead to “deeply engaging learning environments (n.d.). The CEA has produced a number of publications related to integrating Indigenous knowledge and worldviews into learning environments such as Land-based learning: A case study report for educators tasked with integrating Indigenous Worldviews into classrooms (2017) and a 2014 article in the online magazine entitled The culturally responsive classroom. A proactive approach to diversity in Canadian schools. A search for assessment-related materials brings up a number of resources that may be useful to understanding general approaches to assessment in Canadian schools—finding Canadian content can sometimes be a challenge. However, the site does not seem to link to that of other organizations.

Centre for culturally responsive evaluation and assessment (CREA)
The CREA is located at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne. Researchers at the centre recognize the need to explore and develop forms of educational evaluation and assessment that respect and reflect the impact of culture on learning. The CREA published a reading list online where literature is categorized according to several themes:

  • Cultural competence in evaluation
  • Culturally responsive evaluator
  • Multiculturalism and cultural competence in evaluation

This area of research, emerged in part, out of the American scholarship on culturally responsive instruction. The work of scholars such as Gloria Ladson-Billings has been influential internationally in this area and I think the bibliography will be a good source of academic literature that will provide a foundation for an evidence-based approach to this topic.

National monitoring study of student achievement
Based on research that I have done on library schools in Aotearoa New Zealand, I have the impression that educators in that country may be more progressive in terms of practicing culturally responsive education. The national study is based out of the University of Ortago and assesses the performance of primary school students. One of the principles of the study is to recognize and take into account “identity, language and culture” and track the progress of Maori and Pasifika students. As such, publications and resources may provide some insight into the design and characteristics of forms of assessment that are considered culturally responsive/relevant, although a national program would not scale down to my work.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): Programme for International Student Assessment
As described on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) website, the PISA is a triennial international survey designed to “evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year old students.” Students from more than 70 countries took the test in 2015 and were tested for the following literacies:

  • Science
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Financial
  • Collaborative problem solving

This approach to assessing student performance is relevant in that it might represent a Western approach to understanding learning, i.e., a dominant paradigm. As such, it might serve as a baseline for culturally biased assessment and provide access to statistics from a wide range of jurisdictions.