Walk Beside me, Learn Together

A Service-Learning Immersion to a Remote Aboriginal School and Community


  • Shane Lavery University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Glenda Belle Cain University of Notre Dame Australia http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1293-3791
  • Patrick Hampton University of Notre Dame Australia




The aim of this study was to explore the potential of a service-learning immersion program to promote pre-service teachers' development of cultural competency in the area of Aboriginal education. That is, the research focused on ways the immersion program helped pre-service teachers (a) develop awareness of cultural implications in teaching in a remote school and (b) understand and respect Aboriginal people with a view to reconciliation. The program has operated since 2013 and occurs in a remote Aboriginal school and community in Western Australia.  The duration of the immersion is eight days and is open to early childhood, primary and secondary pre-service teachers. The underlying epistemology of the research is constructivist, specifically interpretivist in nature, with a symbolic interactionist lens. That is, the research attempts to 'give voice' to the participants through their own language.  Content analysis was the methodology used to explore the pre-service teachers' experiences and perceptions while undertaking their service-learning immersion.  Data collection methods included focus group interviews, participant journals and a questionnaire.These data were collected over a four-year span from 2014 to 2017. The findings indicate that the service-learning immersion has enabled pre-service teachers to explore their interests and passion to teach Aboriginal students in both rural and remote locations. 

Author Biography

Glenda Belle Cain, University of Notre Dame Australia

School of Education

Senior Lecturer



13-05-2018 — Updated on 20-07-2018


How to Cite

Lavery, S., Cain, G. B., & Hampton, P. (2018). Walk Beside me, Learn Together: A Service-Learning Immersion to a Remote Aboriginal School and Community. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 28(1), 153–168. https://doi.org/10.47381/aijre.v28i1.171 (Original work published May 13, 2018)