University of Tasmania
Final Thesis - WALKER.pdf (1.29 MB)

Rural teaching: balancing student aspiration and belonging

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posted on 2024-06-11, 04:20 authored by Dorothy WalkerDorothy Walker

The aim of this thesis is to better understand teachers who stay in the place where they were born and how staying has influenced their teaching approaches to balancing a sense of belonging with student aspirations to look beyond their local area. The study investigates the views and practices of six rural teachers and why they stayed to teach in the place where they were born. The issue of teacher recruitment and retention in rural and isolated areas in Tasmania has received considerable attention, however little consideration has been given to teachers who have continued to stay and teach in their place of birth and the implications this has for their teaching practices.
As a rural educator for many years in North-West Tasmania, I have a personal interest in researching this concept and my study provided an opportunity to challenge some common assumptions, such as that remaining in rural places is somehow deficient.
During this study, the unprecedented coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic provided an unexpected opportunity and perspective to analyse the impact of this event on the teaching practices and beliefs of the participants. This event provided a unique opportunity to extend the research through comparison of pre-pandemic data with post pandemic data on the participants teaching practices.
The narrative inquiry methodology chosen for this study afforded an approach suitable to explore the life stories, beliefs, and teaching practices of long staying teachers and was strongly influenced by constructivist narrative inquirers (e.g., Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Polkinghorne, 1995). The analysis of the data revealed a profile of individuals who demonstrated through their teaching a strong sense of belonging and connection to community and a valuing of a rural lifestyle and environment. The findings also provided insights into the kind of aspirations the participants believe are important considerations in educating rural students prior to, and during, the 2020 pandemic.



  • PhD Thesis


xvii, 199 pages


School of Education


University of Tasmania

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Copyright 2023 the author

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