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Critical auto/ethnographic research as/for transformative professional development

Taylor, P.C. (2007) Critical auto/ethnographic research as/for transformative professional development. In: 17th Annual Conference of the Southern African Association for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 6 - 9 January 2007, Maputo, Mozambique



In this paper I address the question of how educational research can be made relevant to the cultural contexts of international postgraduate students (e.g., from Southern Africa) who are studying full-time in overseas universities (e.g., in Australia). I draw on 15 years experience mentoring postgraduate research in science/mathematics education, including six students from Southern Africa (two of whom have submitted papers for this conference based on doctoral research). A major challenge facing postgraduate research mentors is to provide appropriate methodologies for intercultural research which address the question of how to design culturally inclusive science/mathematics education systems for preparing young people in societies undergoing rapid cultural transition to enter the modern world and, at the same time, respect, celebrate and grow their own local cultural capital. Drawing on developments in contemporary qualitative research, especially arts-based inquiry and critical auto/ethnography, I shall argue that postgraduate researchers can profitably harness their own life-world experiences as a primary source of narrative data in order to examine critically key philosophical and political assumptions underpinning science/mathematics education policies and practices that govern teaching, curricular and research practices in their own countries.

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