Redefining Learning and Assessment Practices Impacting Aboriginal Students: Considering Aboriginal Priorities Via Aboriginal and Western Worldviews


  • Tim R. Claypool College of Education, University of Saskatchewan
  • Jane P. Preston University of Alberta



Aboriginal content and epistemology, holistic, learning and assessment


Although there is momentum among Canadian educators to incorporate Aboriginal content and epistemology into pre-kindergarten to postsecondary education, the learning and assessment of Aboriginal students remains subjugated by a Western perspective.  The purpose of this article is to explore ideal learning contexts for Aboriginal students and juxtapose these ideas with the predominant learning and assessment tactics used in a school.  Data for this qualitative study were collected via five focus groups involving grandparents/caregivers, representatives from Aboriginal organizations, and educators of one Saskatchewan school.  Analyzed through Aboriginal and Western epistemologies, results indicated that, for Aboriginal students, learning and assessment are holistic experiences, and educators need to balance students’ academic assessment with other physical, emotional, and spiritual forms of assessment.  These findings suggest that educators need to depart from the zone of cognitive competence and move toward promoting an educational zone of trustful intuition.

Keywords: Aboriginal content and epistemology; holistic; learning and assessment