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Education research projects

Place-based knowledge to increase student engagement Dr Neil Harrison

Teachers spend much of their time recreating real-life contexts inside the classroom in order to make learning more relevant. But for many children, there is a mismatch between what happens inside and outside the classroom, and that becomes frustrating for many as they progress through school, with an increasing number of students questioning the relevance of school to the real world.

My research is designed to find out how place-based knowledge can be used to increase student engagement and to support identities in the classroom. I am currently developing case studies of how students at university learn from place and country. The task is to design evaluations of case studies in order to discover what connects us to place in the city.

My involvement in place-based learning developed out of a research project delivered in Sydney schools. The project produced seminal findings on the importance of schools locating their curricula and planning within the Aboriginal school community, and was published in 2011:
Harrison, N. and Greenfield, M., Relationship to place: positioning Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives in classroom pedagogies. Critical Studies in Education, 52, 65-76.

The background to place-based learning in Sydney is documented on a blog: Learning and Teaching on Darug country:

Aboriginal education has been an ongoing research and teaching interest for the last 25 years, and a summary of my work in that field can be found in Harrison, N. (2011), Learning and teaching in Aboriginal education (Oxford).

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