Undergraduate Student Course Engagement of an Ethnically Diverse Population in Auckland, New Zealand
Increasing student engagement leads to improved educational outcomes, promotes positive student experiences, and reduces attrition rates. In Aotearoa (New Zealand), Māori students now account for 20% of university enrolments, but first-year attrition rates are approximately 17%. Both Māori and Pasifika students are more likely to drop-out during their first year of study than Pākehā students. To address the question Are Māori and Pasifika students less engaged than Pākehā students when studying in their first year of university? we measured student engagement during a compulsory first-year course delivered by a university in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). Questions were from the National Survey of Student Engagement, and students identified their ethnicity as either Māori, Pākehā, Pasifika, or Other. Information on the campus of study was also collected. Three scales within the questionnaire were (1) Cooperative Learning, (2) Cognitive Development, and (3) Personal Skills, and both total score, and score for each scale, were compared between ethnicities and across campuses. Total engagement for Māori students was higher than all other ethnicities on all campuses, and at the South Auckland Campus, Māori students scored higher in Cooperative Learning than all other ethnicities. These encouraging scores for Māori students reflect a commitment of inclusion and support for Māori enrolled at this large tertiary education provider in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa. The questionnaire was convenient to use and scales showed good internal consistency. We suggest that regular measures of student course engagement are made so trends can be shown for all student groups enrolled at universities throughout Aotearoa.