Dr. Michelle Hogue Clears a Path to Post-Secondary Science Programs for Aboriginal Learners
Dr. Michelle Hogue Clears a Path to Post-Secondary Science Programs for Aboriginal Learners

October 12, 2012

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The Canadian Education Association (CEA) has awarded Dr. Michelle Hogue (MEd ’04), Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the First Nations Transition Program at the University of Lethbridge, the 2012 Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education for her work in improving attendance, engagement, and success for Aboriginal learners.

Hogue’s research blends required curricular and institutional demands with narrative and arts practices that, with holistic knowledge, have the potential to change science education for Aboriginal learners.

In addition to working with students at the University of Lethbridge, Hogue is conducting research and developing new teaching practices in a pilot project with high school students, educators, and administrators on the Blackfoot (Kainai) Reserve in Southern Alberta, located just west of Lethbridge.

With innovative teaching methods that integrate drama, narrative and cultural stories into chemistry education, Hogue theoretically and directly addresses science, specifically chemistry, which is one major barrier to further studies in health, counseling, medicine, pharmacy and other science-related professions.

“As someone of Métis heritage, I see first-hand the challenges FNMI students experience in transitioning to post-secondary education,” Hogue, who holds two degrees in science from the University of Regina, said.

“My doctoral research (University of Calgary, 2011) focused on Aboriginal individuals who had been successful at post-secondary education particularly in the sciences, an incredible feat in light of their academic challenges. Their stories of experience and their success fuel my driving passion to enable Aboriginal success in the Western education system.”

Hogue, who also holds a Master of Education from the University of Lethbridge (2004) specializes in curriculum development and implementation, and is interested in different methods of teaching and looks for new ways to engage students, particularly Aboriginal students, in a different, more relevant way.

“Aboriginal students need to see success where they are,” Hogue said. “Currently, science and math are taught in a Western traditional way, which doesn’t work for a population of people who are hands-on plural learners. It doesn’t make any sense to them. It’s not part of their cultural vocabulary – their way of knowing. This issue needs to be addressed when they’re young if we want more Aboriginal students to enter post-secondary science programs. This is why my current research has moved to middle school and high school.”

Hogue said that educators and curriculum developers need to design curricular activities that incorporate learning strategies that most effectively educate Aboriginal students.

“I think that this population wants to succeed, but the past has always been one of doors closing. Teaching in a “Eurocentric” way doesn’t work for a culture that doesn’t learn that way. This population will succeed if we change the way we teach,” Hogue said.

“I would like to see disadvantaged students get a leg up – and know that that they are worthy of a second look, of being heard, and have a voice and a place in education so that they’re able to succeed and take that back to their community as role models. There is always more than one way to do something. The Western way is not necessarily the only way.”

A more detailed "Question and Answer" interview with Michelle Hogue can be found here: http://www.uleth.ca/notice/display.html?b=13&s=18386

Hogue will present her research work and be formally recognized with the Pat Clifford Award at the CEA Council Meetings on October 24 in Toronto.

About the Pat Clifford Award

This Award is named after Dr. Pat Clifford, one of the co-founders of The Galileo Educational Network. Pat had an extensive teaching background from primary through graduate level, and was the recipient of numerous awards for both research and teaching practice. Pat passed away in August of 2008 but she left a gift to us in her teaching, scholarly writing, poetry and stories.

About the Canadian Education Association (CEA)

Founded in 1891, the Canadian Education Association (CEA) is a network of passionate educators advancing ideas for greater student and teacher engagement in public education.


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Dr. Michelle Hogue
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