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The purpose of the paper was to investigate (a) similarities and differences in cultural perspectives, self-concept, and school motivation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian students; and (b) the relative influences of self-concept, motivation, and cultural perspectives on academic engagement. Data were collected from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students in Years 3 to 6 from 52 primary schools in metropolitan Sydney (N = 1745). Students completed a questionnaire asking about three cultural perspective factors (Aboriginal perspective, cultural diversity, and cultural identity), school self-concept, two motivation factors (a mastery approach goal and a performance approach goal), and a behavioral outcome (academic engagement). Results indicated that Aboriginal students were higher in all three cultural perspectives, but did not differ much from non-Aboriginal students in school self-concept, motivation, and academic engagement. For both groups cultural diversity, cultural identity, school self-concept, and a mastery approach goal orientation were positive predictors of academic engagement. A performance approach goal orientation was not a significant predictor of engagement but higher SES and being female were positive predictors. The findings suggest that teachers should understand the importance of promoting a positive sense of culture in the classroom to better engage students.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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