Tackling Educational Disengagement in Regional and Rural Communities

A Queensland teacher and PhD student is hoping to uncover some of the factors associated with educational disengagement, to help improve outcomes for young people living in regional and rural communities.

Michelle Gossner is a primary school teacher in the Bundaberg region of Queensland and has observed first-hand the negative impact that parental social disadvantage can have on student educational experiences and engagement.

Ms Gossner started her PhD this year at Central Queensland University, supported by an Australian Rotary Health/Rotary District 9640 Funding Partner PhD Scholarship. She is hoping her research will lead to a better understanding of the complex factors that either disrupt or promote youth educational disengagement by using the Bundaberg Region as a case study of regional and rural Australia.

“The Bundaberg Region has long been acknowledged as one of the most disadvantaged communities in Australia. Educational disengagement is likely a major contributor behind this intergenerational transmission of disadvantage,” Ms Gossner said.

“The region has an alarmingly high education attrition rate compared to the state average. Thus, a significant proportion of young people in the Bundaberg Region are at risk of long-term disadvantages, such as unemployment, welfare dependency, poor physical and mental health, criminality, and substance abuse.”

Ms Gossner will collect data from parents, adolescents, primary school students and community members through interviews, focus groups, and large-scale school-based surveys, to inform the development and evaluation of community-driven initiatives that encourage educational engagement among regional and rural youth.

“The community-based research approach is envisaged to help translate the findings to community stakeholders, ultimately enhancing current initiatives and aiding in the development of new early intervention programs to improve educational engagement and reduce adverse outcomes for regional and rural youth,” Ms Gossner said.

We look forward to hearing more about Ms Gossner’s research as it progresses.

Media contact: Alexander Galati – alexander@arh.org.au
First published 13th December, 2022

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