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U of L professor honoured for work with Blood Tribe

Dr. Michelle Hogue

Dr. Michelle Hogue received the 2012 Pat Clifford Award for early career research in education.

The Canadian Education Association last week honoured a University of Lethbridge professor for her work with First Nations.
Dr. Michelle Hogue, assistant professor and co-ordinator of the First Nations Transition Program at the University of Lethbridge, received 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.
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 Metis heritage, I see first-hand the challenges First Nations, Metis and Inuit students experience in transitioning to post-secondary education,” said Hogue, who holds two degrees in science from the University of Regina.
“My doctoral research 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,” Hogue said of her work at the University of Calgary in 2011. “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, 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,” Hogue added. “This is why my current research has moved to middle school and high school.”
Hogue said 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,” Hogue said. “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 will present her research work and be formally recognized with the Pat Clifford Award at the Canadian Education Association council meetings on Wednesday, Oct. 24 in Toronto.
“I would like to see disadvantaged students get a leg up — and know 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.”
The award is named after Dr. Pat Clifford, one of the co-founders of The Galileo Educational Network.
Founded in 1891, the Canadian Education Association is a network of passionate educators advancing ideas for greater student and teacher engagement in public education.