Myth-busting in an Aboriginal pre-university bridging program: Embedding transformative learning pedagogy


  • Rebecca Bennett Murdoch University
  • Karin Strehlow Murdoch University
  • Braden Hill Edith Cowan University



Indigenous higher education, transition pedagogy, Indigenous students, Aboriginal university students, cultural interface, transformative learning, critical pedagogy


Pre-university bridging programs can address the significant under-representation of Indigenous students in Australian universities by providing culturally supported alternative pathways into undergraduate study. However, successful completion of bridging programs does not always correlate with university enrolment for Indigenous students. This paper offers a pedagogical rationale for an Indigenous bridging program that aims to address this discrepancy. The program curriculum challenges deficit myths about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and education, while developing foundational academic skills for university study. Leveraging Transformative Learning and Cultural Interface theories, the program aims to empower students with the opportunity to develop their own narratives about Indigeneity and university, free from deficit stereotypes. Since implementation of this myth-busting pedagogy, Indigenous student records indicate marked improvement in bridging program pass rates and in transitions into undergraduate study. Additionally, enrolments into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) tripled. Students’ weekly reflections, collected over seven iterations of the course, suggest that the transformative pedagogy developed students’ self-awareness, self-efficacy, self-confidence and sense of belonging at university.


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Author Biographies

Rebecca Bennett, Murdoch University

Rebecca Bennett (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer in the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre and Co-Lead of the Centre’s multidisciplinary Aboriginal Culture Education and Equity (ACEE) lab at Murdoch University. Her research interests include social justice and higher education; racism and allyship; Indigenous higher education; LGBTIQA+ inclusion; popular and digital culture, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. She is currently working on an Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous project examining a tripartite model for understanding racial microaggressions experienced by Aboriginal youth.

Karin Strehlow, Murdoch University

Karin Strehlow (PhD) is the Academic Development Coordinator in the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre at Murdoch University. Her research focuses on transformative learning and mindfulness practices in enabling education, as well as biodiversity and ecology.

Braden Hill, Edith Cowan University

Braden Hill (B.Ed., PVCI) is the Pro Vice Chancellor, Indigenous and Equity at Edith Cowan University. His research focuses on transformational learning at the cultural interface for Indigenous higher education students and the intersectionality of Indigenous identity in Australia.  He is currently working on a large-scale project to assess the quality of health service providers for LGBTIQ+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Western Australia.


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How to Cite

Bennett, R., Strehlow, K., & Hill, B. (2022). Myth-busting in an Aboriginal pre-university bridging program: Embedding transformative learning pedagogy. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 51(1).