The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: Motivations for success: Strengthening self-efficacy to improve Indigenous student outcomes

Indigenous students could be better supported in their transition, participation, retention and success in higher education with an increased emphasis on emotional support, according to a new research report.

The research led by Dr Jack Frawley from Charles Darwin University and funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education recommended the supplementation of existing academic support programs with equity strategies that recognise the importance of community and family engagement, a sense of belonging and identity, and the development of self-efficacy amongst Indigenous students.


This research originated from the 2015 National Forum on Indigenous pathways and transitions into higher education, hosted by Charles Darwin University (CDU) and funded through the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) by the Australian Government. The forum was an opportunity to launch a national project report led by Steven Kinnane, Can’t be what you can’t see: The transition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into higher education. In this report Kinnane et al. viewed success as a ‘ripple of many small successes’ and identified the vital roles that individual, family and community have for an Indigenous student’s successful transition into higher education and for the development and provision of effective targeted pathway programs.

Throughout Australia there have been many ‘small successes’ of Indigenous individuals who have completed higher education, but these stories are largely absent from the literature. There has, instead, been a strong focus on the barriers and challenges to Indigenous participation.

Objectives and methodology

Self-efficacy as a key element of Social Cognitive Theory proposes that learning occurs within a social context. This review compared and contrasted key findings on self-efficacy and academic success, and singled out the most effective approaches in promoting a strong sense of self-efficacy in the higher education context.

Researchers undertook an integrative literature review on self-efficacy and academic success with a particular focus on Indigenous higher education students and documented narrative accounts of Indigenous student success in higher education studies by accessing YouTube videos in which students presented their higher education experiences. A data analysis frame was developed, informed by the four sources of self-efficacy—performance accomplishments and academic self-efficacy; vicarious experience; verbal persuasion; and physiological states—and an evidence-base generated and documented the most effective approaches for supporting Indigenous pathways and transitions into higher education and successful completions of studies.

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Media release