Embedding cultural knowledges and competency within a business course Faculty Spark - View, reflect and apply

Last updated on 21/02/2020

  • You must be signed in to access this function

    Remove vote


An innovative Indigenous business course was designed to engage students in authentic and meaningful ways to develop their cultural competency.


In a third year mixed mode accounting course, a key challenge was designing Indigenous course content that engaged both online and on campus students. Within this course, Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business Communities, a central goal was to develop innovative assessment items that sought to develop student’s cultural competency when working and engaging with First Peoples in various business contexts. To enable this development, the course freed itself of ‘traditional’ forms of teaching (e.g. face-to-face teaching with paper-based assessments), through facilitating workshops via Collaborate and incorporating ePortfolio’s as a means through which to capture students self-reflections throughout the duration of the course. This form of assessment reflected the storytelling teaching pedagogy and that of our First People’s ways of knowing (New South Wales Education and Communities, 2012).



A central aim of the course is to develop students’ cultural awareness, safety and competency when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business communities. To enable this development, a range of topics are covered within the course including: communication; the cultural practices and protocols for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders; an overview of past and present government policies and regulations; and leadership and governance structures.

Griffith’s Reconciliation Action Plan (2016-2018)

A key tenant of Griffith’s Reconciliation Action Plan involves:

“Supporting ongoing development of curriculum that extends knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, worldviews and insights in a culturally appropriate manner” (p. 18).

In the design of this course, the teaching pedagogy reflected Indigenous ways of knowing in order to create a meaningful and authentic learning experience for students.

Teaching pedagogy

To enhance students’ cultural competency when engaging with First Australians, a storytelling teaching pedagogy was adopted. This included, “informal yarning, telling stories about my family’s journey, visual art and critical reflection as pedagogical practices” (Bodle, 2017 Group Learning and Teaching Citation Application). The purpose informing this approach was to “engage students to become more conscious of the Aboriginal knowledges, to provide an opportunity for students to embrace what they did not know, what they were already familiar with, and what they feel already. This was done by acknowledging, valuing and respecting Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing, as well as the students’ own cultural values and beliefs” (ibid.). To implement this vision, the course adopted an active learning approach which fostered student collaboration and participation through the use of technology.


Students prepare a two-sided digital ePoster worth 25 per cent of their overall grade. On one side they depict one of the eight topics covered in the course in an Indigenous drawing / painting. On the other side, they depict a comparative version of this topic / event from their own cultural perspective.

Reflection within PebblePad

Students were required to complete eight self-reflections within PebblePad, based on a template designed by the convenor. This template was based upon Bloom’s Taxonomy and was worth 40 per cent of their overall mark for the course. Within these series of templates, students reflect upon their own culture, values and beliefs and apply this to their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and business communities Students were encouraged to upload a series of artefacts within their templates, to serve as evidence for their claims. These artefacts could consist of: newspaper articles, artwork / images, audio or video clips.

ePresentation within PebblePad

Based on one of the eight topics explored within the course, students are required to develop a three to five minute video. This video accounts for 25 per cent of the assessment weighting, and within this video students incorporate the following:

  • Introduction - name, topic and reason why the topic was chosen.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the topic.
  • Analyse the topic.
  • Synthesis and evaluate the topic.

This assessment item requires students to tell their story which may include their preconceptions or assumptions through digital means. This can be achieved through a range of technologies including: smartphone; prezi; powerpoint or; Camtasia.


Since 2015, this course has consistently achieved high SEC and SET results (ranging from 4.5 to 4.9). Qualitative feedback obtained from these surveys, indicated a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history. An illustrative comment includes, “My perspective about First Peoples has changed since doing this course. Instead of looking at only one side of the story, now I understand it is important to put myself in their shoes and listen to their story.”

Feedback also indicated students embracing their culture to a greater degree due to the storytelling approach of this course.

“Kerry was very passionate about this topic and was not afraid to share her personal experiences and encourage student to share experiences to further enhance the learning experience...Personally, I feel as though Kerry has inspired me to embrace my family history and has encouraged me to get involved with the GUMURRII centre at Griffith University. This course has been extremely valuable to my development as a student but also as an individual.”

Regarding the use of ePortfolios, students indicated within these surveys the transferability of these sPortfolio’s to their professional life. “I am studying adult and vocational education so the use of alternative assessment tools is something I intend to use when I graduate as a teacher.”

Enabling Technology

A range of technology was incorporated within this course to achieve the learning outcomes, this included: Collaborate workshop sessions; ePosters, ePortfolios and; the use of video software.


Collaborate workshops were introduced to design an equitable learning experience for both on campus and online students. Within these workshops, students could ask questions concerning the ePortfolios and their reflections.


Students developed posters to illustrate their understanding of their own cultural biases and similarities with Indigenous issues.


As the course had to collect Assurance of Learning data, ePortfolio’s served as a useful tool through which to effectively collect data on student learning.

Pebblepad (Fact sheet). Getting Started with VLE tools and the Course Design Standards.

Pebblepad (Module). Getting Started with VLE tools and the Course Design Standards.

Video presentations

Students were encouraged to use a video software platform that was most accessible for them. These included: via their smartphone, prezi, camtasia or powerpoint.


If you are thinking of implementing a similar approach, consider the following:

  • If you have never engaged with PebblePad before, give it a go. Reach out to colleagues who have either implemented it before or have expertise with educational technology (e.g. your BLA / ED) to obtain their lessons learned.
  • Articulate to students why you are using this technology - how it will assist their future profession (for example it may contribute to their professional portfolio) or to aid them in achieving the learning objectives.
  • Be aware that students may have initial resistance to working on reflective journals, especially if they are used to ‘conventional assessments.’
  • Incorporate exemplars for students to review and learn from.
  • Include support resources for students. For example, during the weekly workshops we would use that as a key forum for students to raise any questions that they might have had.

Next Steps

As part of a Griffith Business School strategy, in 2018 we will be rolling out a series of Cultural Competency modules (hosted within PebblePad) throughout the Group. These modules will incorporate a series of scaffolded reflections, and components of the workbook will be customisable to the discipline.

Griffith Graduate Attributes

This course directly aligns to the following graduate attributes:

  • Effective communicators and collaborators
  • Culturally capable when working with First Australians.

Both the reflections and ePresentation assessment items developed students’ ability to communicate effectively in both the written and verbal form. From the teaching pedagogy through to the assessment items, this course sought to develop students’ awareness and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and business communities. Through encouraging students to place themselves in another’s shoes, and unpack their own culture bias, enabled them to attain a greater understanding of other cultures.

Support Resources

Contributed by


© 2023 Griffith University.

Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial International License (CC BY-NC 4.0)

The Griffith material on this web page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial International License (CC BY-NC 4.0). This licence does not extend to any underlying software, nor any non-Griffith images used under permission or commercial licence (as indicated). Materials linked to from this web page are subject to separate copyright conditions.

Preferred Citation

Bodle, K., & Learning Futures. (2020). Embedding cultural knowledges and competency within a business course. Retrieved from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/4845/view