Tāmaki College and Koi Tū Research Practice Partnership

by Dr Suzanne Trask

Tāmaki College has partnered with Koi Tū to evaluate and refine a problem-based learning programme. The goal is to develop the critical skills and competencies students need to contribute and thrive in a rapidly changing society.

Since 2020, Tāmaki College in Glenn Innes has been piloting Akomanga Kaihanga – problem-based learning with Year 9 students. The main goals are to provide authentic and challenging learning experiences, promote critical thinking, and grow students’ abilities to learn independently. At the same time, Akomanga Kaihanga (AK) aims to promote student well-being and resilience.

In AK, students explore social issues impacting their own communities and ways these challenges can be addressed. They use Design Thinking to problem-solve and work with local businesses and community groups to identify where and how they might act.

Student actions have included lowering traffic speeds around the school, increasing youth participation in physical activity, improving water safety, developing community support programmes for reducing risky levels of alcohol consumption, and preparing and distributing healthy food to support community members.

Anecdotal reports from AK teachers point to increased student confidence and self-esteem, linked to the development of problem-solving skills and the experience of collaborating as part of a group to promote meaningful change.

However, setting up an innovation like this is not easy. Challenges have included making sure the programme fits with other school subjects and importantly, evaluating learning and achievement. This evaluation incorporates growth in student skills and competencies as well as character qualities.

Thanks to a donation from the Tāmaki RISE Trust (https://www.tamakiconnect.com/about), Tāmaki College has partnered with Koi Tū to undertake research to help understand and evaluate AK opportunities and challenges. The research will identify pathways for improvement and the resourcing required to ensure that AK can be scaled up across more year levels and sustained into the future.

Results from this research will help to shape the future of Akomanga Kaihanga and ensure students keep getting the chance to develop skills and learn in this unique way.  The research is a step forward in understanding how we can best support our young people’s learning, growth, and well-being in today’s rapidly changing society.

Pictured above left to right are Jacquie Bay, Koi Tū; Soana Pamaka, Principal Tamaki College, Mariana Ahokovi, Tamaki College; Suzanne Trask, Koi Tū; Russel Dunn, Tamaki College Deputy Principal.

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