Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Workshop & presentation from Laurent Filliettaz at Victoria University, Wellington

Travelled up to Wellington yesterday to meet up with Associate Professor Dr. Laurent Filliettaz, from the University of Geneva (currently on a one year sabbatical at Griffith University).  The workshop & lunch time presentation was hosted by Professor Janet Holmes, from the School of Linguistics at Victoria University.

Both the work of Laurent & Janet's team are pertinent to my 'studying the learning of trades students using multimodal discourse analysis' project.  I will begin stage one of this project with funding from the CPIT foundation early next year. The funding provides sufficient money to obtain hardware & pays for a small amount of research time for me and for one trades tutor (Flip Leijten who teaches welding).

Laurent's work & that of his team, Ingrid de Saint-Georges & Barbara Duc is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship programme. The project began at the end of 2005 and runs until January 2011. The main objectives of the programme is to understand apprentices' perspectives of how they gain knowledge, skills and experience identity transformation during their apprenticeship, the perspectives of trainers and teachers on what skills are required to teach or train apprentices & the potentials & limitations of the Swiss 'dual' traning system.

The overall programme was to study the Swiss dual training system whereby students attend school for 1 to 2 days and work as apprentices in the workplace for 3 to 4 days.  The current system has its challenges including difficulties with placing apprentices and poor completion rates. 

The main data collection method was to collect video evidence of workplace interactions between apprentices and trainers in both vocational school workshops (3) and at workplaces (7).  Three industries, motor mechanics, automation specialists and electric assemblers were involved.  150 hours of video evidence was collected, providing a rich corpus of evidence to study.

The main activities studied were knowledge transformation and transmisson, transitions and identity construction, the aspect of time in action and learning and the continuities and boundaries between schools and workplaces.

During the lunch presentation, Laurent presented 4 video vignettes with their accompanying transcripts and interpretations.  These were based on a case study of a new apprentice starting out in a electrical assembly workplace.  The presentation provided a good example of the power of using video based evidence in collecting workplace based apprentice / trainer interactions.  Especially rich evidence of how apprentices have to negotiate for their learning opportunities, the techniques / strategies workplace trainers use and the interactions apprentices have with other workers.  This reveals issues with power, communication or mis-communication in the workplace, language use in vocational learning and the transitional issues faced by school leavers as they are inducted into the workplace.

All in a worthwhile day to talk to many of the staff at the School of Linguistics and to have see examples of multimodal data collection and analysis.

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