Friday, July 15, 2011

NCVER no frills vet research conference

At picturesque Coffs Harbour for the annual NCVER vocational research conference hosted by North Coast Institute, TAFE NSW. The conference begins with a welcome from Francesca Beddie, NCVER General Manager.

First keynote from Elizabeth McGregor, Institute Director, North Coast TAFE, on 'aiming high - how can research accelerate the shift from inputs to impacts? Can research help the VET sector tell us our story? Approached the presentation from a viewpoint as a 'consumer' of research findings. Quality VET is about workforce development and there is a need to understand how individual, community and enterprise development contribute. Quality providers contribute by improving skills in use to improve regional competitive advantage through workforce participation, social inclusion and increased productivity.  Need to move beyond outputs (attainment, completion) to impact (social inclusion, productivity - high skill jobs, skills in use, agency, workplace agility, enterprise innovation). a challenge to VET research - are we asking the right questions? are we framing our answers in a way that tells the  story of  the sector's impact - in so doing  moves the sector's focus towards that impact? Are we connecting up our  rich quantitative and qualitative research data? or has the time  for a VET sector passed?

Concurrent sessions begin after morning tea. I attend the session with Regan Harding, North  Coast TAFE, Berwyn Clayton, Melinda Toze and Mark Harris, on 'professional obsolescence or technical currency in VET. defined the terms, vocational competence, industry and technical currency and professional obsolescence. Causes of prof. ob. for individuals (lack of aptitude or ability to keep up to speed, lack of awareness, confidence, denial, fear), within organization (job, relationship and systems) with on-going impacts on individuals, work teams and organization. Strategies from literature include: getting climate right, adopting strategic approach, encouraging collaborative learning, learning about, through and in practice, updating for the here and now. Challenges include structural and system barriers, career change differentiation, dual professionalism.

Second session with Hinemoa Priest and Susan Luke from Wellington Institute of Technology, 'the learner voice'. an update from last years' presentation. Takes on the stance that students are important stakeholders along with government, industry and society. Official representation on academic boards and council is insufficient. Therefore, learners' voices used to find out whether learners' are engaged, what works and what doesn't, etc. Presents case studies of Tamaiti Whangai (sports programme with mentor). findings include educational achievement as being important, students need to build a sense of who they are, confidence and sense of belonging, getting a job is important, learning environment needs to be safe, important to be valued for who you are and build a sense of self-worth. Another case study with Pacifica students where there is a need for students individual identities (as fijian, cook islander) to be acknowledged. Last case study on young learners (youth guarantees and trade academies).  Like environment - not school - study voc. Subjects but support crucial. need to include mentorship, improved study planning, expanding activities youth can participate in.

After lunch, a series of concurrent pecha kucha sessions! Attended the stream on Policy - starting with Dr. Darryl Dymock from Griffith  University on 'continuing ed. & training, alternative models and approaches' from a 3 year project just begun with Sarojini Choy and Stephen Billett and others. Why individuals participate in CET -  change in workplace skills requirements, prepare for current and future work or retain present job. Studyin goals, purposes, content, learner engagement and outcomes. Presented preliminary studies.

Then 'celebrating seams: VET in Higher ed transition with Janelle Davis from the University of Western Sydney. A visually and content interesting presentation of how  to help VET graduates transition into university mainly to provide a more  equitable and consistent system. Pre-entry courses, welcome packs with relevant info. contacts and websites, peer guide brochures developed to be student focused.

Sue Sim from TAFE NSW - TAFE strategy, presented on 'getting clever about completions'. competing tensions between students learning to get a job and institution and govt. need for completion of qualifications. pre-enrolment, delivery and assessment systems admin (early identification and counseling) and partnerships (community agencies, industries) all important to helping students complete. currently working on strategies for  apprenticeship completion.

Finishing with session with Darryl Dimock with Greg Martin, Greer Johnson  and Stephen Billett, reported on 'training and employability: older workers' perceptions. Literature suggested older workers as being reluctant to train, inflexible etc. online survey of mature age workers completed with findings - key reason for staying in  work is job satisfaction, strong beliefs in own abilities to cope with significant work changes, most comfortable  with technology, have opporunities to share expertise, there was equitable access to training, employees supportive of learning endeavours but many felt skills were under utilised. concerns from respondents were promotion opportunities similar, respect and gender differences.

after afternoon tea, Jai Waters fromTAFE NSW on passion and performance. Pertulla (2004) on passion in the workplace provided passion for work (POW) with 16 items and 5 sub scales to derive questionnaire. Used a concept of change networks and change managers to bring about change required to put in place a new financial management system for all TAFE NSW institutes. Also Schmenner's theory of swift even flow comparing degree of relative throughput to degree of variation. low/low being service factory or fast food, high high as service shop and health sector.

Last session of day from Amy Han, Institute of Technical Ed. Singapore on 'creativity and strategies: their relationship to students' approaches. Need to ensure students gain skills to conceive, design, implement and operate using problem based learning with blended learning. Used Biggs R-SPQ-2F to study students' approaches to learning (deep motives, deep strategy, surface motive and surface strategy). Study undertaken to find out students' learning approaches with the plan-explore-practice-perform pedagogical method. Uses 3 factors, short-term, course-focused (past assessment) and long-term (more self-directed). Therefore if students have a deep approach they have a strong course and long term focus. Proposes more authentic learning in classrooms to provide more real-world, complex problem solving opportunities.