Friday, October 12, 2012

NTLT day 3

A shorter day today to allow conference attendees to return home from Nelson. Day begins with keynote with Dr. Peter Coolbear from Ako Aotearoa on the topic "developing evidence based strategies to support improved organisational performance in teaching and learning". Focus on achieving synergies between individual improvement of practice and organisational change for the benefit of learners. Discussed tertiary education system ( currently inefficient), need for evidence based improvement, what is good evidence, ensuring projects contribute to sustainable change and changing expectations of 21 st century vocational learners.
Currently, significant progress in course and qualification completion rates but still wide variation, lack of parity of success for Maori and Pacifica learners, low progression to success at higher levels of study, increasing lack of confidence about consistent academic standards and continued change environment. Through projects have confirmed that current system does allow great teaching and learning to happen, but not strategic, not enough sharing, fragmented and research base still weak. Need to narrow gap between excellence and threshold of acceptability and also move level of excellence up. Government can enable but organisations and profession still have to lead.
Need to ensure dialogue between practitioners and sector to test assumptions and relies on robust, easily understood evidence.
Organisations need to collect evidence more purposefully and formally. Suggest systematic gathering of informal evidence ( student stories, employers, alumni) and formal through AUSSE, critical incidence questionnaire, research in cognitive psychology, student surveys etc. recommends the location of results into organisational change. Provided a logic sequence for sustainable improvement. Identify need, investigate options, create intervention, practice change, student response, outcomes, adopted as business as usual and share externally. Impact evaluation of 63 projects reveal a outcomes hierarchy. What works is mutual preparedness and congruent expectations of practitioners and organisations based on evidence based research.

After morning tea, three concurrent sessions starting with "learning and teaching models for engineering and trades" with James Mackay and tutors for Weltec. A series of case studies of teaching and learning initiatives in trades training. James presents on project based learning in a 4 week engineering foundation course where students work through the skills to build a steam car. Constructivist approach embedding literacy and numeracy and integrating induction of students into engineering, science and engineering process skills and contribute to self-efficacy.
Shane Taplin provided overview of developing a multi media system to help students learn electrical concepts. Introduce smart boards, netbooks, iPads, visualizer and smart pens. Need to support tutors to move forward.
Phil Mudgeway and Grant Davies on project based learning in automotive. PUsing activity, research, problem based learning. Integration of theory and practical to compile almost 100 competency standards a year. Important to also provide for work and non vocationally focused skills.
Barbara Kelly and Colleen Hurley on improvement of student completion for trades academy. Trying to ensure competencies were being completed progressively instead of at end of year. Change included integrating individual course assessments, tracking of students and encouraging both tutors and students to monitor progress. Led to change in motivation and students' own expectation of achievement.

Next session is with Dale Bennett from NMIT on "learning opportunities: designed for the future, inspired through the evaluation of collaborative partnership". A conversation on how to go about ITP collaboration that adds to enhancing learning. Collaboration increases access to a larger network of colleagues but also creates challenges. Rebecca Gadja's a good place to start with regards to developing model for evaluating collaboration. Recommends establishment of levels of communication, cooperation, joint decision making, shared goals, quality deliverable and minimize barriers.

Last paper with Patricia Griffin from Western Institute of Technology presenting on "using career aspirations to inform academic pathways into polytechnic, does it make a difference? Trying to understand whether proving support to foundation students helps them make correct decisions and move on into further learning. Foundation students tend to complete just enough to get to the next stage so did not complete foundation programme. Put in place an admissions committee to expedite enrolments. Implementation through academic strategy, standards and evaluated through programme viability report and admissions review. Findings indicate students need flexibility in enrolling for foundation skills, allowing students to complete credits required to progress into mainstream programmes.

A good variety of presentations with many opportunities to network with tutors, staff educators / developer and managers between papers. I have enjoyed the collegiality and reflective moments the conference has brought about.

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