Thursday, April 04, 2013

AVETRA 2013 day 1 afternoon

After lunch, the keynote is with Colleen Hayward on ‘training and work from an indigenous perspective'. Colleen presented on the many complex challenges in indigenous education and some of the initiatives designed to address them. Both the education and employment environments have been complex, multi-layered and difficult to navigate for indigenous people. In comparison to the broader Australian demographic, indigenous peoples are more likely to be poorer, less educated, under-employed and have poorer physical and health. Of importance is the younger demographical population, hence the need to work at engagement with education to lead to better life outcomes. Some goals to 'close the gap' include ensuring indigenous pre-schoolers receive pre-school opportunities, school completion moving closer to the main population norm etc. Government can legislate but the work still requires whole community focus.
need to understand that causes are multifarious and one challenge impacts on another, exacerbating the challenge. An example is how poor housing leads to poor health in indigenous students. Continuous poor health may lead to continual hearing infections, impacting on students' learning at school. Poor attendance caused by poor health then makes it difficult to catch up.
Strategies to meet the challenges also need to be innovative and recognize the many impacts. For instance, providing tutorial assistance at tertiary level, along with opportunities for supported 'cadetship' leads to support during study both academically and financially. Cadetships also may lead to later employment.
Again, I stay in the VET practice stream – with Christine Liveris from Central Institute of Technology, Perth presenting on ‘practical strategies to facilitate self-regulated learning in vocational education and training business students'. based on an MPhil study of 8 students in a business programme suggests students engaged in a writing activity have little 'recursive activity'. a set of practical strategies to improve students' self-regulation used to improve teaching and learning. Self regulation has many definitions, including goal setting, time management, learning strategies, self evaluation, self attributes, seeking help or information and self motivational beliefs including self-efficacy and intrinsic task interest.  Good students often have self-regulatory characteristics. Phenomenological study to find out students perception of their own self-regulation - students wrote a short report two weeks before interviews carried out. Relationship between ways feedback is used to self-regulated learning. Cognitive strategies used included knowledge of task, positive self-efficacy statements, elaboration strategies (note taking, paraphrasing, summarizing and creating analogies) and some assessment tasks encourage surface rather than deep learning. good writers use recursive problem solving so metacognitive strategies of planning and evaluation are present. Therefore students need to be encouraged to interpret tasks in terms of existing knowledge and self-beliefs; set proximal goals, have authentic writing skills, have models for self regulatory skills, be in environment that supports  self-efficacy. Feedback, both internal and external, is a prime determiner of self-regulatory processes. Use feedback strategies that give learners a more central and active role in the feedback process.

Next up, Kenneth Meyer from CSU, Wagga with ‘ improving imagination skills in order to assist abstractive learning'. positive interventions used to improve students' learning of difficult abstract concepts - physics concepts applicable to electrical trades. Electrical physics is non-sensory therefore difficult to 'experience' with lots of jargon, algebra, abstraction and symbols. Understanding involves creation of idiosyncratic mental model. Improving imagination, mental modeling, abstraction abilities leads to improvement in learning electrical physics. A side effect is improvement in individual motivation. Participatory action research over three semesters with one cohort of students. Strategies included playing imagination and strategy games. Analysed narrative data through activity and tension field (Illeris) learning theories. Findings include that learning electrical physics requires the building of mental models, imagination assist with complexies of abstraction, creating space to problem solve in new ways, imagination illuminates new ways of knowing.
After afternoon tea, I move across to the ‘Teachers and PD’ stream to attend Teresa O’Brien’s (C.Y. O'Connor Institute) presentation ‘ technology pedagogy and content knowledge in action: perspectives of Vocational and training teachers from a regional western Australian institute’. reports on parts of a PhD project, using a mixed method approach, to find out VET teachers' epistemic beliefs about the use of technology to support teaching. Great need to use technology in sparsely populated areas of NW Australia, a key being the capability of TAFE tutors. Study uses a social constructivist perspective positing that technology can provide social, cognitive and emotional support to enable communication and connectivity between learners. technology skills become another requirement of VET teachers who already have to maintain currency in industry expertise and demonstrate teaching expertise. TPACK framework represents knowledge constructed from intersection of technology, pedagogy and content (Koehler & Mishra, 2008). Intersections indicates technology integration. Study added the extra influence of teachers' epistemic beliefs to ensure that TPACK integration occurs. Teacher's beliefs found to be content transmission based. Therefore a mismatch between TPACK framework principles and teachers' beliefs. Need to have PD for teachers that covers all components of TPACK framework.
Last presentation of the day also in the same stream – Melanie William’s (timeFUTURE) presentation on ‘engaging in mixed sector scholarly practice’. Examines the scholarship of teaching and learning (Boyer, 1990) in one Victorian public mixed sector institution in an effort to find out what contributes to 'quality scholarship'. The functions of scholarship include discovery, integration, teaching and application. In Australian context, regulatory requires scholarship but there is no clear definition. Transplanting university understandings to VET problematic. engagement in applied research is one method. Definition of engagement by Boyer (1990, 1996) involves scholarly service; dynamic interaction between theory and practice; tied directly to scholars' professional field; applies and contributes to human knowledge; applied to avoid irrelevance and be useful. Rice (2002) challenged by suggesting that engagement had to involve pedagogy, be community based and collaborative. Method was to commission 3 narratives on scholarly engagement accompanied by reflective commentary. Analysed using grounded theory and emergent themes compared and contrasted. How is scholarly engagement practiced? what makes it distinctive? Three narratives include winery, cookery book development and professional textbook (open source software as topic) writing. All 3 cases involved elements of discovery, integration and/or teaching as well as engagement. Distinctive aspects included the research financed and justified through teaching; scholarship conducted outside professional environment; some funding through crowdsourcing, self publishing on the internet and internet/social media used to make scholarship accessible to the public. Peer review key mechanism for ensuring quality but understood differently from universities. dialogue and collaboration occurred, work was rooted in the literature. Findings include Boyer's framework more useful as analytical than categorical mechanism; scholarly engagement in these cases highly innovative; democratization of the knowledge production process; consideration given to what constitutes quality scholarly practice; and consists of systematic processes of inquiry coupled with scholarly work.
AVETRA AGM followed by conference dinner makes for a long by eventful day.