Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ITF NZ vocational education research forum - day one afternoon

My session came up first thing after lunch. I presented on the concept of assisting the boundary crossing of new trades tutors into acceptance of an identity as a teacher. Basically a report on a subset of the Ako Aotearoa southern hub funded project’perspectives of new trades tutors’. I introduced concepts of cultural-historical activity theory (CHATs) and metaphors of boundary crossing, boundary objects and boundary crossers using examples from the study but encouraging audience to think about examples within their own contexts.

Next session was with Dr. Heather Lees with Peter Engelbrecht and Peter Whittaker from the ETITO, on capturing skill utilisation: workplace evidence in national qualifications and literacy profiles. Overview of current ETITO qualification development/review process. Preparatory research followed by consulting industry (mainly SMEs) and develop qualification. New approach included workplace visits to the process instead of just a consultation group. A qualification role profile report was constructed to inform the development of a role competency map. This include non-technical (personal attributes, attitudes, industry knowledge, firm) and technical skills (general, trade/professiona and firm specific technical skills). Norhdaug’s classification of skills (1993) used to help prioritise the types of non-technical, technical or firm specific skills into the qualification. Literacy and numeracy skill profiles/demands of various tasks were also considered.Links were made between literacy and qualifications profiles in tandem so that both are integrated/embedded.

After afternoon tea, attended sessions by Katherine Percy, Workbase and Ravi Kulatunga from etc. Consulting. On cost effective method for measuring business benefits of workplace literacy learning. Example based on work with five companies. Began with measuring productivity in the form of KPIs (production, warehousing, health & safety, HR, customer service etc.) Did one base line measure than another one after the programme & a period of time has passed to allow return of investment of staff attending/completing programme to bed down. Quantitative approach used supplemented with qualitative data from focus groups. Quantitative data show positive returns with increases in labour productivity, employee skills, service delivery etc & reduction in absenteeism, error rate, overtime etc. The evaluation exercise led to better understanding by each company on how to leverage the workplace literacy programmes to help improve workplace productivity.

A full day closed with plenary session from Anne Alkema, Dr. Cathy Wright and Dr. John Benseman– Department of Labour on Workplace LLN (learning literacy and numeracy). Anne went through literature which tells us it is difficult to quantify the benefits of embedding LLN in workplace learning, however, intangible benefits (improved confidence, self efficacy etc.) other than actual literacy/numeracy skills appear to be there but difficult to pin down. 3 completed studies used to provide summaries. Key messages for employer-led LNN indicate lack of awareness about link between LNN & workplace issues, there is need to promote LNN training as a part of a whole business approach and access to funding is an issue. From the Modern apprentices perspectives, there is a divide between the ‘literate’ world and the trade world, apprentices employ coping strategies to mask L & N issues, workplace productivity takes priority. Impact of LLN support for apprentices include improved confidence etc. Common themes include need to do considerable work to raise awareness of LLN, workplaces still unable to integrate and there is still a ‘deficit’ approach to LLN. Cathy presented on literature review undertaken with LLN – need to gain & sustain company commitment including supervisors being part of learning project team, identity literacy needs by conducting company & individual needs assessment, full & consultative planning before programme begins, create a positive learning environment. Need to include context into curriculum design, make programme design a collaborative effort, select skilful instructors, use a flexible delivery mix, tailored /flexible support required. Lead into the upskill study which is about to be completed by this group. Went through findings from a study to evaluate role of LLN in upskilling by Wolf and Evans (2009). John provided guidelines on how to use research literature to inform current LLN programmes. Good resources produced by NRDC & need to think of how this information can be passes on to practitioners.


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