Monday, April 26, 2010

Learning welding #5 and learning how to be a builder #1

We have now had confirmation of funding from Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub for the second semester re-iteration of the ‘Studying the learning of trades students using multimodal data analysis’ research programme, which is planned to have at least 6 projects and maybe move to 8, depending on findings which eventuate from each project.

The welding students are now into the second term of learning welding. A few students have dropped out but the remaining students have made good progress thus far. They seem to be more confident with working through the various welding exercises required to complete the course. Observations of tutor and student conversations reveal overt signs of understanding of technical terms and jargon used within the welding context. However, it will be good to try to find out their actual understanding of the process. Something we will think through when we work with next semester’s intake of students.

In the next project, we will also be collecting data at building sites through contacts made via Marc Mendoca at Fletcher Construction, a large local construction company. The research intent is to gather data from construction worksites of ‘learning conversations’ between apprentices and peers, other workers, supervisors etc. We will have to see, once we get out on to a worksite, how to best gather data to work with.

One of the ways of might be to do a comparative exercise with each trade on learning a type of skill using a distinct type of knowledge. Gentile’s taxonomy may be helpful in choosing skills which are similar in objectives. There are many ways to classify knowledge, Gott’s (1989) classification of knowledge may be helpful in defining the knowledge component to study. This classification is similar to Nuttall’s method to classify learning outcomes but it is more general and pertinent to skills training. The classification defines knowledge into procedural (how to do it), declarative (knowledge of devise or system) and strategic (how to decide what to do and when).