Friday, April 21, 2017

AVETRA 2017 - Day 2

Day 2 begins at 9am after a late night conference dinner.

Practitioner research is showcased with a series of presentations. Dr. Melinda Waters sets the scene. Shared two projects - scholarship project, association  of colleges UK and applied research model - Canada for guidelines and models.
Details also in paper - Waters, Simon, Simons, Davids and Harreveld (2015). New practices for new times: a case for scholarly activity in Vocational Education in Australia. Journal article.
Provided rationale for practitioner research and its importance along with advantages of implementing practitioner research. Capabilities include critical professionalism (Bathmaker and Avis, 2013). Shared examples of innovative pedagogies in VET, including spatial work, Affective  work, balancing work and practices of inquiry and research.

I attend the following two.
Firstly with Robert Brodie from Swinburne reporting on his International Specialised Skills fellowship to Canada and the US of A to investigate models of training in carpentry. Provided background and reasons for selecting the focus of his fellowship. Need to upgrade the range and depth of skills across his industry as 'specialised skills' survive the 'second machine age (Brynjolsson and McAfee)' when compared to 'ordinary' skills. Warns of disappearance of high skill craftsmanship if challenges of globalisation, skill depreciation and aging trades teacher workforce. Summarised the various institutions and systems visited and learning distilled from each. Especially impressed by Canadian system with training system allowing for focus on heritage, sustainability and / or journeyman. Provided examples relevant and applicable to the Australian contexts. Concluded on need for a journeyman or RedSeal type qualification to raise standards. 
Final report available ISSI site.

Secondly, is maintaining industry currency in a time of change With Dr. Philip Alviano from Master Builders Association Victoria. Rapid changes include energy efficiency, BIM, 3 D printing and prefabrication. Report on construction technologies summarised. Prefabrication include cross laminated timber panels, cassette flooring, prefabricated pods and closed panels. Current technologies picked up on ISSI fellowship in Germany last year. Especially impressed with Craftsmanship approaches. 
New construction technologies require funding for VET development centre, trainer upskilling and skills analysis through interviews, informal discussions with management, design and shop floor. Summarised feedback on skill analysis. Findings to include need for more people's skills to work in collaborative tasks. Might need Blended skills qualification bringing together carpentry and civil construction.

Melinda and Linda Simon then facilitated a session on 'what does it take to do practitioner research?' practitioners shared their experiences and challenges. Support structures detailed to assist the process. The difference and movement between scholarship, quality assurance processes and research was raised. Each may support and feed into the other. Nudging scholarship and quality processes into research requires capability building perhaps through community of practice/s and support.

After morning tea, I attend Professor Stephen Billett's session on 'towards a comprehensive account of adult learning and development'. Overview of adult learning and developmentand elements of a framework to address the lack of a solid and empirically grounded theories on adult learning and development. Many accounts are descriptive and speculative and compares poorly with theories of children's learning and development. Examples given on reflection, transformative learning, what are its scientific basis? Does it exist? How are they constituted? What are they constituted? 
Feye and Nylander review reveals majority to be qualitative methods and based on social theories. Elements of a framework for adult learning and development influenced by institutional or social, brute and personal factors (Searle, 1995) includes micro-genesis, ontogenetic development, distinction between learning and development, phylogenetic development and transitions in societal roles. Proposed the ways in which these focuses interrelate and interconnect. Summarised the precepts of microgeneses. Therefore theory needs to accomodate inter and infra psychological processes, fresh consideration of socio genesis goes beyond ideation and procedural and societal. Must be grounded and empirically informed.

Then Ronnie Liu completing his PhD from Griffith University on 'understanding practice based learning in small business Chinese restaurants: a practice theory perspective. Argues for richness of learning undertaken in the ethnic hospitality context, not currently recognised or accredited. Used a practice based theory lens to find out the features of learning characteristic of this context and it can the workforce be better supported. Used workplace learning theories and practice architectures as investigative framework. Detailed method. Findings included enacted pedagogies, special practice based learning and sayings used. Pedagogies include declarative - know that,  procedural - know how, experimental - know why knowledge and observation, rectification, internalisation - explicit to tacit, enculturation and synchronisation. Special features of this learning are to participate in purposeful and progressive, participatory activities, relational interdependence between individual and social world, aesthetic grounding, chain of actions with cultural coherence (workplace, regional culture), tacit and explicit knowledge conversions, intuition as expertise, critical reflection and embodied prevalence. 
Practice architectures studied on the sayings, doings and relating for the learning and work activities. So how can these practice architectures be enhanced and how have they been constrained? Practice based learning can be better supported through better communications between stakeholders, listen to voices of workers / learners and considerations of the enabling and constraining factors.

Two sessions after lunch. 

Jennifer Miles from Monash and Jane Court from Chisholm Institute with 'locating and practicing authenticity in VET. Early findings from Jennifer's PhD. Presented on how training packages are both the box and a means to keep people in boxes. How do we help VET teachers to critique and challenge the instrumentality of competency based training. Both presenters teach Cert 4 adult learning teaching qualification. Argued for importance of ensuring VET educators able to be critical thinkers. Used a team teaching approach to frame Diploma in VE5 to enable learners to improve their teaching practices. Begins with the learning of self and then to develop their strengths. Need to foster spaces as transformation and space to transform. Finding self includes remembered, ordered and imagined self (Brady).

Warren Guest from Holmesglen TAFE and Mike Brown from La Trobe present on 'providing pastoral care in apprenticeships: increasing retention rates through provision of mentoring and social support arrangements'. Reported on a pilot study to provide support services to apprentices. Now run 6 months and although many encountered significant hurdles, 86 % retention has been a good result. Pilot now funded by state to continue for 3 years. Background includes low completion rates, complex system, role of teacher, employer, parent, apprentices have changed, quality mentoring and pastoral care lifts completion rates, there are multiple stakeholders and competing functions. 129 case studies undertaken along with 6 apprentice support coordinators (ASC) interviewed and large forum also conducted. Pastoral care main intervention 54%, 13% mentoring advice, 16% for financial support and 17% academic support. ASCs with trades background believed their experiences and networks assisted with their role and their work often overlapped with pastoral roles of trainers, mediating role of field officers, mentoring role of employers. Proposed the need to reframe the apprenticeship system, less complicated, requirements for ongoing support etc. continual project across next 3 years to inform construct of better model.

Conference closes mid afternoon with conference overview. 

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