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VET learning and teaching: A collage of recent research findings Professor Larry Smith University of New England 0428232410.

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Presentation on theme: "VET learning and teaching: A collage of recent research findings Professor Larry Smith University of New England 0428232410."— Presentation transcript:

1 VET learning and teaching: A collage of recent research findings Professor Larry Smith University of New England

2 Key research findings/ issues regarding: -What employers are seeking from VET graduates seeking to enter employment? -How VET students learn best? -Approaches to assessment -Competencies for the future

3 A word or two about the pre-eminence of IT 1.IT has the capacity to add considerable value to the processes of VET learning and assessment if it is used appropriately 2.IT is a tool, not a process, and certainly not THE process – the focus must be quality learning and effective teaching 3.IT should not be the starting point for determining VET pedagogy

4 4.The starting question should be: What do we need to do to maximise learning for each student? The question that follows is then: In what ways and to what extent, if any, can IT assist to deliver that outcome? Unfortunately, the starting question far too often is: We have this new you-beaut technology – how can we maximise its use? Or even worse: IT will save us money – how can we increase its use?

5 5.There is strong evidence that the drivers for much of the use of IT are not educational 6.There is strong evidence that an over- emphasis on IT can in fact undermine the quality of learning and learning outcomes 7.Much of the evidence cited in support of the increased use of IT in VET learning is actually based on happiness data, not clearly identified improvements in learning

6 I have just bought myself a microwave fireplace. Now I can sit in front of the fireplace all night – in just 8 minutes! (Steven Wright)

7 What employers seek from VET graduates: The Top 15 Based on recent research studies in Australia and UK

8 1.Work ethic: a desire and commitment to work hard and to produce products or provide services of the highest quality 2.Punctuality: starting and finishing on time; being where you are meant to be when you are meant to be there 3.A desire and capacity to learn and improve 4.Good team member: There is no I in the word team 5.Get on well with colleagues

9 6. Communicate well with customers and management: written, verbal, IT 7.Self-confidence and Self-esteem: How we view ourselves. How we think others view us. Feeling of self-worth. 8.Problem-solving skills. Opportunity solving. Ambiguity or uncertainty? 9.High standards of dress and personal hygiene 10.Commonsense

10 11. Ability to manage own work and performance 12. Honesty and trustworthiness 13. Loyalty 14. Openness to constructive criticism 15. Relevant high level knowledge and skill

11 Note that technical skills and knowledge, while considered important, is not considered as important at the point of employment as a wide range of personal skills. Why not? What are the implications of this list for IT delivery modes for VET?

12 Principles underpinning effective learning for VET students

13 There is a lack of conceptually sound and methodologically rigorous research into the processes that actually promote effective learning for VET students Much of what we think and do in developing and implementing programs for VET students is based on intuition or personal experience and belief

14 Eight key principles for VET learners

15 1: VET students have a need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it Implication: Learning goals, objectives and values should be clearly communicated as an initial component of the learning program.

16 2. VET students have a disposition for self-directed learning Particularly students coming directly or recently out of school are pre-conditioned as dependent learners. They need to be guided through the transition from dependent to independent learners (Biggs, 2003) Implication: As far as possible, VET programs should be designed to allow students to take responsibility for their own learning

17 3: VET students have a wide range of individual differences in their backgrounds, learning styles, motivation needs, interests and goals Implication: VET programs should provide options for individualised approaches and strategies for the learning paths of individual students

18 4: VET students benefit from interaction with others undertaking the same learning experience Because of the volume, quality and diversity of experience possessed by VET students, they themselves often represent the richest resources for many kinds of learning Implication: The design and development of learning products should place an overt emphasis on experiential learning over knowledge transmission techniques, and place an emphasis on peer-helping techniques

19 5: VET students expect their perspectives and backgrounds to be valued in the learning process Experience is a major contributor to the self-identity of VET students. Conversely, if the learning experience ignores or devalues the students experiences, they perceive this as not rejecting just their experience, but rejecting them as persons (Knowles,1990) Implication: Learning products should be designed so as to emphasise the value and utility of the learners experience when undertaking the learning process

20 6: VET students are more ready to learn when the learning event has direct relevance to their real-life situations Implication: Programs should be designed so as to emphasise to the learners that the learning event has direct relevance to their real-life situations

21 7: Student learning is motivated and enhanced through the processes of reflection Reflection is about understanding and evaluating the meaning and relevance of the learning event in terms of the experiences and life situations of the learner (Schon, 1983) Reflection generates an integration of Mode 1 and Mode 2 knowledge (Gibbons, 1994) Implication: Reflective opportunities and challenges should be an integral design feature of the learning product

22 8: Internal motivators are the most potent for VET students Internal motivators include self-esteem, recognition, better quality of life, increased job satisfaction, greater self- confidence, and self-actualisation (Maslow,1970) External motivators include better jobs, promotions, and higher salaries Implication: Programs should be designed so as to integrate strategies and activities that will enhance internal motivators to learn, such as ensuring that the learner is exposed to success and is provided with positive feedback during the learning event.

23 The pyramid of learning difficulty

24 Learning retention

25 Some research findings about assessment

26 For most students, assessment literally defines the curriculum - they learn and do what they believe will be needed to meet the requirements of their assessment or examinations. The questions that define the curriculum for most students are: 1.How am I going to be assessed? 2.What do I need to know or be able to do in order to meet the assessment? 3.How can I best learn what I need in order to do well on the assessment?

27 Assessment is a way of confirming standards, but it is also a very important process for teaching and enhancing the quality of student learning.

28 1.Assessment should be an integral part of the entire teaching and learning process. 2.Assessment is a major motivator of student learning 3.There should be a clear alignment between assessment, program/ course objectives, and what is taught and learnt. 4.Assessment should test higher order thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation) – not just recall of information or replication of practical skills

29 6.A variety of assessment methods should be used to compensate for the limitations of any one method 7.Assessment tasks should test generic skills, not just knowledge and skills related to the particular topic 8.Assessment should become more challenging and demanding as you move through an assessment instrument. 9.Assessment should become more challenging and demanding the further the student moves through a course or program of study.

30 10.Assessment tasks and times should take teacher and student workloads into account 11. Over assessment should be avoided as time taken up by assessment is time lost to teaching and learning. (Avoid the belief that the best way to fatten the pig is to weigh it more often) 12. The process for awarding marks and grades should be made very clear at the start of the course or program.

31 13. Students should receive feedback that they can use to improve – not just a mark or grade. 14. Quality of assessment is one of the most used criteria for determining the quality of a program and an Institute. 15. Ultimately, assessment standards are directly related to the capacity of staff to make sound judgments about student progress and performance.

32 16.Assessing large classes poses some major challenges: -How to cope with the volume of marking? -How to provide individual feedback to so many students? -How to avoid assessment that focuses on shallow rather than deep learning, given the time needed to assess deep learning tasks? -How to keep a close check for plagiarism?

33 17.Group work is a powerful approach to learning, but how do we assess group work? In particular, how do we assess the relative contribution and performance and learning outcomes relating to individual students? The research fails to identify any satisfactory answers to this question – approaches that do not generate as many problems as they solve

34 In summary, assessment should be: Valid – measures what it is supposed to measure Reliable – will give students of similar abilities similar grades or assessment outcomes Fair – is not biased for or against any students Appropriate – is reasonable to be answered by the students given their backgrounds and the learning they have undertaken Useful – it is of benefit to students, employers, public, and of course, the lecturers

35 Thriving On Complexity: Cognitive Imperatives For The Future Workforce

36 The future is not what it used to be Albert Einstein

37 We cant become what we want to be by remaining what we are Max Du Pree

38 The future is about change: Fundamental Pervasive Continuous

39 Change is not a linear process Transistor VHSIT cul-de-sac Silicon chip

40 Mode 1 (theory) Knowledge Mode 2 (real world Application)

41 Disciplinary Knowledge Interdisciplinary Transdisciplinary

42 The speed of change, and its pervasive and fundamental impact, mean our notions of epistemology and pedagogy should also be subject to constant change. Our notions of education, education systems and education institutions are rooted firmly in the past.

43 In the past and present, the focus of education and training has been on the attainment of knowledge, skills and understanding In the future, the focus of education and training will be on ways of thinking

44 This is not to say that current generic competencies do not address cognitive abilities, but it is to argue that they do not necessarily address all the cognitive abilities that will be necessary for employees of the future, and it is certainly to argue that we will need to look at different ways of packaging or understanding those cognitive capacities. Larry Smith, Campus Review October 2008

45 Howard Gardner Five Minds for the Future Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007 Available through the Australian Institute of Management Bookshop in Sydney and Brisbane, or on-line

46 Disciplinary Synthesising Minds forCreating the future Respectful Ethical Reflective

47 Minds we need to develop in others Minds we need to develop in ourselves

48 In the future: We need to be equipped to deal with the expected We also need to be equipped to deal with the unexpected – that which cannot be anticipated

49 Disciplinary mind: mastery of a profession Synthesising mind: ability to integrate ideas into a coherent whole Creating mind: capacity to develop new and innovative product and answers to challenges Respectful mind: awareness of and appreciation for differences among people Ethical mind: knowing what is right, and behaving accordingly Reflective mind: interrogating one's own experiences

50 We must start with a vision of the kind of individuals we want to emerge from the vocational education and training system and then think about the knowledge and skills that are needed, not the other way around. Vision should drive process, not the reverse.

51 We acknowledge globalisation and the rapidity of change in our rhetoric, yet then prepare a vocational curriculum that reflects what we ourselves experienced and understood in the past. It is not the basis for an effective curriculum that prepares people for the future!

52 We need to think globally, but we also need to remember the importance of continuing to act locally, at least in part.

53 What are the consequences if we dont develop the minds for the future?

54 Without a disciplined mind, we wont be able to succeed in any demanding workplace of the future Without a synthesising mind, we will be overwhelmed by the amount of information Without a creating mind, we wont be able to solve the problems of today and grasp the opportunities of tomorrow Without a respectful mind, we wont fit comfortably in the workplaces of the future Without an ethical mind, there will be a lack of workplace and community trust and integrity Without a reflective mind, we wont learn from our successes or our failures

55 We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. (T.S.Eliot, The Four Quartets)

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