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JUGGLING PROFESSIONAL IDENTITIES: PERSPECTIVES OF A DEVELOPING RESEARCHER IN A STUDY ON SESSIONAL VET PRACTIONERS Natalie Jaques and Susanne Bahn AVETRA.

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Presentation on theme: "JUGGLING PROFESSIONAL IDENTITIES: PERSPECTIVES OF A DEVELOPING RESEARCHER IN A STUDY ON SESSIONAL VET PRACTIONERS Natalie Jaques and Susanne Bahn AVETRA."— Presentation transcript:

1 JUGGLING PROFESSIONAL IDENTITIES: PERSPECTIVES OF A DEVELOPING RESEARCHER IN A STUDY ON SESSIONAL VET PRACTIONERS Natalie Jaques and Susanne Bahn AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

2 The key findings including the characteristics and capabilities of sessional VET practitioners; workforce planning and development strategies to support sessional VET practitioners; and their contributions to an academic culture. The research was supported by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) Building Researcher Capacity Scheme and was funded through a Community of Practice Scholarship Program and my employer, a WA State Training Provider. Second it discusses the sensitivities required when researchers turn the lens on their own organisations to look within and critically assess practice. 2AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012 THIS PRESENTATION OUTLINES

3 WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT SESSIONAL VET PRACTITIONERS? What are their characteristics and capabilities? How can RTOs support them? AVETRA CONFERENCE 20123

4 EVER INCREASING MODE OF EMPLOYMENT IN THE VET SECTOR 15 years ago, sessional employment was less than 10% of the VET workforce (Forward, 2005) % of Australian VET practitioners are employed on a sessional basis, with considerable variations across the jurisdictions such as NSW are being reported as high as % (Forward, 2011). With this ever increasing use of sessional staff the way VET is delivered and received is changing. 4AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

5 WHY? The employment of sessional rather than contract or permanent VET practitioners allows significant workforce cost reductions for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) hampered by current competitive VET sector funding arrangements (Productivity Commission Report, 2011) 5AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

6 BENEFITS FOR RTOs Respond flexibly to changing industry training requirements in the ebb and flow of skill shortages (Blom n.d.; Productivity Commission 2011). - the ability to increase or decrease the employment of sessional rather than contract or permanent VET practitioners allows significant workforce cost reductions 6AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

7 IMPLICATIONS Despite these benefits, it is argued the ever increasing employment of sessional VET practitioners holds implications for quality teaching and learning practices, or pedagogies and for the workload of others. 7AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

8 RESEARCH QUESTIONS What are the characteristics and capabilities of VET practitioner employed on a sessional basis? How capable do they feel in their academic practices? How do they perceive their strengths as an educator; their impact on their organisation; and their relationships with others, being their co- workers, their managers and their students? What support would they like to assist them in developing and implementing good practices in learning and assessment, which contribute to an academic culture? 8AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

9 METHODOLOGY Emergent generalized themes were developed from literature review and interview data A purposively selected sample of six sessional VET practitioners were invited to participant in the research project through semi-structured interviews. Their rich and diverse stories were woven throughout the themes and provided insights into the enduring issues, understanding of their characteristics, capabilities and the required support needs 9AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

10 EMERGENT THEMES VET Workforce Capability requirements and drivers/economical and pedagogical rationales Casualisation of the VET workforce and the impacts on RTO’s Definition and the context for use of sessional VET practitioners The characteristics and capabilities of sessional VET practitioners The workforce development and support strategies to assist sessional VET practitioners in developing and implementing quality teaching and learning practices 10AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

11 WHO ARE TYPICAL SESSIONAL VET PRACTITIONER? Not a homogenous group with different characteristics: delivering teaching and assessment in a variety of modes; AQF levels; and across a range of specialised vocational areas. varying lengths and hours of employment the motivation behind undertaking and continuing sessional VET teaching was not tied to financial reward. mostly indicated a desire to secure more hours as well as a secure mode of employment and perceived capabilities. 11AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

12 RECRUITMENT PRACTICES OF SESSIONAL VET PRACTITIONERS Almost all participants were actively recruited and selected for employment based on their level of industry expertise or qualification. Most participants had not been selected through the sessional employment pool registry nor recall being interviewed, revealing the recruitment process of sourcing and selecting the appropriate person for the job with the right mix of skills is occurring at times in an ad hoc manner rather than through consistent implementation of recruitment policies. 12AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

13 COMPREHENSIVE INDUCTION AND MENTORS Participants indicated their desire and support for a comprehensive local induction also in having access to an assigned mentor who could supervise and assure quality teaching pedagogies on an ongoing basis. 13AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

14 CPD Requirement for both formal and informal learning opportunities in order to carry out their roles and responsibility, especially with a focus on quality pedagogies, yet a lack of incentive to undertake TAE Certificate IV. CPD needs to be customised and targeted for sessional VET practitioners in specific vocational areas so that discussions on quality pedagogies are placed in a context that is directly relevant to them. 14AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

15 ACHIEVING AN ACADEMIC CULTURE Developing and contributing to a cohesive academic culture could be achieved through Community of Practice; formal mentoring programs, informal networking opportunities and attendance at portfolio staff meetings. 15AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

16 COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE To acculturate sessional VET practitioners’ professional identity with a cohesive academic culture by using formal and informal networking opportunities. This may include scaffolding a united and committed community of practice (CoP) (Wenger, 2008) to harness a culture of critical reflection as opposed to merely an industry expert who teaches in VET. 16AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

17 JUGGLING VARIOUS PROFESSIONAL IDENTITIES WHILST CONDUCTING RESEARCH Novice researcher; Employee; VET practitioner delivering and assessing in teaching and learning; Union representative. 17AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

18 CONCLUSIONS Provided an invaluable professional opportunity. Requires a particular focus on ethical data collection as well as careful and sensitive reporting. Ongoing communication and transparent reporting with the organisation’s managers. Ensuring final recommendations of the report align with the Organisation’s guiding visions. 18AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012

19 19 Please complete the session evaluation. Thank you for participating. QUESTIONS? AVETRA CONFERENCE 2012


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