Successful outcomes in vocational education and training courses : how pedagogy and expectations influence achievement

Ewing, Bronwyn F., Cooper, Thomas J., Sarra, Grace, Matthews, Christopher, & Fairfoot, Glen (2013) Successful outcomes in vocational education and training courses : how pedagogy and expectations influence achievement. In Käpplinger, Bernd (Ed.) Proceedings of : 7th European Research Conference : ESREA Triennial Conference, European Society for Research on the Education of Adults, Berlin, Germany, pp. 1-24.

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This paper reports on a four year Australian Research Council funded Linkage Project titled Skilling Indigenous Queensland, conducted in regional areas of Queensland, Australia from 2009 to 2013. The project sought to investigate vocational education, training (VET) and teaching, Indigenous learners’ needs, employer cultural and expectations and community culture and expectations to identify best practice in numeracy teaching for Indigenous VET learners. Specifically it focused on ways to enhance the teaching and learning of courses and the associated mathematics in such courses to benefit learners and increase their future opportunities of employment. To date thirty-nine teachers/trainers/teacher aides and two hundred and thirty-one students consented to participate in the project. Nine VET courses were nominated to be the focus on the study. This paper focuses on questionnaire and interview responses from four trainers, two teacher aides and six students.

In recent years a considerable amount of funding has been allocated to increasing Indigenous Peoples’ participation in education and employment. This increased funding is predicated on the assumption that it will make a difference and contribute to closing the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Council of Australia Governments, 2009). The central tenet is that access to education for Indigenous People will create substantial social and economic benefits for regional and remote Indigenous People. The project’s aim is to address some of the issues associated with the gap.

To achieve the aims, the project adopted a mixed methods design aimed at benefitting research participants and included: participatory collaborative action research (Kemmis & McTaggart, 1988) and, community research (Smith, 1999). Participatory collaborative action research refers to a is a “collective, self-reflective enquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of their own social and educational practices” (Kemmis et al., 1988, p. 5). Community research is described as an approach that “conveys a much more intimate, human and self-defined space” (p. 127). Community research relies on and validates the community’s own definitions. As the project is informed by the social at a community level, it is described as “community action research or emancipatory research” (Smith, 1999, p. 127). It seeks to demonstrate benefit to the community, making positive differences in the lives of Indigenous People and communities. The data collection techniques included survey questionnaires, video recording of teaching and learning processes, teacher reflective video analysis of teaching, observations, semi-structured interviews and student numeracy testing.

As a result of these processes, the findings indicate that VET course teachers work hard to adopt contextualising strategies to their teaching, however this process is not always straight forward because of the perceptions of how mathematics has been taught and learned historically. Further teachers, trainers and students have high expectations of one another with the view to successful outcomes from the courses.

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ID Code: 57774
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Submitted papers will be put on a CD which will be distributed with the conference pack distributed when arriving at the conference venue. The conference organizers will review and select a number of papers for inclusion in an edited collection.
Keywords: mathematics pedagogy, expectations, adult learners, Indigenous learners, vocational education and training
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Continuing and Community Education (130101)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy (130208)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Vocational Education and Training Curriculum and Pedagogy (130213)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 please consult the authors
Deposited On: 05 Mar 2013 00:55
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2013 06:35

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