Building capability in VET teachers

Author: Anne Dening

Dening, Anne, 2018 Building capability in VET teachers, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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This thesis is a pragmatic interpretive enquiry regarding the capability development of vocational education and training (VET) teachers. The significance of studying capability development of teachers is that currently VET sector requirements for teacher qualifications and teaching capabilities are much lower than many equivalent VET sectors internationally, and the compulsory education sector nationally. The research seeks to identify what is needed to enable VET teachers to acquire, maintain and advance their teaching capability to meet the unique features of VET education and its students. The focus of the study also includes the leadership and systems required to ensure that this progression in teacher capability occurs.

The outcomes of this study are relevant to the Australian Government’s agenda to raise the qualifications level of the national workforce. The Government’s goals are to halve the number of Australians aged 20 to 64 who do not have qualifications at a Certificate III level and above, and double the number of higher-level qualification completions by 2020. The Australian Government’s agenda also seeks to increase the workforce participation rate to 69% (up from 65.1% in 2010) if Australia is to meet both national and global challenges for future economic growth. These goals are ambitious and will require growth in both the VET and higher education sectors, and will also require reform of the process to develop and support good teaching.

This qualitative research was undertaken through two methods. Firstly, a document analysis of four key documents that set a vision for the system in the context of educational change in the VET sector. The document analysis reveals that the major role afforded to industry constrains the adoption of a systematic and deliberate approach to the improvement and enhancement of the teaching skills of VET teachers. The result is a compliance driven national system for quality assurance, which does not include standards for teachers, but audits registered training organisations (RTOs) at the macro level. This espoused vision is then compared to evidence of the lived experience of nine Technical and Further Education South Australia (TAFE SA) teachers and educational managers working in the system.

The second method involved the collection of qualitative evidence interviews. This provides an insight into the nexus between on-the-job learning and the acquisition of formal qualifications in teaching skills. It also underscores the importance of supporting the growth of advanced practice teachers and for enabling others who are less skilled to achieve advanced skills development. This phase of the study identifies that ad hoc workplace learning strategies predominate in teacher skills development with an obvious lack of a deliberate, system-based strategic approach.

Keywords: VET teaching skills development, professional development for VET teaching, VET pedagogy

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Professor Janice Orrell