Thursday, April 26, 2012

Engaging with organisational management literature on knowledge transfer

This week, I am undertaking a literature review for a new CPIT project, funded by Innovation New Zealand. This project is to evaluate the processes that work well for bringing CPIT staff expertise and industry knowledge through the sharing of the use of a 3D printer. My role is to be the ‘observer’ and to find out through survey/brief interviews, what works well and how knowledge transfer between CPIT and industry can be improved.
The field of knowledge transfer has several synergies with my current work investigating how novices learn a trade. For one, all the literature I have accessed thus far, acknowledges the social dimension of knowledge and how knowledge is created in companies through the interactions ‘workers’ have with each other, the products they manufacture, the processes and systems they are organised to work with and their on-going relationships with their stakeholders (customers, other companies, suppliers etc.). The recent book - 'making work visible' detailing the ethnographic research approaches at Xerox (previewed in recent blog) and the book 'the social life of information' being good resources.

So diving into the organisational management focused literature on knowledge creation, knowledge transfer and exchange and how companies innovate is re-visiting a familiar place, just with slightly different players/actors. Several articles advocate the need to support ‘communities of practice’ and the approaches are very socio-cultural. Of note are the discussions on tacit knowledge and how these can be nurtured, ‘captured’/harnessed to improve innovation. As all in, a fruitful week engaging with literature that is slightly different but also similar :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

NZ vocational research forum -- day 2

Day two opens with welcome from Dr. Peter Coolbear, CE of Ako Aotearoa. Provided a short overview of yesterday and connection to the contributions from today. Important to think about what the priorities are for VET research into the short and long term.

Keynote 3 is on 'Maori Learners in workplace settings' with Cain Kerehoma from Kahui Tautoko Consulting. An Ako Aoteoroa National project with MITO, BCITO, ETITO and the ITF that commenced in 2011. Other projects conducted in formal training so important to undertake this project on workplace learning. 40 plus learners in 3 regions (Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Wellington) from motor and building trades. Investigate how Maori workers learn in the workplace, what works and what are the barriers to sucess. Used focus groups and interviews to talk with (not about) Maori learners. From stakeholders, points to note include: learner attitude a key; ethnicity not a key factor in outcomes; failure attributed to family backgrounds and wider social/economic factors; some distinctive characteristics of Maori learners; and positive relationships a key. Feedback from learners include: learners come from multiple backgrounds; focused on 'getting the 'ticket'; importance of whanau support and expectations; relationships with employer; apprenticeship model works well; barriers occurred for accessing off job training; and some distinct learning approaches used (learning styles, shyness, wait for others to ask rather than approach supporters for assistance).

Attended session with Helen McPhun (McZoom) and Andy Graves (IAG training manager) on 'the proof's in the pudding: evaluation of a winning partnership. Looks into changes made to IAG induction programme - 4 weeks induction plus option to complete ANZIIF qualification over 2 years. Pilot run to provide four weeks induction, integrating modules of the NC in Finance (level 4) and rest of qualification completed over first year at work. Programme developed by determining parameters (cause), business needs, performance needs, learning needs, preference needs towards 'delivered solution'. -- engage learners reaction, stimulate learning, improve performance application and produce results on business impact. Evaluation of the pilot reveal high learner engagement, assessment activities stimulated learning, ability to apply learning, competency achieved between 2 - 4 weeks instead of at least 8 weeks.

Then 'lessons from ITO embedded literacy and numeracy' with Rose Ryan and Heather McDonald from plus Alison Doyle and Rosemary Sutton who also contributed to the project. reports on Department of Labour commissioned evaluation. Pilot projects fund between 2006 - 2008 and 2009 saw funding for capability building and trainee learning. In 2011, embedding became business as usual. Embedding supported by ITO PD activities, ITF good practice project and establishment of ITF literacy/numeracy network. Project was formative to look at range of models used by ITOs to embed; whether some models more effective than others; and what value is placed in improving lit/num for learners. Interviews conducted with 23 ITOs and case studies conducted (3 ITOs in 2010, 2 in 2011). Findings include ongoing strategic development in IT0S; awareness raising and capability building along with processes of assessment and diagnosis. Lessons learnt include: support from industry employers; need to build capability internally and with on and off job trainers; and sustainability of on-going change.

Keynote 4 is with Francesca Beddie, general manager, research, at the National Centre for Voc Ed Research (NCVER) in Australia. She presented on 'a common vision for VET research in Australia'. Outlined aspiration of NCVER to ensure public funding is spent wisely on research to inform tertiary ed and training. Every 3 years, NCVER undertakes by consulting with researchers, policy makers, training practitioners etc. leading to recommendations for VET research priorities. Important to set 'generic' priorities rather than specific recommendations due to fluid and dynamic nature contributed by social/political contexts. Included is need to continue building the evidence base; have high level evaluation aimed at assessing the impact of policy interventions; and continued efforts to build researcher capability. impact of research also important - four domains involved - knowledge production, capacity building, informing policy and informing practice.

A workshop on 'working together towards a common vision for NZ VET research' then took place. Session led by Mark Oldershaw and a list of questions to consider included topics for research; how to communicate research findings; and how to assist new researchers and build communities of practice.

After lunch, 3 more concurrent sessions. I attended the following
Siobhan Murray presented the Ministry of Education work on the Industry training review: Employer perspectives on VET. Part of review of industry training. Survey with interviews with employers. Survey gathered information on respondents (960 employers), types of training, decisions about training, access to training and opinions about VET system. 300 + employers had between 1 - 5 employees. employers more likely to invest in training for specific rather than all staff; regulartory compliance and upgrading staff skills in current job main training types; apprenticeship most common with training accessed via ITOs; qualification completion rated as very impt; and costs of having staff away from workplace and training cost main barriers to further training. Most common method was in-house followed by ITO organised. Employers value training and feedback also gained on ITO and training provider supports. areas for ITO improvement include type of training, better support for training and better communication.For tertiary providers type of training, better quality courses/tutors and communication/consultation.

Then a session with Sarah Crichton from the Department of Labour on 'Industry trainees and their pay rates. analysis of data from 2003-2008 for adults 20-64 of benefits from participation (120,000 with 95,000 trainees in employment before and after) in workplace based training. Generally, trainees completing level 1 qual. did not show gains. completing level 2 provided small gain in earnings. Level 3 a bit more and level 4 gained 7% increase in earnings. important gain in that trainees completing quals. tended to be still in employment after 3 years.

Lastly, Fiona Stokes from BERL reported on the work of measuring the economic costs and benefits of industry training. in general, economic benefits are gained from training and especially important in certain sectors (export). Presentation centred around key figures and on methodology used to derive the costs. Data gathered from usual sources -stats from Ministry of Education, Dept. of Labour and also interviews with trainees, ITOs, employers etc. Economic costs include cash funding from TEC to ITOs ($1550 - $2300) but NOT in kind costs (staff away on courses etc.). Also employer and employee costs. Role productivity training generally have low training costs ($2450-$8400) but significant and immediate impact. Occupational and trades training have higher costs ($60-70000 over several years), margin increases once trained but life long skills and on-going benefits to individual and industry.

Final plenary session discussed 'a way forward for VET research in NZ' through collation of the discussions at the workshop just before lunch. Topics to research - incentives/motivations/aspirations, what leads to success/completions, pathways, ROI, Skill utilisation, generic skills. Communication - website for VET research, forums, be more proactive - promote use of media, versions of publications for different audiences, common language/no jargon, more cross agency collaboration. New researchers - community of practice, mentors, networking opportunities, better cross tertiary communication and funding/seed money.
Panel of Peter Davies, Francesca Beddie, Peter Coolbear and Mark Oldershaw presented briefly on the collations.

Overall, a good conference with many focused and relevant papers reflecting the current political climate.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

ITF NZ vocational education research forum

itf nz vocational research forum

welcome from ITF with Mark Oldershaw

Keynote one from Peter Davies, from the Policy Consortium in the UK on ' researching VET in a cold climate'. Provided an overview of the UK situation where research funding has been recently reduced and a recent report (Wolf, 2011) that recommended that young people should be discouraged from taking voc ed quals to the detriment of core academic study! Need for research to offer practical solutions, so although less research, they may have more influence where it matters.Provided an overview of various recent research pertinent to VET including low skills, older workers, apprenticeships, NEETs etc. Presentation also included developments in evidence-based approaches and lessons learnt in the UK. encouraged to check out Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) as a major evidence base on FE and training in England through the LSIS excellence gateway on-line portal with e-LMI tool also made available to support training provision to employers. VET pedagogy on effective teaching and learning in VET includes 5 inter-related components - teaching models, teaching content, teaching skills an strategies, teaching relationships and teacher reflection. Evidence based approaches include evidence producers, gatherers, synthesisers, tranformers and engagers - Coalition for evidence based education via Education Media Centre (EMC) - provides one point of contact, enhance research credibility and make findings more relevant and user friendly.

After morning tea, two streams of concurrent sessions running, so attending ones with most relevance to my work.

"Getting to know the workforce in the tourism sector' with Joy Saunders from the ATTTO presenting work with Cristine Angus (Angus & Associates). Work done to help inform targeted review of quals (Troq), workplace development into the future. Industry survey to measure no. of staff, wage rates, seasonality of staff, staff characteristics etc. Major challenge to track down tourism based organisations due to diversity of industry and very large number of small businesses. On-line survey used with reminders via email and a prize draw.

A unified system for engineering diplomas - addressing the shortage of engineering technicians in NZ with Bill Cope from Competenz reporting on the process for developing two level 6 qualifications NZ Dip in Engineering and NZ Dip in Engineering Practice. One reason was the large number of NZ and local ITP Dips. Need to find out what students and industry think about the Dips?? revealing confused messages and lack of national consistency, not knowing actually what the qualification prepared them to do! NEEP project funded by TEC formed to develop a coherent national education plan for engineering. Started with development of a graduate progression map. Then define tasks undertaken by various technicians in civil, mechanical, electrical and process disciplines. Plus establish supply and demand.

High-viz partnerships: transforming on-job assessment with Karen Vaughan/Ben Gardiner (NZCER) and Andrew Kear from the BCITO. Find out processes involved in new assessment system and learning outcomes and contribute to evidence about effective assessment. New assessment system set up by BCITO to improve consistency between assessors, better quality assurance outcomes for the assessment process, involve effective partnership and learning resources focused on the learner. Moved from using 5000 workplace assessors to 75 roving assessors. Set up community of practice based on f2f internal moderation system. developing the Assessment team. Revising learning resources. Project studies the 'assessment space' where assessments include formal events, personal reflections, work evidence etc.

My keynote on first year apprentices of work place learning follows lunch. The occasion being the opportunity to officially launch the project with Ako Aotearoa. Audience receptive to findings and the brochure produced for apprentices to help them make a more studied decision about commencing and then beginning an indenture.
Then support for Flip from CPIT for his presentation on 'effectiveness of peer learning in a vocational education setting'. This project studied how students learn from each other in pre-trade training courses. four trades - electrical, painting/decorating, welding and carpentry. Proposes strategies useful to introduce peer learning to pre-trade training.

Followed by support for another CPIT colleague, Emma Meijer on Canterbury Tertiary College Trades Academy Success - 'the best of school and beyond'. provided background on what makes CTC work and future direction. Stressed importance of regional context and the need to consult and meet needs of educational (schools, ITOs, providers, industry) and social (family aspirations, local skill needs) stakeholders as a form of partnership. School work, plus trade/tertiary skills and includes full-time pastoral care co-ordinators.

To close the day, a plenary session called 'looking forward' consisted of presentation of projects that are in progress.
Diana Sharma from Unitec on a project called 'turning good trades people into great business people'. Presented on the work of the Unitec business development unit to assist SMEs become more effective/efficient businesses. Through collaborative venture between francise operation (Laser), University of Ballarat and Unitec. a three step process - capability assessment, receive customised learning recommendation and undergo intensive, flexible self-development programme.
Next, Doug Powhare from ESITO spoke on 'diversity: an industry collaboration' on project to increase representation of Maori, Pacific Peoples, Migrants and women in the electrical supply industry. Funding used to provide coordination support, develop aspirational pathways and mentors and establish a research framework.
Ian Elliot, CEO of plumbing, gas fitting and roofing ITO presented a project on evaluating ITO offerings to support educational judgements. Small project carried out 3 focus groups of plumbing/gasfitting apprentices at final block course (Dr. Lex McDonald & Dr. Anne Hynds from Victoria University). Apprentices perceptions of learning opportunities for industry-based training. Findings include: motivation was the key influence on whether participants perceived they were able to learn new skills and knowledge that could be applied in the workplace. Further research could include apprenticeship supervisors' understandings of how to motivate apprentices to learn and apply new knowledge and skills in workplace settings; and changes to effectiveness of learning through varying the ratio of on and off-job learning.

Monday, April 16, 2012

AVETRA - day 2 - 13th April

Keynote from Tom Karmel, managing director,NCVER, on the topic of research for industry. Discussed role of industry in education, with a need to define 'what is industry' as there is great diversity and made up of many parties, each with different perspectives and focuses. Chose examples from NCVER research to illustrate - value of completing apprenticeship, role of wages in completion rates, value of completing VET qual., match between training and labour market, role of VET in innovation, and VET and workforce development.

Professor Erica Smith from University of Ballarat on - managing apprentices and managing PhD students: Current concerns and transferable tips. There are similarities although both are at different levels and have different objective.

'Practice based research and critical pedagogy - rethinking teaching training for vocational educators' with Lisa Maurice-Takerei and Dr.Helen Anderson from Manukau Institute of Technology. Project on developing a qualification and a model constructed to move beyond technicist competencies towards development of professional knowledge. Literature from Leach (2011) on theory building, identity development (Seddon, 2009) and reflection on practice (Boud, 1993). need for voc. ed teachers to become reflective practitioners. Us of video to enhance critical reflection. Model includes pedagogy, content and transformation feeding into collaboration/theory building, reflection, discourse contributing towards identity, autonomy and theory. video useful for tutors to observe and then reflect on and then analyse towards their own substantiation of practice.

Stephen Billett on ' vocational education: standing and clarification of objectives' summarises one of the arguments that forms his book ' vocations education: purposes, traditions and prospects'. Low standing of some occupations leads to erroneous assumption that teaching and learning for these occupations will be less complex. Begins with overview of worth of vocational education but that it has suffered from low status, negative societal sentiments and unhelpful regulation and inadequate educational provision. Need to redress to secure a better balance amongst factors shaping voc. ed's purposes and practices. occupations arise through social need but vocations from personal direction. to proceed, occupation requirements are not uniform, so national prescriptions alone not sufficient. too much emphasis on the intended curriculum and not enough attention to the enacted and experiences, need to accommodate local decisions about occupational requirements, student readiness, available resources and experiences. those who teach and support learners often best place to make decisions about what should be emphasised. individuals decide how they engage with and learn from what is provided.

'Explicating forms of negotiating through personal work and learning practice'with Ray Smith from Griffith University. Presentation on personal work and learning practices - four forms of negotiation. Negotiation as a means of learning is under theorised and under specified. work and learning is purposeful and goal directed, along a continuum of purpose (deliberate to accidental) and a continuum of goal realisation (resolved to unresolved). Four contingent forms of negotiation can therefore have purposes and goals on vertical and horizonal axis, dividing negotiation into four quadrants. Realised (resolved/deliberate), discovered(resolved/accidental), concealed (unresolved/accidental) and protracted (unresolved /deliberate). provides for ways of categorising workers' work and learning practices as types of negotiations that differentiate processes and outcomes involved; bring a simultaneous focus to what and why workers do their work the way they do it - personalising and illuminating 'how' negotiated practice is enaced. Reduce the generice and taken for granted meanings of the concept and so enable a more expliciit conceptualisation of work and learning practices as negotiation - which is always more than a synonnym for interaction or co-participation.

Keynote 4 with Professor Anne Marie Bathmaker, University of West England (Bristol) presenting 'bringing practice back in: How practice shapes constructions of knowledge in vocational education. stems from a project on knowledge in general vocational education. Using 2 examples from further education in England. connections to work by staff and students was tenuous. In a example from science, the BTEC was seen to be a progression programme from FE to HE. Knowledge seemed to be mainly identifying and listing content and not going further by applying to practice. in contrast, performing arts example had strong linkages with industry, facilities were authentic (used by amateur companies as well as FE). Knowledge was things and skillls needed to practice in the real world, linking theory to practice. Young (2008) on shaping the knowledge in GVE and bringing knowledge back in.

Panel discussion closed the conference with next year's conference in early April in Perth. Panel of Tom Karmel, Berwyn Clayton, Craig Robson, Stephen Billett and Erica Smith, chaired by Llandis Barrett Pugh, discussed the quality of VET research in Australia.

AVETRA day 1 - 12th April

At the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA) conference late last week. A good opportunity to network with mainly Australian VET researchers. A large number of presentations taking place with 6 concurrent papers presented at each time slot. I have selected the papers that are accompanied by refereed papers and which are related to apprenticeship, trades learning or trades teacher training.

Conference opens with welcome to country providing a good overview of the Indigenous perspective.
and official welcome from Dr. Llandis Barratt-Pugh - current avetra president - summarising the Australian context and current political landscape. Andrew Leigh, representing the Minister of Tertiary Education then provided overview of current federal government policy to provide opportunities for all Australians to contribute to the economy with VET playing a key role in preparing people for ongoing challenges presented by social, technological and political changes.

Keynote 1 from Robin Shreeve, CEO of Skills Australia,on 'aligning tertiary ed. with the demand for skills and qualifications in a changing world'. Firstly provided an overview of Skills Australia (which will be transformed with added remits in July). Then the challenges faced by Australia in the short and long term and how skills training may contribute. Three conceptual pillars used : apply concept of specialised occupations, develop, test and model multiple scenarios to achieve flexible policy reponses and fund users rather than providers. Described the 4 scenarios developed for the Australian context to replace pervious one based on work by Royal Dutch Shell. Models are - long boom, smart recovery, terms of trade stock and ring of fire. Proposes an integrated VET/HE sector to be more responsive to various challenges and meeting projected skills requirements from various scenarios.

Concurrent session 1 with Dr. Hilary Timma, Charles Sturt University, on 'eclectic approaches by worker-learners to authentic work based learning and assessment. summarised a project, following 13 mature-aged learners who had completed vet-based studies by distance ed. Mainly examined how people learn (and are assessed) in workplace, especially as developed through processes of social interactions in the workplace and through significant others who contribute to assist, encourage or comment on what is taking place. occupations included police, hospitality education, client services, business management and horticulture. framed by sociality of learning (Boud), communities of practice (Lave & Wenger) and workplace learning (Billett).

My session on findings from the 'first year apprentices project' then took place. good attendance and a broad range of questions at the end.

Session 3 on 'apprenticeship pedagogies in a Tasmanian RTO: What teachers say? with Rod Mason, Skills institute, hobart, Tasmania. investigates the approaches to traditional trade apprentice teaching and learning in the Tasmanian Skills Institute (TSI). What strategies are used and favoured and WHY. Teachers typically developed their won theories of learning style. completion of Cert IV might not equip teachers with appropriate skills. innovative approaches required knowledge beyond Cert IV level. pedogogies used were generally traditional (lecture/formal presentation, demonstration followed by practice, dependent and independent use of workbooks), flexible delivery included CD-Roms, online, self directed workbooks and some evidence of innovative strategies (computer based games, interactive DVDs). Choice of pedagogy tended to be based on past experiences, established practices within teaching teams and external industry demands.

Next session with Dr. Llandis Barratt-Pugh and Dr. Sue Bahn - how pre-site construction induction training improves work safety but illuminates the issues of on-line certification. reports on a project to look at mandatory pre-site training as offered in WA and impact of the study on current delivery methodology. Pre-site construction safety programmes need to change beliefs about workplace safety and also provide opportunities to learn and be able to deploy 'instinctive' responses (perhaps learnt through repetition). Evaluation of programme indicates programme was useful, but delivery mode, either f2f or online had mixed responses due to different needs of individuals and companies they work for. Some companies did not trust the online certification and this project findings did lead to removal of subsidies for online programmes.

After lunch, first session with Sonal Nakar on 'the voice of VET teachers: teacher dilemmas and its implications on international students, teachers and VET institutions. identified many challenges, some turning into dilemmas and all based on need to make some form of ethical decision. examples of dilemmas include: lack of resources and support systems for teachers in helping international students with differing IELTs scores; managing percieved inappropriate gift giving by students; inconsistencies amongst various VET institutions regarding curriculum, assessment standards and extent of the course; teaching subject without expertise. Recommendatyions include better partnership between govt and educators in policy making; toughened and consistent national framework for regulation to delivery high quality teaching and learning outcomes; greater opportunity for teacher qualification; and consistency in curriculum/duration delivery.

Next, 'Promises and expectations between apprentices, trainees and their employers' with Ros Brennan Kemmis, Sharon Ahern and Diane Middleton (Charles Sturt University). presentation introduces the concept of 'practice architecture, as apprentices, trainees and employers come into an already established pre-configured way of saying/thinking, doing things, and relating among the different kinds of participants (cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political dimensions). drawing a subsection from Smith, E. Walker, A & Brennan Kemmis, R. (2011) Understanding the psychological contract on apprenticeship/traineeship to improve retention. NCVER. (need to check). the study reported in this project Uses 3 case studies from the main study. where there were instances of differences between expectations and promises between apprentices and employers. in general, preconditions necessary to fulfil contract include: sound HR processes for recruitment, performance management; systems reward both tangible and intangible; early intervention; monitoring training both on and off-job and clear lines of communication.

Then paper from Anthony Wareham from Unitec - evaluating the effectiveness of plumbing and gas-fitting pre-trade programmes in NZ. Looked into theory/practical components of the programme and whether pre-trade courses provided skills/knowledge relevant for entry-level employment in the plumbing trade. 3 pre-trade courses evaluated (school based try a trade, plumbing and gas fitting 4 weeks 'taster' of a 16 week multiskills course, and students Gateway). programme evaluation criteria distilled with need to provide students with authentic work experiences to learn work ethics, be introduced to tools, work etc.

Also attended two sessions with unrefereed papers. The first with Alison Miller, Higher Ed. Qualifications pathways manager and Mary Leahy from L H Martin institute on 'connecting education and work: vocational streams and the capabilities of approach (Sen & Nussbaum)- due to interest in the capabilities approach. both explored the need to an improvement of pathways through tertiary education. Capabilities approach -- alternative to flawed theory of utilitarinism, focuses on what people need in order 'to be and to do', to live life they have reason to value, set political goals as capabilities rather than functioning, appreciation of the corrosive effect of entrenched disadvantage, intrinsic value of people, and humans are social beings.

Keynote by Dr. Salim Akoojee, university of the Witwatersrand, on 'towards a responsive TVET research agenda for the 21st century: Time for doing different things differently'. The presentation - explored the nature of VET research practice and the role of political-economy, provide a possible framework by which we could interrogate VET research and develop a 'responsive' TVET research agenda to take social justice as a starting point. An interesting and thought-provoking presentation, also reminder of Sen and Nussbaum's capability approach, of how transportation of processes that work in developed countries (e.g. national qualification frameworks) may not be suitable in developing world contexts. TVET research needs to ensure reponsiveness to political/social sphere and take a stand to ensure research is used responsibly.

AVETRA AGM followed then the conference dinner - a long day with several interesting presentations to mull over.