Why is research – and TAERES501 – so important for VET Professionals?


TAERES501 for Trainers

(Source: https://startwithwhy.com/find-your-why/)

We will talk about research and TAERES501 in a moment.

First, let’s look at how things happen in most places on most days:

  1. Person sees something silly. Wonders why that happened.
  2. Person sees something silly again. Wonders why it still happens.
  3. Person sees something silly again. Doesn’t notice it because it is what always happens.

This or something like it is pretty close the reality of what happens in the VET sector.  Work intensification and casualisation of the workforce has led people to be more time-stressed than ever, which means that tasks that do not have an immediate and tangible beneficial outcome are often pushed down the list.

The problem with that is that we keep pushing those tasks down the list, and they never get to the top.

If nothing else, doing this can entrench practices that are inefficient or, even worse, ineffective.  In other words, it erodes innovation and if that does not sound like a tangible problem, think of the current state of the VET sector…. Imagine where we could be now if over the past 10 years even just a small proportion of VET professionals took a closer look at the “why?”? (On this topic, if you’d like to learn more about the role of applied research in driving innovation in VET, take a look at this great read: VET applied research: driving VET’s role in the innovation system.)

It is only when we take the time to reflect and more closely examine these things that we will have the understanding of what is happening and why it is happening.

 

Reflecting on what we do is entrenched in many parts of many of the TAE Diploma units, but just because it is in the units does not mean that it is actually what we are doing in our work.  Our own research has found that many people who believed that they would be competent in the Dip VET units were lacking in two particular areas:  reflection and leadership.

This absence of professional reflection is a concern, and the inclusion of it in so many TAE Diploma units is well-justified.  It is a concern because it is reflection that leads to people asking the question “why?” and it is only when we ask that question can we move to both addressing:

  1. the requirements of an AQF5 level qualification, such as the Diploma of Vocational Education & Training, and
  2. the need for innovation and continuous improvement within the industry

Enter TAERES501 – a framework for conducting applied research in VET

One of the elective units within the TAE Diplomas is TAERES501 – Apply research to training & assessment practice

According to training.gov.au, it

describes the skills and knowledge required to undertake research into educational theory, and apply this research to improve current training and assessment practice. It applies to those who need to develop skills in research in order to apply educational theory to improve current and future training, and assessment practice.

So, TAERES501 is about being able to conduct research within an educational context with the goal of improving the way that training and assessment is conducted.

But, it is not just about going to the internet and searching a few blogs to learn what others think about XYZ.  If we want to be able to make credible changes to effect real improvement in both efficiency and effectiveness then we will need to be doing our research in a way that itself is credible.  TAERES501 provides that structure by leading you through a process of:

  1. Narrowing down the research question
  2. Working out how to answer the question
  3. Collect and then analyse the information, and hopefully answer the question

Through this process, the unit gives coal-face Trainers/Assessors a very powerful tool: the ability to not just ask “why”, but to answer it with both credibility and clarity, which is key to VET professionals:

  1. having what the OECD described as ‘grass roots’ or incremental ‘small I’ innovation
  2. gaining recognition as professionals within their field
  3. contributing to a growing research culture within VET, and through that enhancing the stature of the VET sector

In practice, that is being innovative and embedding something akin to what Boyer had in mind with his Model of Scholarship (we’ll write more about that later).

In simple terms, that might mean things could happen a little differently:

  1. Person sees something silly. Wonders why that happened.
  2. Person sees something silly again. Decides to investigate further.
  3. Person conducts research – change happens.
  4. Person doesn’t see that silly thing again.

More information about TAERES501 – Apply research to training & assessment practice is available HERE and about our own research program from HERE.