Skip Navigation

Journal Article of the Year Award

2015- Steven Hodge for his journal  ‘Alienating curriculum work in Australian vocational education and training 

Abstract

Competency-based training (CBT) is a curriculum model employed in educational sectors, professions and industries around the world. A significant feature of the model is its permeability to control by interests outside education. In this article, a ‘Neoliberal’ version of CBT is described and analysed in the context of Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET). In this version of the model, a division of curriculum labour is instituted that, from the perspective of Neoliberal theory, allows the interests of educators to be limited in accordance with the belief that they will neglect the interests of students and other stakeholders if they have control over the whole curriculum construction process. But this version of CBT denigrates the expertise of educators by forcing them to set aside their own judgement about what is important to teach and implement a pre-existing picture of an occupation that may or may not be an effective representation. Empirical evidence is reviewed that suggests curriculum work in VET is indeed alienating for educators. Existing critiques of CBT are considered and found to have overlooked the specifically Neoliberal form of CBT in VET analysed in the article.

2014- Selena Chan for her journal article ‘Crafting an Occupational Identity: Learning the Precepts of Craftsmanship Through Apprenticeship’

Abstract

The term craftsmanship is associated with pre-industrial craft work with inferences to skilled artisanal manufacture of bespoke products. Apprenticeship learning is often perceived to be synonymous with learning craftsmanship. How then is the trait of craftsmanship through attainment of specific artisanal approaches conveyed and learnt through apprenticeship? This article presents and discusses processes imposed on and utilised by apprentices to attain precepts of artisanal approaches. The dispositional and skill elements of craftsmanship are proposed to be adopted through engagement with and development of craft and workplace specific approaches to contend with aspects of Pye’s (1968) conceptualisation of ‘workmanship of risk’ or the article’s proposed term of ‘artisanal approach of risk’.

 

2013 – Roger Harris and Catherine Ramos for their journal article ‘Building career capital through further study in Australia and Singapore’. The Abstract follows with the link to the full article below:

In modern society, individuals are having to assume increasing responsibility for their own career trajectories. One of the key ways in which individuals can engage in such ‘career self-management’ is by taking up learning opportunities through further study. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to explore, using the conceptual framework of career capital, ways in which samples of adults in Australia and Singapore perceive that they are self-managing and leveraging their careers through continuing education, and the nature of the career capital they are accumulating. It draws on data from two different research projects undertaken in Australia and Singapore. These projects involved individuals who had undertaken studies in two different educational sectors: the academic and the vocational. Australian respondents (n=190) had studied in both the vocational education and training (VET) and the higher education (HE) sectors; Singaporean respondents (n=101) had graduated from both the formal tertiary education (PET) and the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) sectors. Data were gathered through online surveys and in-depth interviews. Based on the reports from these samples, the study found that the building of career capital was being played out relatively consistently despite educational, political and cultural differences, but that different emphases were placed on the types of career capital, with ‘knowing-how’ the most important.

Harris, R & Ramos, C (2013). ‘Building career capital through further study in Australia and Singapore’, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 32(5), pp. 620-638. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02601370.2012.753124

2012 – Steven Hodge Deakin University and Roger Harris University of South Australia

Discipline, governmentality and 25 years of competency-based training – Studies in the Education of Adults, Vol. 44, No. 2, Autumn 2012

Abstract

Among the many critiques of competency-based approaches to education and training (CBT) is a strain which draws on Foucault’s analysis of ‘disciplinary’ power and knowledge. Foucault offered an interpretation of modern institutions, such as prisons, armies and schools, which revealed subtle mechanisms of surveillance and systems of knowledge that shaped the self-understanding and activit  of participants. Robinson (1993) and Edwards and Usher (1994) were among the first researchers to call attention to the disciplinary potential of CBT. But Foucault went on to argue that discipline is a component in an overarching systemthe called ‘governmentality’. The analysis of governmentality augments the analysis of discipline by foregrounding the effects of knowledge of populations and modes of power that operate at a distance. In this article, the disciplinary critique of competency-based systems is extended by demonstrating the relevance of Foucault’s analysis of governmentality to a contemporary national system of CBT. The authors use a case of 25 years of CBT in an Australian vocational education institution as a scaffold for the argument. This case is germane because it presents a succession of practices of CBT which allows us to trace and scrutinise a shift from a disciplinary to a governmental framework.

2011 – Erica Smith and Andy Smith, University of Ballarat
Does the availability of vocational qualifications through work assist social  inclusion? Education and Training, Vol 53, No. 7, 2011

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss whether the availability of  qualifications through work-based traineeships in Australia assists social inclusion.
Design/methodology/approach – Industry case studies, of the finance and cleaning  industries, were undertaken as part of a national research project on quality in  traineeships. The two industry case studies were analysed to provide data on social  inclusion aspects. A general discussion on the “pros” and “cons” of gaining  qualifications through work, from a social inclusion point of view, is included.

Findings – The industry case studies show many advantages of work-based  qualifications for people who have had disadvantaged economic and social  backgrounds. The study presents a model showing how work-based qualifications  help to meet the twin social inclusion goals of employment and education. However  in economic hard times, the need to have a job may rule out some people. Also,some doubts about quality in work-based delivery may mean that qualifications  gained through work may be of lower value than those gained at least partly through  formal study.

Research limitations/implications – The models put forward are tentative, based on  the findings in the research study that has been described and the authors’ earlier  research. Further research is necessary to establish the social inclusion benefits of this  means of gaining qualifications. In particular longitudinal research with  disadvantaged people who have gained qualifications through this route is needed to  evaluate whether their completion of qualifications through employment has  assisted their broader economic and social engagement, and in what ways. In addition,  research is needed to compare the quality and utility of qualifications gained through  work and those through education providers as a poor-quality qualification may be of  limited long-term use to an individual.

Practical implications – Work-based qualifications are shown to be a useful  investment of public resources. The research also analyses some shortcomings of this  method of gaining qualifications so that they can be addressed by employers and  training providers.

Social implications – The research establishes the social inclusion utility of work- based qualifications, providing insights useful for education systems and social  welfare organisations.

Originality/value – This is one of very few scholarly studies of the large-scale use of  work-based qualifications.