Those who can, need to know how to teach

The premise of VET colleges, is (as George Bernard Shaw undoubtedly meant to say,) those who can, can, as well as teach. But just knowing skills is not the same as being able to teach them. This will matter as TAFE and the non-government sector increase their pitch for students and as universities look to expand into sub-degree markets, especially at dual-sector institutions.

A learned reader points to ARC funded  by Erica Smith (Federation U) and colleagues on what makes a good vocational teacher.

They found that specific VET teaching skills matter, a lot, “higher level qualifications in VET pedagogy make a significant difference to VET teachers’ confidence and ability in teaching a diversity of learners.”

“The key qualification level that makes a difference,” they write, “is a degree.”

Good-o, but while 1000 or so people are studying VET teaching at the ten universities that offer it this still leaves 80 000 or so voced teachers who have the industry-norm Certificate IV teaching qualification, at best. As Queensland TAFE puts it, teachers must have a Cert IV in training and assessment, “or be willing to get one.”

Professor Smith’s findings are circulating in the training policy community but encouraging VET teachers to skill-up will be a hard sell, given the orthodoxy that CERT IV is a sensible standard. As the Productivity Commission put it in 2011 report on the VET workforce, “evidence that the workforce is performing adequately, and a lack of evidence as to the link between formal teaching qualifications and student achievement, means that the Commission does not see cause to recommend a higher minimum.”


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