02 SES 06 C, Studies On Teachers, Learners And Pedagogical Relations
Parallel Paper Session
The paper will report on an ongoing research project being conducted by the authors, on behalf of the Australian National VET Equity Advisory Council (NVEAC), in which we are required to conduct “a review and analysis of effective models and underpinning principles for gathering and responding to feedback from learners, particularly disadvantaged learners”. The term “learner voice” is used throughout the NVEAC documentation to describe engagement with students of vocational education and training. But the “voice” that has unashamedly dominated the policy discourse in vocational and adult education and training in recent decades has been that of business and industry.
Recently, however, particularly in England during the final term of the New Labour administration, and increasingly is some Scandinavian and European countries, a renewed emphasis on policies of social inclusion has introduced the notion of “learner voice” into policy considerations. Especially important are the voices of learners who are perceived to be disadvantaged or marginalised. In Australia, too, discourses of both inclusion and human capital have led to policies of involving students, their interests and their views in some way in the education project. The engagement of students with the tertiary education sector and institutions has come to be regarded as a way of promoting students’ learning by making their education and training more relevant to, and inclusive of, their “needs” while simultaneously contributing to the more efficient utilisation of human capital in an increasingly competitive national economy. Such inclusiveness, therefore, is promoted as facilitating the twin virtues of equity and efficiency, and is seen by some as having the potential to empower learners and transform their learning experience, and also to transform and expand Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Adult and Community Education (ACE).
The paper will critically examine the dynamics of the vet policy framework and the range current practice in relation to learner voice. It will particularly emphasise contradictions in both practice and policy in relation to who speaks and with what authority, and who listens to what effect.
Angus, L. (2006) Educational leadership and the imperative of including student voices, student interests, and students’ lives in the mainstream, International Journal of Leadership in Education, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 369-379. Angus, L. 2004. Globalization and educational change: Bringing about the reshaping and renorming of practice. Journal of Education Policy, Vol 19, No. 1, pp. 23–42. Bragg, S. (2007) ‘‘Student voice” and governmentality: The production of enterprising subjects? Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp.343-358. Deloitte Access Economics (2011) The economic and social benefit of increased participation by disadvantaged students in VET, National VET Equity Advisory Council. Nordic Network for Adult Learning (2011) See http://www.infonet-ae.eu/articles/voice-of-users-in-promoting-quality-of-guidance-for-adults-in-the-nordic-countries-1192 (Accessed January 2012) Productivity Commission (2011) Vocational Education and Training Workforce, Research Report, Canberra. Sellar, S. & Gale, T. (2011) Mobility, aspiration, voice: A new structure of feeling for student equity in education, Critical Studies in Education, Vol. 52, No. 2, pp.115-134. Skills Australia (2010) Australian workforce futures: A national workforce development strategy, Skills Australia, Canberra.
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