School of Education

RAVE current research

Pedagogies to engage: VET teacher practices and pedagogies that engage early school leavers

Researcher: Annette Foley

This small project was funded by the Australian Council of Deans of Education Vocational Education Group

The study examined how adult pedagogies and practices were used to engage early school leavers at an early school leaver program at a Regional TAFE Institute. The project was designed to provide an enhanced understanding of young people’s experiences in the early school leaving program and explored the young person’s plans and aspirations after completing their TAFE program. The research questions were:

  1. What teaching strategies do VET teachers employ to engage young learners who have left school early?
  2. What are the pedagogies used in pathways programs?
  3. What other teaching strategies are employed to engage students who have left school early?
  4. What are the aspirations and plans of young people?

Rationale: School retention rates for students in regional Victoria are lower than metropolitan areas. Out-of-school programs and TAFE programs that cater for early school leavers play an important role in engaging and reengaging students back into schooling, education and training and employment.

Method: A qualitative single case study was employed in an early school leaving program at a TAFE institute in regional Victoria. Data were collected via semi structured face to face interviews with seven TAFE teachers teaching young people in the early school leavers program, and two focus groups of 8 and 10 students.

VET teaching workforce in Australia

Project for Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (KRIVET)

Researcher: Erica Smith

The project involves researching aspects of the VET teaching workforce in Australia, including the analysis of research data and government policies and reports.  The context is VET for adults and disadvantaged groups, not VET in secondary schools.

The project covers the following topics:

  • Working conditions of vocational training teachers, such as wages and working hours, compared with other occupations;
  • Qualifications and professional development for vocational training teachers;
  • Career development, career guidance, and career management for vocational training teachers.

View the final report (docx, 223kb)

Young futures: Education, training and employment decision making in non-metropolitan areas

Research team: Erica Smith and Annette Foley, with assistance from Helen Weadon and Tim Harrison

This project was funded by the Department of Education and Training (DET) Victoria as a Strategic Research Seed Funding Pilot 2018-19. It looked at how young people do, and could, imagine and navigate pathways related to post-school education, training and employment.

The study examined the processes young people in rural, regional and peri-urban areas go through as they make choices about their post-school trajectories, and will develop good practice models for communities, employers and education providers to support them. We were interested in the following questions:

  1. How do young people navigate decisions related to post school education, training and work, and what decisions do they make?
  2. Who are the influencers and how do they affect the decisions?
  3. What could change to provide better post school outcomes for a larger proportion of young people?
  4. What could change for communities and employers to better utilise young people's talents?

Rationale: Young people in regional, rural and peri-urban communities face particular challenges in 'imagining' and navigating their post-school futures. In particular geographical areas, choices may be constrained by economic dislocation, distance, and community or cultural issues. These locational factors may be compounded by individual disadvantage caused by low socio-economic status, aboriginality or recent migrant/refugee status. Communities also suffer if they are not fully utilising the considerable resource available in their young people.

Method: Building on a successfully completed pilot project in Western Victoria, the team interviewed key stakeholder groups, institutions and young people (at school and after having left school) in six Victorian communities. It is using the resultant data to develop good practice models for wider applicability, ensuring policy and practice impact.

The research field work concluded in May 2019 and is described in the following links. Feedback visits and data analysis are continuing.

View the Executive Summary of the project (docx, 128kb)

An overview of the findings has been published in ‘Research Today’ April  2020, pages 5-7

Unfunded projects

Learning to be safer: Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

Researchers: Erica Smith and Morgan Wise

The ‘Learning to be Safer’ research project aimed to find out the ways in which Australians were learning about matters to do with four aspects of COVID-19 during mid-2020: health information, restrictions on movement, the worldwide progress of the pandemic and financial provisions. There is as yet no published literature on this topic. This project used an on-line survey, similar to the successful ‘Learning to be Greener’ research project carried out by RAVE researchers Erica Smith, Morgan Wise and Annette Foley in 2019.

View the Federation University Newsroom item on the first 50 responses.

An overview of the findings has been published in ‘Research Today’ October 2020, pages 7-9.

View the survey (docx, 93kb)

Partners and men’s sheds: The broader benefits

Research Team: Annette Foley, Barry Golding and Helen Weadon

The study examines the partners (and carers) of men participating in men’s sheds to better understand what benefits they gained from the men close to them attending a shed. The research was interested in exploring the benefits, including health benefits, for partners in relation to the men’s attendance at the shed, how the sheds were perceived by the partners, and had the relationship changed since the men started to attend the shed. The research questions were:

  1. What are the benefits for the partners of men when the men attend men’s sheds?
  2. Had the relationship changed since your partner went to the shed?
  3. Are there health benefits for partners, and for the men?
  4. What are the social benefits for the partners, and for the men?
  5. What do the sheds mean for the partners in relation to opportunities to learn and socialise?
  6. What impacts are there on partners now that men have a social network away from the partner?

Significance: The project is significant because it has been shown, through earlier RAVE research, that men benefit from attending sheds, through greater community connection, social interactions, sharing skills and through benefits to health and general wellbeing. But there is little research about the impacts on partners or carers.

Method: Data were collected via 17 semi structured face-to-face interviews with partners or carers of men who were attending sheds in Ballarat and surrounding areas.

In addition, several focus groups of men in six sheds in the Ballarat and surrounding areas were conducted

Learning to be greener

Research team: Erica Smith, Annette Foley and Morgan Wise

The ‘Learning to be greener’ project has been studying the way in which Australian adults are learning about specific changes in recycling and waste practices. During 2018, Australians’ daily lives changed quite a lot due to changes affecting plastic shopping bags and recycling practices. We are interested in how people learned about these changes and how people changed their behaviour.

This small pilot project is a sequel to the RAVE research group’s 2009 project ‘Learning to be drier,’ led by Barry Golding, which examined how people living in the Wimmera-Mallee region of Victoria learned how to manage with drier conditions and how they changed their behaviour.

The research comprised an initial focus group and expert interview, examination of publicly-available educational materials on these two matters, and an on-line survey carried out with a population of 1500 adults working at a number of campuses of a regional university.The project has now concluded.

A paper was presented on the initial findings of the project at the SCUTREA conference in the UK in 2019. View the paper on pages 97-106.

International projects on apprenticeship

Erica Smith has been leading several projects on apprenticeship, funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO), during 2017-2018. The ILO is a United Nations agency.

Erica was invited to give a keynote speech at an ILO event in Geneva in July 2018, which drew on much of this research ‘International Conference on Innovations in Apprenticeships: A Skilled Workforce for the Future’

For ILO’s Geneva office, a Discussion Paper on the Role of Intermediaries in Apprenticeship Systems. With the high level of ongoing international and national policy interest in apprenticeships, increasing attention is being paid to the role of third-party or intermediary organisations that undertake different roles and responsibilities in some systems. These types of organisations provide a range of services in apprenticeship systems, often focusing on improving the participation of SMEs and enterprises more broadly. Group Training Organisations in Australia are a prime example. However, there is currently no research that examines the different types of organisations involved, the scope of services they provide and the means by which they are funded. Erica Smith was asked to review literature and current practices, to identify good practices, and to develop a typology of these organisations by type, by the services they provide and by sources of funding. View the final project report 

For ILO’s Jakarta office, Research, Review and Development of a Revised Model of Quality Apprenticeship for Indonesia. This project involved Erica in interviews with stakeholders in and near Jakarta, and collaboration with ILO staff to produce a new model for apprenticeship in Indonesia, which were presented at a tripartite meeting in Jakarta in September 2017.

For ILO’s Bangkok office, 2017 Research and preparation of chapter for publication on Skills and Future of Work: Strategies for Inclusive Growth in Asia and the Pacific. This project has involved research and analysis on the role of apprenticeships in addressing youth unemployment. Erica presented the results at a forum in Bangkok in October 2017: the Regional Skills Meeting on Skills and the Future of Work: Strategies for an Inclusive Growth in Asia and the Pacific’. The forum consisted of international experts and tripartite participants from six countries. Feedback was incorporated into a final version which was disseminated through a book which was published by the ILO.

For ILO’s Geneva office, Erica Smith with the assistance of RAVE member Jackie Tuck, undertook a project Collaboration on ILO survey report of national initiatives to promote quality apprenticeships in G20 countries. This research project was on G20 countries’ policy initiatives on apprenticeships. This project involved the analysis of data from a survey sent by the ILO to three respondents in each country, representing government, labour unions and employer bodies. The context for the project can be seen in the G20 Hangzhou communique (item 40)

View project report