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CREEW seminar schedule 2006


March 17th
Tom Stehlik: Evaluation in the state public service: The realities and challenges of commissioned research

This seminar will outline the approach to research and the issues involved in a project that was part of the evaluation of the School Retention Action Plan for the state government's Social Inclusion Unit. As a research fellow seconded to the unit from UniSA for seven months, Dr Tom Stehlik will talk about the realities and challenges of being an embedded researcher in a government agency, and the differences an s similarities in approach to academic research.

March 31st
David Snewin:
A report on a research study and pilot program to identify potential cross-cultural problems in teaching Vietnamese teacher-trainers in an international masters degree
The paper reports on a research activity in which an international consortium involving tertiary, adult and vocational educators from Australian, German and Vietnamese universities, conducted a pilot research project at Hanoi University of Education. A major reason for the pilot program was to research and identify likely cross-cultural problems and constraints in teaching off-shore in Vietnam, using non-Vietnamese speaking academic staff with interpreters provided for teaching sessions. For example, differences in trans-national concepts; language and interpretation issues; IT software compatibility problems and the anticipated issues arising from working off-shore in multi-national teams.

The student group comprised approximately 240 Non English Speaking Background (NESB), multi-disciplinary graduates, whose main roles involved teacher-training in provincial educational institutions throughout Vietnam. As a part of the research study and to determine the feasibility of a later international masters program, the students were enrolled in a Hanoi University masters program involving various courses from consortium partners, including a University of South Australia course entitled: The Application of Information Technology (IT) in Teaching and Learning.

It is this course and the multi-faceted evaluation of its outcomes, together with the preparatory work conducted as part of the research pilot study, that this paper reports on.

April 7th
Barry Elsey: What happens after the doctoral learning journey is completed?

Barrys background combines extensive experience in teaching, research and writing in the broad field of adult continuing education, with more recent involvement in organisational change management in the world of business. Most of his energies are focused on PhD and DBA thesis/portfolio supervision, mainly in the offshore programmes.

The research is focused around a single question, What happens after the doctoral learning journey is completed? Surprisingly, although there is plenty of attention about the post-doctoral occupational mobility and careers of graduates, there has been very little interest in the transfer of learning (knowledge and skills acquired, the overall learning experience, the increase in self-confidence, etc). There is the ideal intention of the placed emphasis on Graduate Research Qualities and the slogan of applying knowledge that characterises the marketing image of UniSA, but as far as I know nobody has researched the outcomes.

The doctoral graduates in this on-line survey are typical from business and management, mostly from South East Asia, and some of them are very senior corporate executives and owners of enterprises. They are not a typical group of adult learners but they do, of course, engage with many ideas that circulate around adult and continuing education. These will be mentioned.

Although it is too soon to show any research results the seminar is intended to present the conceptual and contextual background that has flowed into the thinking and design of the project. There are also some emerging generalisations I would like to discuss among a group of adult and vocational educators, which must surely be a welcome break from a discourse with academics from business education!

April 26th
Professor Astrid Von Kotze, Professor Danny Wildemeersche & Dr Linden West:
The role of adult and vocational education in social sustainability: three international perspectives
A specialist panel presented by the Centre for Research into Education, Equity and Work, Hawke Research Institute.

Chasing the vultures off the roof: adult and vocational education for living: Professor Astrid Von Kotze, Community Development and Adult Learning, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Paradoxes of activation: lessons learned from a European research project on education, training and guidance of young adults, Professor Danny Wildemeersche, Centre for Comparative, Intercultural and Development Education, Leuven, Belgium.

Claiming sustainable space: families, communities and learning an auto/biographical perspective, Dr Linden West, Centre for International Studies of Diversity and Participation, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, United Kingdom.

May 19th
Lydia Richards:
Challenges to organisations in evaluating occupational safety training
The recent spate of industrial accidents in South Australia highlights the need for organisations to manage occupational health and safety. This research is informed by case studies of organisations who actively seek to improve occupational safety management. Intra and extra organisational motivators and inhibitors to evaluating safety training are explored. Key influences appear to include perceptions of key individuals regarding relative risk, financial and resource constraints, as well as the relative value of different categories of evaluation. Other influences such as outsourcing of the training function and competency based/certificate training also influence this decision.

Dieter Sczesny: Learning in the pub: Narratives of search and discovery

June 2nd
Errol Lawson: Systems, Social Systems, Social Capital

An Engineer retires and reflects on his 45 years career. The question What was all that about? leads to a journey of discovery through many disciplines with the concepts of systems, social systems, social capital and networks giving the journey some coherence. For every answered question there are new ones to examine, suggesting that Checkland might be correct when he said in his Soft Systems Methodology: A Thirty Year Retrospective (2000) that there are no permanent solutions, rather an ongoing task to find ways of understanding and coping with the perplexing difficulties of taking action, both individually and in groups, to improve the situations which day-to-day life continuously creates and continually changes.

I propose to outline the journey, than discuss a way that the concept of a Social System can be applied to develop a view of organisations that gives equal weight to both the people stuff and the instrumental aspects of structure and process; and if there is time ponder out loud about the difficulties of multi-disciplinary research.

July 29th
Professor Patricia Cranton: Understanding & promoting transformative learning

The theory of transformative learning has developed over nearly three decades into a comprehensive and complex description of how learners construe, validate, and reformulate the meaning of their experiences. The impact of transformative learning on the theory and practice of adult education is recognized by all scholars in the field. This workshop provides an overview of the theoretical foundations of transformative learning and some the practical implications of working toward transformative learning in our roles as educators.

Transformative learning theory has been formulated for adult educators by adult educators (Mezirow, 2000). The theory is derived from the cultural conditions associated with democracy, informed, free human choice and social justice. Rationality, self-awareness, and empathy are assumed values. The thinking of Habermas (1984) provides one foundation of the theory: there are two major domains of learning with different purposes and different modes of validation. With instrumental learning, we control and manipulate the environment. With communicative learning, we come to understand others and the social world in which we live. Habermass third domain, emancipatory learning, is redefined as a process that pertains to both instrumental and communicative learning. It occurs when an individual reformulates his or her structures of meaning, making them more open, permeable, and better justified.

In this workshop, we will investigate through discussion and group activities the key concepts of transformative learning theory including: the nature of the process of transformation, alternative approaches to transformative learning, the role of the educator in promoting transformative learning, learner empowerment, and supporting transformative learning.


August 4th
Professor Patricia Cranton: Transformation in adult learning and research

Professor Patricia Cranton is from Penn State University Pennsylvania, USA. Professor Crantons primary research interests have been teaching and learning in higher education, faculty development, and transformative learning. Dr. Crantons books include Planning Instruction for Adult Learners (1989, 2000), Working with Adult Learners (1992), Understanding and Promoting Transformative Learning (1994), Professional Development as Transformative Learning (1996) and Becoming an Authentic Teacher (2000).

August 11th
Judy Peters & Rosie Le Cornu:
Exploring perceptions of successful early career teachers in South Australian Primary schools
While much attention has been focussed on the early career teachers who leave the profession in the first five years (see for example Australian Senate, 1996; Ramsey, 2000; DEST, 2005), this qualitative study focuses on early career teachers (3 - 5 years of teaching experience) who not only stay in the profession, but also are deemed to be highly successful. Participants in the study are early career teachers and their principals based in five Learning to Learn primary schools in South Australia. This paper presents early findings from the study and highlights important insights about participants perceptions of the characteristics of successful early career teachers and related considerations for systems, schools and teacher education.

Bruce Johnson: Being caught in a 'moral panic': The case of the Sexual Health and Relationships Education project in South Australia
A unique combination of circumstances in South Australia in early 2003 provided opponents of the sexual health and relationships education (share) project with opportunities to fuel anxieties about the program in the community. In response to the release of the program in 15 trial secondary schools, key social and political groups mobilised an opposition campaign of unusual ferocity and rancour. In this seminar, I will use the theoretical insights of key moral panic researchers (Cohen; Goode & Ben-Yehuda; Critcher) to:
analyse how the problem emerged

I will discuss the dangers posed to school based problem prevention programs like share by highly organised, socially conservative, pro-family, coalitions that oppose the erosion of traditional family values. I will conclude with a theme of hope drawn from the largely silent 98% of parents who rejected the claims generated during the moral panic and permitted their adolescents to participate in the sexual health and relationships education project.

September 1st
Barry Elsey:
Theorising the data: What happens after the doctoral learning journey is completed?
At the previous seminar the outline of the research was presented, before the data was available. The second seminar shows the main findings and then invites participants to discuss how to theorise the data. The research draws on some seminal writings in adult education and continuing professional learning to interpret the story of what happens after the doctorate is completed for 94 graduates, most of whom are of Asian nationalities and holding senior business and management positions.

Nerilee Flint: Undergraduate tertiary students perceptions of fairness in assessment
In this seminar I will present the grounded theory developed from the doctoral investigation I have undertaken to find out what students perceive as fair in assessment. I will outline the stages of the theory as it stands at this point (near completion) and address implications the theory has for academic staff in universities.


September 15th
Jeannie Daniels: you mean, I can GET there on time?: A different perspective on barriers facing women learners in VET

The notion of barriers that prevent or complicate womens successful participation in VET has prompted a great deal of research aimed at identifying and overcoming these barriers to participation. Using data from my PhD research into women learners in a particular VET course, I take an alternative starting point from which to explore this notion. By asking why they are, not what they are, I unpack some assumptions around our understandings of barriers. I suggest that barriers to participation may not in fact be recognised as such by some women, but are actually constructed as a consequence of womens experiences being largely absent in the framing of VET research and debate.

Halia Senu: A comparison of the case study method with action research
It is important to understand one's topic well and then to select the best fit research method. In this seminar, I discuss the steps involved in using the case study method, drawing upon the work of Yin. I also compare this method with action research, and outline the reasons why I selected case study in preference to action research for my thesis.

October 6th
Helen Raduntz:
The privatisation of intellectual property: A research progress report
The report details research into the historical circumstances which are exerting pressure to have intellectual property privatised and subjected to the commercial imperatives of huge transnational corporations. The trend raises public interest issues particularly with regard to access as knowledge and information is appropriated and locked up behind a wall of property rights, costly licensing arrangements, and threats of litigation and trade sanctions for those individuals, businesses and nations which are regarded as having infringed copyright and patent law and trade agreements. The report is part of a larger investigation into these issues as they affect the work of researchers, educators and information professionals to be published in 2007.

Susanne Owen: Teacher and school leader workforce planning - staff in Australia's school project
The ageing teacher and school leader workforce, status of teaching and difficulties in attracting newcomers to the profession are current issues. Comprehensive data to inform attraction, development, recruitment and retention policies is needed. The Department of Education Science and Training recently commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and the Australian College of Educators (ACE) to conduct the Staff in Australias Schools project. The first component of the project involves collecting survey data from national samples of teachers and school leaders, with survey implementation occurring from September to November 2006. The second component is a consultation regarding longerterm collaborative approaches to workforce data collection processes. This seminar provides information and an opportunity to contribute to the consultation about workforce planning and collaborative approaches.

October 20th
Graham McDonagh: An overview of the impact of rationalisation and power in the collision and repair industry in Australia

Industry control underpinned by shifts in bargaining power is reshaping the collision repair industry on a national basis in a manner that has impacted on social structures. The shift in power has not been gradual. The consequences are unmeasured and the future ramifications of this phenomenon are difficult to predict. The approach will be to focus on researching the history of the collision repair industry and the effects of rationalization through the emergence of technology. In this process, a key theme will be the emergence of power, its use and effects.

November 3rd
Robert Crotty: Ethics, Ethics Committees and Ecsa

At the end of 2005 the Ethics Centre of South Australia (ECSA) was established. This paper will discuss the purpose and program of ECSA. At times the question has been asked: What will be the link between ECSA and the HRECs? The answer is that the structures are rather different. The very question raises the question of the role of the HRECs as against ECSA. HRECs are not primarily concerned with the ethics of research. They have been set up to protect individual researchers, research subjects and research institutions from a number of rather practical pitfalls. Their focus is protection from legal challenge and litigation, the avoidance of scandal and bad press. They speak on behalf of the research community and accept the established etiquette of that community. ECSA, on the other hand, is a broad-based forum for the discussion of ethical issues. There will be necessarily some intersections but the two structures have a different function.