Workplaces as sights (sites) for learning: an investigation of the value of teacher industry placements

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Schuller, Annamarie (2021) Workplaces as sights (sites) for learning: an investigation of the value of teacher industry placements. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Building the capacity of Australian organisations continues to be a challenge in today’s changing work environments. Increasing concern about the calibre of graduates entering the workforce highlights a ‘disconnect’ between pedagogy and contemporary business practices, as the Higher Education (HE) and Vocational Education and Training (VET) sectors seek to address industry’s demand for employment-ready graduates. In order to meet this challenge, HE and VET educators are expected to have current industry knowledge and skills relevant to their areas of teaching, yet there is considerable difficulty in forging academia-industry partnerships to achieve this. Teacher placement in industry (TPI) schemes are a form of continuing professional development, whereby the teacher spends a predetermined period of time working for a host organisation in situ, immersed in contemporary industry-based processes, whilst working alongside peers. For HE and VET educators, TPI provides opportunities for teachers to upgrade and/or expand their industry knowledge and skills to support teaching and learning. For enterprises, TPI initiatives may contribute to the creation of new knowledge and build organisational capacity through the transfer of information and ideas between educators and firms’ employees. Yet, notwithstanding the acknowledged benefits of TPI, the challenges of implementing such initiatives are at odds with broader policies encouraging education-industry alliances. Constraining forces such as lack of funding, poorly developed HR policies and workforce casualisation raise concerns about the long-term viability of TPI schemes. The research question this study set out to addresses is: In what ways may TPI contribute to the development of individual and organisational capacities? A relativist-constructivist paradigm was applied to a mixed-methodological framework to explore HE, and VET business disciplines managers, and industry managers’ views about the value of TPI schemes, and the benefits and challenges of implementing such initiatives. The theoretical framework employed in the study was drawn from situated theories of workplace learning. This thesis should be of interest to teachers, education managers, senior university management, managers in industry, government policy makers, industry associations and professional/accrediting bodies, as each of these is potentially influenced/impacted by the outcomes of TPI initiatives. The thesis contributes to the research question by revealing several issues, including the need to expand academia-industry partnerships, which would strengthen the workplace proficiency of teachers in HE and VET. The findings from this study indicate that there is considerable goodwill from both academia and industry to engage with each other, as each can see benefits from TPI initiatives. However, there are also a considerable number of challenges that make it difficult in practice, for such engagements to flourish, including issues such as: funding, the setting of goals and objectives, and the evaluation of TPI outcomes. This thesis contributes to the field of workplace learning and capacity building by proposing a number of recommendations to strengthen education-industry alliances through TPI initiatives, including; policy changes; the provision of dedicated funding for sustainable TPI schemes; and the development of a national register of HE, VET, and industry partners.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3903 Education systems
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords workplaces; learning; teachers; industry placements; Teacher placement in industry; continuing professional development; academia-industry partnerships; Higher Education; Vocational Education and Training
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