Critical thinking in adult learning: perspectives from Stephen Billett

Concerns about the role of critical thinking in learning is the key focus of an interview organised and hosted by Dr Anthony Leow, Assistant Director (Capability and Industry) at Republic Polytechnic, Singapore. Dr Leow pose a number of questions about what constitutes critical thinking, its relevance to contemporary work and workplaces, how it can be developed by working age Singaporeans and the ways in which that development can be supported through continuing education and training. Consistent with these concerns is how critical thinking is aligned with what is referred to as 21st-century skills, and any impacts upon work practices and adult education. 

This interview was conducted on 12 May 2021. Click here to listen to the interview.

VET and Cinderella

In March 2021, the following invited brief commentary was published in the newsletter of the Australian Council for Adult Literacy about how vocational has been positioned within the governmental discourse.

“This month we are pleased to include an article by Professor Stephen Billett who has been reflecting on the fantasy-like aspects of the current VET landscape.
‘Somewhere here, the lesson doesn’t seem to have been learnt that leaders require followers. And, those followers need to believe that what leadership is proposing is worthwhile, robust, responsive and actually achieves the goals that are being set out.’

See the link to the full commentary below

Keynote – 4th International VET Conference Crossing Boundaries, Muttenz and Bern online, 08-09 April 2021

To understand, evaluate and enhance how vocational education and training (VET) contributes to individuals’ development ultimately requires appraising those contributions across their life courses. How VET assists and supports them through key transitions offers a means to appraise its contributions. Here, the concept of a personal curriculum is introduced and evoked to capture the worklife pathways individuals take and the contributions that VET can and should make. Drawing on a current project elaborating individuals’ worklife history it is found that three interdependent contributions arise: the person, educational provisions (widely defined) and those from ‘community’. The concept of personal curriculum and factors shaping are advanced here.

Augmenting students’ Learning for employability through post-practicum educational processes

A webinar series

The Service Learning Unit and Professor Stephen Billett have hosted a series of webinars focussing on the purposes of post-practicum interventions and approaches to enacting them.

You can now watch the three webinars below:

Webinar 1 – Purposes and approaches to post-practicum interventions

This webinar will focus on the purposes of post-practicum interventions and approaches to enacting them. The presentation will draw upon studies from both phases of the grant and a survey of healthcare students about the purposes for post-practicum interventions and preferences for how they are enacted. The student’s perspectives will be presented along with purposes and approaches adopted in the individual projects.

The question addressed within this webinar is: For what purposes and through what approaches would post-practicum interventions be effective for your field of teaching?

Watch webinar 1 here.

Webinar 2 – Models and processes of post-practicum interventions

This webinar draws upon the projects across the two phases of the grant to suggest ways in which post-practicum interventions can be developed and enacted. Specifically, it will focus on the models of post-practicum interventions trialed in these projects and how specific teaching and learning strategies were used to augment those experiences to promote employability. The presentation of models and processes will offer participants some bases to consider what may work in their area of teaching.

The question addressed within this webinar is: What are the qualities of models of post-practicum interventions and their enactment that would be pertinent for and effective in your field of teaching?

Watch webinar 2 here.

Webinar 3 – Engaging time-jealous students

Across the many projects within the two phases of this grant, the issue of student engagement, particularly focused and effortful participation became an enduring concern. It seems that contemporary students are not time poor (i.e. without time), but are, instead time jealous (i.e. needing to use their time effectively because of overlapping and competing priorities). As with learning, how students come to engage in, integrate and reconcile experiences provided by both university programs and workplaces, is central to the quality and extent of the outcomes of these experiences. Superficial or reluctant participation will lead to weak educational outcomes. Consequently, it is necessary to identify how best students can come to engage in these kinds of experiences in focused and effortful ways and, through though that, optimise the learning potential of these experiences.

The question addressed within this webinar is: How can contemporary, time jealous, students be assisted to engage effortfully in post-practicum activities to achieve effective outcomes?

Watch webinar 3 here.

Addressing the standing of occupations

In a recent article in the Conversation, I argued that the standing and status of vocational education will always be problematic unless the standing of the occupations it serves can be addressed.

This article suggested that without addressing issues associated with occupations, the challenge to enhance the status and image of vocational education cannot be addressed. Click here to see the article.