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A keystone is the middle stone in an arched structure. It can be thought of as the central principle in a system, the foundation on which other parts of the system rely. What is the keystone in your learning programs, is it your pedagogy? The desire to see your students become successful learners equipped with appropriate skills and knowledge for the workplace should be the central goal of your RTO. The key to achieving this goal is for your team to be deliberate about framing your method and practice of teaching or pedagogy.
The practice of teaching – not as simple as it used to be!
The practice of teaching in the VET sector is not confined to what takes place in the physical classroom. Our students expect a range of options for study including on the job learning, online learning that is self-paced and flexible, classroom learning and a blend of all of these! Our places of learning take many forms and our practices must be suited to the varying needs of students. Because of these complexities, pedagogy is not only relevant to our trainers, it becomes the business of all RTO staff, including the managers, administrators, student support, trainers and assessors and compliance staff as they all play a vital role in ensuring that our practices are compliant and educationally sound, regardless of the delivery mode. Again, because of the complexity of what is offered to students it is essential that we take the time to review our learning environment and teaching practices, address any gaps and articulate our desired approach to the whole RTO community:staff and students included.
Framing our teaching practice
A number of key principles/components of a pedagogical framework are listed below and can be adapted to suit your RTO’s structure, context and specialty.
For your students to learn effectively and be equipped for the workplace the learning environment should:
- Be student centred, supportive and productive: positive relationships are built between RTO support staff, trainers and students to promote student self-confidence during the learning process and to appropriately reward each student for their efforts and achievement
- Support targeted and scaffolded teaching approaches: teaching approaches adapted to suit the context and the target audience?
- Enable trainers to reflect the needs, backgrounds, perspectives and interests of students in the learning program: trainers are encouraged to be flexible in their teaching methodology, to adapt to the student needs and interests and build on previous learning and workplace experiences of students
- Allow trainers to set high expectations for achievement, promote independence, collaboration and self-motivation: challenging learning goals are set for each student, strategies are used to help students develop skills for productive collaboration and to take responsibility for their own learning.
- Be safe and inclusive: safe and consistent approaches to behaviour and student well-being are used across the learning journey.
- Challenge and support students to develop deep levels of thinking and application: strategies are used to encourage sustained learning that is built over time, includes opportunity for practice and incorporates reflection.
- Promote alignment of assessment with learning objectives and Training Package requirements: assessments are developed to align with learning outcomes and training package requirements.
- Enable learners to connect the learning experience with the challenges and requirements of the workplace: links to the workplace are achieved through the use of simulated and realistic learning and assessment situations, use of technology etc.
- Promote a positive attitude towards monitoring training and assessment practices to ensure a quality product and improved student outcomes: training design and delivery is informed by student performance and assessment validation data and procedures, practices and strategies for training, assessment, monitoring and review reflect RTO values and support student improvement.
Best practice approach to developing a pedagogical framework involves the following:
- Your RTO team should work collaboratively to define the RTO’s values and beliefs about teaching in the context of the programs you deliver and the student outcomes you would like to see.
- RTO management should define the leadership approach required to support whole of RTO pedagogical practices, to implement, monitor and learn from teaching practices in a way that will assist students to achieve quality learning outcomes
- Professional development practices are implemented to support the RTO’s pedagogical framework. If the RTO is to work as a collaborative learning community professional development must be made available to all staff and development opportunities should support both work and development goals of individuals i.e. investing in capability development is essential across the whole team.
Reflecting on Current Practice
How often do your RTO development sessions focus on your goals, vision and values?
What are your pedagogical beliefs? Is your RTO team functioning as a collaborative learning community? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself as you reflect on the teaching practices across your RTO.
Unfortunately we find that in many RTOs neither the learning environment nor the teaching practice is a focus of discussion. It is time for this to change! As our regulator hones in on the student experience and learning journey, we believe that RTOs will have to look closely at their teaching philosophy, framework and policy to ensure that their practices are effective and compliant and useful for learning.
We have prepared a tool called the RTO Reflection Template: Improving RTO’s Learning Environment and teaching Practice, to help you think reflect on your current teaching practice. Why not use it to develop your own framework! If you need some help contact The Learning Community at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d love to hear about your experiences or thoughts on this post. Please comment below.
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