Collaborative Learning Pathways: Supporting Students Where They Are in the PreVET Project

By Johanna Funk and Shelley Worthington.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 14, 2014 $US5.00

Consistent academic underachievement by Indigenous and students from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) has been a long running problem in Australia. Despite many national initiatives, students from these groups still fall behind in achievement. These types of statistics have been occurring for too long not to inquire into alternative ways to address their presence. This paper presents a project conducted by the Northern Territory Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS) and Charles Darwin University (CDU) in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia which attempts to address challenges of educational and workforce engagement, low achievement and poor retention of remote Indigenous and LBOTE pupils through a unique resource called PreVET. The gaps in educational engagement of Indigenous students are complex in their origins, and this paper in no way attempts to explain the reasons for them. It will describe approaches taken through the PreVET project to illustrate how collaboration on all levels can lead to progress towards our goals, and demonstrate the importance of the processes through which this has been attempted. Through collaboration between staff at DECS and CDU, as well as reference groups assembled from Indigenous stakeholders, industry representatives and education experts, the project incorporates expertise in the application of theory in real life situations in an attempt to close the gap between Indigenous educational engagement and successful post-school futures.

Keywords: e-learning, indigenous education, vocational education

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 13, Issue 2, March 2014, pp.105-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 14, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 269.625KB)).

Johanna Funk

Research Associate in Workforce Development and Learning Pathways, The Northern Institute, Faculty of Law, Education, Business and Arts, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT, Australia

As an education professional with experience teaching in multi-ethnic, inner city schools in London I experienced the tensions involved in supporting the development of EAL learners within educational structures. Observing how learner identities and language skills can be appreciated and nurtured within these contexts has led to my deep interest in how learning systems evolve with respect to these qualities in learners. How closely this evolution progresses in line with a growing acknowledgement of diversity is where my current research interest resides. My international upbringing and subsequent occupational pathways have informed my awareness of how the support of language and identity can increase and enrich participation in learning and interaction within educational, economic and social contexts. My current work with The Northern Institute has highlighted for me how learning can be enabled by pedagogical movements and technologies which allow access, enhancement and engagement for teachers and learners in various contexts.

Shelley Worthington

Senior Program Manager | Pathways | Participation, Pathways & Engagement | DECS NTG, Department of Education and Children's Services, Northern Territory Government, Australia