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Legitimising Evaluation for Vocational Learning: From Bastard Sibling to Equal Brother

Guenther, John Ch. and Arnott, Allan R. (2011). Legitimising Evaluation for Vocational Learning: From Bastard Sibling to Equal Brother. In: AVETRA 14th Annual Conference, Melbourne, VIC, 28-29 April 2011.

Document type: Conference Paper

IRMA ID 82056760xPUB99
Author Guenther, John Ch.
Arnott, Allan R.
Title Legitimising Evaluation for Vocational Learning: From Bastard Sibling to Equal Brother
Conference Name AVETRA 14th Annual Conference
Conference Location Melbourne, VIC
Conference Dates 28-29 April 2011
Conference Publication Title Proceedings of AVETRA 14th Annual Conference: "Research in VET: Janus- Reflecting Back, Projecting Forward"
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA)
Publication Year 2011
ISSN 987-0-9805275-3-7   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Total Pages 11
HERDC Category E1 - Conference Publication (DIISR)
Abstract Within the world of systematic inquiry in the field of education the tacit distinction between research and evaluation has been such that the latter is subsumed by the former. There are a number of reasons for this. First, evaluation generally follows research in acronyms and publications (e.g. National VET Research and Evaluation Program). Second, the unstated assumption in much of the theory and practice literature is that evaluation is aligned with assessment and judgement while research is about the creation of new knowledge. Third, there is sometimes an obfuscated assumption that evaluation looks back at the particular while research looks forward to the general.

This paper explores the proposition that evaluation as a discipline within the field of vocational learning in Australia is undervalued, underutilised and misunderstood. This is confirmed by a quick review of Australian conference papers and journal articles in recent years, which reveals relatively few examples of papers based on evaluations. The authors’ experiences are reflected in two case study illustrations from practice that demonstrate how the methodologies and learnings of evaluations can be used in much the same way as research outputs can.

We argue that while there are distinctions between evaluation and research, as disciplines they may be used for the same purpose (e.g. to improve practice or develop policy), use similar methodologies (e.g. empirical data driven processes), and result in the creation of new knowledge (particular or general). Further, one strength of evaluations is that they benefit from working within programs and are often integrated within a program. The authors contend that the perceived worth of vocational learning evaluations can and should be elevated to the same status as research programs. For this to happen, evaluators need to promote their work more actively and demonstrate the outcomes in terms of new knowledge, improved practice and policy development.
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Created: Fri, 17 Jan 2014, 00:15:30 CST