SYMPOSIUM 7: Workplace learning and assessment: The agenda for research

In recent years there has been a shift of attention away from educational institutions as sites for learning towards recognising the substantial and continuing role of learning in communities, workplaces and other institutions. An example of this was the focus in Australian national training reform on learners and learning outcomes rather than the provision of formal programs.

One of the problems for researchers is that most educational research has not focused on learning in the workplace, and, relative to the volume and theoretical sophistication of research on learning in formal settings work place learning and assessment is seriously under-researched. The challenge for educational researchers is to find ways of relating to the rapidly changing demands of workplace learning in ways which acknowledge the often contradictory requirements of learners and the organisations for whom they work. The translahon of existing research conceptions, practices and procedures from the educational to the work environment is not likely to be sufficient.

The aim of the symposium is to explore existing research on workplace learning and assessment and to discuss the ways in which researchers will need to respond to the repositioning of educational research which an emphasis on learning in working contexts is likely to lead. The contributors will each take one area of investigation in the broader field, briefly survey the main features of research which has been conducted and identify the challenges which face researchers in this area.

The contributors to the symposium are well-known researchers in the area or workplace learning and have all been involved in a national project on research directions for workplace learning and assessment conducted by the Research Centre for Vocational Education and Training at the University of Technology, Sydney as part of its funding from the Australian National Training Authority's Research Advisory Committee.