We are often asked for the ‘one strategy’ that will make the most difference, or will be the solution for most training contexts and learners. If only there was one top tip.
Strategies relevant to your training and workplace contexts, learner cohort, delivery mode, and delivery resources may be very different to others. Research can also shed new light on specific strategies and approaches.
This blog offers a strategy for each of the 5 Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) Language Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills – Learning, Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, and Numeracy.
The tips are are not THE ONE and ONLY best strategy. They have been selected due to current available research about that aspect, or frequently asked questions.
- Oral Communication
1 Learning: Focus on feedback
The research related to Learning is flourishing as more is understood about how the brain works. One key tip that supports a person to learn is feedback. (Shank, P. 2017, Practice and Feedback for Deeper Learning). Feedback to learners is critical in the adult education and workplace training context.
We have written in more detail about the value of feedback to learners through the formative assessment stage, especially feedback about the learners’ foundation skills progress. You can recap the strategies in our blog titled Focus on formative assessment to build foundation skills.
How do you work out what you will say to the learners so that they are supported to move forward with the task and continue to develop or practice the required foundation skill/s?
Tailored learner feedback can depend on the range and depth of the ‘data’ available to you. For many trainers, learners’ assessment task responses provide the first indication of foundation skill progress. Communication with learners may also be possible. The emphasis is usually on what else the learner could or should do.
Have you considered checking in with all learners to obtain broader information about the training delivery elements that impact learning? There may be aspects about the training delivery that could or should be altered.
The ACER offers a Student perception of teaching questionnaire. Its purpose is to improve the quality of teaching and learning. The ACER questionnaire covers the following areas:
- Respect and rapport
- The learning culture
- Managing classroom activities
- Managing student behaviour
- Purposeful teaching
- Effective teaching strategies
- Student engagement
- Assessment and feedback
Although this survey presents with a skew towards face to face based learning – it does still happen in the VET sector!- rapport, culture, activities and behaviour also relate to on-line/remote learning delivery.
Check the student survey administered by your RTO. What feedback about the learning environment and instruction strategies does it provide? Perhaps develop your own tool to obtain learner feedback about the learning environment and instruction strategies, or explore and implement the ACER tool to obtain learners’ perspectives.
2 Reading: Focus on skills to read between the lines
It’s likely that your training and assessment requires learners to read a range of work-based texts. Some adult learners commence training with a limited range of reading skills based on the familiar ‘comprehension’ style questions. This literal approach seeks to know if the reader can identify the who, what, when, where, and why answers.
It is not unusual to hear learners say – ‘the answer is not in here’ when they attempt an inferential question or a question requiring them to interpret the text content (required for ACSF Reading Level 3 or 4)
Competent readers demonstrate the capacity to infer and interpret at ACSF Levels 3 and 4:
- ACSF Level 3: integrate, interpret, simple extrapolating, simple inference, simple abstracting
- ACSF Level 4: extract, extrapolate, infer, reflect, abstract
(from the ACSF variables Reading at ACSF Level 3 and ACSF level 4)
If you are after a strategy to build learners’ skills to infer, interpret, or, read between the lines, try to change the question format to require deeper thinking or comparison.
For example: add must, would, can/could, will, might or should to the simple question starters What?, Who?, When?, Where?, How? and Why?
ACSF Level 3 (involves reading routine texts with some unfamiliar information)
- How could this problem be solved differently?
- Why might the author have said ….?
- What can the purpose of …?
- What other opportunities should this provide?
- How would things be different if….?
ACSF Level 4 (involves reading a range of complex texts, unfamiliar and unpredictable)
- For what purpose would someone read these?
- What questions can these texts answer?
- How must the concerns be raised about ….?
- Why might there be advice about……?
- How could the key themes be addressed?
3 Writing: Focus on collaborative writing
Workplace writing skills are evolving. Increasingly workplaces connect with employees through www applications. Workers are expected to communicate collaboratively, and use a range of tools to communicate with colleagues and other workers. Think about the tools and strategies you use to communicate a written message with colleagues, or within your professional network.
Most training involves writing a workplace task – the report, the client note, the income and expense record, the instruction, the compliance documents.
A connected workplace means workers need additional writing skills. The writer must establish or maintain the connection and demonstrate expertise.
Sensitivities are involved. Learners need to learn and practice the subtleties of collaborative writing, Others will read the message,
- Is the message clear?
- Will it create the right impression?
- Could it offend?
- Does it reflect my expertise?
Professor Lesley Farrell – a workforce literacy expert. Says
“Collaborative writing is now a fundamental workplace practice. When we write, things are at stake with each utterance …. This is not the kind of writing we teach or assess.”
Professor Lesley Farrell, 31/5/16 Accessed from: http://tinyurl.com/z5j4lvh
Professor Farrell spoke at VALBEC annual conference 16/5/19. She will speak at:
- NCVER 2018 No Frills Conference (August 15 – 17) Sydney
- ACAL 2018 conference. (September 13, 14, 15) Melbourne
At each conference, Professor Farrell will discuss findings concerning the Literacy 4.0 project which focuses on the gig economy, the smart factory, and the implications for literacy educators in workplaces.
4 Oral Communication: Focus on pragmatic skills
The ACSF refers to selecting appropriate oral communication strategies for different contexts.
The appropriateness of what is said in a given context is referred to as pragmatic skills; the social language skills we use in our daily interactions with others. In some workplaces, pragmatics matter.
Below are the ACSF Oral Communication indicators for the first indicator at ACSF Level 3 and Level 4
|3.07||Selects and uses appropriate strategies to establish and maintain spoken communication in familiar and some unfamiliar contexts|
|4.07||Demonstrates flexibility in spoken texts by choosing appropriate structures and strategies in a range of contexts|
Research by Mavromaras, K. et al, 2017 The aged care workforce reports that communication between residents/clients/patients and workers was identified as an issue by 88% of respondents
Sometimes what is appropriate must be made explicit. Research has pointed to the benefit of direct instruction on the use of pragmatic language – i.e. cultural rules and language tools – especially where building or maintaining relationships is involved.
“They are not features of language we pick up just by being exposed to them in daily life.”
From Mackay Pip, 2018 Pragmatic language skills for CALD carers working in aged care VALBEC Fine Print 2018 Vol 1 #1
In workplace roles where building rapport is important, for example in aged care, it is appropriate to use these pragmatic skills to develop rapport to achieve designated tasks. This sector involves both clients and workers from increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Where training people to work in this sector is involved – include the pragmatic skills to promote or build social connection:
- small talk (cultural rules)
- and humour (language tools).
5 Numeracy: Focus on numeracy, it’s a critical 21st century skill
We know we advised that we will offer one strategy for each core skill. For numeracy we offer one podcast with the lot!
David Tout is an Australian expert in Numeracy. In this short podcast he provides key messages about:
- what international research says about numeracy skills in Australia
- the impact of numeracy on success
- the numeracy demands of the 21st century workplace
- skills and strategies to build numeracy skills