As part of my job and to fulfill the requirement for a course called ‘Constructing Courses to Enhance Learning” which is in the GCTLT I am now documenting the work I am doing to include PD on Embedding Literacy and Numeracy in the Otago Polytechnic offerings to staff.
There is a national drive to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of the NZ workforce to cope with a knowledge based society. Funding from TEC has been available for professional development of vocational tutors and lecturers and we are being encouraged to deliver qualifications in teaching literacy and numeracy. The qualification which is preferred by TEC is the NCALE (level 5). We already offer a teacher training qualification GCTLT (level 7) but it doesn’t currently offer any specific training on embedding literacy and numeracy and is not linked to the national adult learning progressions. We want to develop a module in the GCTLT which will do this. The Unit Standard 21204 contains elements that are directly related to the teaching methods and strategies of embedding literacy and numeracy and these elements would lend themselves to being a separate module, the remaining elements of 21204 may fit elsewhere in the GCTLT. Until we have worked out the nuts and bolts of the GCTLT we are essentially delivering the unit standard 21204 to our literacy and numeracy coaches this year and they will be able to complete an NCALE. This course can be found here on wikieducator:
The Learners: The proposed course is for vocational tutors and lecturers already employed in a training establishment. The learners will mainly work in Otago Polytechnic but may be from other training institutions. The Learners in this course will have all been successful learners in the past and therefore possess many skills and strategies for learning. Most ‘vocational’ tutors and lecturers are practical people and experts in their field or trade and have been employed for their industry knowledge and skills. There is sometimes however, apprehension around teaching numeracy and literacy, as this was not a requirement or a focus of vocational courses in the past. Confidence in their own skills may be low, adding to a reluctance and apprehension about teaching it. Even those confident with their own literacy and numeracy skills may feel it is not their responsibility to be teaching it.
The Learners are mostly working full-time and do not have much available space in their timetables to attend face to face sessions. Much of the ‘theory’ can be available online and a series of lunch time seminars with the occasional dedicated workshop could be provided to demonstrate and practise teaching activities. These activities could also be captured online in some way. The lunch time seminars would be open to all staff at OP, and would compliment other ‘quality teaching’ initiatives on offer. A repository of teaching activities has already begun and can be found on Moodle in the courses Staff Support for Embedding Literacy and Staff Support for Embedding Numeracy (http://moodle.op.ac.nz/course/view.php?id=36).
All OP staff are encouraged to enrol and contribute to this repository.
TEC has been responsible for delivering PD in this field to vocational tutors around the country until recently and it has had variable success. The model they used has been criticised for being too theoretical and placed too high an emphasis on the Adult Learning Progressions. I do not want to repeat their mistakes and turn people off to the concept of embedding literacy and numeracy. This PD needs to be meaningful, relevant and practical. It can enhance the experience of teaching if it includes opportunities to share practice with colleagues and a sense of community is created.
With a proportion of funding now allocated towards success and retention of students, it is becoming even more critical that students with undeveloped literacy and numeracy skills are supported by their teachers and the institution. For this reason there may some compulsion in the future for all staff to complete this PD.