2001 AVETRA Conference
Research to Reality: Putting VET Research to Work
28-30 March 2001
Hilton Adelaide, Victoria Square, Adelaide, South Australia

Research to reality: putting VET research to work reflected a major challenge facing VET research by the time of the fourth Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association conference in Adelaide on 28-30 March 2001. Following previous AVETRA conferences on emerging interests (Sydney), quality and diversity (Melbourne) and future research / research futures (Canberra), the Adelaide Conference Planning Committee believed the time was ripe for exploring relationships between research and practice. In particular, it was time to probe what impact VET research might be having on practice, and how VET practitioners could perceive themselves as researchers and explore research possibilities in their work. Thus the theme of putting VET research to work was deliberately worded. It was to signify not only the close links between vocational education and training and the world of work, but also the desire of VET researchers to see their processes and products of genuine assistance to end-users.

The conference provided the opportunity to hear about the latest research being conducted in the VET sector at universities, by national and state/territory agencies and, most importantly, by VET providers and schools themselves. It gave the sector the chance to support and recognise those involved in VET research in all its forms. These people have been building the sector’s capacity to reflect critically on its policies and practices and improve all that the sector does. The conference was about taking research and making it live, breathe and be useful. And it was equally about providing a forum for researchers to build networks and to be informative, challenging and practical.

Collaboratively planned to link in with the UNESCO/UNEVOC Conference – Vision to action: TVET planning and real results for the 21st century (26-28 March) – this AVETRA conference fulfilled a week of stimulating ideas in beautiful Adelaide. The international flavour added a valuable dimension, with contributors from such countries as Norway, China, England, Germany, New Zealand, USA, France, Korea and Samoa. The Conference was also multi-dimensional and cross-sectoral, with participants including teachers and trainers in public and private VET providers and schools; university VET researchers; teacher educators; private consultants and researchers; representatives from government departments; personnel from industry training advisory bodies, enterprises and unions; and students.

The conference fielded a record number of papers and poster sessions (around 100 on the Thursday and Friday), plus a number of professional development workshops on the Wednesday.

Day one was set aside for practical activities and involved a range of workshops of interest to VET practitioners and new and experienced researchers alike. Five sessions based at either Glenunga International High School or the University of South Australia (Underdale Campus) included:

* VET in schools: the research and the practice (Kym Clayton,
Jan Edwards and Phil McKenzie)
* On-line delivery: doing good things on the net (Joan Cashion,
Phoebe Palmieri and Sarojni Choy)
* Better assessment outcomes: an interactive workshop
(Berwyn Clayton and Peter Thomson)
* Making workplace learning work: what the research says and
how to make it happen (Susan Young)
* Information and information sources: getting the good goss on
the sector (Sarah Hayman and David John).

In addition, an Australian Vocational Education and Training Teacher Educators’ Colloquium (AVTEC) meeting was convened. AVTEC is a group of people involved in the preparation and development of VET professionals in Australia. Also, an AVETRA Executive meeting was held.

Days two and three were held at the Hilton Adelaide and devoted to keynote speakers (Kaye Bowman, Andy Smith, Brian Gilbertson, John Dawkins, Peter Kirby), an international panel (Madeleine Woolley – Chair, David Atchoarena, Kisung Lee, Yufeng Liu, Levaopolo Tupae Esera) and presentations and posters from VET researchers covering a wide range of research sub-themes, including:

1. translating research into practice

2. practitioners as researchers

3. forming and fostering research partnerships

4. lifelong learning and continuous and
recurrent VET

5. research for quality improvement

6. VET online

7. identifying new research directions.

The full text of the papers is available at 2001 conference papers. They are indexed in alphabetical order by author.

In addition copies of the papers which were blind peer reviewed by two reviewers to comply with the verification requirements for DETYA E1 conference publications (full written paper refereed).


The conference sought to map and describe research conducted by universities, TAFE Institutes, other VET providers, Industry Training Advisory Bodies (ITABs), private consultants, unions and teachers, trainers and students to examine the implications of such diversity on:

* translating research into practice
* practitioners as researchers
* research partnerships
* lifelong learning, continuous and recurrent VET
* research for quality improvement
* VET online, new industries, science and technology
* identifying new research directions.