Why the new occupational curricula will not work yet

EDU IMAGE 13I fear that there are many Development Quality Partners (DQPs), Assessment Quality Partners (AQPs) and Qualification Development Facilitators (QDFs), not to mention the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) who will be angry at me for writing this. Therefore, please respond and tell me how stupid I am – if you can. The problem is that we, the learning providers, are the ones who are supposed to develop learning materials and to offer the qualifications once they have been registered. The learning materials must be aligned with the curricula and that is where the problems hit you in the face. I will not use a specific qualification as an example because it then might well be seen as an attack on a specific QDF. The QDFs that I know are great people, so I don’t want to hurt any of them.

To begin with, one will find that different people submit different evidence for prior learning should they be interested in recognition of prior learning (RPL). It is, therefore, unlikely that such candidates will have evidence that covers all the assessment criteria or learning outcomes in a qualification. That is why a holistic approach to RPL should be followed, meaning that the RPL assessor should judge against the purpose of the qualification, not rigid criteria.  Specifying in the curriculum that internal assessment criteria should be used for RPL makes the process inflexible with the result that the achievement of the qualification through RPL would be extremely difficult.

Secondly, any occupational learning process follows a logical growth path, beginning with a number of exit levels outcomes to be achieved. The achievement of each exit level outcome requires knowledge, practical skills and workplace experience. One should not have any of those three elements, typically expressed as modules, standing alone. The reason for this is that competence starts with practical competence, followed by foundational competence and then, after some time has lapsed, reflexive competence. This growth path needs to be supported by relevant knowledge.

Thirdly, for some reason knowledge modules, practical skill modules and work experience modules are treated as if they are separate units of learning when each group of three should be one unit of learning. The result of this is that, what in the old unit standard-aligned qualifications constituted one unit of learning, consisting of theory, (simulated) practical and workplace practical work are now regarded as three separate units of learning. Because of this the new QCTO qualifications often contain only about a third of the learning content of the old qualifications, leading to too many credits being given to too little learning.

The ideal would be to have an equal number of exit level outcomes, knowledge modules, practical skills modules and work experience modules. It is possible to have, for example, more than one knowledge module that apply to the same skills module or work experience module, but then this should be indicated, for example by using sub-numbers. What is not acceptable is that there are knowledge modules that do not fit in with any practical or work experience module. The same applies to practical modules and work experience modules. Believe me, there are such qualifications already registered on the NQF.

Learning should follow a scaffolding or building blocks approach (they are not the same). It, however, is not possible to develop learning materials that achieve this if the logical line knowledge module – practical skill module – work experience module does not exist. Of course creative learning materials developers will “invent” their own modules, or content, to close the gaps, thereby offering more than what the curriculum requires. This, however, creates new challenges, for example that summative assessment testing knowledge or skills that are not in the curriculum.

In closing, you cannot achieve exit level outcomes without satisfying knowledge and skills requirements in a logical, systematic and complete way. If you don’t believe me, try to develop logical and well-structured learning manuals for some of the new qualifications – you will quickly stumble upon obstacles.

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Ten critical mistakes in the collection and use of data for a non-fiction book

RESEARCHPAGES 2 INTGRTYNon-fiction is normally represented as fact. It is assumed that the information in such books are accurate and, hopefully, well-researched. Unfortunately writers sometimes regard their perceptions as the only truth. Everybody has the right to write a book about her pet subject, believes, militancy, fanaticism, paranoia, etc. However, a writer who claims to have done scientific research when it is clear from the contents of the book that this is not the case not only does damage to the perceptions of her readers (if they are gullible enough to believe what they read) but also to her reputation as an authority in a particular field. The following are mistakes in collecting and using data for a book that can render your book worthless and your integrity questionable.

  1. Not satisfying your problem statement. The problem statement of a non-fiction book is often captured in the title or at least in the introduction. You must satisfy your problem statement if you claim to have done research. It serves no purpose collecting evidence, coming to conclusions and then not deriving any findings and recommendations from your conclusions.
  2. Using biased and superficial sources of information. You can never come to an objective conclusion if your target group is not a representative sample of the population. Using only sources that agree with your preconceived opinion is unscientific and dishonest. Using sources of information that cannot give you expert information is sometimes necessary. However, you cannot come to any valid conclusions if you don’t consult experts and well-researched documents as well.
  3. Bending the facts. The conclusions that you come to need to originate logically from the facts that you consider. You should not come to conclusions from only one or two sources of information. Your information needs to be corroborated by as many different reliable sources as possible. This is called triangulation.
  4. Being vague about your sources of information. Writing “many people to whom I spoke said that…” or “my research showed that…” creates the impression that you are either not writing the truth or you are embarrassed, for whatever reason, to acknowledge your sources of information, especially the people to whom you spoke. You need to give proper recognition to your sources so that you readers can see (and judge for themselves) if your arguments and conclusions are realistic and valid.
  5. Racism. The opinions of other people are not the only ones that can be labelled racist. Your opinion can also be racist even if you don’t think so. It does not help camouflaging your racist attitude behind innocent-sounding terminology. The writer of a book that I recently read wrote: “How dare a white person write a book on a black person?” My goodness.
  6. Perceptual errors. We all make perceptual errors. However, when you deliberately make such errors to achieve your personal (negative) objectives you are misleading you readers and destroying any credibility that your research might otherwise have had.
  7. Name dropping. It is necessary to recognise your sources of information, but it is unprofessional to just list names of important people without any indication of how they contributed to your book. You need to write what the “important person” said or wrote and then come to one or more conclusions on how what they said or wrote impacts on your problem statement.
  8. Going on an ego trip. Don’t write a book as if it is your memoirs if it is not. You research should focus on answering your problem statement or hypothesis, not about how clever or important you are. It is also not the right time to gain political points by complaining (actually boasting) about how much your suffered, how poor your parents were, how unfairly life or other people treated you. A “me, me, me” attitude only shows that you suffer from an inferiority complex. It does not contribute to the quality of your research.
  9. Repetition. Repeating the same argument over and over again does not make it true. Claiming on every tenth or so page that you did intensive research will not make your readers believe you if the contents of your book are clearly shallow, biased, vindictive, questionable, one-sided, subjective, negative, etc.
  10. Generalising. Don’t write statements like “Everybody feels that…” or “The only people saying so are…” unless you can substantiate your claims with viable, valid, authentic and corroborated facts.

In closing, once you have finished writing your book you should ask yourself what positive contribution the book will make and to whom. You should have the courage to admit that it is your opinion and not an objective and scientifically researched piece of work if you did not do proper research. If your motives were negative, for example selfish gain, jealousy, hate, sucking up to somebody or some (often political) organisation, etc. then you should not have written the book to begin with.

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