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Professional Development Engagement and Motivation in VET Sector Teachers

and Trainers


Michael Henderson, Dip VET Practice (Chisholm), Bachelor of Engineering

(Canterbury), Graduate Certificate in Management (Chisholm), Graduate Certificate in
Human Resource Management (Chisholm)

Student ID: 210732558

A research paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the

degree of


(Units EXR796 and EXR797)

Faculty of Education

Deakin University

22 June, 2012


I certify that the Research Paper entitled:

Professional Development Engagement and Motivation in VET Sector Teachers

and Trainers

and submitted for the degree of

Master of Professional Education and Training

is the result of my own work, except where acknowledged, and that this Research Paper
(or any part of the same) has not been submitted for a higher degree to any other
university or institution.

Approval to conduct the study was granted by both the Deakin University Ethics
Committee through the Faculty of Education Ethics Sub-Committee, and the Chisholm
Institute Ethics Committee.


Date 22 June 2012


With many thanks to my supervisor, Professor Karen Starr at Deakin University
Burwood, all the people I have worked with in diverse roles and those fantastic teachers,
both formal and informal, from whom I have learnt throughout my life.

I would also like to make special mention of the late Professor RHT Bates (Richard)
who, as my research supervisor in my Bachelor of Engineering degree, said to me (in
1981); ‘the best job you can have is the one you create for yourself’. Richard continues
to lead me on a journey without end.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ..........................................................................................................iii

Table of Contents ............................................................................................................. iv

List of Figures .................................................................................................................. vi

List of Tables.................................................................................................................... vi

Abstract ........................................................................................................................... vii

1. Introduction ............................................................................................................... 1

2. Research Question..................................................................................................... 3

3. Literature Review ...................................................................................................... 4

3.1. Aim of Review ................................................................................................... 4

3.2. Definition of Professional Development, TAFE and Teacher or Trainer .......... 4

3.3. Engagement in Professional Development by VET Teachers/Trainers ............. 5

3.4. Identified Themes ............................................................................................... 7

3.5. Organisation and Management ........................................................................... 8

3.6. Provision and Support Effective Professional Development for Teachers ........ 9

3.7. Acceptance of or Need for Change .................................................................. 10

3.8. Motivation for Professional Development ....................................................... 12

3.9. Linking Performance Management and Motivation of Teachers ..................... 15

3.10. VET Sector (including some specifically TAFE Victoria) Aspects ............. 17

3.11. Conclusion .................................................................................................... 19

4. Research Methodology............................................................................................ 19

4.1. Method.............................................................................................................. 19

4.2. Process .............................................................................................................. 20

4.3. Implementation of Research ............................................................................. 22

5. Results and Analysis ............................................................................................... 23

5.1. Introduction ...................................................................................................... 23


5.2. Survey Responses ............................................................................................. 23

5.2.1 Profile of Participants ................................................................................... 23

5.2.2 Professional Development and Training....................................................... 24

5.3. Interviews ......................................................................................................... 28

6. Discussion, Themes and Consequences .................................................................. 32

6.1. Introduction ...................................................................................................... 32

6.2. Enthusiasm and Recognition ............................................................................ 32

6.3. Inverse Enthusiasm ........................................................................................... 33

6.4. Work Intensification and Overload .................................................................. 33

6.5. Institutional Requirements ............................................................................... 35

6.6. Personal Disposition ......................................................................................... 35

6.7. Development of Timely and Effective Data..................................................... 36

6.8. Information and Support .................................................................................. 36

6.9. Change in Recruitment Strategy....................................................................... 37

6.10. Finding Alternative Reward and Recognition Strategies ............................. 38

6.11. Providing Clearer Links to Validated Professional Development ................ 38

6.12. Awareness of Learning Inactivity Versus Disengagement ........................... 39

7. Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 39

References ....................................................................................................................... 41

Appendix A – Survey (Step One) ................................................................................... 48

Appendix B – Interview (Step Two) ............................................................................... 50


List of Figures

Figure One: Aspects of the Professional Development Puzzle......................................... 8

Figure Two: Motivational Trigger Points ....................................................................... 15
Figure Three: Other Parties Influencing Motivational Triggers ..................................... 31

List of Tables
Table One: Instruments for the Research .................................................................. 21


The Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector exists within an environment of
rapidly changing community requirements, expectations and pressures. Effective
engagement in professional development by teachers and trainers within VET
contributes to the achievement of expected outcomes for the sector.

Formally recognised VET sector training is delivered by Registered Training

Organisations (RTOs). An RTO ‘must ensure it delivers quality training and
assessment for individual students, industry and the … (VET) sector’ (Australian Skills
Quality Authority 2012). To ensure the requisite quality in training and assessment,
individual trainers and assessors must achieve professional development goals that are
defined through formal and informal requirements, depending on the training being
delivered and the RTO’s scope and characteristics.

Technical and Further Education (TAFE) Institutes are state government owned RTOs.
The writer works in professional development within a Victorian metropolitan TAFE
institution guiding management, teachers, trainers and support staff to achieve
professional development goals that are implicitly or explicitly required by the

Sometimes teachers are effectively engaged in professional development and sometimes

not. This mixed methods research explores the point at which a VET practitioner
(re)engages in professional development to the benefit of themselves and their

The characteristics and findings of this research are documented in a way that could be
beneficial to professional development planning in the VET sector and broader contexts,
while identifying opportunities for useful future research to more comprehensively
explore the theoretical basis and practical applications of the findings.

1. Introduction

The Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector exists within an environment of
rapidly changing requirements, expectations and pressures. In the pivotal report to the
Prime Minister about the future of higher education, Bradley et al (2008, p. xvi) stated
that ‘the time has come for a more coherent approach to tertiary educational provision’.
Contingent on the achievement of excellence in that provision is the capability of the
teachers and trainers who operate within that system.

Bradley et al (2008, p. xvi) describe ‘a new approach to quality assurance, [whereby]

targets relating to quality of teaching will be agreed with each … education provider in
receipt of …funds’. However, quality is necessarily measured. Evans (1996, p. 114)
states that ‘measures diminish teachers’ autonomy and damage their morale, particularly
among veterans’ and reports similar issues in relation to performance appraisal

Regardless of current imperatives, professional development of VET sector teachers and

trainers is a topical issue that periodically comes up for review. For example, Guthrie
(2010a, p. 6) summarises the significant amount of current research and other initiatives
on workforce and professional development, including work in other jurisdictions, as
well as internationally. Of particular interest to this researcher is what leads a teacher or
trainer to ongoing sustainable engagement in professional development, particularly
where minimal development has been undertaken for some time.

Formally recognised VET sector training in Australia is always delivered by Registered

Training Organisations (RTOs). As a principle, ‘a registered training organisation
(RTO) must ensure it delivers quality training and assessment for individual students,
industry and the vocational education and training (VET) sector’ (Australian Skills
Quality Authority 2012). To ensure the requisite quality in training and assessment,
individual trainers and assessors must achieve professional development goals. The
professional development goals are defined through formal and informal requirements,
depending on the training being delivered and the RTO’s scope and characteristics. As
recognised by Guthrie (2010a, p. 18); ‘the role of industrial relations agreements in
promoting professional or workforce development is significant’. However, industrial

agreements are negotiated with conflicting requirements and do not necessarily have a
role that is always positive for either the employer or the teacher or trainer.

The writer works within the professional development context of a Victorian

metropolitan Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institution; supporting
management, teachers, trainers and support staff to achieve professional development
goals. The professional development goals are implicitly or explicitly required by the
institution, as a consequence and to meet the requirements of government as
administered through bodies such as the Australian Skills Quality Authority (2012).

Although one could begin this research by exploring whether professional development
is relevant for teachers and trainers in the VET sector, that matter is already established.
Professional development is relevant to all professionals committed to enhancing their
work practices. Borko (2004, p. 4) states ‘we have evidence that professional
development can lead to improvements in instructional practices and student learning’.

Questions about professional development quality have been raised over time. In the
higher education sector, Cannon (1983, p. 1) says of university teaching that ‘for at least
a quarter of a century, there has been public concern about the quality of teaching in
Australian universities’. Guthrie (2010b, p. 16) asks ‘what other ongoing professional
development carrots can be offered if the quality of VET teachers and teaching is to be
maintained and improved?’. The carrot (and stick) approach often conflicts with the
model requiring a student-centric approach to education that current managers and
directors have adopted as enthusiastic teachers or trainers at the beginning of their

In its report, the Queensland Board of Teacher Registration (1999, p. iii) declares a goal
of ‘advocating for professional development as a right and responsibility’. Another goal
example is an institute responsibility declared by the board to ‘involve all staff in the
continuous development of their skills’ (Chisholm Institute 2012). Key research
documents advise on professional development for trainers and teachers (Guskey 2002;
Guthrie 2010a). However, there is an apparent lack of engagement by some teachers
and trainers, who miss the opportunity to become effective in maintaining and
enhancing their practice.

What are the specific aspects of the links between the right, responsibility and
motivations of and for engagement in professional development as a means to enhance
work practices, as they manifest within the TAFE environment? Are there factors
specific to the Victorian state situation? What are the changes that occur in the learning
journey of teachers and trainers within the Victorian TAFE context? These questions
were the motivators behind this research project.

2. Research Question

The importance of improvement in professional development engagement for teachers

or trainers in TAFE has been identified through the literature review. The Productivity
Commission’s goal is ‘more targeted and evidence-based professional development that
addresses identified capability requirements of the workforce’ (2011, p. 28).

Evans (1996, p. 28) says ‘significant change almost always means loss and causes a
kind of bereavement’. A change in degree of engagement in professional development
can be significant for the individual, their employer and people around them.

Through investigating the nature of the individual at the point of transition from non-
engagement to engagement in professional development (trigger or motivator), a better
understanding will emerge. Through this process, the individual and the organisation
will have more tools to support their respective goals.

Hence the research question follows.

• What internal or external factors motivate TAFE teachers or trainers to

undertake professional development?
• Are there identifiable potential opportunities to influence the frequency or
quality of the motivating or influencing factors; for the benefit of the teacher or
trainer, their students and the training organisation?

The focus of the question is on a single training organisation (the writer’s TAFE

A series of supporting sub-questions inform the research planning:


• What leads the VET teacher or trainer to identify, engage in and successfully
complete appropriate professional development activities?
• How do motivating factors change individual thinking? Is the change matter
internal to the practitioner or is the change triggered by something the employer
or professional development provider can influence?

3. Literature Review

3.1. Aim of Review

This review investigates specific aspects of the linkage between the right, responsibility
and motivations of and for engagement in professional development as a means to
enhance work practices, with emphasis on the TAFE environment; including specific
reference (but not exclusively) to the Victorian context.

The review investigates the changes that occur in the learning journey of teachers and

3.2. Definition of Professional Development, TAFE and Teacher or Trainer

A study of professional development requires a working definition of the term

professional development. Speck and Knipe (2001, p. 4) define ‘professional
development’ as ‘a lifelong collaborative learning process that nourishes the growth of
educators both as individuals and as team members to improve their skills and abilities’.
In the same paragraph, Speck states ‘it is the author’s premise that … the focus of
professional development must be to improve student learning’.

Guskey (2000, pp. 14-6) takes a longer path to a definition and describes a traditional
view which includes sporadic special events which has now evolved into something that
is an intentional, ongoing and systematic process.

For the purposes of this research, professional development in a TAFE context is

understood to be an overlap of the definitions found in both Speck and Knipe and
Guskey’s publications, namely that ‘professional development’ is a ‘lifelong intentional,
ongoing and systematic collaborative learning process that nourishes the growth of
educators both as individuals and as team members to improve their skills and abilities
to ultimately improve student learning’.

The related term professional learning ‘includes the learning a [professional] engages in
relative to broader […] professional issues and practices’ (Queensland Government
2009). Alternatively, professional learning is the ‘meaningful application of research
based information that facilitates self-reflection, personal development, and student
growth’ (Bucks County Intermediate Unit 2012). Professional learning can be identified
within a larger professional development frame, as in the work by Magnuson and Mota
(2011) who provided a profession learning program ‘as a part of professional

In the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector ‘a ‘TAFE Institute’
means a public sector Institute of Technical and Further Education, including the TAFE
division of a multi-sectoral university, whether styled or called an Institute or not or any
successor organisation’ (Victorian TAFE Association 2003, p. 3). External factors such
as education reform and expected budget tightening across the sector at the time of
writing are, however, impacting on the validity of a differentiation between public and
private sector institutions.

‘‘Teacher’ means a person employed to teach or lecture or to manage and/or develop a

TAFE program or programs…’ (AEU & VTA 2009, p. 6) but the base qualification
document refers to ‘workplace or RTO based assessors, teachers/trainers,
educationalists…’ (IBSA 2007, p. 8). For this study, the term ‘teacher’ and ‘trainer’ are
used interchangeably. For some TAFE staff, one term is preferred strongly over another
and was therefore used selectively by the researcher based on apparent sensitivity of the

3.3. Engagement in Professional Development by VET Teachers/Trainers

The identification of distinguishable stages of engagement in professional development

is a necessary starting point for this review. The underlying question is; are there several
stages of professional development engagement that may change over time and could
the stages potentially be influenced by a combination of internal and external factors?

Levin (2003, p. 15) stated ‘I sought to understand how teachers' thinking developed’.
Coates (2006, p. 17) observed that ‘engagement is concerned with the point of
intersection between individuals and things that are critical for their learning.

Fundamentally, it is based on the constructivist assumption that learning is influenced

by how an individual participates in educationally purposeful activities’

Iverson, when drawing on Brown & Leigh, Kahn et al., stated that ‘a disengaged learner
has limited focus on material, has diminished cognitive focus, lacks goal orientation,
and does not have persistence (2008).

At the other end of the engagement ribbon, the term professional development junkie is
used, as in ‘Myron was a professional development junkie’ (Caine & Caine 2010, p. 13)
and ‘I know that I have said this before: I am a (convention) junkie. I get an adrenaline
rush from conventions’. (Fitzpatrick 2003, p. 221).

As a head teacher is quoted in one report; ‘I’ve got teachers who can go on courses and
come back and don’t have anything to disseminate’ (Nichol & Turner-Bisset 2006, p.
1). The question of effective engagement is an important consideration in any program.
Dissemination or implementation of material gleaned through professional development
activities or experiences (including structured argument for and against the material) are
good indicators of effective engagement.

There are changes that take place in the professional development path of individuals.
These changes can be determined informally by observation and questioning. The
method of detecting change requires working definitions for the state of learning
engagement before and after the change. In this research, three types of engagement in
professional development are defined.

The first type of teacher or trainer engagement is non-engagement. The engagement

represented by a disillusioned, disengaged or inactive learner. In this case, the teacher or
trainer is reluctant or unable to undertake professional development and may do so
under direction only, with potentially little evidence of follow through from the
outcomes of the development undertaken.

The second type of engagement is the professional development ‘junkie’. In this case,
the person is likely to be over represented in attendances at events and will be moving
from one course of study to another with little time available to ensure beneficial
outcomes for their learners or the broader institution requirements, particularly in any
sustainable fashion.

The type of engagement sought by employers is the engaged learner, where any
professional development undertaken is done so with some degree of enthusiasm and
the benefits of any activities or resources obtained through the process of learning are
applied effectively and sustainably for the benefit of the students.

This research sought to ascertain the motivators and triggers for professional

3.4. Identified Themes

While investigating the literature in relation to professional development, several

themes emerged as being important in the context of this review. Some writers
emphasise the special characteristics of the VET sector (Guthrie 2010a, 2010b; Guthrie
& Clayton 2010). Change management is critical to the approach by Evans (1996).
Employment relations is a key aspect to some (AEU & VTA 2009; Evans 1996;
NZPPTA 2009, 2011). Aspects of performance management relating to the study are
emphasised by other writers (AEU & VTA 2009; DEEWR 2010a, 2010b) .
Organisational compliance, as it interacts with the teacher or trainer’s professional
development are relevant (DEEWR 2010a, 2010b). The nature of the person within the
role and personal profile; for example age, family characteristics and time in the role are
considerations of several writers (Evans 1996; Guthrie 2010a; Lanka 2009). The
sustainability of professional development from an individual and organisational aspect
is also raised (Evans 1996; Farber 2000). The special characteristics of teachers and
trainers in relation to effective engagement of their students is a key attribute addressed
by many (Bradley, D et al. 2008; Bradley, PJ 2009; Farber 2000; Lieberman & Pointer
Mace 2009).

It is clear from the diverse range of views and foci that the questions around
professional development can be approached from many different directions. Figure
One provides an overview of the important themes identified in the literature on
professional development for teachers or trainers. The themes are not isolated nor
exhaustive (these are illustrative but common examples) and they have a recursive
relationship with each other. Hence, this research draws on the different themes in order
to ensure all relevant aspects are considered, but does not always address them

Teachers Organisation
& Trainers &

Staff Profile
Sustainability Professional e.g. age, time in
of Development role, family
Practice in VET

Performance Management

Recognising Professional Development Factors Affecting Teaching and Learning

Figure One: Aspects of the Professional Development Puzzle

3.5. Organisation and Management

Whether or not professional development is effectively provided and supported by

employers is identified as an important aspect within the ‘Professional Development
Puzzle’. In her D Ed thesis, Bradley (2009, p. 145) determined that professional
development can create tensions between management and individual teachers. She
states; ‘although all of the teachers enthusiastically expressed the need for ongoing
professional development activities, it emerged that they were also totally aligned in
their shared dislike of being directed to attend professional development events’.

In a recent study of professional development and VET teachers, a number of issues

were identified with management interaction; including mandatory professional
development, support for new technologies, disrespect for teachers’ professional
judgement, the need to include sessional teachers in professional development activities
and individual needs not being sought or met by management (Bradley, PJ 2010, p. 4).

The writer has participated in discussions where directed rather than optional
professional development was seen as more acceptable by some staff. The comments

seemed to relate to the consequence whereby compulsory professional development

becomes a management responsibility to schedule, rather than something that needs to
be squeezed in to conflicting priorities by the individual. These findings show that the
determination of an effective approach to the management of professional development
can be difficult due to complex and potentially contradictory requirements.

3.6. Provision and Support Effective Professional Development for Teachers

Training organisations can use a mixture of methods to provide and support

professional development opportunities for their staff. An indicator of the degree of
commitment can be the way in which professional development is addressed in policy
documentation. In preparation for the next Australian Universities Quality Agency
(AUQA) audit, Deakin University uses the words ‘professional development’ 35 times
when reporting on quality related matters (Graffam 2011). Professional development
appears critical for Deakin University’s achievement of a positive key audit outcome.

Professional development appears to hold benefits for both learning organisations and
individual teachers. For example, Hunzicker (2011, p. 177) states ‘effective professional
development is supportive because it considers the needs, concerns, and interests of
individual teachers along with those of the [institution]’. Those benefits are recognised
by key bodies. In the case of vocational education, the Victorian government has
invested in the TAFE Development Centre (now known as TDC), which is specifically
set up to support ‘initiatives to build staff skills, support effective recruitment, and focus
on high quality people development for Victoria’s TAFE Institutes’ (TDC 2012).

Spencer (2000, p. 78), when commenting on future directions for technology related
professional development stated ‘teachers did not receive adequate training in how
to…’ and then cites Lucas (p. 79) who proposed ‘student-centred approaches in which
teachers, like their students, become lifelong learners’. The benefit of a lifelong learning
framework for many people including teachers is becoming more apparent, with even
the International Labour Organisation observing that ‘finding ways to encourage
lifelong learning, through workplaces and beyond formal learning contexts, is a growing
concern of all nations, including Australia’ (cited in Office of Learning and Teaching
2005, p. 4). In the case of the VET sector, an organisational commitment to ongoing
learning by teaching staff can be identified, as a compulsory 30 hours per year per

person is stipulated in the Victorian TAFE Multi-Business Agreement (AEU & VTA
2009, p. 52). However, it remains to be seen whether this measure remains in place after
the current agreement reaches ‘its nominal expiry date [of] 30 September 2012’ (2009,
p. 4).

In identifying the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ professional development,

Guskey (2002, p. 50) states that evaluation is key. Guskey (p. 46) describes five critical
levels of professional development evaluation, with each layer built on the success of
the lower, suggesting that an effective evaluation practice could be an indicator of an
integrated and supportive professional development practice.

A supportive professional development environment would cater for the development

and implementation of practices appropriate to the individual. Wiske, Perkins & Spicer
(2006, p. 49) observe; ‘even when teachers learn how to enact new strategies, they
typically do not change their accustomed practice very much’. If the goal is to change
the practice, then that support would need to value the space for the development to
continue. Wiske et al point out that teachers need to ‘interpret and apply principles of
effective practice in flexible ways tuned to their own practical circumstances’ (p. 50)
and ‘teachers need to work out individually and collectively what genuine steps forward
make sense for them’ (p. 53).

Hence, professional development is defined as a key goal for effective organisations.

Further, professional development which is perceived by participants as appropriate and
assists teachers in defining their own way forward is seen to be potentially useful.
Different approaches may suit different teachers at different times. Evaluation of
professional development from several levels is both desirable and critical to success.
Appropriate evaluation can then lead to individual focussed strategies that may
overcome perceived or real adequacy issues.

3.7. Acceptance of or Need for Change

Evans (1996) describes the issues affecting teachers in an environment of ongoing

change. He states that teachers need to move from old competencies to new
competencies to support change and that ‘to help teachers develop new competence,
training must be coherent and continuous’ (p. 63). Although the context is American
primary and secondary education, many parallels can be seen within the Australian VET

system, where change is also continuous. Evans discusses the issue of engagement,
suggesting that ‘unfreezing is a matter of lessening one kind of anxiety, the fear of
trying, but first of [all] mobilizing another kind of anxiety, the fear of not trying’ (p.
56). Also; ‘opportunities to collaborate and build knowledge... help [education
institutions] to create a self-reflective, self-renewing capacity as learning organisations’
(p. 232). However, Evans talks about the difficulty of achieving this degree of change in
an organisation, partly because of practitioner resistance: ‘I have met hundreds of
principals and teachers who are dismayed by how many faculty become hesitant or
resistant when offered a real voice in change’ (p. 233).

A further consideration is the need for middle aged teachers (who are in the majority) to
learn to be confident and competent users of technologies that have been introduced in
the latter half of their lives. This issue makes professional development an imperative
and is another example of the need to overcome that fear of trying as described earlier
from Evans’ work (1996, p. 56) .

When large scale environmental pressures have been present for an extended period of
time, these can have a deleterious effect on the ability of teachers to address the need for
further change of an intrinsic nature. Very recently, the government of Victoria has
announced large scale changes to the funding of TAFEs, which has led to a demand for
the reinstatement of ‘in the order of $170M per Annum’ (Victorian TAFE Association
2012) to meet service standards in Victoria. This recent announcement is on top of
productivity changes that started with the ‘Securing Jobs For Your Future’ changes
launched three years earlier (The Victorian Skills Commission 2009).

There is clear evidence of continuing calls for change in professional development for
the VET sector. A very recent report from the Productivity Commission (2011, p. 28)
stated a requirement to meet pressing needs of the sector with ‘more targeted and
evidence-based professional development that addresses identified capability
requirements of the workforce’. This requirement is likely to result in further changes in
the way professional development is provided and monitored in the sector.

Aslanian and Brickell (1980) used the term ‘transitions’ to define the trigger points that
occur when learning becomes a necessity. These transitions could be factors which lead
the teacher through a change of perception and creates the desire for the further pursuit
of professional development. Evans (1996, p. 97) raises the issue of midlife

ambivalence being inevitable whereby older teachers feel less inclined and motivated to
change their practice as they’ve ‘seen it all before’. This state impedes ‘transition’
points. Lowther (1982, p. 125), therefore, argues that ‘special counselling and programs
may be beneficial for this [middle years] age group of teachers’. Hoffnung et al. (2010,
p. 546) uses ‘middlescence [which] refers to mid-career restlessness that includes
feelings of frustration and alienation, but also involves a focus on self-discovery and
new opportunities’. ‘Middlescence’ is therefore a potential descriptor related to a
change that may occur beyond the point of ambivalence. However, it is not clear yet
what the true nature of this trigger for change might be.

3.8. Motivation for Professional Development

Motivation of teachers in the pursuit of professional development comes from several

directions and can be divided into ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’ motivations. There is the
extrinsic requirement of the industrial relations framework to undertake professional
development (AEU & VTA 2009), or the intrinsic motivation to do a job well. For
example, Evans (1996, p. 107) describes ‘key members’ of schools that are ‘eagerly
attending professional conferences, reading widely in their field, and exploring new
forms of practice in their classrooms’ as intrinsically motivated teachers. Those who
are extrinsically motivated may need to be forced to undertake professional

Alderman (2004, p. 81), when talking about demotivated students, states ‘their motive
... becomes one of avoiding failure and protecting their self-worth from the perception
they have low ability’. Alderman then goes on to discuss failure-avoiding strategies.
Evans (1996, p. 111) says ‘the changes of midlife and midcareer diminish teachers'
appetite for change at work’. Dede (2006, p. 3) observes ‘teachers often become
frustrated with professional development, at times because it is ineffectual or because it
requires sacrifices disproportionate to the professional enhancement it provides’.
Motivation is a key factor for both students and teachers or trainers.

Is effective motivation for professional development ‘top-down’ (‘extrinsic’ or directed

and measured from organisation imperatives), or better supported from an appropriate
organisational framework and framed to rely on ‘bottom-up’ (‘intrinsic’ or personal)
motivating factors? A combination of these approaches may be required. For example;

Goderya-Shaikh (2010, p. 157) states that in relation to professional development for

teachers; ‘...the initial change is ... obligatory but when they found it easier to teach and
saw the students also enjoyed it they became self-motivated’.

When looking at the motivation of students, Child (2004, p. 191) describes ‘the value of
intrinsic motivation for long-term rewards’ but observes the need for ‘extrinsic
motivating systems’ at the beginning. This student motivation has a parallel in teachers
and trainers reaching a level 5 teaching qualification as a part of the Victorian TAFE
Multi Business Agreement or MBA (AEU & VTA 2009, p. 15), which results in a pay
increment. This initial motivation could be a trigger that leads to intrinsically motivated

Shashkova (2010, p. 34) describes an environment which leads to distorted motivation.

The context is the Russian training sector. In this environment, the value placed on
professional development has a lesser value because financial need becomes the
overriding factor. Many higher education qualified people are forced into unrelated
areas such as taxi driving due to economic constraints and lack of opportunity. Hence
the term Shashkova uses to describe this situation is ‘the deformation of the motivation
sphere’ (p. 35).

Focussing on the professorship in the context of American universities (including two

year community colleges), Boyer (1990, p. 16) defined the integrated scholarship of
discovery, integration, application and teaching. Scholarship is an effective vehicle for
professional development as each of the factors promotes learning with a different
focus. Discovery for example, includes learning through acquiring new knowledge
discovered as well as the learning of new skills to allow the discovery work to be
undertaken. Boyer’s work is relevant to the Australian VET environment and significant
in the current context, given that ‘tertiary qualifications are offered in two sectors with
what have been, historically, very different roles and approaches to educational
provision’ (Bradley, D et al. 2008, p. xvi). The responsibility of the professional in VET
to embrace scholarship as an aspect of their professional development is an expectation
evolving over time.

Alderman (2004, p. 199) describes the effect of teachers’ self-expectations, concluding

that ‘a teacher's sense of efficacy was found to [be] one of the best predictors of
increase in student impact’. The research describes the fostering of motivation to

achieve an effective outcome, including the importance of the teacher achieving a

motivated state through self-development.

Educational research by Jasper et al., Liebermann and Pointer Mace and Lanka provides
support for reflective practice as a valid tool for professionals. Jasper et al. (2006, p. 45)
(from the field of nursing) describe a reflective practitioner as ‘constantly moving and
changing their practice as they add in their learning gained from their experience’.
Liebermann and Pointer Mace (2009, p. 459) ‘define veteran teachers not necessarily by
the number of years they have taught, but by their ability (and experience) in reflecting
on their experience and becoming articulate about the complexity of their teaching’.
When considering VET teacher practices in Latvia, Lanka observes that:

To promote the VET teachers' self-initiated and self-directed in-service learning, the
teachers have to analyze and evaluate their own teaching, to reflect on their professional
competencies and find [what is] necessary for further education and training.
(Lanka 2009, p. 103)

Through reflective practice a teacher gains a sense of efficacy and can become
motivated to address relevant issues, including developing a personal strategy for
professional development.

Farber (2000, p. 679) describes the case of a worn out teacher in therapy who, through
reframing the measures of success, is able to re-engage in a positive self-reflection cycle
and thereby gain from that self-reflection and environmental indicators of performance.
A significant contributor to a teacher’s sense of efficacy comes from external feedback,
either from students and peers or more formally from an organisational performance
management framework.

Professional development motivation can arise through either extrinsic or intrinsic

means. Factors such as policy change, reflective practice and organisational support
impact on the degree of motivation of the teacher or trainer. Change in motivation is a
likely characteristic of the triggers defined in Figure Two. A change in motivation in
this context is manifested and detectable through observation by an increased level of
desire and action relating to engagement in professional development.

Internal & Family & Family & Feelings e.g.

Personal Personal Personal security,
factors History Understanding confidence

Ongoing Disengaged Ongoing

or Inactive Trigger?
Professional Professional
Learning Learning

Environmental Restrictions
factors Students
Opportunities Support

Non Exclusive Prompts for Teachers or Trainers Describing Their Personal Triggers

Figure Two: Motivational Trigger Points

3.9. Linking Performance Management and Motivation of Teachers

The difference between performance management approaches and degrees of

engagement in professional development can become a vexed issue. In the Victorian
TAFE context, the Multi Business Agreement defines ‘a minimum of 30 hours per year
of professional development’ (AEU & VTA 2009, p. 52) and requires teachers to ‘take
an active role in [their] own professional development’ (p. 30). This type of requirement
can be used both as a management tool and be a motivator for some practitioners.

These agreement parameters are broadly adopted and integrated into aspects of
performance management frameworks, depending on the appetite of individual
institutions and the specific nature of the collective or individual staff agreements.
Chisholm Institute, for example, has a Board objective ‘to involve all staff in the
continuous development of their skills’ (Chisholm Institute 2011, p. 138).

There is no clear evidence identified in this or any extant research of any positive or
negative consequences related to the achievement or non-achievement of the specified

levels of professional development, other than pay point increments. In the Victorian
TAFE context, for example, the Multi Business Agreement says ‘progression beyond
the fourth incremental point of the Teacher classification is subject to the Employee
completing a course of teacher training accredited at diploma level’ (AEU & VTA
2009, p. 15) 12. At an institution level there is an additional need to ensure staff maintain
appropriate qualifications, as per Standard 1.4 of the Australian Quality Training
Framework (AQTF); namely ‘training and assessment is delivered by trainers and
assessors who... continue to develop their Vocational Education and Training (VET)
knowledge and skills as well as their industry currency and trainer/assessor competence’
(DEEWR 2010a, p. 6). However, this requirement does not appear to succinctly filter
down to the individual in practice. For example, when describing VET leadership
connected professional development issues, Hawke, cited in Guthrie (2010a), states:

As a consequence, strategic workforce development matters often fail to get the

attention they deserve. These managers—and often their staff—can also be
reluctant to participate in professional development; for example, given limited
human and financial resources, it can be difficult to backfill staff undertaking
professional development. In addition, providers cannot necessarily guarantee
that the workforce development policies and strategies they determine at
executive level are always implemented with fidelity or consistency. (Hawke,
cited in Guthrie 2010a, p. 15)

It appears there is a link between the performance management and motivation of

teachers or trainers undertaking professional development. The possibility of
performance management being a motivating factor is therefore worthy of consideration
in this research.

New Zealand high school teachers experience similar pay point increments such as
stage ‘G3 = Advanced Diploma of Teaching or Bachelor of Teaching’ (NZPPTA 2009,
p. 4) (NZPPTA 2011, p. 23). In this case, supervisors without degrees are paid less than
their staff. Some supervising teachers appear to undertake further studies to gain the
same recognition as their subordinates with pay rises and subsequently have continued
their professional development, due to non-financial motivation.

3.10. VET Sector (including some specifically TAFE Victoria) Aspects

The VET sector in Victoria has some distinguishing characteristics, including the
establishment of the TAFE Development Centre (TDC) ‘in 2005 to reinvigorate the
Victorian TAFE system through provision of best practice professional development
opportunities’ (TDC 2012). The quality and applicability of professional development
opportunities provided by TAFEs for their own staff versus opportunities provided by
other Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and other training organisations may
have some bearing on outcomes and the decision to establish a separate VET sector
professional development organisation in Victoria. The TDC ‘soon expanded to include
provision of services to the entire VET sector and to undertake projects with both
statewide and national focus’ (2012) which will potentially influence the sector’s future

The profile of staff in the VET sector is worthy of note, as ‘it is ageing, with potentially
large workforce replacement issues’ (Guthrie 2010a, p. 6). Guthrie also highlights the
highly casualised characteristic of the workforce, which would make engaging in
teaching related professional development difficult. The limited operational relationship
of the sessional teacher or trainer with TAFE makes development goals and outcomes
potentially difficult to determine and achieve sustainably. Why pursue relevant
professional development if your work is limited to a few hours each week? Taking a
lack of Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) program professional
development uptake as an example, Berghella et al (2006, p. 21) wonder ‘whether what
was on offer was not seen as relevant and challenging, or whether, if practitioners are
not paid, they do not access the available opportunities—or a combination of these’.
The non-payment issue is one which affects casualised workforces in particular, because
of the lack of common approaches and affordability.

Within TAFEs, a recent development is the delivery of higher education qualifications

(at bachelor degree level or higher). Teaching in the higher education sector requires
institutes to provide evidence of scholarly practice. Through scholarly practice an
individual develops professionally (although there are aspects of developmental need
that would not necessarily be covered by scholarly practice). Boyer (1990) describes the
link between different aspects of scholarship, including discovery, integration,
application and teaching. The influence of higher education could change the dynamics

in TAFE, in relation to the acceptance of the need for ongoing professional development
and the attainment of degrees by individuals. The changes could be influential,
particularly for those who work alongside colleagues working in universities or those
who have recently joined TAFEs to support degree programs. The Bradley Review into
the future of Higher Education, offered much discussion about ‘the need for closer links
between vocational education and training and higher education’ (Bradley, D et al.
2008, p. 179) which is an indicator that this change in dynamics is becoming a focal
point of policy.

A measure of the importance of professional development in the higher education sector

is the degree to which the function is reflected in the auditing body’s lexicon. A search
of the AUQA Good Practice Database (Woodhouse 2011) for the words ‘professional
development’ showed 99 references. An equivalent search of the AQTF Users’ Guide
(DEEWR 2010b) shows 16 references. Both search outcomes support the view that
professional development is important from a ‘top-down’ perspective, in both sectors.
However, Guthrie & Clayton (2010, p. 24) state with respect to TAFE environments
‘professional development opportunities are not even handed [with] staff in
management positions best served by existing arrangements. Teachers and general staff
are less well accommodated’.

The potential for triggers or motivators has been discussed, for example the incremental
point defined in the Victorian TAFE Multi Business Agreement (AEU & VTA 2009, p.
15). Guthrie (2010a, p. 7) discusses ‘mandatory minimum professional development
(PD) days per annum’. However, clear consequences of meeting these minima are not
apparent, either for individuals or organisationally.

Guthrie (2010a, p. 14) describes a need for ‘willingness by the VET sector’s teachers
and trainers-accompanied by the incentives-to engage in ongoing professional
development’. That some practitioners engage effectively and some do not is apparent.
There is, however, little evidence or information to characterise the changes that occur
to bring people to the culture of optimum engagement in professional development. The
specific characteristics affecting the Victorian TAFE sector may provide some clues to
that change, even if the characteristics themselves have no bearing on the change.

3.11. Conclusion

The literature review provided a base of knowledge which showed that a high degree of
change is taking place in the sector affecting the ability of the workforce to meet the
current and emerging needs of VET. The concerns and considerations that have been
highlighted will affect the needs for professional development and the approach that
needs to be taken. Further work to understand professional development engagement in
TAFE is therefore beneficial if that work informs how to get the best returns for the
organisations and individuals affected.

4. Research Methodology

4.1. Method

To develop a research approach to suit both the research question and the potential
participant group, the researcher was aware that any involvement would be an impost on
the participants. An approach was needed that included a minimum participant time
involvement along with a manageable degree of participant effort. The approach chosen
was to have a nominal two critical periods of interaction, one being via a survey
instrument and the second being a face to face semi structured interview. Pre and post
phone call communication was the only additional impost applied on the participant.

Therefore, having identified an acceptable degree of commitment, the researcher

selected a research method that would ensure that the data gathered was maximised both
as to quality and quantity, for the purposes of the research question chosen. A mixed
methods approach was chosen for this research project.

Burke Johnson and Onwuegbuzie explore the different paths of quantitative and
qualitative research and describe a ‘methodological pluralism or eclecticism, which
frequently results in superior research’ (Burke Johnson & Onwuegbuzie 2004, p. 14).
As a basis for applying the methodology in this research, a working definition is

Mixed-methods research is formally defined here as the class of research where the
researcher mixes or combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques, methods,

approach, concepts or language into a single study. (Burke Johnson & Onwuegbuzie
2004, p. 17)

The researcher used a mixed methods research approach that generated survey
responses (quantitative data) followed by semi-structured interview responses
(qualitative data). The findings of this research arose as a result of the merger of these
two data sets. Greene, Kreider and Mayer observe that ‘if data from [multiple sources]
converge, the overall results are likely to be valid, credible and warranted’ (2005, p.
274). Reams and Twale say that ‘the use of mixed methods research [is] necessary to
uncover maximum information and perspective, increase corroboration of the data, and
render less biased and more accurate conclusions’ (2008, p. 133). For Hesse-Biber
(2010, p. 3), ‘researchers who use mixed methods employ a research design that uses
both quantitative and qualitative data to answer a particular question or set of
questions’. Furthermore, Hesse-Biber states that the benefit the researcher is looking for
is ‘a convergence of the data collected by all methods in a study to enhance the
credibility of the research findings’.

Golafshani (2003, p. 600) states that ‘although reliability and validity are treated
separately in quantitative studies, these terms are not viewed separately in qualitative
research. ...terminology... such as credibility, transferability, and trustworthiness is
used’. Credibility and transferability in this research came through ensuring a range of
participants and using two data collection methods, the survey and the semi structured
interview. The semi structured interview provided the opportunity for the researcher to
follow up questions and to investigate leads that arose through the survey and planned
interview questions approach. Jack and Raturi along with Schwandt (cited in Graham &
Thomas 2008, p. 118) state that ‘the use of multiple methods allows for triangulation,
the purpose of which is to confirm findings through convergence of different
perspectives, check the integrity of inferences drawn and ensure validity’.

4.2. Process

The sample represented volunteer teachers and trainers from the researcher’s TAFE
institute. Volunteers were sought from people who had recently undertaken professional

The time since the person had been involved in professional development was only
relevant insofar as ensuring they had adequate recall of the relevant impressions and
aspects of the experience that were to be addressed through the instruments used in the

An initial email survey was completed by the participants and semi structured
interviews were then used to gather further information from a smaller group taken from
the participants.

The following table summarises the instruments that were used.

Table One: Instruments for the Research

Tool Form Purpose
Plain Language Paper and Show understanding of rights of participants, along
Statement electronic with getting approval
Initial survey to Paper and Guide and recording instrument for collected data
participants electronic
Initial survey results Paper and Written data provided by participants
Interview questions Paper and Guide and recording instrument for qualitative data
Interview results Paper and Data recorded during and post interview by
electronic Researcher
Results and Paper and This research report
conclusions electronic

The information was collected as a written (or electronic equivalent) response to the
survey instrument and semi structured interview notes recorded and transcribed by the
researcher. Copies of the survey and interview instruments content are included in
Appendices A and B.

All results obtained are anonymous and no referential material has been recorded.

Through regular communication with the supervisor and through the disclosure
processes built into the instruments outlined in the table above; the risks were mitigated
and no specific issues arose in the process of the research.

4.3. Implementation of Research

Ethics approval for this work was sought and achieved during July and August of 2011,
from Deakin University and the researcher’s TAFE.

For the data collection phase; two guiding documents were used, consisting of a series
of questions (open, closed or a combination) that explored the background of,
motivators for and consequences of, engagement in professional development. The first
document was an emailed survey. Twenty of the twenty seven questions sought
background information.

The semi structured interview guiding document explored aspects of motivating factors.
The grounded theory principle of ‘emergence never forcing’ (Stern & Porr 2011, p. 43)
ensured that supplementary questions could be used to explore alternative information
and relevant data through the semi structured interview.

The first interest in participation was determined on 15 August 2011, with the first
survey results being received on 8 September 2011. The last interview took place on 23
November 2011.

Of an initial list of twenty four potential participants, fifteen agreed to actively

participate and completed the survey instrument, with nine of those participants
engaging in follow up discussions based on the semi structured interview questions.

The fifteen respondents returned the survey instrument to the researcher in a mixture of
handwritten and email typed responses. The nine second stage respondents completed
face-to-face or telephone discussions, which were transcribed by the researcher.

During the process of invitation, communication and interview, ‘reliance on effectual

interpersonal communication techniques for obtaining research data exemplify[ing] the
integral role of the researcher as human instrument’ (Stern & Porr 2011, p. 53) was
important in achieving a successful outcome. Preliminary planning and preparation
work done before the semi structured interviews was also important for the project

5. Results and Analysis

5.1. Introduction

Fifteen teachers or trainers participated using the email survey instruments and nine of
these teachers or trainers participated in the semi structured interviews. The analysis of
the results showed a wide range of responses amongst the teachers or trainers who

5.2. Survey Responses

5.2.1 Profile of Participants

Of the fifteen participants, twelve were either in contract or ongoing positions, with the
remaining three people being engaged on a sessional employment basis. This ratio of
permanent or ongoing to sessional staff is higher than the percentage commonly
discussed across the sector and was affected by the engagement of people in this
research who are or have been recently involved in significant professional development
activities, where Simon et al. (cited in Guthrie 2010a, p. 6) raise the issue that ‘a high
proportion of [the VET] workforce is … highly casualised, with many of its staff
probably only having a marginal attachment to the sector’. Four of the staff members
were employed on a part time basis and two of the full time people were employed in
Senior Educator roles, meaning they had formal responsibility for some degree of staff,
student and course supervision and direction in addition to their teaching

There were ten males and five females participating in the research. The average age
was 52 with ages ranging from 39 to 62. The age profile of the participants confirms the
issue raised by Guthrie earlier, namely that the workforce ‘is ageing, with potentially
large workforce replacement issues’ (Guthrie 2010a, p. 6).

The participants came from a diverse range of vocational backgrounds including beauty
therapy, electrical, logistics, marketing, plumbing, turf management and youth work.

Their engagement in TAFE as trainers or teachers has been for a period of between
three and seventeen years. The average employment was eight years with several people

having been employed additionally in similar roles such as private or industry specific
training organisations.

The roles of the respondents ranged from pure teaching to senior educator and program
coordination roles. As a senior educator, teachers are required to carry out other duties
with responsibility for course development or similar responsibilities. As a program
coordinator, teachers are required to coordinate other teachers, programs and a larger
number of students. The scope and responsibilities within these roles are defined both
within specific TAFE documents and in broader terms for Victoria in the industry union
agreement or Multi Business Agreement (AEU & VTA 2009).

The stories that brought people to the teacher or trainer role were varied, although all
participants expressed a degree of interest in providing quality education for their
students. One person stated ‘age and wear on the body’ as a reason for making the
career choice to be a VET teacher or trainer rather than a tradesperson. In six cases,
looking for an opportunity to give back to their vocation was given as the motivating
factor. Money was an important factor for two people.

5.2.2 Professional Development and Training

Ten questions addressed past professional development or training. The participants

hold qualifications both vocational and education related, ranging from a nearly
completed Diploma of Vocational Education and Training Practice to a completed
Masters of Education degree. The participants held or were pursuing professional and
education related qualifications that were higher in all cases than their respective trade
or vocational qualifications. Four people were in the process of completing these
qualifications. Two people were also currently in extended professional development
(longer than a one day workshop) with the remaining participants either at a
professional development lull or participating in relatively short professional
development activities only.

Reasons for taking up professional development in the past ranged from remuneration
and security, personal interest and a passion for learning, currency of qualifications and
mandated requirements.

Reasons given for past training being rewarding included meeting a mandated
requirement, relevance to role, technical skills, networking, and the ability to use wider
range of thinking skills (in relation to Bachelors and Masters degree and Graduate
Certificate programs). An example response was ‘the ability to pursue areas of interest
freely and to engage in ‘knowledge generation’ ’. Training experienced as deflating (or
non-motivational) included poorly run professional development, qualification without
effort, apathy of peers and technology issues.

Two questions addressed the most important training undertaken as perceived by the
respondents. The training highlighted included vocational training, teacher
qualifications, workshops, informal training and different forms of action learning. An
example response was ‘martial arts [which] helps to develop discipline, self-confidence
and physical wellbeing’.

Two questions looked at changes to the participants’ initial reaction to training

undertaken, both in the positive and negative - for example, some training that was
more valuable than initially thought; ‘it was a lot of boring academics … found some
who had …developed different ways of assisting learners that help inform the way I
now teach/train’. An example of training that was perceived as less valuable than
originally thought included; ‘the TAA [Cert IV Training and Assessment] was that
training experience, as a teaching qualification it fell far short of teacher preparation’.

When looking at reasons that training was embraced enthusiastically, responses ranged
from ‘all my courses I approached enthusiastically’ to course specific enthusiasm like
‘Grad Cert in VET… engaged instantly because of the quality of the trainers. They were
knowledgeable, enthusiastic and encouraging’. Reasons affecting enthusiasm to initially
undertake the training included choosing ‘… a private provider to upgrade one
qualification because it was simpler than doing the process at [an institution]… – so my
enthusiasm would be effected by the simpli[city] of the process.’

When seeking the general approach of the participants to training, the most common
response was being enthusiastic (12 of 15 responses) with the least positive being
‘ambivalent’ by one respondent. When it comes to how their view has changed over
time, the respondents considered the impact and burden of undertaking training, such as
‘I am more discerning. If I am giving up my time for training, it must be relevant, fresh,
equipping, empowering and transforming’.

There was no clear and consistent difference articulated by the participants between
training, professional development and education. Four respondents said the meaning of
the terms were identical. By having no perception of a hierarchy of learning with their
own professional development, there is a risk that effort when expended may not be
optimised for the needs of the participant or the TAFE. ‘Letting go of an old
competence and learning a new one involves a substantial risk, one teachers must be
encouraged to take’ (Evans 1996, p. 85). By giving teachers a clearer understanding
about learning options and benefits, their risk appetite could be aligned to better defined

During this research, vocational training is considered as any training that would be a
part of the training being delivered by the teacher or trainer in their role in TAFE. This
means that a hand tools update for a trade teacher or trainer is vocational training.
Teacher training would be anything that related to the skills and capabilities needed to
convey vocational capability to a student. Mastering an elearning technology is
therefore teacher training. The comparison of vocational (trade or professional skill set)
or teaching training to determine a priority showed that both were important in TAFE.
The most insightful answer was ‘this is a complicated question’ and another was ‘they
are both important to provide a quality experience to the learner’.

On the question of preferring formal or informal training, informal training is any

training that is not time specific and could not be captured as an attendance and or
outcome or result. This means that learning a new skill learnt from a colleague or
researching something on the internet is informal. Anything that requires an attendance
with someone providing training, whether or not there was an assessment component,
was considered to be formal. This means that attending a workshop about a business
process was treated as formal training. In some contexts this training would be classed
as non-formal (rather than informal). When asked to consider formal or informal
training as a preference, seven of fourteen respondents said there was room for both
forms of training with two people preferring formal and others preferring informal
training, such as ‘I think at this stage I would enjoy collaborative projects [as] I feel I
could learn from my peers’.

When questioning the adequacy time and support a common issue regarding the
difficulty of achieving all that is required within the roles including professional

development, arose. For example; ‘it is one thing for a business to say they will support
training. It is another thing to support the business whilst the training is being
conducted’. Respondents felt that TAFEs could do more to support workforce capability

When looking to future training and comparing motivators, a sense of ‘self-

improvement, understand[ing] the student better, do[ing] my work more efficiently
[and] be[ing] better at what I do’ as written by one respondent covered the range of
responses. For demotivators, ‘clichéd, simplistic and/or boring content, frustrating
and/or disrespectful processes, material that is delivered with a disconnect between
content and teaching style’ likewise from a different respondent covered the range of
responses to this question. For changing circumstances that would lead people to take
up further training, participant responses included job security, finances, role change,
allocated time, tailored programs and industry involvement.

One significant theme repeatedly reported was how busy people are. One teacher said ‘I
am over the limit in my commitment to the job at the moment. Even this [survey] is
being done during my annual leave’. Two of the people interviewed were senior
educators, meaning they held supervisory responsibilities in addition to teaching duties.
One respondent said ‘becoming a senior educator in a very busy environment is more
than a full time job in itself’.

When asked what participants would tell others about engaging in professional
development, all responses were positive and the range addressed both the need to meet
compliance requirements in training undertaken as well doing that which suits the
person, including comments such as ‘compliance stuff needs to be done...but it won’t
necessarily make you a better teacher. Find that which challenges, stretches and
transforms you’.

Environmental changes that would support the respondents’ colleagues in engaging in

professional development reportedly include increased accountability, financial
rewards, more and schedule time and greater industry interaction.

5.3. Interviews

Nine respondents participated in the semi structured interview which consisted of a

range of questions that were related to the three figures included in the interview
instrument, as provided at Appendix B.

Figure One – Aspects of the Professional Development Puzzle

Figure Two – Trigger Point Concepts
Figure Three – Other Parties Influencing Motivational Triggers

Taking figure and question blocks in turn, the major themes that emerged from the
research are documented below.

Using Figure One of Appendix B (p.52) titled ‘Aspects of the Professional

Development Puzzle’; respondents identified what was significant for them in relation
to a series of questions. The focus was ‘Professional Development in VET’, with
motivating factors including ‘Teachers and Trainers’, ‘Organisation and Management’,
‘Staff Profile e.g. age, time in role, family’, ‘Change Management’, ‘Employment
Relations’, ‘Performance Management’, ‘Sustainability of Practice’. Respondents were
told in discussion that the headings were prompts rather than a restricted list.

The most important motivators identified were ‘teachers and trainers’ (two of nine
respondents) as well as ‘organisation and management’ (also two of nine respondents).
‘Sustainability of practice’ and ‘performance management’ were identified by one
participant each.

The least important aspects identified were ‘performance management’ (three of nine
respondents), ‘employment relations’, ‘staff profile’, and ‘change management’ - each
received a single vote.

‘Nurturing’ was identified by two respondents as a missing aspect, as were ‘technology’

and ‘how to find the opportunity yourself’ along with ‘communication’.

Issues that were identified as key to achieving an organisation’s goals were ‘time
management or allowing time’ (three times), ‘funding and resources’ (two times),
‘support and nurturing’ (two times), ‘engagement and motivation’ (two times).

When looking at what would motivate their colleagues, ‘what’s in it for me and
‘financial gain’ were identified by four respondents, with four people identifying
‘interest or personal satisfaction’. ‘Having to do it’ (i.e. the training was mandatory)
was raised as a reason by two people. ‘Technology’ was raised as a motivator by one

Motivators stated for undertaking professional development were diverse and included
technology changes (and the desire to understand and use the change in a teaching role),
financial incentive or ‘having to’ being included as factors leading to increased
motivation. Personal goals or personal satisfaction were included as important factors of
motivation for achieving personal development goals.

For demotivators for their colleagues, the most common factor offered was ‘time’ with
six responses. ‘Relevance’ was offered in three responses with ‘being made to do it’
offered twice.

The issue of organisations needing to commit extra resources of both time and effort
was highlighted, along with conflicts between budget constraints and the value of the
experience of professional development. Contradictory organisational signals were seen
as being significant detractors for achieving professional development outcomes as they
were often disempowering. An example of contradictory signals is a strategic goal or an
industrial requirement being in conflict with the day-to-day demands of achieving
department level expectations. Teachers or trainers being excluded from the planning
process was raised as another issue and may be a contributor to the negative impact of
conflicting signals.

Figure Two (p.15) was included as a resource for respondents for the next six questions
in the survey instrument and covered a range of factors affecting their engagement in
professional development. As an example of a factor that might lead to engagement, a
change in family circumstances allowing a new skill or qualification to be pursued to
generate additional household income could be a personal factor. Organisational support
(time or funding) for a new qualification needed to deliver a new training package might
be an environmental factor.

In relation to the research question, the questions relating to Figure Two (p.15) were the
most direct in determining whether motivational triggers exist and whether the

participants held any affinity for them in their own professional development
experience. In four out of nine cases, the participants initially saw no affinity with a
motivational trigger point as being representative of a point in time in their professional
development engagement history. In no cases were people able to articulate a time when
this trigger occurred as a part of their professional development history while employed
in the TAFE environment. However, on further questioning and exploration, all nine
people were able to describe a time when they were either disengaged from professional
development or inactive learners, either due to external work or personal life related
reasons. In two cases the time that this inactivity occurred went back to the end of their
time at high school and for three others the trigger occurred at the time of them
engaging in the Certificate IV Training and Assessment or equivalent, when they chose
to launch their career as a teacher or trainer.

For some participants, the motivational triggers took the form of the need to seek an
alternative career and therefore get a qualification as a starting point. For others it was a
case of finding something they were passionate about and then seeking the training to
support that passion. In several cases, skill development resulted in an increased desire
to engage in learning as the teacher or trainer sought further new skills to supplement
their new knowledge.

Once the existence of a motivational trigger in their individual development history was
identified, then the enthusiasm and nature of the responses in the interview changed

Becoming aware of an opportunity was the most influential environmental factor

identified, such as one person who was given a choice to undergo professional
development during an interview at Centrelink. Family was the most important internal
factor for six participants, either in a supportive sense (family understanding) or
negative sense (for example divorce creating an opportunity).

The environmental factors hierarchy and restrictions (or organisational constraints) were
discounted as either demotivators or motivators by several respondents, as were
colleagues (either in a supportive or disruptive sense), because once the motivations to
achieve a professional development outcome ‘kicked in’ then any such obstacles or
distractions were seen as challenges worthy of being overcome.

The influence of financial compensation (either to support the process or as a reward for
achievement) was seen by two respondents as a significant issue missing from Figure
Two (p. 15).

The focus of the discussion was on the major trigger points in the person’s professional
development history which often led to a career change; hence there was no opportunity
to investigate less significant trigger points that may have taken place in the person’s
ongoing employment in TAFE or a similar environment. For that reason, aspects such
as the organisational leadership and culture with a person’s ongoing role may have been
less prominent in responses to questions related to this figure.

The following diagram (Figure Three) was a resource for respondents for the next six
questions and covers other parties affecting the participants’ decision to engage in
professional development.

Hierarchy or
Mentors & Training
Teachers Institute

Teacher or
Family & Workplace
Friends Colleagues

Figure Three: Other Parties Influencing Motivational Triggers

When looking for other parties who influenced motivations for professional
development, a broad range of choices were made by the respondents covering all
suggested influencers included in Figure Three except for teachers and training institute
colleagues who were not mentioned. Participants expressed views that they would share
with their colleagues in promoting professional development, but did not feel influenced
by their TAFE peers to any significant degree.

The request for further thoughts about Figure Three drew out respondents’ desire for a
greater awareness of opportunities and clarity of organisational support (particularly
from upper management).

The responses to the final question seeking any final thoughts and contributions
highlighted aspects such as financial impact, security as a goal and parental influence as
role models.

By ensuring the timeframe being explored was extensive, it was apparent that
motivational triggers were evident at some stage in their career of all participants.
However, the timing of the trigger predated the employment in TAFE with the earliest
time recorded being the end of secondary schooling.

6. Discussion, Themes and Consequences

6.1. Introduction

The key findings ascertained from the survey and interviews provide opportunities for
further research and analysis. As these findings emerged, several immediate benefits for
the enhancement of professional development practices were identified. Each of the
findings are described separately below, complete with the impact that the finding has
on future research and any potential operational benefit for the researcher’s institution
or other similar organisations, either immediately or through further research.

6.2. Enthusiasm and Recognition

All of the participants expressed enthusiasm for their work as teachers and trainers as
well as some aspects of their professional development activities. However, Evans
(1996, p. 104) describes the midcareer disengagement as a time when ‘the challenge
dwindles and recognition plummets. Inevitably, mastery reduces the challenge-and with
it the excitement and intensity-in any activity’. Methods to rekindle enthusiasm would
produce positive consequences for those not currently effectively engaged in
professional development.

6.3. Inverse Enthusiasm

The term ‘inverse enthusiasm’ is used in this report to describe an enthusiasm for an
action that will remove a negative situation (potential or real) such as negative feedback
or inability to get a pay increment, rather than an enthusiasm for the action itself, such
as professional development for which one might get a sense of achievement directly.

At the time of joining the VET sector, each teacher or trainer knows they need to invest
time and effort to have an appropriate qualification to teach or train, the TAE40110
Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. People may choose at a later stage to
complete the Diploma qualification needed to be a Senior Educator in Victoria, which is
often undertaken solely to get the pay increment.

Hay (2011, p. 2), when talking about the first lectures he gave in higher education
describes his motivation for professional development as coming from ‘never want[ing]
to repeat awful, fearful days like that first one’. Hay went on to win an award as
Australian University Teacher of the Year in 2007. In this explanation, Hay
encapsulates the benefit of one aspect of inverse enthusiasm.

Some of the participants in this study described their negative reactions and frustration
with the work they needed to do to complete either the entry level Certificate IV
Training and Assessment or the Diploma of VET Practice. However, in several cases
the participants also described the unexpected positive consequences of undertaking the
training that only emerged over time. In other words, they had either not understood the
potential benefits because further learning was needed in the workplace or they had not
been communicated adequately at the time of the study.

The occurrence of inverse enthusiasm may be an opportunity to improve engagement in

future development by ensuring that the link to beneficial outcomes is clear to teachers
and trainers at the beginning of their careers, as well as being highlighted at appropriate
times throughout their careers.

6.4. Work Intensification and Overload

During the research conversations, the participants several times raised the issue of
increasing workload and extra duties, along with being ‘time poor’. Work load factors
affect participation in professional development, as does the available funding. A cut in

funding leads to increased productivity demands and a cut in support for professional
development both in that development offered and the ability to pay for training time
for sessional or ongoing teaching staff.

Policy environment changes affecting funding have become increasingly significant and
the latest funding cuts in the Victorian TAFE Sector are quite unpopular. Long term
funding decline is also significant with Long reporting that:

Government recurrent expenditure per hour of training declined by 11.9% between

2003 and 2008—part of a longer term trend that has seen funding per hour decline by
about 22.3% from 1997. (Long 2010, p. 3)

Following Victorian state budget cuts, a very recent resolution by the Victorian TAFE
Association said that:

Even with major staffing cuts, major cuts to program offerings and significant structural
reform, TAFE providers will not be able to meet their expected financial, service
delivery and community service obligations. (Victorian TAFE Association 2012)

Grey (2009, pp. 121-2) discusses connections between work hours, social bonds and
continuous restructuring, concluding that continuous change leads to an economy being
made ‘rootless; unconnected with places or communities’. Evans (1996, p. 98)
described mid-career teachers feeling that ‘as we begin to slow down, time seems to
speed up’ while at the same time the goals of corporations and governments become
more focussed on increasing productivity in any negotiation. This general decline in
funding and continuing change leads to disaffection with many aspects of employment
including motivation for professional development.

Based on their reported professional development activity and comments, some of the
participants appeared to have reached a point where they had ceased being optimally
engaged in professional development. Optimum engagement may be a cyclical process
and may be influenced negatively by work intensification and overload taking away
capacity to focus on professional development. For example and as reported previously,
of the fifteen participants, only six are currently engaged in substantial ongoing
professional development. Casual employment status is also a factor.

Adding the burden of professional development on an existing workload may be

counterproductive and potentially lead to inverse enthusiasm and an eventual rejection

of the extra work hours to the detriment of long term improvements for the teacher and
the institution. This aspect warrants further investigation.

6.5. Institutional Requirements

None of the participants spoke directly about the hours of professional development
they have undertaken or were able to articulate a direct organisational benefit in a
measurable format. There were some examples of personal benefit described such as an
improved understanding or enthusiasm as a result of the knowledge and skills acquired
through the process.

Although professional development is identified by some organisations or employers as

a requirement for teachers, this requirement is limited to general figures such as the
thirty hours in any one year applicable for TAFE teachers in Victoria (AEU & VTA
2009, p. 52). Some people do significantly more and some do significantly less
professional development hours than the requirements stated in workplace agreements.
However, without clearly articulated links to the strategic direction of the organisation
along with described and understood benefits to the individual and local organisation
(team, department or division) it is easy to understand why these benefits were not
spoken about with the clarity that could be hoped for. Institutional requirements do not
appear to effectively cascade down to individual actions in a way that represents
sustainable enhancement to practice and is a consideration for further investigation.

This possible disconnect between an organisation’s strategic direction and individual

understanding of their own place in that direction is a recognised issue. ‘Change begins
not just with a goal but [requires] enlisting the organization's members in the pursuit of
a compelling agenda’ (Evans 1996, p. 201). By not involving teachers in the
identification of strengths and weaknesses at an early stage in the planning process,
opportunities for clearly understanding the appropriateness of professional development
opportunities are lost.

6.6. Personal Disposition

In all cases, the individual disposition of the participant was and is an important aspect
of the level and quality of engagement in professional development. In the same way
that each student is recognised as having a different learning style and preference, so too

does the employee who is a teacher or trainer. ‘The challenge is to understand and
design professional development opportunities that honour the learner as an
individual…’ (Speck & Knipe 2001, p. 221). The difference in responses to different
questions as outlined in the previous chapter show clear evidence of the differences
between people engaged in professional development. The environmental or extrinsic
factors that encourage one person to engage effectively in professional development
differ from other people in the same target group. The intrinsic aspects that lead to
recognition of beneficial professional development opportunities are, however, not
clearly understood. Nowhere is this problem highlighted more clearly than when one
respondent says compulsory professional development is a motivator and another
describes the compulsory aspect as a demotivator.

6.7. Development of Timely and Effective Data

Some of the participants had no clear understanding of how and why engagement in
professional development would enhance their career or specifically benefit their
students. However, it is clear that an identifiable passion existed for their teaching,
students and some of their development activities. It seems that the provision of timely
and relevant data for the individual and organisation may support the decision processes
when deciding to maintain a degree of activity in professional development. A range of
data approaches and options are available but not widely used or understood within the
researcher’s institute. An example of a tool that could be applied is the POTENT
planning tool described as a tool that challenges ‘staff to think about high-quality
professional development and its impact on student learning’ (Speck & Knipe 2001, p.
146). For the best outcomes, a tool or tools that support evidence based decision making
while addressing the strategic needs of the organisation and identifying and supporting
interests of the teachers or trainers would be beneficial. As a consequence of this
finding and identified need, the researcher is developing further tools to provide the
measures appropriate to his work context.

6.8. Information and Support

The researcher’s knowledge of the issues affecting how staff members engage in
professional development was enhanced through this process. It has been ‘an impetus
for change/innovation through deepening the [researcher]’s understanding of social

processes and developing strategies to bring about improvement’(Somekh & Lewin

2005, p. 91). Because of the researcher’s professional development role, several steps
have been taken to clarify information and support available to staff when engaging in
professional development. The links to organisation strategy have been clarified and a
degree of positive feedback has already been received as a result of these changes.
Further work is being undertaken which could lead to future action research in the

6.9. Change in Recruitment Strategy

Some institutes and RTOs will not recruit teachers or trainers unless those applicants
hold the current minimum qualification (TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and
Assessment). However, there is a provision that allows a teacher or trainer to ‘work
under the direct supervision of a person who has the [TAE40110 or equivalent]’
(DEEWR 2010b, p. 84).

One way to promote enhanced professional development engagement at an institutional

level may be identifying an applicant’s engagement in professional development prior
to employment within a TAFE system. For example, some people are employed on the
basis of their vocational experience only, with no firm idea or concept of what teaching
or training is about other than a memory from school or an apprenticeship. Once they
are engaged and become aware of the need to complete a Certificate IV in Training and
Assessment, they may see the requirement as not connected with their vision of being a
teacher/trainer. If that person recently engaged in study of a formal or informal nature in
a positive way, the motivation for engagement may already be imbedded.

If there is a difference between the desired organisational culture for professional

development and what currently is the norm, then to change that culture may mean
employing people who are prepared to undertake professional development. As Evans
states ‘much of what is called a change in culture simply is not’ (Evans 1996, p. 49).
Aspects of scholarship are now being introduced to or enhanced in TAFE institutes
because of the need to recruit staff for higher education delivery. This may over time
become an example of policy motivated culture change.

6.10. Finding Alternative Reward and Recognition Strategies

Limitations of TAFE employment include public sector rules and regulations and the
consequently prescriptive and nature of documents such as the Multi Business
Agreement (AEU & VTA 2009). As employees move on in their careers, there are
opportunities to be recognised for new skills changes. As Evans (1996, p. 105) states;
‘with mastery challenge diminishes’ and ‘the loss of recognition stemming from
midcareer changes exerts a powerful negative impact on educators’ ability to sustain
performance, growth and morale’. A part of any recognition for professional
development needs to consider creative ways to recognise the value that appropriate
professional development brings to the individual, the employer and the students.

6.11. Providing Clearer Links to Validated Professional Development

The existing Victorian Multi Business Agreement does not provide anything other than
a loose degree of support for professional development, with an upper required limit of
thirty hours commitment in any one year and a single pay level distinction between
those that hold the Diploma level qualification or otherwise. Several of the participants
reported dissatisfaction with inappropriate professional development. Categorisation
and assessment of professional development is an important aspect. Guskey describes
the issues of well delivered professional development programs based on the wrong
ideas or conversely the best ideas delivered and supported poorly (Guskey 2000, p. 33).
One respondent stated that the ‘relevance of the professional development/ task, and
value’ is a factor in their motivation for professional development. A second respondent
said of choosing further training; ‘choose careful[ly] your training - make [sure] the
training is relevant to what you require’. If an institution develops a more finely tuned
model with clearer articulation of measures of quality, quantity, purposes and benefits
(including those of a non-monetary basis) of professional development, then these
responses would be addressed thereby potentially leading to more effective engagement
of an ongoing nature.

Teachers or trainers who are engaged in extensive professional development in some

cases do not limit their engagement to anything like the thirty hours a year supported
under the Multi Business Agreement. Any ‘over-engagement’ might be recognised as
valuable to some people but can go largely unsupported and unrecognised. It would be

beneficial for the institution to recognise and reward those staff members who engage in
active learning constructively.

6.12. Awareness of Learning Inactivity Versus Disengagement

Teachers or trainers have an awareness of the pitfalls of learning as it applies to their

students, including disengagement. The idea of having been disengaged from their own
learning is not something that the respondents considered or were able to contemplate
without further questioning. Whereas inactivity can be quite appropriate, ongoing
disengagement over an extended period could be problematic. Evans (1996, p. 103)
describes how midcareer leads to ‘exit-a period of several years of progressive
disengagement in which one prepares to leave or retire’. For comparison, inactivity may
be a quite legitimate response to other factors, such as one respondent who talked about
family and personal understanding: ‘we have an agreement about study – anyone can do
it, but only one of us at a time’. The question this raises for the researcher is whether
there is a potential benefit in education focussed on issues that may be encountered
during the learning journey, specifically for teacher or trainer issues and benefits, as a
way to assist people to engage more effectively for their own benefit as well as
supporting institute goals.

7. Conclusion

This research was undertaken with the intent of identifying the existence of
motivational triggers that can be used to indicate the effective engagement or re-
engagement of a TAFE teacher or trainer in professional development.

The research was limited to fifteen participants from a single TAFE college with
participants being selected from people understood to have already effectively engaged
in professional development at some recent stage.

A top-down only approach to professional development does not result in effective and
optimum engagement by teachers or trainers in VET. Appropriate organisational
guidance and support will lead to better engagement and returns for the student, teacher
or trainer and the organisation. There is a gap in understanding that prevents this goal
being achieved.

It would be beneficial if during performance management and planning meetings,

supervisors talk to individual members of staff to more clearly identify what
professional development they require or desire and how they can best be supported to
undertake it successfully.

The VET sector is under increasing pressure to become more effective in delivering
appropriate training to a larger number of students in a more cost effective manner.
Being able to develop staff efficiently in the most appropriate manner, while
maintaining and supporting high performing staff remains a goal for TAFE Institutes.
The most beneficial results may be achieved through development of professional
capability in a holistic fashion that sustains engagement by motivation for future

This research identified that professional development motivational trigger points exist
in the history of the teachers or trainers who participated. The potential benefit of
identifying how to utilise motivational factors either as an employment selection factor
or as an occurrence to foster professional development engagement, is an opportunity
for further research.


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Appendix A – Survey (Step One)

The following 29 questions were included in the first instrument provided to the
participants, which were completed by an exchange of emails and a follow up


Contact details (including phone number)

1. Are you currently or have you recently been teaching or training in the VET
2. What is your current or most recent teaching or training role?
3. How many hours a week are you employed in this role and has this changed
over time (if so how)?
4. What was the main reason you chose to become a teacher or trainer?
5. What is the trade or vocational skill that first brought you to the VET sector as
a teacher or trainer?
6. What have been your major roles since working in VET (include timeframes)?
7. Please outline training that you have undertaken with approximate dates,
either formal (accredited) or informal
8. Please identify any reasons that have prompted you to undertake the training
you have listed
9. What has been the most rewarding training you have undertaken? Why?
10. What has been the most deflating training experience? Why?
11. How would you identify your approach to training generally? E.g.
enthusiastic, ambivalent, reluctant, avoider
12. What most motivates you to undertake further training?
13. What demotivates you from doing further training?
14. Has your approach to training changed over time? If so, how and why?
15. From a personal development aspect, what has been the most important
training you have done? Why?
16. From a teaching or trainer aspect, what has been the most important training
you have done? Why?

17. What is the difference, in your opinion, between training, professional

development and education?
18. Can you think of a training experience that was more valuable than you initially
thought? What is it and how did you become aware of the different value?
19. Can you think of a training experience that was less valuable than you initially
thought? What is it and how do you become aware that it wasn’t as good as you
had hoped?
20. What does enough time and support for training mean to you? Do you have
what you need to do training presently? What would you like changed?
21. Think of a time in your work that you embraced training enthusiastically and
effectively. What made that happen for you, what sustained you and what could
or did bring it to an end?
22. What is most important to you – trade or vocational skills training or teacher
trainer skills training? How do you prioritise?
23. What would you say to others when making choices about doing further
24. What factors have affected your enthusiasm for further training and how? For
example; employment status, requirements of the job (e.g. qualification
upgrades), family commitments etc.
25. What changes in your circumstances would lead you to undertaking further
26. Do you prefer formal (e.g. accredited) or informal (e.g. collaborative projects)
as a basis for further development? Why?
27. Please describe what environmental changes would support your colleagues in
engaging effectively in further development?

Appendix B – Interview (Step Two)

The following 16 questions and three figures were included in the second instrument
provided to the participants, which were completed during a discussion, which included
a review of the first instrument (except in two cases where participants produced a draft
response to the second instrument before the discussion).

Teachers Organisation
& Trainers &

Staff Profile
Sustainability Professional e.g. age, time in
of Development role, family
Practice in VET

Performance Management

Figure One: Aspects of the Professional Development Puzzle

1. Figure One shows motivating factors that have been seen to contribute to
engagement in Professional Development (Bradley, PJ 2009; Evans 1996;
Guthrie 2010a; Speck & Knipe 2001). What do you see as the most important
aspect? Why?
2. What do you see as the least important motivating factor? Why?
3. What is missing from this picture (pick one thing)? Please describe how it
4. What issues do you see as key to achieving an organisation’s professional
development goals? Why?
5. What most motivates your work team to engage in professional development?

6. What most demotivates your colleagues to engage in professional development?


Internal & Family & Family & Feelings e.g.

Personal Personal Personal security,
factors History Understanding confidence

Ongoing Disengaged Ongoing

or Inactive Trigger?
Professional Professional
Learning Learning

Environmental Restrictions
factors Students
Opportunities Support

Figure Two: Trigger Point Concepts

7. Figure Two provides a more detailed picture of trigger points or motivating

factors. The central path shows a path for someone who may have reengaged in
further study. Is this you?
8. In the green bubbles, which aspects are most important in your opinion? Why?
9. In the green bubbles, which aspects are least important in your opinion? Why?
10. In the purple bubbles, which aspects are most important in your opinion? Why?
11. In the purple bubbles, which aspects are least important in your opinion? Why?
12. What is missing from this picture? Why? Is it important?

Hierarchy or
Mentors & Training
Teachers Institute

Teacher or
Family & Workplace
Friends Colleagues

Figure Three: Other Parties Influencing Motivational Triggers

13. Figure Three captures people or functions people hold that have been shown to
influence motivation for professional development (Bradley, PJ 2009; Evans
1996; Guthrie 2010a; Speck & Knipe 2001). In your opinion, which person has
the most influence? Why?
14. In your opinion, who has the least influence? Why?
15. Do you have any other thoughts about this figure? Are any influential groups
16. Finally; do you have any further questions or comments?