Rethinking adult and vocational education: hauling in from maritime domain.




Emad, Gholam Reza

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This dissertation investigates the nature of learning and knowing in adult formal vocational education and training. In a two-year period, I attended a training institute in western Canada and collected data from a variety of courses that were designed for practitioners to initiate a career or promote their rank in maritime industries. My research consists of four separate yet interrelated studies that, as a whole, comprise core chapters of this dissertation. I used video-mediated ethnography as my method to record and socio-cultural and situated perspectives as my primary framework to analyze and better understand my research data, participants’ interactions, and the learning and knowing possibilities in the course of the activities. In my first study, I looked at the assessment system for certification, a major impediment and contradiction that prevents the current vocational education system from reaching its objectives. I analyzed how current practices adversely affect the performance of the system and how it can be improved. In the second study, I examined and addressed the shortcomings of vocational education policies. I proposed a conceptual framework for policy analysis and design that affords the reduction or elimination of the current impediments in the implementation processes. In the third study, I developed the concept of quasi-community as a theoretical framework for theorizing the learning and teaching of adult practitioners in formal educational settings. I theorized learning as the membership and co-participation in a quasi-community developed by its members. The aim of a quasi-community is to create an interactive environment for the participants to share their expertise and utilize cultural resources in order to provide opportunities for collective activities and collaborative learning. In my final study, I focused on a new phenomenon in workplaces, namely the introduction of technology and the demand it created for change in educational systems. Based on the concept of quasi-community, I proposed a distinct pedagogical method for adult technology education. This dissertation provides empirical evidence that the conceptual framework of quasi-community allows for the creation of effective pedagogies that provide authentic learning opportunities for adult learners to develop vocational and technological competencies required in their workplaces.



Adult education, Vocational education and training, Maritime education and training, Career and technical education, Quasi-communities of practice, Quasi-community, Educational policy, Boundary object, Technology education and training