I’ve managed to study a lot in my life. But I’ve always struggled when I go “outside my area” in one way or another. When I swapped unis (and states) after one year of my undergrad degree I had to take another first year unit to suit the new uni’s course structure. And I could barely pass it! I did pass, but I didn’t do well as I had already moved on in my study, so going “back” to first year thinking and expectations was actually quite hard.
Don’t Learn, You Might Get The Answers Right!
Firstly, a general disclaimer. Overall, I think learning is good. Sometimes you go to uni to learn. Sometimes it’s TAFE. Other times is private self-study, or on the job. There are lots of ways and no one way is correct, either for you or for the topic.
Is this why I’ve never understood TAFE grading in Australia? Pass/Fail doesn’t teach you squat. https://t.co/M1DltETV95
— Vanessa Smith (@normal_ness) January 8, 2018
I have never studied in the Australian vocational sector. My personal experience of it is quite limited. I once tried to help Ben when he tried a uni entry prep course and I found the questions were ridiculously convoluted, as if making it impossible to understand a simple question made it a challenge and therefore you were learning. I stopped helping him because I made it worse, frankly. I wrote it off as a load of crap. (It may not be, but it was from my perspective. However, I’m also not the target person for that course, so that might explain it.)
(Or it might be crap.)
I’ve never understood how pass/fail teaches you what you got right, wrong and where you need to improve. I’m not a teacher or educational expert of any kind, but I’ve been a student and I read the feedback I get from assessment every time. Because I learn from it.
The best example I have of not understanding the TAFE/vocational sector actually came when I was at a two day first aid training course, quite a few years ago now. We had a great instructor the first day. So engaging, he got everyone into the content and made sure people really understood it.
The second day we had just an average person teaching us. It wasn’t the worst in the world but we all missed the guy from the first day. Anyway, on the second day of the first aid course, we had a written test. And in that test, there was a question on a medical topic that we hadn’t covered at all in the two days.
Those of us who finished the test early were hanging out in the foyer so we didn’t disturb others. We were talking about that question we’d all had no knowledge of. Conveniently, the instructor from the first day was walking past. We said hello and stopped him to ask about that random question. He said that they are not allowed to teach the answers to all of the tests in the course, otherwise everyone will get everything correct. And he implied that this is just how the vocational sector works.
How is it considered education if you’re not allowed to teach the content to answer the questions on the test? What is wrong with people answering questions correctly; ON A FIRST AID TEST? “Sorry, we can’t cover this content that you might need to know as a first aider because otherwise we’ll look bad that everyone got the answers right.” How is that (apparently) a thing?
Have you ever studied in the vocational sector? Do you find you learn from pass/fail, or do you like detailed feedback?