The scholarly activity of Higher Education lecturers in TAFE and the role of the TAFE library

Paul Kloppenborg

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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At the core of this study is the move by Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions to deliver undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs and how TAFE libraries have tried to support that move. This study considers the impact this has had on HE (Higher Education) teaching staff within TAFE and how they manage to undertake scholarly activity within institutions lacking a research tradition.

Historically, TAFE’s role was in providing Government-supported vocationally oriented education for people who did not proceed to professional higher education. TAFE’s focus was on training package delivery and a context that particularises skills and knowledge to workplace tasks or roles. However, the last 20 years or so has seen a move towards the introduction of HE degrees, seen by TAFE as broadening and deepening the range and type of qualifications they offer in order to survive in an increasingly competitive and contested educational marketplace.

There has been limited research of the impact of this move into HE by TAFE. This current study seeks to assess how HE lecturers in TAFE manage to undertake scholarship and research in this vocationally oriented environment and the level of support they receive from the organisation itself and, in particular, the TAFE library. The methodology takes a qualitative, constructivist, grounded theory approach with a focus on participant views. Two groups of participants, librarians and HE lecturers, were selected from four Victorian TAFE institutions delivering HE qualifications. During 2015, forty-nine interviews were undertaken.

Analysis of the interviews revealed that lecturers felt there was a lack of support for research and scholarship opportunities within TAFE. This was emphasised by institutional constraints such as excessive teaching loads and a lack of administrative support, as well as a culture that saw discipline-based research as subsidiary to teaching. Lecturers also found the TAFE library ill-equipped to meet their scholarly information needs and developed workaround solutions to enable them to pursue research activities. Most lecturers felt that the library was teaching and student centric, marginal to their research activity.
Library staff reported a lack of resourcing and limited infrastructure to assist HE lecturers in their research. They pointed out that the numbers involved in HE were small and that building working relationships with lecturers could be difficult. This was exacerbated by the widespread use of sessional, part-time and contract teaching staff. The need to provide access to a wider range of electronic resources, possibly through greater use of consortia, was seen by all as a major way in which they could give more support to HE lecturers and students.

In summary, scholarly activities and undertaking research were seen as integral to their HE identity by lecturers. Such activities were not necessarily prioritised by their employing institution, which focused on their other duties such as teaching and administration. The theory that emerged from this research is that there is a disputed notion between HE lecturers and TAFE institutions about what scholarship and research mean and how they should be incorporated into the role of HE lecturers. This in turn affects the TAFE library and its ability to adequately support HE researchers with a flow-on impact on the scholarly information seeking behaviour of TAFE HE lecturers as they work around these constraints.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Kennan, Mary Anne, Principal Supervisor
  • Qayyum, Asim, Co-Supervisor
  • Pymm, Bob, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date05 Dec 2020
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 05 Dec 2020


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