Recontextualisationand lecturer re-interpretation of vocational knowledge in a South African Hospitality Studies curriculum
Dr Mary Madileng and MsRudoMazhinyeWits School of EducationCentre for Researching Education and Labour (REAL)Acknowledgements: WIL project funded by the European Union, facilitated by the DHET
Introduction: Research focus
How is disciplinary knowledge, practical skills and work experience integrated into a Hospitality Studies vocational education programme and how do the lecturers interpret such a curriculum?Clear and specified content knowledge can facilitate effective progression and sequencing of content which can, in turn, give greater epistemological access.Hospitality Studies lecturers need an understanding of therecontextualisingprocess of the curriculum design and their role in the process of transforming classroom discourse.TVETeducators to foreground different forms of knowledge – ‘the know that’, ‘skills’ and the ‘know-how’, each with their own ‘logics’
What does Hospitality Studies programme entail?
Hospitality Studies is one of the programmes offered in TVET colleges.Aims to provide students with theoretical and practical skills to operate as a cook, waitron or accommodation assistant in various hospitality establishments.The programme includes some client service and human relations skills.It is made up of three compulsory subjects: English First Additional Language, Mathematical Literacy, and Life Orientation. In addition, students are also registered for four vocational subjects: Hospitality Generics, Food Preparation, Client Services and Human Relations, and Hospitality Services.
Vocational knowledge in a vocational curriculum
Bernstein (1996, 2000) -‘pedagogic device’ explains the social locations of knowledge and how knowledge is authorised and distributed at different levels of power structures-describes the relationship between ‘who says it’, the ‘voice of membership’, and ‘what is said’ (a way of thinking about how social structures in the pedagogic discourse determine who gets what knowledge and how)Curriculum producers as well as the reproducers need to differentiate and find a balance between theoretical knowledge or knowledge that requires systematic study, and practical ‘know-how’ that can usually be acquired ‘by doing’ in vocational sector. (Young and Gamble, 2006; Young, 2006, 2008,2009; Winch, 2013,Wheelahan, 2015)
WILhas been identified as a way of equipping students with knowledge and skills that prepare them for the workplace. Increasingly, attention has been focused upon learning in the workplace through on-the-job training or WIL- a dual training system which brings together theory and practice needed for anoccupation (Abeysekera, 2006).WILexperiences provide students with a bridge between the academic present and their professionalfuture (Mutereko&Wedekind,2015)Onthe contrary, the critics of theoreticalknowledgedismiss the idea that theoretical knowledge has a significant bearing on knowledge-how (Ryle, 1949 cited in Winch 2009;Carrcited in Winch 2010;Kerschensteinercited in Winch 2006).
Research design and methodology
Data were collected at three TVET colleges in Gauteng that offer Hospitality Studies programme.Document analysis was used in combination with other qualitative research methods as a means of contrasting and comparing findings to determine how the Hospitality Services curriculum isrecontextualised.The documents that were analysed were the NC(V) Hospitality Services Level 2–4 Subject Guidelines (SGs).Hospitality Services is one of the courses that make up the Hospitality Studies programme. The subject covers housekeeping, food and beverage services and front office.As an additional data source, five NCV hospitality lecturers from three TVET colleges in Gauteng were interviewed. The issues that were discussed included perspectives of the lecturers about the nature of the Hospitality Services curriculum, their perceptions on the relationship between the Hospitality Services curriculum and the needs of industry, and how the lecturers incorporated theory into practice in the teaching and learning processes.Themes that emerged from the data and the literature included: an understanding of theoretical and practical knowledge in a vocational curriculum, views about how WIL is covered in the intended curriculum, what the lecturers claimed they taught in their classrooms, and how they did this.
Curriculum topics – Hospitality Services
In examining the Hospitality Services curriculum, I noted the following:The intended curriculum is outcomes-based designedIt displays a lack of conceptual integration, knowledge sequence and progression.At Level 2 the topics cover some descriptions of concepts and their functions such as ‘glassware; cookery and cutlery; counter, takeaway and drinks services’.The Level 3 and 4 topics denote an expansion of content knowledge covered at Level 2. They cover application of knowledge such as ‘provide a table drinks and services; maintain housekeeping supplies; provide a silver service; maintain the drinks service’.Some topics have been repeated across these levels. It is not easy to differentiate the level of complexity between content knowledge covered at Level 3 and 4 of the curriculum.I chose to analyse only the learning outcomes under the topic ‘drinks services’ which cuts across the three levels of the NCV programme in the analysis. The themes followed in unpacking the knowledge representation of the outcomes: practical and theoretical knowledge; WIL and soft skills in vocational education and training.
Practical knowledge versus theoretical knowledge
No clear infusion of theory into practice-outcomes focus more on the acquisition of practical knowledge and relatively little on theory, especially at Level 3 and 4 which potentially makes them difficult to interpret.The practical knowledge learning outcomes are characterised by terms such as ‘serve, set up, implement, dispose, devise’-focus is on the ‘know-how’ of the curriculum as identified in the following examples:Serveand clear bottled winesDisposeof waste and refuse hygienically. Understand the need to restrict access to drinks service areas.Few theoretical knowledge ‘know-that’ related outcomes are identified by terms such as: ‘explain, discuss, describe, identify, understand’. These are mostly included in the Level 2 curriculum. For example:Identifydrinks service items and understand how to handle, clean and store each item.Explainthe drinks selection available and advise customers by using basic selling skills.Some learning outcomes seem to be difficult to interpret due to the way in which they are expressed-unclear whether the requirement is theory-based or practice-based . For example,‘Identifyprocedures for handling, cleaning and storing food service items’,‘Dealwith accidents, breakages and spillages’,
WIL as a component part of the NC(V) Hospitality curriculum
Thereare visible learning outcomesin the curriculum thatillustrate practice but not specifically in the industry-based setting.Students’ competencies in the achievement of the outcomes can be assessed both in the college simulation rooms and workshops, and in the workplace, but the SGs did not allocate time for practice in theworkplace.E.g.Take a drinks order according to procedure.Set up the order using the correct equipment and present correctly for service.NC(V) HospitalityStudies programmeas currentlypresentedmight not have sufficient contact with the hospitality industry to help students develop the skills that industry desires.
Soft skills in vocational training
The learning outcomes were analysed according to thefollowing soft skills:communication skills, team-work, time management, personal traits, writing skills, and basic life skills.Theanalysed learning outcomes did not reflect knowledge that relate to the imparting of these soft skills to the students
Lecturer 101 conceded that in his first year of teaching he found it difficult to interpret the Subject and Assessment Guideline documents into a concrete teaching programme and content. He also affirmed that he had never been into industry before, not even duringtraining.…the documents are sketchy, and besides, the learning outcomes show the intention of assessments. I would say, our curriculum is more of an assessment one. I think I could have been in a better position if I had a teacher training qualificationLecturers102 and103enjoyed teachingL2students and thatthe L3 and L4students were more challenging. Both participants had industry-based training for 18 months as part of their NATED N diploma training.Lecturer104 enjoyed teaching at all the levels of the NCV programme. The fact that she did not have experience of the teaching profession was achallengefor her. She struggled to interpret some outcomes statements and practical activities and preferred to follow the textbookmethod.Lecturer 105 had a qualification in the hospitality trade and was also a qualified teacher. Had the basis of teaching methodology. She worked in the hospitality industry with no interruption for two years and also went to the workplace for WIL during training for nine months.It is essential to know what is going on in the hospitality industry. That helps you to share your experiences with your students and use appropriate examples in your lessons. You get an experience of how the industry functions and how people work together
Perceptions on howthecurriculumrecontextualisedtheoretical and practical knowledge in the design of the Hospitality curriculum
Lecturer101 & 105-the learningoutcomeswere more inclined towards theory thanpractice.Incomparison to practical knowledge, theoretical knowledge in many instances dominated what was offered by way of the curriculum.The timetable is designed to favour a theoretical laden curriculum than practice.Lecturer 104 -theyspent most of their time with students, providing a lot of drilling exercises theoretically, to ensure that students master concepts in preparation for the examination.Lecturer102 -thecurriculum was designed in a form of a list of outcomes that were subjected to individual lecturer interpretation.[T]he document that is supposed to guide us in our preparation is just a list of outcomes. We have to decide whether we teach students the concepts theoretically orpractically.Lecturer 103-at L2, many concepts are explained, while at L3 and 4, there are many activities and casestudies. The timetabledidnot allocate enough time for practical work, so most of the activitiesaredone in a form ofassignments.
Lecturer understandingof WIL and its importance totraining
Lecturer 101 never had WIL exposure but felt that it was important.Lecturer 102,103 &104 had WIL exposure andenjoyed it.L102strongly believed that TVET Hospitality Studies students would benefit more if allowed to apply college knowledge in a real industrysetting.Lecturer 103 did her WIL in a restaurant. That is a different experience from a hotel which offers varied experiences such as reception, bookings, and bedroom services, which restaurants do notoffer-TVET students would benefit more if allowed to experience a hotel environment in theirtraining.L104was surprised that the NCV curriculum did not have a WIL component. For her, that was depriving the students of an opportunity to internalise their learning and experiment with newtechnologies.Lecturer 105 said that she understood WIL and that it wasimportant. For her,Learning in the workplace helped students keep abreast of technological developments in order to maintain a competitive edge. The students also get to attain the soft skills that employers mostly put emphasis upon when they advertise jobs..
Conclusions, implications and recommendations
The content knowledge for the NCV Hospitality curriculum does not seem to have any balance of theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge as suggested byresearch.The importance of the WIL experience cannot be denied as students could be exposed to the realities and the competencies that they require in the workplace.Synergies between hospitality related industries, curriculum designers and TVET colleges is essential to assist in the design of the credit bearing WIL component of the curriculum since it has emerged is that this aspect is not fully practised by TVET colleges as it is not a part of the NC(V) curricula.Thelack of partnerships between industry and education to assist in the inclusion of current and relevant knowledge and skills in training is futile.WILand the impartation of generic skills are not addressed on the SGs; both of which are important in building a graduate that has a bountiful of employable skills that are desired by industry.the extent to which students are engaged with underlying knowledge principles depends to a large extent on the lecturer’s pedagogical training, subject expertise and specialised knowledge as well as access to other resources.