Academic, Industry and Student Perspectives on the Inclusion of "Vocational Knowledge" in a Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Statement for Agriculture

Tina Botwright Acuna, Jo-Anne Kelder, Amanda J. Able, Yann Guisard, William D. Bellotti, Glenn McDonald, Richard Doyle, Paul Wormell, Holger Meinke


This paper reports on the perspective of industry stakeholders in a national project to develop a Learning and Teaching Academic Standards (LTAS) Statement for the Agriculture discipline. The AgLTAS Statement will be aligned with the Science LTAS Statement published in 2011 and comprise a discourse on the nature and extent of the Agriculture discipline and a set of Threshold Learning Outcome (TLO) statements specific to Agriculture.

Agricultural research and teaching relies on strong links with industry due to the applied nature of the discipline. Without these links, sustainable and profitable practice change in agricultural systems cannot be achieved. A pilot project, in 2011-2012, with academic staff from three Australian universities identified vocational knowledge as a potential focus for a TLO. The AgLTAS project provides the opportunity to validate or refute this TLO by seeking input from a wider group of stakeholders, including industry. National consensus is being sought by a process of iterative consultation with academics, students and industry stakeholders and tested across four Australian universities. We have collected qualitative and quantitative data from industry participants who attended a series of workshops across most Australian States and Territories and through an online survey. Surprisingly, and contrary to the findings of the pilot project, industry representatives considered vocational knowledge of lesser importance to the need for students to attain highly developed problem solving and communication skills that can generate new opportunities and innovation in agriculture. Industry-specific (vocational) knowledge was generally regarded as attainable during on-the-job training after graduation. This finding prompts the question whether the AgLTAS Statement should be linked to professional accreditation that may be attained after graduation.



Threshold learning outcomes, vocational knowledge, curriculum design

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