Professional Development for Teachers Working with International Students

Research paper by Ly Thi Tran, Rinos Pasura

Indexed on: 10 Nov '17Published on: 08 Nov '17Published in: Vocations and Learning


The commercialisation of education and the massive recruitment of international students across different vocational education and training (VET) systems including the US, UK, Canada and Australia have led to significant changes in the VET teaching and learning landscape. This situation compels the VET sector to design and develop new professional development programs to support the immediate and changing needs of teachers working with the diverse international student cohort. However, to date, teacher professional development in response to the growing population of international students has not been an explicit focus of empirical study and theoretical conceptualisation in VET research. This study responds to this paucity. It draws on a broader three-year research project funded by the Australian Research Council (2014–2017) that involves fieldwork, participation in and observation of staff professional development activities and interviews with 102 VET staff in Australia. It uses positioning theory as a conceptual framework to examine how VET teachers position themselves and their professional development needs in response to international students. The results call for a critical need to re-examine the focus of the current professional development programs offered for VET teachers. The current context requires teacher professional development in international VET to focus on developing teachers’ capabilities to re-examine their pedagogical beliefs and practices and to understand international students’ various needs and cultural backgrounds. The study also stresses the importance of ongoing professional learning to equip teachers with the skills and knowledge to appropriate their pedagogical practices in response to the critical need to prepare all students for the intercultural labour market and to use students’ diversity as a resource for teaching and learning.