The focus of CPIT's research month: Practical research solutions

October 2012


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CPIT’s research month in August highlighted the institute’s focus on practical research that can be applied in workplace settings across a range of sectors.

As part of CPIT’s research month, staff delivered around 60 research-focused presentations covering business, the arts, education, trades, construction, health, and the community sector.

CPIT chief executive Kay Giles says the institute is committed to developing innovative and practical research. “Research is essential if organisations are to thrive in dynamic, evolving environments, keep their skills current and succeed.

“At CPIT we have the capabilities to produce research that can inform and help to improve industry performance. We work closely with our industry partners to identify relevant research needs and opportunities.”

Giles believes that when it comes to directing resources to research with practial applications, CPIT is in step with international trends.

Social work research in the workplace

Research projects from various areas of the institute demonstrated the value of practical research to local and international contexts.

CPIT students helping Christchurch’s frontline social work agencies to better engage with research was one such example.

The joint CPIT and University of Canterbury project ‘Promoting research literacy during the social work practicum’ was developed to strengthen research capability in the industry, says CPIT Human Services Programme Leader Jane Maidment, one of four researchers involved.

“Social work is about clinical practice but also social policy and research. Social workers do all three aspects but traditionally we have focussed on direct practice,” she says.

An initial report, published in Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, found that social work agencies often grapple with a lack of time and confidence in conducting effective research.

The social work students helped address this shortfall whilst gaining invaluable experience, working for six weeks with organisations such as Alzheimers Canterbury, Lifeline, and Presbyterian Support.

Funded by Ako Aotearoa, the project has produced a DVD and research facilitation flash cards to stimulate discussion about research and is ongoing.

Trades embrace research potential

Trades tutors, despite usually coming from industry rather than academic backgrounds, are also embracing the power of research. CPIT welding and fabrication tutor Flip Leijten is part of a community of researchers at CPIT’s Trades Innovation Institute.

His research into peer learning in a vocational setting has interesting implications for those who teach trades.

Leijten’s year-long study of four different trades classes at CPIT found that introducing peer learning strategies accelerated students’ understanding of core subject content, but also had unexpected benefits, such as improved communication skills and providing valuable feedback to tutors.

When a peer learning environment and interaction was encouraged, students were more likely to share their learning and work together to develop solutions to challenges.

While peer learning is not a new concept, it has not traditionally been applied to trades and vocational learning.

Leijten’s project, funded by

Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub and mentored by Dr Selena Chan at CPIT, has been presented at conferences in New Zealand and Australia. A guide for trades teachers and tutors has also been developed. n