Investigating learning through work: The development of the Provider Learning Environment Scale

By Clive Chappell, Geof Hawke Research report 7 November 2008 ISBN 978 1 921412 72 1 print; 978 1 921412 73 8 web


This research examines how vocational education and training (VET) providers can create an environment where learning becomes a central, natural, ongoing and integral part of the way they work. It does this by exploring what research says are the key features needed to foster effective learning in the workplace. It then uses this research to develop and trial an instrument which larger providers can use to assess their organisation's learning environment. A set of questions in the fact sheet supporting this report will help smaller providers consider how good their learning environment is.


About the research

There has, perhaps, been too great an emphasis on formalised approaches to professional and workforce development in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. While formal programs like Reframing the Future are important, it is also time to give greater consideration to how to more effectively embed learning into the routine work of VET providers. If nothing else, more effective workplace learning will help them to achieve a competitive advantage through the people they employ.

This research, which is part of the wider research program examining ways to build VET provider capability, used a literature review (see the support documents) to explore the characteristics of organisations which have established effective workplace learning processes.

This information helped the researchers to develop and trial an instrument - the Provider Learning Environment Scale. The scale can be used by training providers to determine whether they have a working environment that encourages learning; it can also help them to consider how to create or improve that environment. It contains two domains - 'organisational development' and 'job complexity' - and is supported by a user's guide (see the support documents).

The scale needs a sample size of 50 or more to get sufficiently robust data. However, a 'facts sheet' (see the support documents) provides a series of questions to help smaller providers and small organisational units within larger ones to assess the effectiveness of their learning through their work.

Those interested in other projects within the wider program on building VET provider capability should visit

Tom Karmel
Managing Director, NCVER


nr04025pra5 .pdf 827.1 KB Download
nr04025pra5 .doc 3.1 MB Download
Investigating learning through work: What the literature says .pdf 390.7 KB Download
Investigating learning through work: Learning environment scale .doc 205.5 KB Download
user guide to the provider .pdf 246.3 KB Download
Improving your organisation's workplace learning: Factsheet .doc 1.5 MB Download

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