The CAVSS Experience

A Snapshot from a CAVSS Lecturer.

Being a CAVSS (Course in Applied Vocational Study Skills) lecturer over the previous two years has been a very rewarding experience. Understanding the need for such support is essential. Many students for whatever reason, have literacy and numeracy issues that were not addressed at school. This often leads to students feeling despondent and unsure of their capabilities. As a school teacher previously, it is easy to recognize how this feeling of low self-esteem can manifest itself in certain behavior in a learning environment.

For these reasons, I found forming a relationship with the students over an extended period of time was essential. Initially you are seen to be just another lecturer working through the competencies to be achieved. However, if you can set up a relationship that exists in and out of the classroom and workshop, your chances of success are that much greater. A sense of humour and good listening skills will go a long way to help yourself and students achieve success.

I have found that working with students and lecturers over an extended period allows relationships and camaraderie to build up. Moving in and out of classrooms and workshops on a regular basis, irrespective of CAVSS support, also allows students and fellow lecturers incidental support and for students to ask for individual assistance in various areas that they may be reluctant to raise in a more formal environment.

Being a CAVSS lecturer also gives you the opportunity to meet a wide and diverse range of students and staff across a range of portfolios throughout the college. The tag-teaching role ensures the literacy and numeracy support delivered is very relevant to all VET training activities and is seen as “normal” delivery. A thoroughly fun and rewarding experience.

Tony Cogan – CAVSS Lecturer at Durack Institute of Technology, Geraldton

via Helen Smith (CAVSS Local Leaders Network))

Digital Technology is the way to connect with students

As we are encouraged to make learning purposeful I have tried to engage my students (Cert 1 – 2 boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Yr 12) in writing that suits their career pathway or interest.  Fortunately both have career pathways in food and hospitality and are quite computer savvy.

Some task for Engage & create were:

Learning Purposes

  • Complete 3 pre-selected online food safety quizzes (interactive, images), discuss the Elements and then design their own multiple choice quiz from a food safety booklet then give the quiz to the other student.
  • From one of the completed online quizzes, create an instruction text for the other student on how to access the website, complete and printout the certificate.

Community Purposes:

  • Read a number of school newsletters from own school and source others on the internet, discuss the Elements and create your own about the topic/tasks completed in your class.  Watch a How to ‘You Tube” on Publisher Newsletter templates and create your newsletter for others to read.

Personal Purposes:

  • Read, listen to and watch online a number of radio adverts, discuss Elements, create your own advert and record on mp3 and download onto a computer file. One student chose a fundraising BBQ with some local celebrities attending.

As my students are visual, aural and kinaesthetic learners and not straight writing or paper based, using digital literacy has always been the way to motivate them.  I am excited that the new CGEA is coming into the 21st century though many lecturers have used this technology now they will have to embrace it more and update their own digital skills.  Moodle, iPad Apps, Scootle (Ed Dept) and online bookmarking such as SymbalooEdu and blogs I will also need to upskill in.  Thanks to Jo Hart’s recent Webinar on “Digital texts, digital safety – what’s the connection” it has really started me thinking how I can connect more with my students.

Janet McArtney

CAVSS in the digital age

Technology has become an important component of adult education and training.

When I first started delivering the Course in Applied Vocational Study Skills (CAVSS) there was no computer in sight. Over the past decade I have seen an increase in use and need for technology. I teach with a number of lecturers in a variety of industries (Trades, Aged Care, Disability). Much of my work is with Cert III in Engineering (Fabrication). Many apprentices have unrealistic expectations of Engineering. They expect it to be a practical subject and are unprepared for the amount of theory and mathematics involved. And increasingly, we use technology as part of training and in the workplace. Technology has become an important component of their training.

Students access course information and assignments from Blackboard which also has web links, presentations and videos. They use the internet to research and access information and watch videos from web sites such as Miller’s welding video library and YouTube. Some of their assessments are online. They create workplace journals on the computer and upload photos from their mobile phones.

There are learning guides, charts, tables, manuals and drawings to read and interpret. A huge demand for literacy and numeracy skills.


FabricationToolbox 300px A good resource is theTotal Fabrication flexible learning toolbox

Each day, the apprentices use maths skills in their jobs in order to complete projects and other job duties. Maths is used to determine material requirements and costs, interpret drawings and specifications, draw using measurements, and read codes.

There are countless resources on the internet for maths. I will illustrate just one here.

Apprentices learn to draw using only a compass, straightedge and pencil (Construction in geometry). These construction techniques give tools to draw things when direct measurement is not appropriate.

These skills are transferred to marking out on sheet metal using, dividers, steel rule and scribe.

Many of the apprentices cannot understand the written instructions and find a demonstration of the steps easier to follow.

A useful site is: step by step instructions and animations.Example: constructing a 90° angle 90deg angle 300px

The apprentices are required to interpret technical drawings and sketch isometric projections. Many students find instructions in a book are difficult to follow. Students have found the following video useful and inspiring.


Apprentices use a number of Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD) programs. Autosketch is used to create precision drawings. See the simple example to the right. Autosketch eg 250px

Apprentices learn to construct templates using geometric development. They develop the templates on paper or on sheet metal. Lots of maths skills and knowledge required. Reading and following instructions on geometric development is quite daunting for many of the apprentices. The Total Fabrication Toolbox has a section on template making.

Constructing shapes using triangulation is particularly difficult for apprentices to learn. They find a demonstration useful.  I assist with each step, drawing, measuring and calculating. Another strategy is to watch an Animation. Follow link for demonstration on constructing transitional shapes.

 square to round 250px The apprentices use a program, Plate ‘n’ Sheet Development, to generate templates and check their layout and measurements.I needed to learn how to operate this program so that I would be of use to the students.There are a number of mathematical concepts, including geometry and measurement, which students need to know to be able to complete this task.


In addition to providing traditional literacy and numeracy support I am increasingly providing more digital literacy support.

Technology may provide the motivation to learn the theory and mathematics adults need for their training and in the workplace and it may facilitate more meaningful learning for them.

Lina Zampichelli

CAVSS Lecturer

C Y O’Connor Institute




25 years helping with driving licences

Rachael Marriette is now back on the road after completing Karrayili Adult Education Centre’s Driver Education programme. Rachael enrolled in the programme over a year ago to help her pass her theory test, acquire a Learner’s Permit, get professional driving lessons and pass her driving test.

The Driver Education course was delivered under the Certificates in General Education for Adults (Introductory) and gave Rachael the opportunity to slowly work through all the licensing requirements getting the literacy support she needed.

“This course really helped me to work on my licence,” Rachael said. “If I didn’t get help from Karrayili it would’ve taken me longer to do it. It was really good and the teachers made sure I kept going and didn’t give up. I’m happy now that I’ve got my licence back so that I can drive my kids around and use it for my new job.”

Fiztroy Crossing AustraliaKarrayili has been delivering Driver Education for the last 25 years supporting Fitzroy Crossing, town communities and communities of the Fitzroy Valley. For more information contact General Education Coordinator, Emilia Biemmi Beurteaux on 08 9191 5333.


First published in ACAL eNews

A week in the life of a Kimberley lecturer

From the outset, let’s be clear: these events actually happened and in the timeframe mentioned, but they are not the everyday experience of those who work in the Kimberley. This was an OMG week.

We were down a lecturer in Derby and I was without substantial work for the time- my project having reached a point where the work was with the publisher. So I was packed off to Derby to fill in for 6 weeks. It’s now spun out to 12 weeks but that’s another story.

In the first week I drove my own car- one that is not well suited to the Kimberley but OK for the trip I needed to do. After teaching a full day I was off to my accommodation for the night: a cattle station just out of town. After coping with the fact that it was located next door to the old (now closed- but I didn’t know that at the time) Derby Leprosarium (Yes- a leper colony!) I missed the turn to the station and drove another 47km up Gibb River Rd looking for something that looked like the right turn off. That’s one way of discovering the Kimberley- just wasn’t the one I planned. I flagged down an oncoming work ute and asked the guys in it for assistance. As it turned out they didn’t know where they were either and were no use at all. I was later to discover that this was a terribly risky thing to have done. It seems there are stories of ‘things’ happening along that road.

As I had passed the leprosarium (also known as Bungerun) I’d noticed a white 4WD with a guy sitting outside looking into the truck at a woman. I considered stopping but something felt ‘off’ so I’d kept driving (another 47km as it turned out). Later that night at dinner, the manager of the cattle station asked me if I’d noticed the 4WD. I said yes, she told me that she had stopped to see if they were OK and had been told to keep going, the police were on the way: the woman in the 4WD was dead. It seems she may have jumped out of the 4WD while it was moving. Intuition is a wonderful thing!

In the following week, I drove the work ute to Derby that I was given for the job, having left at first light from Broome. A few kilometers out of Willare I hit a roo. She’d run in front of the ute and got to the other side safely, but then turned around and ran back under the wheels of the ute. I’m since told this is a usual thing for roos to do. I’ve never taken a life before and it was very distressing despite many others saying that one less roo was a good thing. One hundred kilometers later, the rear tyre blew spectacularly while I was doing 110km/hr. I hung on to the steering wheel with a death grip as the ute bounced around the road a little closer to an oncoming road train with four very large trailers behind, than I would have liked. I managed to pull over safely and got a very rattled phone call through to my manager to send help. I was counting myself rather lucky to have managed the 1 minute of mobile phone connection as it isn’t known for being very reliable around the Curtin Detention Centre area and I didn’t have a satellite phone as an alternative. Cutting a long story short, I was actually rescued by a passing Pindan Solutions guy with an angle grinder who was able to cut off the lock (for which I had no key!) on the spare tyre and changed it for me. I still need to learn how to change a tyre. I am deeply indebted to him and his wife for not leaving me stranded there- also too to the Willare Roadhouse woman who stopped and took a message to the college for me.

A few days later I was settled into a house in Derby for the bulk of the rest of my stay. I’d shopped and bought a basic kit for the house and all was looking up. Across the road from the house is bush with the most beautiful boabs through which the sun sets. Truly breathtaking! But then came my next lesson.

Just about sunset a small group of Aboriginal people were going for a walk through the bush with their dogs. A few minutes later they all walked back out again- with dinner over their shoulder- a snake or goanna (called a ‘barney’ here). It then came sharply into focus that many of my students may live in western style homes but that they still live very closely to their traditional practices.

Conversations with my students have since convinced me that continuing traditional practices is a good way of fighting the depression and poor self esteem that many of the men in particular feel here. Providing food for the family and keeping culture alive is important.

And that was the first 6 days of working in Derby. The following days were a little quieter but everyday was still a story on its own.

Julie Esson