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Associate Professor Michele Simons 

Position: Volunteer Associate Professor Michele Simons
Division/Portfolio: Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences
School/Unit: School of Education
Campus: Magill Campus
Office: G4-19
Telephone: +61 8 830 26427
Fax: +61 8 830 24394
Email: Michele_dot_Simons_at_unisa_dot_edu_dot_au
URL for Business Card: http://people.unisa.edu.au/Michele.Simons

I have worked at the University of South Australia since 1993 in a variety of roles including research assistant, tutor and as a lecturer. Immediately prior to coming to the University I worked in the community as a Manager of a Family Relationships Education Program in a non-government welfare organisation

I am currntly Program Director for the Bachelor of Education (Adult, Vocational and Workplace Learning).

Teaching interests

  • Faciltating adult learning in formal insitutions, community based and informal settings such as workplaces
  • Assessment and recognition of learning in adult learning
  • Curriculum/program development and evaluation for adult, vocational and workplace learning sites
  • The theory and practice of evaluation

I teach the following courses

EDUC 1061Assessment and Recognition of Learning in Adult, Vocational and Workplace Learning Contexts
EDUC 2045Program Development in Adult, Vocational and Workplace Contexts
EDUC 3045The Educator as Counsellor
EDUC 4135Workplaces as Learning Sites
EDUC 5121Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
(This course is not currently being taught)
EDUC 4158Contesting Curriculum

Professional associations

Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA)

Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE)

Australasian Evaluation Society (AES)

Council for the Humanties, Arts and Social Sciences


Bachelor of Social Science (Human Services / Adult and Community Education)

Ph D (University of South Australia)

Research interests

  • Vocational Education and Training - learning and training in workplaces; apprenticeships and traineeships; competency-based training
  • Workforce development; career development
  • Theory and practice of evaluation
  • Quantitative research methods

Research publications

Harris, R, Willis, P, Simons, M & Underwood, F (1998). Learning the job: Juggling the messages in on- and off-job training. Leabrook: NCVER. ISBN: 0-87397-463-8.

Simons, M, Harris, R & Willis, P (1994). Pathways to marriage: learning for married life in Australia, Adelaide: University of SA. ISBN: 0-86803-085-X, ERIC document ED 397-260.

Harris, R, Simons, M, Willis, P & Barrie, A (1992). Love, sex and water-skiing: the experience of pre-marriage education in Australia. Adelaide: University of SA. ISBN: 0-86803-058-9, ERIC document ED 397-261.

Harris, R & Simons, M (2008). ‘Becoming one of them: the experience of institution-based educators providing training in companies in Australia, in Kimble, C, Hildreth, P & Bourdon, I, Communities of Practice. Creating Learning Environments for Educators, IAP, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Harris, R & Simons, M (2004). ‘VET practitioners – their changing work and professional development’, in Kell, P, Singh, M & Shore, S, Adult education @21st century: Global futures in theory and practice, New York: Peter Lang.

Strickland, A. Simons, M, Harris, R, Robertson, I & Harford, M (2001). ‘On-and-off-the-job approaches to learning and assessment in apprenticeships and traineeships’, in Smart, N. (ed) Australian apprenticeships: Research Readings, Adelaide, NCVER.

Harris, R, Simons, M, Symons, H & Clayton, B (2001). ‘Factors that contribute to retention and completion in apprenticeships and traineeships’, in Smart, N. (ed) Australian apprenticeships: Research Readings, Adelaide, NCVER.

Harris, R & Simons (2001). ''Informal workplace trainers. Their role in building a training culture'. in Velde, C and Ghaye, T (eds) International perspectives on competence in the workplace: policy and practice. Amsterdam: Kluwer Press.

Simons, M (2006). ‘(Re) forming marriage in Australia?’, Family Matters

Poell, R, Van der Krogt, FJ, Vermulst, AA, Harris, R & Simons, M (2006) ‘Roles of informal workplace trainers in different organizational contexts: Empirical evidence from Australian companies’, Human Resource Development Quarterly (USA), vol. 17, no. 2, Summer

Harris, R & Simons, M (2006). ‘VET practitioners’ working with private enterprises: a ‘third space’?’, The Journal of Workplace Learning (UK)

Halford, WK & Simons, M (2005). ‘Couple relationship education in Australia, Family Process, vol. 44, no. 2, pp147-159

Harris, R & Simons, M (2005). ‘Exploring the notion of retention in apprenticeship’, Education + Training, vol.47, no. 4/5, pp. 350-365.

Harris, R, Simons, M & Carden P (2004). ‘Peripheral journeys: learning and acceptance of probationary constables’, Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 205-218

Harris, R, Simons, M, Willis, P & Carden, P, (2003).‘Exploring complementarity in on-and off-job training for apprenticeships’, International Journal of Training and Development, vol 7, no. 2, pp. 82-92,

Harris, R, Willis, P, Simons, M & Collins, E (2001). ‘The relative contributions of institutional and workplace learning environments: an analysis of apprenticeship training’, Journal of Vocational Education and Training, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 263 – 278

Simons, M & Harris, R (2008). ‘General staff in VET contexts: what are their working lives like?’ Proceedings of the118th Annual AVETRA Conference, VET in Context, Adelaide, 3-4 April, http://www.avetra.org.au/AVETRA%20WORK%2011.04.08/CS3.1%20-%20Michele%20Simons%20&%20Roger%20Harris.pdf

Harris, R & Simons, M (2007). ‘Adult learning communities: researching registered providers of adult and community education in Australia, Proceedings of the SCUTREA Conference, Belfast, July.

Harris, R & Simons, M (2005). ‘Playing the right tune in VET research: Using cognitive testing to improve our instruments’, Proceedings of the 8th Annual AVETRA Conference, Emerging futures, recent, responsive and relevant research, Brisbane, 13-15 April. http://www.avetra.org.au/publications/documents/PA047HarrisandSimons.pdf.

Harris, R & Simons, M (2005). “I’m the meat in the sandwich”: Exploring VET practitioners’ ways of working with private enterprises’, Proceedings of the RWL 04 Conference, Challenges for Integrating Work and Learning, Sydney, 11-14 December.

Simons, M (2005). ‘Meeting the skill requirements of VET practitioners in new times’, Teacher Education: local and global. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Australian Teacher Education Association Conference, (M Cooper, ed.) 6-9 July, Gold Coast, pp. 408-416.

Simons, M & Stehlik, T (2004). ‘Getting connected: Professional development in online learning and flexible delivery in the VET sector’, in Proceedings of the 7th Annual AVETRA National Conference, Learner and Practitioner: The Heart of the Matter, http://www.avetra.org.au/Conference_Archives/2004/papers.shtml.

Harris, R & Simons, M (2003). ‘Out of sight, but not out of mind, the reality of change in the daily working lives of VET teachers and Trainers, in Proceedings of the 6th Annual AVETRA National Conference, The Changing Face of VET, http://www.avetra.org.au/Conference_Archives/2003/abstracts.shtml.

Poell, R, Van der Krogt, F, Vermulst, A, Harris, R & Simons, M (2003). ‘Work organizations as providers of learning opportunities: Beliefs and perceptions of apprentices and trainees in two Australian sectors’, paper presented at the AHRD International Research Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 26 Feb-2 March.

Poell, R, Van der Krogt, F, Vermulst, A, Harris, R & Simons, M (2003). ‘The role of workplace trainers in increasing learning opportunities in the workplace: Empirical evidence from Australian companies’, paper to the European HRD Research Conference, Toulouse, France, 23-24 May.

Harris, R & Simons, M (2003). Mask, cosmetics or plastic surgery? The changing face of VET in Australia and implications for learning’, in proceedings of Ninth International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning 'New learning: cultures, technologies, literacies, persons', Beijing, People’s Republic of China, 16-20 July.

Simons, M, Harris, R, Pudney V & Clayton, B (2009). Careers in VET: what are they really like?, Adelaide, NCVER.

Harris, R, Simons, M & Maher, K (2009). New directions in European vocational education and training policy and practice: lessons for Australia, Adelaide, NCVER.

Rainey, L, Simons, M & Pudney, V (2008). ‘What choice? An evaluation of career development services for young people, Adelaide, NCVER.

Harris, R, Simons, M & McCarthy, C (2006). Private training providers in Australia: their characteristics and training activities, Adelaide, NCVER.

Harris, R, Simons, M & Bone, J (2006). Mix or match? New Apprentices’ learning styles and trainers’ preferences for training in workplaces, Adelaide: NCVER, www.ncver.au/publications/1664.html

Simons, M, Smith, E & Harris, R (2006). Understandings of learners and learning: the Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training, Adelaide, NCVER. Harris, R, Simons, M & Bone (2006). Learning styles and training preferences in the workplace, Adelaide, NCVER.

Harris, R, Simons & Moore, J (2005). ‘A huge learning curve’: TAFE practitioners’ ways of working with private enterprises. Adelaide, NCVER.

Harris, R, Simons, M & Clayton, B (2005). Shifting mindsets: Impact of changes to work on the roles of VET practitioners, Adelaide: National Centre for Vocational Education Research, www.ncver.edu.au/research/proj/nr0005.pdf

Stehlik, T, Simons, M, Kerkham, L, Pearce, R & Gronold, J (2003). Getting connected: professional development of contract and casual staff providing flexible delivery, Adelaide: NCVER.

Expertise for Media Contact

I am able to provide media comment in the following areas of expertise:

Discipline: Education

  • Education
  • Vocational Education and Training

Research Degree Supervisor

I have conducted research in two areas - vocational education and training and marriage, family and relationship education.

In vocational education and training I have an interest in apprenticeships and traineeships, workplace learning, competency-based training and VET policy in Australia. I have conducted both qualitative and quanitative studies in these areas but have specialist expertise in the development and use of survey methodologies.

In the field of marriage, family and relationship education I have conducted a number of studies evaluating the outcomes from programs and have contributed to the development of policies and programs for government and community-based organisations. I have a particular interest in how learning might be better facilitated in programs and how programs might be developed and evaluated in response to emerging social needs.

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