Dr Peter McIlveen
How long have you been at USQ?
13 Years. Prior to working at USQ I was with Queensland Health. I took a temporary job with USQ Careers and Employment Unit in Student Services and really enjoyed it. It was a big change from the world of hospitals and clinical counselling with patients to an educational counselling environment with students, but it was great fun and reinvigorated my interest in psychology.
I have always been interested in applied research and set a personal rule that I would do at least one research project and publish at least one applied research paper each year. I have a view that if you are going to do any kind of counselling or educational practice, you need evidence that backs it up, and applied research is a good way to go about getting evidence. In 2004 I wrote a course on career development for the Masters degree offered by the Faculty of Education and subsequently taught the course. That part-time teaching built up my teaching skills and in 2009 I moved into the Faculty full-time.
Why did you choose your career path?
I don’t think I “chose” a particular path but I made strategic decisions about where I wanted to work, the type of work I wanted to do, and more importantly the people I wanted to work with.
What do you like most about your role now?
I have always liked working with people. When I worked at Queensland Health I was with fabulous people, in the university’s Career Services I was with fabulous people, and I am with fabulous people now. Being around really passionate and dedicated professionals is very motivating and I feel quite inspired by the academic enterprise of research and teaching. I have always had a long interest in qualifications and training, and one stage was involved in the national committee that set up the policies and procedures for degree qualifications for career practitioners.
Of your contributions or achievements at USQ what are you most proud of?
I think the university’s Careers & Employment Service is one of the best career services of any university in Australia, and I had the privilege of leading it. It has a very high standard of service. It is innovative in the sense that we were one of the first to really grapple with the idea of graduate attributes. A real satisfaction for me is that we had a very strong social justice equity framework on which we based our career services. One of the highlights is that through our career education framework we were able to get many student scholarships allocated efficiently and to the students who really needed them.
What are you currently working on?
My main research project at the moment is to advance the theoretical foundations of career development learning. Career counselling is very advanced theoretically and practically, but career counselling is a one-on-one, one-by-one service. What is yet to be articulated are solid frameworks for the theory of career development learning in higher education and adult education generally that can be integrated into curricula on a wider scale than counselling. The learning is about people managing their career throughout their whole life, not just making a once-off decision to choose a qualification. What I would like to see is career development learning carefully integrated into the curricula of different disciplines taught at USQ. This would give USQ a real advantage with respect to students’ experiences and outcomes.
What excites you about teaching and learning?
What excites me about USQ is that our Faculty of Education has a full range of degrees, ranging from early childhood education through to the adult learning. School teachers are at the front line of education. I can see school teachers as the future leaders of career development learning in education. When it comes to the philosophy of education, I tend to follow John Dewey and William James in the pragmatic American tradition, and Bertrand Russell in the English tradition. Although their views on education differ somewhat, they agree upon the intrinsic value of education. So, what excites me most about teaching and learning is living up to one of Dewey’s ideas: that education is growth. This makes complete sense from a career development learning perspective, because it becomes the lens through which a student focuses upon learning as growth.
How do you motivate your students?
My view is that if you want people to learn something they are better off learning it through their own eyes and experience. For example, in one of my post graduate courses students learn about all the theories of career by conducting their own assessments of their careers. In other words, they use themselves as a case study and use the theories and concepts to explore and understand the case data. They are interpreting an assessment of themselves in terms of career development theory so they learn the theory along the way and they also learn about themselves and develop their career. Another assessment is then they have to do the same exercise but with another student.
Tell us about the grant/award you won from ALTC (OLT) or USQ?
It involved a team of my colleagues from Wollongong University, Monash University, RMIT University and Flinders University. We won an ALTC grant to investigate the links and the potential for better development between career development learning and work integrated learning. It was a really useful project in the sense that it enabled a number of scholars and careers services in universities to think carefully about work integrated learning and how their services can make a solid contribution. It was a project of over a year and a half worth approximately $215,000. That project is the groundwork for my current research into career development learning.
What is your favourite place in the world and why?
In Italy my favourite places are Florence, Siena, Padova, and Ferrara. I visited in 2000 and 2007 and everyday hatch some new plan to go again and again. I love the Italian way of life, not to mention the food. There is nothing like waking up to sound of bells, the smell of coffee and a pasticceria. And fruit that tastes like it should--peaches that taste like peaches.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I have received lots of good advice – I am not sure if there has ever been a best one. I remember when I started my first job as a psychologist, a good friend of mine said, ‘Peter, expenditure rises to meet income – take your first pay check and spend it, thereafter you will have bills for the rest of your life’.