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ISSN 2083-6473
ISSN 2083-6481 (electronic version)




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Prof. Tomasz Neumann

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Gdynia Maritime University
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An Exploration of the Theoretical Foundations of Onboard Seafarer Training: A Systematic Review of the Literature
1 World Maritime University, Malmö, Sweden
ABSTRACT: At the core of the shipping enterprise is the competence of the crew of the ships. For this reason, the international community (particularly as represented by the International Maritime Organization (IMO)) has always endeavoured to ensure that seafarer education and training is as optimal as can be achieved by the global community of nations. A variety of elements are normally associated with such education and training. They include educational elements conducted ashore in maritime education and training institutions (classroom-based lectures, laboratory exercises and simulators, for example) as well as training conducted on board a ship in service. It has been well recognised that one of the most effective means of practical training for seafarers is the training conducted on board ships, so-called “onboard training”. There is, however, a wide range of approaches taken by different jurisdictions in their application of specific strategies for onboard training. The approaches may differ in timing (at what stage of the educational process onboard training is conducted) and duration (how long the training is carried out), for example. These differences exist even though onboard training itself may be argued to universally derive its primary philosophical basis from the learning theories of situated learning and cognitive apprenticeship. To identify the rationale and factors informing different approaches to the implementation of onboard training from a theoretical perspective (establish a theoretical framework), and thereby to set the stage for the interrogation of how these approaches will address the challenges of the future (arising, for example, from the acceleration of technologically-mediated education and training), it is necessary to, first of all, examine how apprenticeship and on-the-job training have been perceived in the theoretical literature inside or outside the maritime domain and how the different approaches are informed by these theories. This paper, therefore, employed a systematic literature review to identify the theoretical foundation of on-the-job training and apprenticeship. Objective: To explore theoretical foundations of apprenticeship/on-the-job training and how they may apply to onboard training in the maritime industry. Methods: The authors conducted an electronic literature search with specified selection criteria for inclusion/exclusion using two databases - EBSCO Discovery Service and SCOPUS. Thereafter, and through qualitative coding of the literature found, several research themes were identified and explored. Using an electronic search with a specific search strategy from the two databases, a total of 3476 studies were identified. After screening per the relevant inclusion and exclusion criteria, 48 studies were ultimately included in the review. Results: The review of the 48 studies (from a wide range of industries) found no study that focused on the theoretical foundations of onboard training specifically. However, it was confirmed from the study that three macro learning theories – relating to situated learning, cognitive apprenticeship and the zone of proximal development - are the dominant theories that relate to apprenticeship and on-the-job training in general. This review also found that different perspectives relating to processes of learning, guidance and support and the materiality of the context are critical considerations for apprenticeship and on-the-job training. Future research should explore how these factors are manifested in or considered by seafarer education and training jurisdictions when they select specific onboard training strategies and how other forms of competence building (such as training on simulators ashore) may or may not be limited in augmenting or replacing time onboard ship. Contribution: This work addresses a gap in the literature relating to the theoretical underpinnings of onboard training in the maritime industry and contributes both a theoretical/conceptual framework for onboard training and a theory-informed definition of this expression of apprenticeship. Knowledge about these theoretical underpinnings is essential as the industry considers options for the remission of sea time, the increased automation of ships and the diversity of practices of onboard training in different jurisdictions.
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Citation note:
Mori Y., Manuel M.E.: An Exploration of the Theoretical Foundations of Onboard Seafarer Training: A Systematic Review of the Literature. TransNav, the International Journal on Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation, Vol. 17, No. 4, doi:10.12716/1001.17.04.18, pp. 913-928, 2023
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Yusuke Mori:
Michael Ekow Manuel: Scopus icon36761174600 Scholar iconT2g8EtQAAAAJ

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