Unpacking the ethics of care and safe learning environments in Indonesian vocational higher education settings: a contested space of power and (teaching) effectiveness

M. Sofyan, Ilana Finefter-Rosenbluh, Melissa Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Numerous studies have discussed the ethics of care and safe learning environments in relation to educational experiences. Yet, there is a dearth of literature on such aspects in vocational, non-western higher education contexts. This paper examines how students and teachers view entanglements of the ethics of care and safe learning environments in forming notions of teaching effectiveness in Indonesian vocational higher education settings. Utilising interview data from students and teachers in Indonesian higher education vocational institutions, the study draws upon Hofstede et al. Dimensions of National Cultures and Faranda and Clarke’s framework of effective teaching. The findings illuminate balanced power distance, communicative participation and pedagogy of care as fundamentals of the ethics of care that correspond with notions of safe learning environments to inform effective teaching in the Indonesian higher education vocational space. Illustrating social-educational contestations in the vocational classroom, implications suggest the need to minimise the existing large teacher-student power distance and transform the role of teachers as ‘object-givers’ and students as ‘object-takers’ into caring partnerships that promote vocational knowledge and practice. The study holds promise for educators, teacher educators and policymakers seeking to buttress support for ethical caring initiatives to enhance teaching effectiveness in the vocational non-western space.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalPedagogy Culture and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • effective teaching
  • Ethics of care
  • power distance
  • safe learning environments
  • vocational education

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