02 SES 04 C, Strengthening VET in Times of Transition
Workplace learning is an important part of Dutch vocational programmes, both in Senior Secondary Vocational education and in Higher Vocational education. Over the last decade workplace learning is subject to great expectations with regard to the transition from school to workplace. Workplace learning is seen as pivotal in reducing the transfer problem, in learning about career options, or in specific skills acquisition. In addition, through engaging workplace learning of their students, educators keep up with the (rapidly) changing technological and social-cultural developments at the workplace.
During the second half of the 00s, several studies came out that questioned the workplace as a place for learning (f.e. Poortman, 2007; Nijhof & Nieuwenhuis, 2008, Poell & Van Woerkom, 2011). Although workplaces offer enough potential for learning, this potential is not utilized for a number of reasons :
Focus is foremost on skills development and less on developing work process knowledge .
Different workplaces offer different opportunities for learning,
In the workplace the focus is (of course) on production, leaving little space for reflection processes.
In the few occasions reflection does take place there is no follow up.
Lack of guidance, hindered by obscurity in role taking by VET-teachers and mentors at the shop floor.
Lack of models to asses workplace learning.
As these critical issues are also picked up by the Dutch Inspection (see for example a report of Inspectie voor het Onderwijs, 2012), VET-institutes and higher education institutions feel the urgency to improve the quality of workplace learning arrangements within their programmes.
In 2014 HAN University of Applied Sciences started a research project aiming at identifying successful interventions to improve workplace learning arrangements in all domains (Education, Technology & Engineering, Healthcare and Economy & Management). In the first phase of this project, ending in March 2015, we aim to describe current workplace practices within the HAN. In the second phase of the project, from March to September 2015, through a series of design workshops, interventions are designed to improve the current practices. In this second phase, design and evaluation are intertwined to test the effectiveness of the intervention, and also to identify the underlying design principles to improve implementation of the intervention into other contexts (See Andriessen & Van Aken, 2011).
In this paper we will present the findings of the first phase. The central questions are: How are current workplace practices in Higher vocational education designed? What are the strengths and weaknesses in the current designs? What elements can we identify that offer points of application for re-design?
Van Aken, J. & Andriessen, D. (red.), (2011) Handboek Ontwerpgericht Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek [Handbook Design Science research], Den Haag: Uitgeverij Boom Lemma. Billett, S. (2011), Curriculum and pedagogic bases for effectively integrating practice-based experiences –final report, Strawberry Hills NSW, Australian Learning and Teaching Council. Denyer, D., Tranfield, D., & van Aken, J. E. (2008). Developing Design Propositions through Research Synthesis. Organization Studies, 29(3), 393. Inspectie voor het Onderwijs. (2012). Goed verkort? Over de programmering en verantwoording van (ver)korte opleidingen in het hoger beroepsonderwijs. Den Haag: Inspectie voor het Onderwijs Nijhof, W.J., & Nieuwenhuis, L.F.M. (2008). The learning potential of the workplace. Rotterdam/Taipei: Sense Publishers Poell, R. & M. Van Woerkom (2011). Supporting Workplace Learning. Rotterdam: Springer. Poortman, C. (2007). Workplace learning processes in senior Secondary Vocational Education. Enschede: University of Twente. Reenalda, M. (2011). Effecten van dualisering in het HBO. Proefschrift UT Enschede: University of Twente.
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