02 SES 13 B, Transitions in Partnerships in VET
An action research project aimed at relevant curriculum in VET through cooperation between vocational teacher education, vocational high schools and apprenticeship firms.
Recent research on curriculum in Norwegian VET points towards great challenges in vocational education. There is a considerable lack of coherence between the educational content and the needs for qualifications in the actual vocations. The results show that close collaboration and infrastructure between vocational schools and vocational work enterprises is a precondition for improving curricula and learning (Hiim 2013). But there are a lot of structural and educational challenges for such improvement.
Norwegian VET is organized in a 2+2-model with two school years followed by two apprenticeship years. The curriculum in the school based part consists of general academic subjects, general vocational theory and practical exercises that are poorly related to the actual vocations. The curriculum in the apprenticeship part is mainly practical work. There is a high dropout rate that seems to be related with lack of coherence and relevance in the curriculum. Problems are similar in Danish and Swedish vocational education, even if the structural models are different.
At Oslo and Akershus University College, institute of vocational teacher education, we are in the initial phase of an action research project aimed at developing relevant curriculum in VET. The project will involve vocational high schools, apprenticeship firms and vocational teacher education. A main intention of the project is to develop curriculum in VET based on a principle of coherence between essential professional tasks in the actual vocations and the educational content. To reach this aim it will be necessary to develop new organizational structures of cooperation between vocational teacher education, vocational high schools and apprenticeship firms. The involved parties will cooperate on analyzing basic tasks in specific vocations, the kind of practical and theoretical knowledge needed for vocational professionalism and how the education should be structured to obtain this kind of knowledge. They will also cooperate on planning, implementing, evaluating and further developing curriculum based on their analyses.
The aim of the project is to develop specific knowledge on vocationally relevant curriculum in different vocational programs and to develop knowledge on relevant curriculum in VET more generally. The research question is: What are essential principles of relevant curriculum in VET and how can vocational education institutions and work enterprises cooperate on developing relevant curricula?
The theoretical framework will be related to pragmatic theories of knowledge and theories of relevant professional and vocational education. Pragmatic interpretations of practical professional knowledge and different ways of knowing are essential. Concepts of practical knowledge, experience and experiential learning will be analyzed and related to vocational educational implications. Dreyfus & Dreyfus (1986) model of developing professional expertise and Schøn’s (1983) concept of reflective practicum will be important, and will be related to a theory on curriculum based on vocational functions (Hiim 2013). Literature on apprenticeship learning and craftsmanship will also be important (Billett 2012, Lave & Wenger 1991, Sennett 2008).
Billett, S. (2011). Vocational Education. Purposes, Traditions and Prospects. Dordrecht: Springer. Dreyfus, H., & Dreyfus, S. (1986). Mind over Machine. The Power of Human Intuition and Expertice in the Era of the Computer. New York: Free Press. Eikeland, O. (2012). Action Research and organizational learning: a Norwegian approach to doing action research in complex organizations. Educational Action Research, 20:2, 267-290. Hiim, H. 2015. Educational Action Research and the Development of Professional Teacher Knowledge. In Action Research for Democracy. Gunnarsson, E., Hansen, H. P., Nielsen, B. Steen (Eds.). London: Routledge. In press. Hiim, H. (2013). Praksisbasert yrkesutdanning. Hvordan utvikle relevant utdanning for skole og arbeidsliv. (Practice based vocational education. How can vocational education become relevant in high schools and work life). Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. McNiff, J. (2013). Action Research. Principles and practice. London: Routledge. Noffke, S. & Somekh, B. (2009). The SAGE Handbook of Educational Action Research. London: Sage. Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (2008). The SAGE Handbook of Action Research – Participative inquiry and Practice. London: Sage. Sennett, R. (2008). The Craftsman. New Haven: Yale University Press. Schøn, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner. New York: Basic books.
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