02 SES 11 B, VET: Linking with the World of Work
In this project, a vocational high school and a University hospital are collaborating on securing high quality in the three-year education of medical secretaries, which is mainly school based. A formal, written agreement was signed and indicate a lasting, continuous form of collaboration, where the University hospital offers the school 50 work placements, providing VET students in their second and third year with opportunities for becoming familiar with professional tasks and functions in the occupation. This agreement will help solve challenges met by both parties.
The research- and development project will last for three years, from autumn 2014 to autumn 2017. The first year (now completed) was an investigation of the current situation aimed at identifying potentials for improvements. Then actual improvements will be tried out, results considered and analyzed, and from spring 2017 the project will be evaluated.
The aim is to develop routines for continuous collaboration between school and hospital securing high quality education, and at the same time increase the competence of students, teachers and instructors.
The general research question is: How can hospital and school secure high quality practical work preparations and placement periods for VET students learning as medical secretaries?
My role as a researcher is to participate as a facilitator in reflective groups where representatives from the school and the hospital meet to discuss how they can collaborate on developing the curriculum. It is also to collect data and write reports from the project, focusing on the VET students’, teachers’ and instructors’ experiences and perspectives.
There is little research on the education of medical secretaries. Existing research has concerned vocational education more generally. Some researchers have asserted that the organization of Norwegian VET is not working as a way into vocational work life but as a wall separating VET students from it (NOU 2003:16). The argument is that vocational education is too general, and that a lack of specialization prevents students from developing vocational identity and pride (Høst & Evensen 2008; Frøseth & Vibe 2012). Instead of fulfilling their vocational education, the VET students try to qualify for education at university level, and only 50% of them pass the exams required for entry into the university (Nyen, Skålholt & Tønder 2013). This means that many young people either get a certificate as skilled workers or are admitted into university. In the end, only 30% of the VET students starting on vocational programs become skilled workers (ibid).
Coherence between theoretical and practical subject matter and content is a main issue in this project. A technological learning-by-objectives approach implying a separation between theoretical and practical knowledge has been influential in Norwegian education and curriculum, generally and in VET (Hiim & Hippe 1999). Also theories on curriculum in VET and on work-based learning are important in the project (Billett 2011, Young 2004).
The medical secretary VET students must develop practical skills to become able to perform professional tasks in their future vocation. Student activity and participation is essential in the learning process, and will be understood in light of Dewey’s (1944) theory of experiential learning. Dreyfus & Dreyfus’ competence model (1986) will also be helpful to understand how the student develops professional competence.
In the development of professionalism and independent professional performance reflection is a necessary tool, and Schön’s (1987) theory of reflection in and on practice is very relevant. In their theory Lave & Wenger (1991) are concerned with people learning in communities of practice where they collaborating on work they are engaged in. These perspectives will also be important in this project.
Billett, S. (2011). Vocational Education. Purposes, Traditions and prospects. Dordrecht: Springer Dewey, John (1944). Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: Macmillan, 1916; New York: Free Press. Dreyfus, H & og S. Dreyfus (1986). Mind over Machine. The Power of Human Intuition and Experience in the Era of the Computer. New Yourk Press Frøseth, M.W., Hovdhaugen, E., Høst, H. & Vibe, N. (2010): En, to…tre? Den vanskelige overgangen. Evaluering av Kunnskapsløftet. Fra andre til tredje år i videregående opplæring. NIFU-rapport 21/2010. Oslo. Nordisk institutt for studier av innovasjon, forskning og utdanning (NIFU) Hagen, A., Nadim, M. & Nyen, T. (2008): Bruk av fagkompetanse i arbeidslivet. Fafo-rapport 2008:29 Halkier, B. (2010). Fokusgrupper. Oslo: Gyldendal akademisk Hiim, H. & Hippe. (1999). Å Utdanne profesjonelle yrkesutøvere. Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk Nyen, T., Skålholt, A. & Tønder, A. H. (2013) Kvalitet i fag- og yrkesopplæringen. Fokus på skoleopplæringen. Rapport 2. Forskning på kvalitet i fag- og yrkesopplæringen. NIFU Rapport 21/2013/ Fafo-Rapport 2013:23. Oslo: Nordisk institutt for studier av innovasjon, forskning og utdanning (NIFU) og Fafo Høst, H., Karlsen, H., Skålholt, A. og Hovdhaugen, E. (2012): Yrkesfagutdanning eller allmennutdanning for sektoren? NIFU-rapport 30/2012. Oslo, Nordisk institutt for studier av innovasjon, forskning og utdanning Kristoffersen, L., P. A. Tufte & A. Johannessen. (2011). Introduksjon til samfunnsvitenskapelig metode. Oslo: Abstract forlag Lave, J & E. Wenger (1991, 2003). Situated learning. Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press Schön, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. New York. Basic Books Young, Michael (2004). Conceptualizing vocational knowledge: Some theoretical considerations. . In: H. Rainbird, A. Fuller & A. Munro (red.), Workplace learning in context. London: Routledge
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