02 SES 06 A, How Teachers and Work Shape Learning
Competence-based education (CBE) is an educational innovation which aims to improve the transition between school and the workplace by focusing on knowledge skills and attitudes. CBE has been implemented in many European countries (Brockmann, Clarke, Méhaut & Winch, 2008; Mulder, Weigel & Collins, 2007), specifically in vocational education. In the Netherlands, CBE was introduced in senior secondary vocational education around a decade ago and it became compulsory in 2012.
The need for CBE arose because most educational programs were found to insufficiently prepare students for the workplace they would encounter after graduation (van der Klink, Boon & Schlusmans, 2007). There are various ways of characterising CBE. Wesselink, Biemans, Mulder & van der Elsen (2007) give a list of characteristics which are 1) the definition of competences and vocational core problems, 2) assessment before, during and after learning 3) use of authentic situations, 4) the integration of knowledge, skills and attitudes 5) the stimulation of reflection and responsibility among students 6) the teachers’ role as coach and expert and 7) the establishment of a basis for lifelong learning (Wesselink, Biemans, Mulder & van der Elsen, 2007).
Although the introduction of CBE was planned in a top-down manner by the Dutch Ministry of Education, schools were given considerable leeway in how they implemented CBE. This left the responsibility for the implementation of this educational innovation to the teams of teachers responsible for a particular educational track. So teacher teams were responsible to change the curriculum to comply with the new standards and to learn the skills that are necessary to, for instance, function as a coach and expert. To function as real teams, team learning is considered an important aspect (Decupyer, Dochy & Van den Bossche, 2010). Various activities are associated with team learning within teacher teams such as the acquisition of information concerning educational information, the processing of such information and the storage and retrieval of what has been discussed and learned among the teachers (van Offenbeek, 2001; van de Bossche, Gijselaers, Segers & Kirschner, 2006). Wijnia, Kunst, van Woerkom, Poell (2016) found that the more a team was involved in these team learning activities, the more its members perceived the education they offered to their students as competence based.
CBE has so far been mainly researched in small scale settings, mostly in single educational tracks (Wesselink et al, 2017). Furthermore these studies are mostly evaluative and focus on ‘what’ was taught instead of ‘how’ it was taught and whether students actually became more competent employees after graduation due to CBE (Wesselink et al, 2017). What is still unknown is to what extent competence-based programs also lead to more favourable student outcomes. Answering this question is crucial for understanding whether CBE, an educational innovation that has been introduced in many European countries, has actually delivered on its promises.
In the current paper we aim to answer the following research question: to what extent do teacher team learning activities in the context of CBE implementation lead to better skilled students, greater success in internships and increased student satisfaction concerning classes? We aim to do so with the combined results of two different questionnaires, one completed by over 700 teachers within 46 teacher teams and one completed by the students involved in the educational tracks these teachers are held responsible for.
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