02 SES 02 C, VET Teachers' Competences and Understanding
At the vocational teacher education (YFL) at bachelor level in Norway, teachers and students experienced that the students were unable to demonstrate their comprehensive teacher competence through the exam and assessment methods, because knowledge is considered separately from practice. In this abstract, we will present research concerning the quality of assessment at the Norwegian YFL. Previous research shows the need for coherence between the education and the practical field, for the education to be perceived relevant for the job assignment and professional practice(Canrinus, Bergem, Klette & Hammerness, 2015; Heggen & Smeby, 2012; Hiim, 2015; Sylte, 2017). Previous research also shows lack of culture for professional oriented education in professional education, while simultaneously professionalization is an overall goal for, for example, teacher education in Norway (Haaland & Vagle, 2016; Sylte, 2018 in press). There is a main goal in Norway that the teacher education involves coherence between theory and practice, teaching subjects and pedagogic and didactic theory (St.meld. nr. 11 2008-2009). One example is that social competence is particularly difficult to acquire theoretically in teacher education. However, the key problem with the assessment methods in both teacher and other professional education are that there is less focus on professional orientation and relevance (Baartman, Gulikers & Dijkstra, 2014; Sylte, 2017). A significant challenge is whether the competence needs of the profession in practice, are reflected in the assessment criteria (Baartman et al., 2014). Therefore, at YFL, there was a need for developing practical-theoretical assessment methods, where the teacher students are given the opportunity to demonstrate comprehensive teacher competence. For example, relationship skills can be demonstrated in practice and anchored in theory. Teacher Education at YFL has 70 days of pedagogical practice, which are assessed separately from the professions of pedagogy and didactics.
In an action research project at YFL, teacher educators researched, in cooperation with teachers in Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Upper Secondary Schools in Norway. We performed a systematic development project on how comprehensive teacher competencecan be developed through practical-theoretical exam in the field of practice. This paper focuses on the opportunities and challenges associated with the assessment form as a practical-theoretical exam, linked to comprehensive teacher competence.
A comprehensive teacher competence means that teacher students must demonstrate the ability to perform teaching and be able to solve complex challenges linked to the teacher's assignments or to the practice of occupation. Comprehensive teacher competence also includes understanding of how the profession is practiced, its function in society, its culture, tradition and development. Furthermore, it includes key competence such as collaborative ability, independence, creativity and innovative and critical thinking (Sylte, 2017). Based on the concept of comprehensive teacher competence, teacher education needs a different form of assessment than ones that distinguishes between theory and practice(Dahlback, Haaland, & Vagle, 2016; Haaland & Vagle, 2016). A practical-theoretic exam aids learning processes towards achieving a comprehensive teacher competence.
The paper has a pragmatic perspective on education as: "(...) implies that experience and language is considered a process where concepts are developed through participation in practical contexts” (Hiim, 2013, p. 313). A pragmatic perspective on education requires assessment forms through action, experience and reflection (Dewey, 1910; Schön, 1983). Assessment methods supportive of learning with formative strategies and democratic processes was an important goal in the project (Smith, 2009). When students are actively involved in the assessment process, both motivation and learning outcomes are strengthened (Hattie & Timperley, 2007).
Education has a fundamental subjective values-based aspect, and a normative, democratic aspect which means that a technological “implementation" of predetermined theoretical principles is not possible without understanding these fundamental aspects (Hiim, 2010; McNiff & Whitehead, 2006; Reason & Bradbury, 2008). In the action research project, teacher educators made systematic development projects on how comprehensive teacher skills could be developed through a professionally oriented exam in a vocational field of practice. We were four researchers in partnership with 40 teachers in Upper Secondary Vocational Schools, within programs for hairdressers, florists, goldsmiths etc. in Norway. We researched our own practices as teacher educators in interaction with the participants who were teachers and students (Hiim, 2010). According to Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1993) it is advantageous that teacher educators do research in their own practice: «This research recognizes that teacher researchers are uniquely positioned to provide an insider’s view that makes the way that students and teachers construct knowledge together visible (…)» (p. 43). In action research teachers and students can take active and independent responsibility for how education can be carried out and developed. The paper’s data are based on three experiments with a practical-theoretical exam in pedagogy, conducted in practical fields, at Upper Secondary Schools in VET (2016 - 2018), in Norway. The participants where 40 VET-teachers and 52 students at YFL. There were 17 students and 13 teachers from 10 different schools in 2016. In 2017 there were 16 students and 14 VET-teachers from 11 different schools. In 2018 there were 19 students and 15 VET-teachers from 13 different schools. We conducted 52 practical-theoretical exams at schools in VET. The data are based on 52 interviews as a basis for evaluation, analysis of 52 guidance document with the students' teaching plans for their own teaching session, 52 observations of the students' implementation of the education session, 52 analysis of student reflection notes, and assessment interviews with 52 VET-teachers. The development projects involved a practical-theoretical exam where the students planned and conducted a teaching session in their pedagogical practice. A teacher and a researcher observed the session. After the practical exam, the students wrote practical-theoretical reflection notes based on the students' experiences. The data was analysed and synthesised underway in the process for further development of the project, and to look at context and patterns. We used the analysis tool HyperResearch.
The expected results show that the practical-theoretical exam provides great opportunities for students to demonstrate comprehensive teacher competence. One student said: “Great with a practical exam to show my strengths in the classroom. We were given feedback on concrete matters, and the response was fast.” The results also showed that the assessment form contributes to a learning process where students develop practical-theoretical pedagogical and didactic competence such as class management and social competence in close links with subject competence. Several VET-teachers expressed similar views as: "It’s terrific with this practical-theoretical exam because it’s most important that the teacher student works in the classroom - it is not enough to write a written exam about education and Vygotsky". It could be a challenge that the students were nervous before the practical-theoretical exam because they were observed by teachers and researchers when the students were teaching in the classroom. A VET-teacher said: “Demanding for the candidate (inner stress), but good for teacher students to get a natural education and not an "artificial session”. That the situation became a little "artificial" for the students could also be a challenge. At the same time, other teachers experienced the opposite and said, for example: "I thought the pupils in the classroom would act more "decent" in this session, but they act as usual". Because students and VET-teachers experienced that the frame of one school period did not give the students enough time to show complete teacher competence, we changed this in the second round of the project for a two-hour teaching session. Overall, the results showed that the students and the VET-teachers experienced that the practical-theoretical exam conducted as a teaching session is highly realistic and occupational related and relevant.
Baartman, L., Gulikers, J. & Dijkstra, A. (2014). Factors influencing assessment quality in higher vocational education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, (38)8, 978-997. doi:10.1080/02602938.2013.771133 Canrinus, E. T., Bergem, O. K., Klette, K. & Hammerness, K. (2015). Coherent teacher education programmes: Taking a student perspective. Journal of Curriculum Studies. doi:10.1080/00220272.2015.1124145 Cochran-Smith, M. & Lytle, S. L. (1993). Inside/Outside: Teacher research and knowledge. New York: Teachers College Press. Dahlback, J., Haaland, I. & Vagle, I. (2016). Arbeidsplassbasert treårig yrkesfaglærerutdanning (ABY) [Workplace-based three-year vocational teacher training]. HiOA rapport 2016 nr. 1. Lillestrøm: Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus. Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Boston: D. C. Heath. Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81–112. doi:10.3102/003465430298487 Heggen, K. & Smeby, J. C. (2012). Gir mest mulig samanheng også den beste profesjonsutdanninga [Does coherence also give the best professional education]? Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 96(1), 4–14. Hiim, H. (2010). Pedagogisk aksjonsforskning [Educational action research]. Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk. Hiim, H. (2013). Praksisbasert yrkesutdanning [Practice based vocational education]. Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk. Hiim, H. (2015). Kvalitet i yrkesutdanningen [The quality of curriculum in VET]. Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift, 99(2), 136-148. Haaland, G. & Vagle, I. (2016). Profesjonsretting og forholdet mellom eksamensform og sluttvurdering [Profession Rectification and the relationship between examination and final assessment]. In U. S. Goth (Ed.), Yrkes- og profesjonsutdanning i en norsk kontekst [Vocational and professional education in a Norwegian context]. (pp. 33-50). Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk. McNiff, J. & Whitehead, J. (2006). All you need to know about Action Research. London: Sage Publications. Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (2008). Introduction. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (pp. 1-10). London: Sage Publications. Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books. Smith, K. (2009). Samspillet mellom vurdering og motivasjon. [The interaction between assessment and motivation]. In S. Dobson, A. B. Eggen & K. Smith (Ed.), Vurdering, prinsipper og praksis (pp. 23-39). Oslo: Gyldendal akademisk. St.meld. nr. 11 (2008-2009). Læreren: Rollen og utdanningen [White paper]. Oslo: Kunnskapsdepartementet. Sylte, A. L. (2017). Didaktiske prinsipper for relevant yrkes- og profesjonsutdanning [Didactical principles for relevant vocational and professional education]. HiOA Avhandlinger 2017 nr. 11. Oslo: Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus. Sylte, A. L. (2018 in press). Profesjonsretting og studentaktivitet [Professionalization and student activity]. Scandinavian Journal of Vocations in Development.
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