02 SES 07 C, Cooperation of Companies and Schools
Further vocational education and training in Germany’s construction sector leading to general foreman is structured in three levels. In courses carried out at education providers normally belonging to the building industry, one first can attain the level of foreman (‘Vorarbeiter’), afterwards the ‘Werkpolier’ and ‘geprüfter Polier’ (two different levels of general foreman). The last one is the adequate of a master craftsman in industry (‘Meister’). Here, exams are carried out at the chambers of industry and crafts. For the first two steps, examination is carried out by the education provider. In order to cope with technological change and first of all to relate courses and exams closer to the world of work and the actual general foreman’s occupational profile (i.e. day-to-day management of construction sites), in 2012, in Germany the examination of further vocational education and training courses leading to the different grades of general foreman in construction was reformed towards action-oriented examinations (Meyser 2013; Niethammer/Schmidt/Schweder 2013). Examination now focuses on a practical project (usually 3 weeks) that is carried out at the foreman’s company in order to reflect on actual work. The examination mainly consists in an expert talk on this project as well as on typical foremen’s work tasks and problems.
For the education providers, this meant a challenge to their learning and teaching processes. In Germany, further vocational education in the construction sector is carried out via courses, the students are released from work. The actual way of carrying out the courses leading to the different grades of foreman (Vorarbeiter, Werkpolier, geprüfter Polier) that take place at various VET providers is dominated by various external lecturers (often engineers and architects) providing knowledge about their respective fields of specialisation. Furthermore, at the first two levels there are a number of specialisations (e.g. earthwork, sewage conduit construction, construction site safety), that only refer to sub-groups of learners according to their individual fields of work. This structure is in some tension to the targeted results of the reform.
One main aim of the case study was to restructure the learning processes at the education provider. The aim was to use complex work tasks that were taken from the foremen’s occupational reality as a source to organise the various fields of instruction, enhancing them with the necessary work-process knowledge (Schoen 1983; Fischer/Boreham/Nyhan 2004; Boreham/Fischer 2009). Digital tools were developed in order to help the lecturers to reorganise the materials according to these tasks (Deitmer/Heinemann 2015; Deitmer/Heinemann/Müller 2016).
The paper will first present the current challenges in the building industry. Then we will analyse the attempted changes and measures taken from a vocational pedagogical point of view and describe the digital tools (e.g. Learning Toolbox) used to foster them. Finally, we will discuss the conditions enabling and constraining these change processes on participant, lecturer and institutional level, presenting different approaches that worked well to different degrees.
The methods used were typical for such a case study carried out via accompanying research. Individual interviews with lecturers more involved in the project, group discussions and workshops, various online surveys for learners and teachers/trainers as well as some interviews with selected key person in the field. Furthermore, the researchers organised and took part in monthly meetings of a group of lecturers that were developing the tasks that should structure the new course system (Orlikowski/Scott 2008).
The main outcomes of the project shed light on the considerable problems of introducing new forms of learning and teaching. Challenges are at personal and institutional level as well as on curricular level as well as on the whole setting. In terms of the whole setting, the companies want to relieve their workers as short time as possible, leading to sharply organised time schedules. Lecturers claim that this already is constraining the use of project-based learning as they feel under pressure to get through with their contents. The curricula are not developed further towards a new structure following a systematic range of complex projects allowing an evolutionary learning process. When the right content structure is missing any modern and innovative media has little impact on learning and teaching. This includes a lack of flexibility when making changes to curricula. On institutional level, the challenges often are simple problems with the existing ICT infrastructure that are often difficult to overcome as they require investments and a commitment of the organisation as a whole. Similarly, it is difficult for the institution to raise enough manpower to cope with the lecturers’ information needs. Other factors such as the curriculum, the infrastructure as well as the preparation of trainers and lecturers are important factors. Trainers and Lecturers are in need of sufficient media competence to be able to successful use digital media as part of their teaching practice. Unlike often stated, new media per se do not change the trainers' role and is not sufficient enough to enable a more innovative building work practice. The paper will summarise these challenges as well as the measures taken to overcome them, their success or failure and sketch the conditions enabling and constraining this kind of organisational development.
Boreham, N. und M. Fischer (2009): “The mutual shaping of work, vocational competence and work-process knowledge” in: Maclean, R. und D.N. Wilson (Hg.) International Handbook of Education for the Changing World of Work, S. 1593-1609, Dordrecht: Springer. Deitmer, L. und Heinemann, L. (2015): Arbeitsplatzbezogenes Lernen mit Hilfe mobiler Geräte und digitaler Medien, in: berufsbildung 1/2015, eusl, Paderborn. Deitmer, L., Heinemann, L., Müller, W. (2016) Building Information Modelling (BIM) and its implications on professional skills of construction workers. In: Proceedings of the ECER VETNET Conference 2016: Papers presented for the VETNET programme of ECER 2016 at Dublin (22-26 August 2016). Nägele, Christof; Stalder, Barbara; Malloch, Marg; Gessler, Michael; Manning, Sabine (Eds.). Berlin: Wissenschaftsforum Bildung und Gesellschaft e.V. [www.ecer-vetnet-2016.wifo-gate.org] Deitmer, Ludger; Heinemann, Lars (2017) New teaching methods and learning methods in further VET for general foremen in the German Construction sector. In: Kaiser, F., Krugmann, S. (Eds.): Social Dimension and Participation in Vocational Education and Training, Proceedings of the 2nd conference “Crossing Boundaries in VET”, University of Rostock, https://www.ibp.uni-rostock.de/fileadmin/uni-rostock/Alle_PHF/IBP/Sonstiges/VET-Conference_2017/Proceeding_onlineversion_final_01.pdf Fischer, M., Boreham, N. & Nyhan, B. (Eds.) 2004. European perspectives on learning at work: the acquisition of work process knowledge, Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications for the European Communities. Meyser, Johannes 2013: Die Neuordnung des Fortbildungsberufs "Geprüfter Polier" und die Feststellung beruflicher Handlungskompetenz. In: Becker, Mathias; Grimm, Axel; Petersen, A. Willi; Schlausch, Reiner (Hrsg.): Kompetenzorientierung und Strukturen gewerblich-technischer Berufsbildung. Berufsbiografien, Fachkräftemangel, Lehrerbildung. Berlin: LiT, S. 54 – 74. Niethammer, M., Schmidt, D., Schweder, M. (2013): Ausbilderschulungen in der Aufstiegsfortbildung (Vorarbeiter/Werkpolier/Geprüfter Polier). In: bwp@Spezial 6 – Hochschultage Berufliche Bildung 2013, Fachtagung 03, S. 1-16. Orlikowski, Wanda J. and Scott, Susan V. (2008) Sociomateriality: challenging the separation of technology, work and organization. Academy of Management Annals, 2 (1). pp. 433-474. ISSN 1941-6520 Schoen, D. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York: Basic Books, 1983.
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