02 SES 07 A, Teachers Practice and Didactics
This paper reports from a study of VET-teachers` professional development through participation in a further education course in assessment for learning. Professional development is defined as an ongoing process including inquiry, reflection and experimentation (Darling-Hammond & McLaughlin, 2011). VET-teachers have a dual professional identity as teachers– as skilled workers and as teachers in upper secondary school, VET programmes. Professional development for VET-teachers should be related to being a teacher and colleague in upper secondary school as well as skilled worker in a vocational profession, since both identities constitutes VET-teachers` knowledge and actions in teaching VET-students (Saunders, 2012; Broad, 2016).
Research in vocational education and training has recent years argued for building competence relevant for future work and discuss how this challenges VET-education (Bound, 2011; Lloyd & Payne, 2012; Herrara, 2016). Bound (2011) shows a need for planning professional learning for VET-teachers, contextualized to the workplace. Mapping of VET-teachers` learning needs together with the institutions` practices, as tensions between old and new practices, is a crucial part of this planning (Bound, 2011). Saunders (2012) argue that vocational knowledge is temporal and needs to be understood as being distributed and developed in networks. These features has therefore been crucial aspects to the further education course this study reports from.
The study focus on development of VET-teachers` competency related to assessment for learning and professional development as teachers in school context. The concept assessment for learning is often used to describe assessment that supports students` learning, and assessment that are used both by students and teachers to improve learning and teaching (Sadler 1989; Black & Wiliam, 2009; Wiliam, 2011). Feedback, as part of assessment for learning, have strong influence on students` performance, and should be an integrated part of teaching and learning activities (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). Teachers` responsiveness to students` efforts is crucial for assessment to become a basis for learning, as well as students` seeking of feedback (Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Boud & Molloy, 2013). These well-known and at the same time rather new perceptions of assessment has been implemented in the Norwegian assessment system and educational legislation by the Ministry of Knowledge (2006). Since the implementation of the Norwegian educational reform Knowledge promotion in 2006 (Ministry of Knowledge, 2006), there has been an extensive investment in post- qualification and further education of teachers in primary and secondary schools. However, VET- teachers, as part of upper secondary education, have traditionally limited access to post-qualifying education and courses. HVL designed and accomplished in 2017 a further education course in assessment for learning for VET-teachers to meet the need for professional development in this field for VET-teachers. The research question addressed by the current study is: How can a further education course in assessment for learning in VET contribute to VET- teachers` development of assessment competence and practice?
Eight upper secondary schools, VET- programmes, participated at the course, involving 30 VET-teachers. The course Assessment for learning in VET was organized by three meetings each two days during autumn 2017. The meetings included varying learning activities as well as discussions and planning for intermediary work focusing on practicing various aspects of assessment for learning. Final grading was accomplished by oral exam in groups in VET-teachers` schools with colleagues and school leaders as audience. During the oral exam VET-teachers presented their experiences from practicing assessment for learning in different vocational programmes, and discussed further development in schools with the audience.
The study used a qualitative approach to explore and understand VET-teachers` development of assessment for learning competency (Creswell, 2007; Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009). Data was collected by using focus group interviews with all participating teachers from three schools attending the course (N=8) (Liamputtong, 2011). Members of the focus groups differed between 3- 5 VET-teachers. Focus group interviews was chosen aiming to explore both the individual VET-teachers perceptions of assessment, as well as the VET- teachers/ colleagues perceptions and experiences with the development of assessment competency. The focus group interviews were accomplished 3 months after final exam in the further education course. In the focus group interviews the VET- teachers were invited into an in-depth dialogue about perceptions of assessment for learning and assessment practice. Statements about feedback practice, teachers` and students’ use of feedback, student involvement in assessment, quality of the further education course related to VET-teachers` needs and influence on their schools` professional development was discussed by the VET-teachers. The interviews were recorded and Nvivo software was used as a tool for transcription and analysing the data, starting with an open coding as basis for making categories (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009).
The preliminary findings shows that VET-teachers responded positively to the further education course. Themes in the teaching lessons, work tasks during the course, reading lists and exam were all important elements contributing to the development of VET-teachers` assessment competency. The different communities during the course also had in important impact on teacher learning, i.e. the community at the course among the complex group of teachers, community at the course with teachers from the same VET-programme and VET-teachers from the same school. The data will be analysed in depth during February 2018.
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