11 SES 09 B, Innovation and School Improvement
Purpose and introduction
Recurrent subject teacher training in Sweden mainly is organised so that individual teachers are sent in formal educational activities. After participation, the teacher might experience increased self-confidence but the outcomes are conspicuous by their absence. In this paper, we will discuss an innovative design of recurrent education, for teachers´ professional development and educational improvement. A central component of this work, in forming a national recurrent education for VET teachers is, a close collaboration between the teacher profession, the authority and the academia.
The empirical case is a project with the vocational education (VET) in upper secondary school in Sweden. VET is organized so that the school has educational responsibility. Since the latest reform GY -11, the school-based vocational education also includes workpractice. The students in VET should undergo at least 15 weeks of workplace-based learning (WBL) or 50% of the training period in apprenticeship. To organize for closer cooperation between school and work requires new skills of the vet subject teachers. The Swedish National Agency for Education has been instructed to remedy the lack of quality in vocational education. One step is to educate VET teachers for educational improvement. The National Agency for Education invited Stockholm University 2013 to plan and conduct a recurrent education for VET teaches that would be relevant to vocational subject teachers in managing the new demands.
The national recurrent education project for VET teachers is a success, happily ever after! In formative and summative evaluations from 7 universities between the years 2013-2018 and in serveys from approximately 1200 teachers the predominant story is: “Yeah, the best education that I have ever participated in, having 30 years of experiences”. “Everyone should take the course, it gave me tools in coping with the new demands from the authority”, “Thankfully I am for a relevant education at last, I´ve become a better VET teacher”…
So it seems that a recurrent VET education on a national level has been created and carried out. The purpose of the paper is to highlight some understandings of the outcomes in the project with a focus on the collaboration between different actors in the non traditional project: to create a recurrent education in terms of sustainability. The point of departure is the methodological approach used to design and implement the –on going learning evaluation through follow-up research. Inspiring theoretical roots are social constructivism, but the focus is on methodological standpoints in line with the traditions of the discourse joint knowledge (Gibson et al, 1994).
Reseach design The study is based on interactive or participatory research approaches in the tradition of action research (Aagard, 2006; Amundsdotter, E., 2010; Noffke,, 2009). The interactive research approach does not represent a specific design, but it is about strategies that contain different methods as interviews, focus groups, surveys, dialogue and analysis seminars and self-assessment. The interactive research emphasis joint learning where practical and theoretical knowledge develop in a mutual process. The research system interact with the practice by creating a continuous reflected community of knowledge creation and the generated knowledge will contribute to both systems. This means that interactive learning processes between different participants going on throughout the project, from definition of the problem to the analysis and dissemination of results (Aagaard Nielsen, 2006; Johannisson, B., Gunnarsson, E. & Stjernberg, T., 2008; Svensson, Ellström & Brulin, 2008). Svensson et al (2002) speak of research with rather than researching for, at or on. It means that several stakeholders with different perspectives of knowledge or interests meet and cooperate where no knowledge is worth more than any other. The ambition is to create equal circumstances where different participants contribute with unique knowledge. Knowledge of interactive cooperation can bring a critical perspective, at the same time as it is part of a construction (Brulin, 2008). As a researcher in interactive projects, it is vital to manage the process, to be involved in the project and at the same time have a critical distance - proximity and distance (Gunnarsson, 2006). If activities are followed up under the project, so called ongoing evaluation, it can form bases of new paths and alternative activities. New knowledge can returned to the project in the time when the project is going on be fruitful (Svensson, Brulin Jansson & Sjöberg, 2009). A lot of participatory research projects fail thus a lot of normative and instructional research claiming how to do the right things. The National Agency for Education and Stockholm University have together, by the entire education, litigated content and performance in education. Furthermore, the participants in the education have been active in the discussions of the content and then produced and tested the educational material. Stockholm University has been both a designer of skills development and has monitored the implementation process and evaluated it. Methods such as observations, interviews and questionnaires have been used both under training, and once completed the course.
Conclusions The throughput rate is over 97% and implemented today at 7 universities in Sweden. The result turns out in terms of skills development of the teachers. The collaboration has increased between schools and workplaces. The teachers identify the support of the National Agency for Education. Headmasters and colleagues are involved and changes occurred at the organisational level. Success factors identified in this exploratory project was the National Agency for Education having a clear project ownership, which means an active responsibility for the conditions of the project in terms of resources, governance, etc. A clear division of roles maintained and thus researchers could create a distance by connecting and provide input through discussion of problems, but to be responsible for the concrete direction. The project actors had a shared problem scenario and basic approach during the project developed a common approach to knowledge. The project formed an education with the requested content, authentic course assignments that involved colleagues and leadership, and workplaces. The profession was advisory, but leaders in shaping the course structure and course information. Systematic exchange of experience in organised heterogeneous cohort groups resulted in tangible tools that appears to be central in recurrent teacher training. Situated knowledge was generalized and opened a development oriented Learning. The collaboration in this joint venture is about: - Task orientation - Self- inquiring - Project roles - Create and maintain communicative spaces - Transition teams in different contexts - Ethics We can also see the outcomes on the level of government and in academia that can be explained by the project based on common knowledge. This participant oriented research appears effective in praxis and at the agency level and contributes to the University's educational mission. The question is how the national recurrent teacher vet education can improve the quality in students´ learning?
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