02 SES 16 A, Innovative Teaching and Learning Practices in VET
Many studies have shown vocational secondary education can be a source of opportunities for young people (Estevez and al., 2001; Shavit and Müller, 2000). In France, although it counts for nearly 40% of young people leaving the upper secondary education, few studies in the field of education have analysed it with attention.
Vocational secondary education is, however, a very particular subject of research and crystallizes the greatest challenges of the French education system since it combines the most vulnerable pupils that is to say: over-representation of pupils with lower sociocultural background, over-representation of pupils with weak educational achievements or drop out issues.
In this research, we question a particular track of the vocational secondary education: the Certificate of vocational ability. This curriculum is characterized by two trends: it is designed for 1/ a direct school-to-work transition and 2/ for pupils with the lowest school achievements in lower secondary and with the lowest school perseverance. In this context, the analyses outline this curriculum is often described as a “laboratory for pedagogical innovation” (Jellab, 2017).
In order to shed on light by which mechanism teachers take into account pupils’ vulnerability to innovate in their practices, we make use of the participatory action approach. This methodology allows us to value the circulation of knowledge as a shared space of meanings between the various actors involved (Lave & Wenger, 1991). This is a way to lead research with rather than on teachers: bringing practitioners and researchers together to investigate the same subject (Morissette, 2015). The design-based research dimension is to work with teachers on usable knowledge, and to highlight their practices in order to enhance learning (The Design-Based Research Collective, 2003).
The purpose of this research is to consider the capacity of teachers of a general school subject –English– to encourage pupils' motivation and perseverance in training. Our research question is: How a participatory action research influences changes of teachers' practices in a specific track (the Certificate of vocational ability) characterised by pupils with the lowest school achievements and the lowest school perseverance of the french secondary education?
This participatory action research is an adapted design-based research. Within this kind of research, we chose a methodology from a field of semiotics and cognitive psychology (Lebahar, 2001). This so-called “semio-cognitive analysis” method (Iori, 2017) allows making up a cognitive and semiotic analysis. Semi-directive interviews led by researchers, help to analyse teachers’ activity with extrinsic analyses through recorded and transcribed interviews as dialogues. We focus on teachers’ activity of assessment designing. The context is a teachers’ training session where English teachers were gathered by their inspectors. Those inspectors are teachers’ supervisors in charge of the implementation of educational public policies in local territories. This training is provided for seventeen English teachers from various educational establishments of one of thirty french territories. Analyses outline some of significant outcomes and dialogues with four groups of four or five teachers. Each group is working on english competences : writing expression competences; speaking expression competences; writing comprehension competences; speaking comprehension competences; transversal competences. All dialogues have been transcribed. The content analysis enables to draw from any episode of dialogues and from the chaining of these episodes (diachrony), the observable elements of cognitive activities implemented in this co-building process: the assessment grids, forms, phrases, etc., produced by teachers within groups’ dialogues and their pragmatic interactions (requests, answers, communication, changes, etc.). Dialogues can be spotted from several indicators like transmitter, receiver, topic, questions, answers, orders, and so on. The corpus has been segmented in elementary proposals. Every proposal contains the form/agent, predicate, argument and other arguments (for example: M [agent] and S [another agent] included [predicate] a photograph [argument] in the assessment form [other argument: medium]). Based on a written transcription of all dialogues, qualitative and quantitative analysed data provide some cross results with a grid for both data collection and data process.
The main outcomes relate to teachers' reflective analysis of their activity (i.e. the assessment designing in the teacher’s training session) allowed by the interviews. This analysis refers to notions as: skills, assessment, or how to manage heterogeneity and to create common tools. The exchanges generate a debate on these notions. On the basis of these debates, the teachers verbalise their perceptions, exchange points of disagreement and thus develop a general reflection about how to work in this specific track of secondary education. During interviews led by researchers, we observe a real change in attitude of teachers in terms of position, type of speech, compared to those conducted with the inspector. Thanks to the researchers, they may speak freelier in allowing themselves to discuss about the difficulties they encountered, the questions they had. This process is partly due to the researcher’s interviewing skills: the fact to point out an element of the conversation to deepen a subject; to restate an extract; to question the statements; and so on. More broadly, our research highlights a paradigm shift: while teachers seem to be on self-censorship at the beginning of the interview, they eventually tend to present their actual practices. Teachers actually confess they want to comply with the anticipated expectations of the inspection rather than to talk about their actual work, done in class. To conclude, teachers stated they were more confident to talk about what they really do, what they had been keeping quiet, for fear of being too far removed from institutional expectations. There is an acknowledgement of their professional skills and an actual change of teacher’s reflections about pupils with low school achievements and low school perseverance.
Estevez-Abe, M., Iversen, T., & Soskice, D. (2001). Social protection and the formation of skills: A reinterpretation of the welfare state. Varieties of capitalism: The institutional foundations of comparative advantage, 145, 145-183. Jellab, A. (2017). Enseigner et étudier en lycée professionnel aujourd'hui: éclairage sociologique pour une pédagogie réussie. Paris: Editions L'Harmattan. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Lebahar, J.-C. (2001). Design and ergonomics of new communication systems: A few constructivist approaches. International Journal of Design Sciences and Technology, 8(2), 7-10. Lorino, P., Tricard, B., & Clot, Y. (2011). Research Methods for Non-Representational Approaches to Organizational Complexity: The Dialogical Mediated Inquiry. Organization Studies, 32(6), 769-801. doi:10.1177/0170840611410807 Morrissette, J. (2015). Une analyse interactionniste de la complémentarité des positions de savoir en recherche collaborative. Carrefours de l’éducation, 39(1), 101-116. [en ligne] http://www.academia.edu/download/44437095/Morrissette_2015.pdf Shavit, Y., & Muller, W. (2000). Vocational secondary education. European societies, 2(1), 29-50. The Design-Based Research Collective. (2003). Design-Based Research: An Emerging Paradigm for Educational Inquiry. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 5-8. doi: 10.3102/0013189X032001005. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3102/0013189X032001005
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