02 SES 13 A, Innovative Teaching and Learning Practices in VET
In the last decade, the European Commission (2013, 2017) has emphasized the importance of introducing policies that encourage in-service teachers to continue developing and extending their competences during their careers through Vocational Education and Training (VET). More recently, as a consequence of COVID-19, the Commission put forward a recovery agenda on employment and social policy with the focus on upgrading skills through comprehensive VET systems, empowering lifelong learning (LLL) in all areas of employment (European Commission, 2020).
In this context, the Erasmus+ project “Developing Teacher Competences for a Comprehensive VET System in Albania (TEAVET, https://teavet.org)” aims at enhancing the continuous development of competences for in-service non-university teachers in Albania. TEAVET (2017-2020) is a Capacity Building in Higher Education project coordinated by University of León (Spain) in which 4 countries (Spain, Finland, Austria and Albania), 11 universities and the Albanian Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth (MoESY) are involved.
This project has contributed to the success of the Albanian National Strategy of Pre-university Education (2014-2020) (MoES, 2014) that pursues to bring a good solution to the specific need of raising the competencies of in-service teachers by asking Albanian universities to contribute to build a high-quality Vocational Education and Training (VET) system by means of transforming themselves into main providers. In the Albanian context, this aim offers something new to the existing situation since it puts universities as main agents of LLL, one of the core dimensions of universities’ third mission (Cendon, 2018; Mora et al., 2015, 2018). In this sense, the project reinforces identified concerns for Albania about the importance of strengthen the relationship between higher education and the wider economic and social environment (UNESCO, 2017).
TEAVET design and implementation builds on a theoretical framework of previous literature on how to implement successful VET systems (Caves & Bauman, 2018) based on five interrelated (non-linear) dimensions and key success factors: (1) context (coordination and context fit), (2) content (strategy and accountability), (3) commitment (political will and cooperation), (4) capacity (personnel, finances and research) and (5) clients (employers, intermediaries and educators). Following this framework, TEAVET designing and implementations phases are the following:
- Defining a strategy for a comprehensive VET system for Albanian in-service teachers by means of an in-depth need’s analysis of in-service teachers (dimensions: context/content).
- Establishing new expertise of teacher training in Albanian universities through training workshops and training visits to European universities with expertise in VET (dimensions: capacity).
- Establishing specialised LLL Centres for Teacher Training in Albania universities according to the strategy of MoESY and to the needs of in-service teachers (dimensions: context, capacity).
- Identifying and designing teacher training courses in accordance to teacher qualification needs. 16 training courses of 2 credits each were designed. Content of the courses focused on two fields: new methodologies supported by ICT and inclusive education (dimensions: context/content).
- Establishing an accreditation system of LLL courses. MoESY created a system of registration, accreditation, and monitoring of VET courses and a national information management system & database of teacher training. This online application system has been settled by MoESY in order to register teachers in training courses, to manage the assessment processes, exams, course profile, etc. (dimensions: commitment/capacity/clients).
- Implementation of the 16 training courses by LLL Centers in Albanian Universities during the academic year 2019-2020 (dimensions: context/content/commitment/capacity/clients).
The aim of this study is to evaluate the implementation of training courses (phase 6) considering the opinions from in-service teachers who attended the courses, and from MoESY and people in charge of the LLL Centres in Albanian universities.
The evaluation had two phases based on a mix-methods approach that merges qualitative and quantitative data: 1) Evaluation by in-service teachers: survey in order to analyse teacher characteristics, motivations and their level of satisfaction with the courses (from September 2019 to May 2020). The research instrument is an on-line questionnaire (google forms) that was already tested on a pilot phase (February-June 2019). This questionnaire is both in English and Albanian language, and comprises the following sections: 1. Background information (sex, age, years working as a teacher in total/in your current school, main subject, and teaching level); 2. About the course attended (select course and university) and 36 items on a 1-to-5-point Likert scale about the level of satisfaction with: Course content and organization (5 items), Attendants’ participation and learning facilities (5 items), Teaching methods (6 items), Trainers (4 items), Feedback and assessment (4 items) and general level of satisfaction (12 items); finally, a qualitative evaluation of the course is included: yes/no questions (This was a worthwhile course; Would you enroll again; Would you recommend this course to a colleague), and open questions: suitability of the time of the year to attend the course; the best features of the course were (complete); and the course could have been improved by (complete). 1775 in-service teachers answered the questionnaire (response rate 76%) about the courses implemented by the 8 Albanian partner universities (University College Pavaresia Vlore, Sports University of Tirana, University of Durres, University of Elbasan, University of Gjirokastra, University of Korça, University of Shkodra and University of Vlora). Most of them were women (89%), among 36 to 45 years old (79%), who have worked as teachers in Lower Secondary and Primary Education for an average of 12.5 years. 2) Evaluation by MoESY and LLL Centers: People in charge of the LLL Centers of the 8 Albanian universities and the MoESY prepared a self-evaluation report that focused on identifying strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for improvement of the VET system. Qualitative analysis of the reports has followed an inductive approach that seeks to develop themes and categories around the five dimensions (Caves & Bauman, 2018): context, content, commitment, capacity and clients.
Implementation of LLL courses by Albanian universities has proved to be very successful. On the one hand, the level of satisfaction of in-service teachers is very high (mean above 4.5 points) in all aspects considered in the questionnaire. More than 95% of the attendants consider that the course was worthwhile, they would enroll again, and recommend the course to a colleague. In the opinion of in-service teachers, strong points are communication with trainers, discussions on real practice, and the introduction of innovative methodologies supported by ICT. However, some of them have also been included as actions for improvement: more practical tasks and concrete examples, and transferability of new methodologies to the current situation of schools. On the other hand, self-evaluation from MoESY and LLL Centres is also very positive. However, key recommendations have been highlighted: • About the context and content: to include content for specific subjects (Maths, Science), to address new challenges that emerged during COVID-19 lockdowns (on-line teaching, digital team-work, communication on-line, etc.), and to make courses more practical oriented in collaboration with schools. • About capacity and clients: to select participants (by subject, more/less experienced, with/without computer skills); to determine the best delivery methods (on-site, blended, or on-line); to improve communication with participants and expand the training (longer access to the Moodle); and finally, to consider other learning sites for courses that can be taken in rural or far areas. These results, although very positive, may lead to challenges for the Albanian VET System as those already encountered (Darling-Hammond & Lieberman, 2012; González-Moreira et al., 2021): contextualizing LLL to real-life at schools (COVID-19 has proven to be a challenge), networking and sharing experiences at the schools, and maintaining commitment between educational authorities (at central and local levels), universities and schools.
Caves, K. M., & Baumann, S. (2018). Getting there from here: a literature review of VET reform implementation, Economics Division Working Papers. http://dx.doi.org/10.3929/ethz-b-000257741 Cendon, E. (2018). Lifelong Learning at Universities: Future Perspectives for Teaching and Learning. Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, 7(2), 81-87. https://doi.org/10.7821/naer.2018.7.320 Darling-Hammond, L., & Lieberman, A. (Eds.) (2012). Teacher Education around the World: Changing Policies and Practices. Routledge. European Commission. (2013). Supporting Teacher Educators for Better Learning Outcomes (Strasbourg, 20.11.2012, SWD2012. 374 final). European Commission.https://ec.europa.eu/assets/eac/education/policy/school/doc/support-teacher-educators_en.pdf European Commission (2017). School development and excellent teaching for a great start in life (COM/2017/0248 final). https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM%3A2017%3A248%3AFIN European Commission (2020). Commission staff working document accompanying the Commission Proposal for a Council Recommendation on vocational education and training (VET) for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience (COM/2020/275 final). https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52020SC0123&from=EN González-Moreira, A., Ferreira, C., & Vidal, J. (2021). Comparative Analysis Of The Transition From Early Childhood Education To Primary Education: Factors Affecting Continuity Between Stages. European Journal of Educational Research, 10(1), 441-454. https://doi.org/10.12973/eu-jer.10.1.441 MoES (2014). Strategy for the development of the pre-university education system 2014-2020. Tirana. https://www.academia.edu/11411662/STRATEGY_ON_PRE-UNIVERSITY_EDUCATION_DEVELOPMENT_2014-2020_Draft_ Mora, J. G., Ferreira, C., Vidal, J., & Vieira, M. J. (2015). Higher education in Albania: developing third mission activities. Tertiary Education and Management, 21(1), 29-40. https://doi.org/10.1080/13583883.2014.994556 Mora, J. G., Serra, M. A., & Vieira, M. J. (2018). Social Engagement in Latin American Universities. Higher Education Policy, 31(4), 513–534. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41307-017-0069-1 UNESCO (2017). Albania. Education Policy Review: issues and recommendations. UNESCO. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000259245
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