02 SES 07 B, Teachers and Teaching Practice
The importance of studying learning in school practices is highlighted in different studies, but there is an evident lack of such studies in vocational education. In this paper, we will present four empirical examples from a larger project concerning vocational learning, financed by the Swedish Research Council (ref no 2017-03552), aiming to redress this lack and to respond to the call for research by focusing on learning practices that take shape in technical vocational educational settings. The vocational programmes in Swedish upper secondary school are school based as well as including workplace based learning (Andersson and Köpsén 2018; Kuczera and Jeon 2019). However, in this study we only focus on the programme specific teaching and learning in the school based part of the education. Furthermore, the specific focus is on the learning processes that take shape when vocational teachers and upper secondary students interact with tools and materials in relation to technical objects of learning. In this project, we video recorded the interaction between teachers and students in order to study what was possible to learn in relation to the enacted learning content and how learning was done in relation to the different emerging objects of learning (cf. Asplund & Kilbrink, 2018; Kilbrink, Asplund, and Asghari, accepted). We followed four different teachers, from different technical vocational programmes, while they were interacting with their students during two vocational workshops each. At the conference, we will present four sub-projects on vocational learning, including empirical examples in relation to 1) how an object of learning can be introduced in a vocational workshop; 2) how longitudinal orientations are made in teaching vocational content; 3) how tools are focused and made relevant as objects of learning in interaction; and 4) how the learning content is handled in a make-up session at the Handicraft Programme.
The examples have been analysed in depth, with focus on both the what- and the how aspects of learning, using CAVTA (Conversation Analysis and Variation Theory Approach, cf. Asplund and Kilbrink, 2018;2020; Kilbrink and Asplund, 2018; 2020). All these examples help us understand vocational teaching and learning and how the learning content is enacted between teachers and students in vocational workshops in different vocational programmes. Furthermore, these analysed examples show a dynamic process of interacting aspects concerning how learning is done and what is made possible to learn in interaction in vocational school workshops. One conclusion is that there are often parallel processes where one concern the solving of the present task and other concern other aspects of the learning content. Furthermore, a conclusion is that the complexity of vocational learning need to be further studied with focus on different learning content in different vocational programmes, since we cannot see vocational teaching and learning as one homogenous phenomena, but as a complex processes including both general and specific aspects.
The data collection for this study was made in four different technical vocational programmes in Swedish upper secondary education: the Construction and Installation Programme; the Electrical and Energy Programme; the Handicraft Programme; and the Sanitary, Heating and Property Maintenance Programme. Data consist of eight video recorded workshop sessions (two from each programme), with a focus on the teachers’ interaction with different students concerning the learning content during the sessions. In the programmes, the vocational students worked with predefined tasks, sometimes individually and sometimes in pairs. In the Sanitary, Heating and Property Maintenance Programme, the students worked individually, with different kinds of tasks; in the Construction and Installation Programme, the students worked in pairs – mainly with the same task, but in different phases of conducting the task. In the Electrical and Energy Programme the students again worked in pairs, but with different tasks on different stations in the workshop area – and in this programme there were also two teachers present, due to security reasons of handling electricity. Finally, in the Handicraft Programme, the students worked in pairs with the same tasks, alternating working on each other as models. When analysing the empirical data, examples in relation to the research questions in the four sub-projects were chosen to be analysed more in depth. Those chosen sections were transcribed according to CA-conventions and analysed on a micro level using CAVTA (Conversation Analysis and Variation Theory Approach, cf. Asplund and Kilbrink, 2018;2020; Kilbrink and Asplund, 2018; 2020). Thereby, we made a detailed analysis of the interaction (mainly based on CA-tools (cf. Sidnell and Stivers, 2013), like the use of semiotic resources and the establishment of mutual understanding) and the learning content made visible in the interaction (mainly based on tools from the Variation Theory (cf. Marton, 2015); like object of learning, critical aspects and features and patterns of variation). Through this approach, we can reach an understanding of which content is made relevant in the interaction and how it is oriented to here and now, in the actual teaching situation. We are solely focusing on the interaction that take place, in relation to the enacted object of learning and therefore not discussing what the teacher aimed for or what the students actually learned. We follow the ethical principles stated by the Swedish Research Council (2017).
In the first example, we can see how the teacher is using different semiotic resources for teaching the same learning content, when introducing an object of learning in a vocational workshop. He is also alternating between parts and wholeness and moving between different physical places in the workshop – showing the same learning content on a drawing, on a mounted artefact as well as on physical parts to be mounted by the student. In the second example, we show how the teaching can concern a longitudinal orientation – including two parallel processes concerning both the solving of the task here and now as well as a future orientation where contextualising the specific vocational learning content and making vocational learning relevant for future working life are highlighted. The third example concerns how tools as artefacts come into the foreground in the teaching situation when something gets problematic for the student in solving the problem at hand. And finally, the fourth example shows how aspects concerning soft values in relation to the object of learning are negotiated between teacher and student(s) in the actual learning situation. Altogether, these examples show complex and dynamic processes of interacting aspects, which become visible in the analysis of the interaction between teacher and student(s) in teaching and learning in vocational workshops. Although, the learning content as well as the tasks and way of working differ between the examples, we can see that there are parallel learning processes present in all the examples; where one focus on the solving of the task here and now, while other processes can concern more general aspects (like reading manuals/instructions), learning of concepts, contextualizing aspects and/or aspects in relation to a future working life for example. These complex processes could be further studied in future research on vocational education.
Andersson, P. and Köpsén, S. (2018). Maintaining Competence in the Initial Occupation: Activities among Vocational Teachers. Vocations and Learning 11(2): 317-344. Asplund, S-B. and Kilbrink, N. (2020). Lessons from the Welding Booth: Theories in Practice in Vocational Education. Empirical Res Voc Ed Train 12(1). doi: 10.1186/s40461-020-0087-x. Asplund, S-B. and Kilbrink, N. (2018). Learning how (and how not) to Weld: Vocational Learning in Technical Vocational Education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 62(1): 1–16. doi: 10.1080/00313831.2016.1188147. Kilbrink, N. and Asplund, S-B. (2018). “This angle that we talked about”: learning how to weld in interaction. International Journal of Technology & Design Education. doi: 10.1007/s10798-018-9490-z. Kilbrink, N. & Asplund, S-B. (2020). Att lägga en TIG-svets: En learning study baserad på CAVTA. Forskning om undervisning och lärande, vol 8, nr 1, ss. 29-54. (http://forskul.se/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ForskUL_vol_8_nr_1_s_29-54.pdf) Kilbrink, N., Asplund, S-B., & Asghari, H (Accepted, JVET 2020). Introducing the Object of Learning in Interaction: Vocational Teaching and Learning in a Plumbing Workshop Session. Kuczera, M. and Jeon, S. (2019). Vocational Education and Training in Sweden, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training, OECD Publishing, Paris. doi: 10.1787/g2g9fac5-en. Marton F. (2015). Necessary conditions of learning. London: Routledge. Sidnell, J. & Stivers, T. (Eds) (2013). The Handbook of Conversation Analysis, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford. Swedish Research Council. (2017). Good Research Practice. Vetenskapsrådet. Retrieved January 6 from https://www.vr.se/download/18.5639980c162791bbfe697882/1555334908942/Good-Research-Practice_VR_2017.pdf
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