02 SES 03 B, Less Successful VET Students
The educational attainment levels of the Spanish population reflect a high degree of polarization, characterized by insufficient numbers of people with an intermediate level of education (ISCED 3-4) and high numbers with a low level of education (ISCED 0-2). The Spanish school drop-out rate stood at 17.9% in 2018, above the European Union average (10.6%) and far from the Europe 2020 Strategy objective. (European Commission, 2010).
35% of Spanish students in upper secondary education do vocational training, compared with a figure of 48% for the EU and 46% for the OECD, with high drop-out rates at these training levels (Salvà-Mut, Ruiz-Pérez, Psifidou, Oliver-Trobat, 2020, Cerdà-Navarro et al., 2020). In this context, increased participation and qualifications in basic and intermediate vocational education and training (BVET and IVET) would help to bring down school drop-out rates by providing greater possibilities of access to the labour market and continued employment.
The theoretical reference framework for this project revolves around two main arguments: (1) that forged links between students and teaching staff act as a preventive factor in early leaving from vocational education and training (ELVET) (Davis & Dupper, 2004; Archambault, Janosz, Morizot y Pagani, 2009; Lessard, Poirier & Fortin, 2010; Whannell & Allen, 2011) and (2) that teachers' teaching styles and practices play a key role in forging links with students and, by extension, in preventing them from dropping out (Reeve, et al., 2004; Jang, Deci & Reeve, 2010; Alterman et al. 2019).
The project that we present explores this subject, with self-determination theory (SDT) as its basis (Vanteenkiste & Ryan, 2013; Ryan & Deci, 2017). It focuses on analysing teaching styles and practices in vocational education and training and their influence on boosting the students' academic results and on preventing early leaving from vocational education (ELVET).
Thus, the project's general objectives are:
(1) To gain a better insight into the characteristics of teaching styles and teaching practices, in addition to their link with academic outcomes and the prevention of early leaving in secondary vocational education and training (BVET and IVET).
(2) To establish the characteristics of successful practices in BVET and IVET, based on scientific evidence gained from a study of teachers' teaching styles and practices and their ties with educational outcomes.
(3) To promote the widespread adoption of successful teaching practices so as to bring down drop-out rates in secondary vocational education and training (BVET and IVET).
From the obtained results, evidence can be provided and strategies and instruments can be identified to build on existing knowledge of teaching styles and practices, pinpointing their links with students' academic outcomes. Likewise, the transfer of successful pedagogical tools and practices can be fostered to prevent or reduce early leaving from vocational training.
This project is subsidized by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness within the framework of the 2019 R&D&I Programme aimed at overcoming social challenges (reference PID2019-108342RB-100).
The research is divided into phases: a first descriptive-explanatory phase in which teaching styles and practices and their influence on students' academic outcomes will be identified and analysed; and a second implemental and transfer-based phase, in which successful practices will be implemented at two education centres as a strategy for the prevention of ELVET with a view to their subsequent use at other education centres. The research will be based on a mixed methodological approach that includes quantitative and qualitative methods. During the first stage, the data will be collected through two standard self-administered questionnaires: Situations-in-School (SIS) (Aeltermant et al., 2019) and Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy Scale (Tschannen-Moran, M., & Woolfolk Hoy, A., 2001). Different purpose-designed items will be added to them to collect socio-demographic data and details of educational results. The sample will be taken from teaching staff in the Balearic Islands who have taught on BVET and IVET programmes during the 2020-21 academic year. The size of the sample will be calculated for a 95% confidence level under the most favourable conditions, p=q=0.5, with a sampling error of 5%. The obtained results will be analysed at discussion groups with key informants, teaching staff and students. The second stage consists of creating, implementing and assessing a pilot scheme at two education centres, where successful teaching practices will be applied as a key strategy in preventing students from dropping out during the first year of secondary vocational education and training. Following this, the conditions for the transfer of the pilot intervention to other education centres will be defined. During the course of the research, ethical criteria based on negotiation, collaboration, confidentiality, impartiality, fairness and commitment to knowledge (Taylor & Bogdan, 2002) will be adhered to. In accordance with the characteristics of the study and its objectives, a complementary methodological approach will be taken that includes quantitative and qualitative methods. Another major stage of the project is the assessment phase. Assessing the said practices entails building up evidence, in addition to each teacher's own reflections on their teaching practices, sharing and discussing them on a collaborative basis and, lastly, comparing them with other professionals (Tejada, 2010). Finally, the project also contemplates the drafting of support materials for teachers wishing to introduce changes aimed at preventing students from dropping out of vocational education and training.
The results of the project will allow solid scientific evidence to be built up on how to prevent early leaving from education and training (ELET) by researching and analysing teaching styles and practices and developing successful ones that foster greater links between students and teachers. Thanks to the project's design, it will be possible to identify and analyse existing knowledge on the subject and to build up new knowledge on successful practices, teaching styles, and the implementation and outcomes of the planned intervention through a pilot scheme focused on preventing early leaving in basic and intermediate vocational education and training (BVET and IVET). We believe that the said results will make an important impact in Spain at a technical, scientific, social and economic level for several reasons. Firstly, the project tackles a key problem in Spanish education that affects Spanish society and the economy: high early leaving rates from education in general and from vocational education and training in a context in which requirements in the field of personal, social and economic development have led upper secondary education to be considered the minimum level that is needed for access to a job, to lifelong education and, more generally, to the exercise of citizens' rights. Secondly, the transfer of the project's results is a key aspect of its ongoing development. The project's contributions will take the form of a pilot scheme at two education centres, based on the results obtained during the former stage, with a view to its subsequent transfer to other vocational training centres. In addition, by drawing up a list of instruments and successful practices to improve students' academic performance and prevent them from dropping out of education, the results can be disseminated and transferred on a greater scale.
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