02 SES 04 C, Completing VET: Drop-Out, Vocational Identity And Progression
Increasingly, more flexible training has been introduced to initial VET, with different models of blended learning having been developed across countries. Transition patterns from school to work tend to become both complex and discontinuous. Students move in and out of school or shift from one educational programme to another, while a substantial number of students leave school and never complete their upper secondary education (Helms Jørgensen, 2009; Hernes, 2010). The Norwegian construct, "In-depth Study Project" (IdSP), is a hybrid subject that cuts across the institutional division of school and work. As a reform element, it can be seen as a compromise that carries inherent tensions and dilemmas to be resolved at the local level. Students, teachers, trainers, school managers and training offices are all actors in creating and negotiating local and pedagogical solutions (Edwards and Kinti, 2010). The IdSP is an interesting arena for studying boundary-crossing as a tool for promoting learning and transfer (Tuomi-Gröhn, Engeström and Young, 2003). According to the situated learning perspective, learning is most effective when it takes place through participation in activities that are meaningful to the participant such as work (Wenger, 1998). When learning takes place in different arenas, the issue of transfer is raised: How can learning be transferred between school and work? Within an activity-theoretical perspective, the transfer of learning is understood as an interaction between collective activity systems (Tuomi-Gröhn and Engeström, 2003). Schools and workplaces may engage in collaborative interaction in ways that foster mutual learning and remove institutional barriers to individual pathways from both education and work (Helms Jørgensen, 2009). When learning is understood as a process of becoming (Colley et al., 2003), it is important to understand how vocational identities are formed in such a hybrid context as IdSP (Heinz, 2009; Lahn, 2010).
On a national and political level, the implementation and development of the subject is followed closely by the national council for VET and by the vocational training councils for each VET program. Due to the scope of the subject, they ask for visible, vocational learning outcomes. Reports from the evaluation of IdSP (Dæhlen & Hagen 2010; Dæhlen, Hagen and Hertzberg, 2008) shows impact on students' motivation for school subjects, their choice of educational program and on their access to apprenticeships.
As a result of a pre-project, PROFAG, in 2011, we will examine further three different dimensions of this hybrid subject: 1) The teachers' and trainers' professional learning while working on this subject; 2) The interpretations of different stakeholders regarding the vocational content and outcome in the sense of vocational identities and skills; 3) The students' development of vocational identities as they move through their first and second year of initial VET. The objective is to generate new knowledge about the subject IdSP as a tool for promoting vocational learning and identity and as a tool to facilitate the transition from school to apprenticeship.
This paper will present the results from a pre-project and the evaluation of IdSP and the design of a further study.
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