02 SES 03 B, Symposium: Connectivity And Integrated Competence Development
Overall focus and potential significance: The so called “Knowledge Society” and its prevalent technological, economic and societal trends (e.g., development of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), enlarging globalization processes or changes in organizational structures) comes along with fundamental shifts in relation to work requirements, and thus gives rise to far-reaching challenges concerning the respective adaptation of European VET and PET systems with their fundamental need to adequately orchestrate two different worlds, namely the world of education and the world of work and employment. Against this background, the main purpose of the symposium is to scrutinize ways of exploring and optimizing the relationship between school-based and workplace learning.
General conceptual framework: In accordance with contemporary approaches in VET/PET research, the symposium addresses the above mentioned purpose through a clear focus on competence development and life-long learning as one of the most essential aims of the VET/PET system, together with employability, social participation and responsibility, and identity development. In general, we conceive competence as a persons’ ability to mobilize a set of (internal and external) resources; thus, competence enables him or her to master (professional) situations. Competence is based on the availability of individual dispositions such as (different kinds of) knowledge, motivations and attitudes. In addition, we follow the prevailing line of argumentation, indicating that learning is a constructive process which is aimed at gradually appropriating those dispositions. More specifically, this process is grounded on learners’ prevailing prerequisites and is mediated by their learning activities. Teachers and trainers with their available competence, on the other hand, are conceived as facilitators of this process. Last but not least, we envision learning and teaching as so-called micro-processes not as happening in a ‘vacuum’, but as embedded in and influenced by a larger context, consisting for example of the given organizational conditions, incentive system and curricular regulations.
Major issues addressed: Given this conceptual framework and its assumptions, the symposium will particularly focus on the following research questions:
- What are the prevailing characteristics of the different learning contexts (i.e. schools, workplaces and combinations of both) in various European VET/PET systems?
- How are these characteristics perceived by the groups involved in the VET/PET systems (e.g., apprentices, vocational school teachers, company trainers)?
- What individual, organizational and systemic processes are these characteristics triggering in different VET/PET systems? Are they favouring or hindering integrated competence development (and other important vocational/professional education aims, respectively)?
- What conditions (e.g. tools, procedures, structures) are effective in supporting integrated competence development (and other important vocational/professional education aims, respectively)?
The four contributions of this symposium address these questions mainly by departing from a socio-cultural approach and combining this approach with other theoretical frameworks (e.g. developmental and cognitive psychology, phenomenography). Besides offering ample opportunities to explore and compare the issues of connectivity and integrated competence development from a variety of perspectives (e.g. classical dual VET tracks vs. rather school-based pathways; individual vs. organizational and/or systemic VET level), they also represent several methodological ways (e.g. descriptive vs. interventionist; qualitative vs. quantitative) to investigate the topic at hand.
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