02 SES 08 A, Scaffolding, ICT and Teaching Styles
Austria is one of the OECD countries with the largest share of students in vocationally oriented upper secondary education (OECD 2012). Especially, commercial colleges at secondary level 2 seem to be very attractive to youngsters. One aim of Austrian commercial colleges is to help students to attain A-level in commercial knowledge, especially in Accountancy.
To attain this goal teachers go very different ways: Since the latest curriculum change in 2003 and 2004 calls for more innovative learning in commercial colleges (BMUKK 2003; BMUKK 2004), teachers have been encouraged to apply new ways of teaching. One very famous possibility is called cooperative open learning (COOL): Today, due to a large progressive educational movement, about 1000 teachers and 20 000 commercial college students work within enhanced self-regulated learning environments (Neuhauser et al. 2012).
The focus of the study presented lies on the commercial college students’ academic learning progress in the subject Accountancy. The main research question is, whether and to what extent the students’ development can be traced back to this new, student-led way of teaching. To answer this main question at least two subordinate aspects need to be addressed beforehand:
First, since hardly any suitable instruments exist that allow assessing Accountancy competence annually, a pretest of an internally generated inventory is necessary. The greatest challenge is in constructing a test that measures the same latent competence over different school years and different parts of the commercial curriculum. Therefore, vertical scaling and equating are necessary (Kolen & Brennan 2004).
Second, a theoretical model describing high-quality teacher behaviour in cooperative open learning is needed in order to explain students’ development. In other words: Which kind of teacher behaviour is appropriate to promote students’ learning in COOL environments? Literature and scientific research on self-regulated learning theory (see Boekaerts, Pintrich & Zneider 2010; Konrad 2008; Mandl & Fischer 1982; Schiefele & Pekrun 1996; Weinert 1982) as well as on self-determination theory (see Deci & Ryan 1990; Reeve, Ryan, Deci & Jang 2008; Schwarzer & Jerusalem 2002) provides possible answers: COOL teachers and teachers using open-learning elements (such as working on assignments) must make decisions and act according to the following principles (see also the principles designed by Vrieling, Bestiaens & Stijnen 2010):
P1: Promoting gradual transition to higher autonomy and minimal guidance using e.g. scaffolding, fading.
P2: Promoting individualisation and differentiation.
P3: Promoting autonomy-supportive instructional behaviour and freedom of choice.
P4: Promoting appreciation between students and teacher as well as among students.
P5: Promoting cooperative learning.
P6: Promoting cognitive and meta-cognitive learning strategies as well as strategies to regulate affective knowledge.
In total, the study presented shows how to measure the development in Accountancy competence over years of schooling and to which extent the variation in development can be traced back to different (traditional vs. progressive) teaching styles.
To highlight the European dimension of the study: COOL is also implemented in other school systems (e.g. the Netherlands, Czech Republic) and thus the research results are not only relevant for Austria but are of international importance.
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