02 SES 06 A, Occupational Competence - What and How to Measure?
For more than a decade now, a lot of effort has been put into looking at the outcomes of vocational occupation, conceptualised as occupational competence. Still, by no means there has been reached a common understanding of what occupational competence actually means. This even holds for the broader theoretical approaches, where functional behaviourism, integrated occupationalism, and situated professionalism all have different strengths and weaknesses (Mulder, Weigel & Collins, 2007; Mulder 2011, 2013). Moreover, the concrete content of competence in a given occupational domain is depicted quite differently, roughly on a continuum between the ability to carry out isolated small tasks (hereby replacing the word 'skills', and the ability of holistic problem solving (Rauner et al. 2012a,b; Gurtner et al. 2007).
Still, the European debate on competence that was quite strong when introducing the concept seems to have settled without being solved. The different approaches are to some degree incorporated in national VET practice (e.g. exams), but do not influence each other much internationally in terms of being discussed in other European countries.
Occupational competences are a prerequisite to be able to define standards of VET outcomes, something that the European Union tries to introduce in the last 10 years via initiatives like e.g. the European Qualification Framework and related initiatives like ESCO. Here, obviously the different approaches to occupational competence have direct impact on the content of VET - there is a pressure to link what people learn in occupational contexts to occupational competence.
In this situation, renewing the discussion on different approaches to occupational competence and their effect on vocational occupation on the basis of the research undertaken in the last years should enable the VET community to more informed opinions. The workshop is organised as taking stock of research undertaken by the participants in the last 7 years in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Norway.
Gurtner, A., Tschan, F., Semmer, N. K., & Nägele, C. (2007). Getting groups to develop good strategies: Effects of reflexivity interventions on team process, team performance, and shared mental models. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 102(2), 127-142. doi:10.1016/j.obhdp.2006.05.00 Mulder, M., T. Weigel & K. Collins (2007). The concept of competence concept in the development of vocational education and training in selected EU member states. A critical analysis. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 59, 1, pp. 65-85. Mulder, M. (2011). The concept of competence: blessing or curse? In: I. Torniainen, S. Mahlamäku-Kultanen, P. Nokelainen & P. Ilsley (Eds). Innovations for Competence Management. Conference Proceedings. Lahti: Lahti University of Applied Sciences, pp. 11-24. Mulder, M. (2013): Conceptions of professional competence, in: S. Billett, C. Harteis, H. Gruber (Eds). International Handbook on Research into professional and practice-based learning. Section: Professions and the workplace. Dordrecht: Springer. (in print) Rauner, F., Heinemann, L. et al. (2012a): Competence Development and Assessment in TVET (KOMET). Theoretical Framework and Empirical Results. Dordrecht: Springer. Rauner, F., Heinemann, L., Maurer, A., Li Ji, Zhiqun Zhao (2012b): Messen beruflicher Kompetenzen. Bd. 3: Drei Jahre KOMET-Testerfahrung, , Berlin: Lit.
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