The first section of this report presents some information on the preparation of the VETNET programme for ECER 2004. The section also contains some reflections on the VETNET reviewing process for the Crete conference concerning the further development of the conference preparation by VETNET and EERA. The second section presents insights into the VETNET programme at the conference in Crete. The third section presents the current phase of development of the website of the VETNET network and of the discussion of setting up a new international journal in the field of research in vocational education and training. The fourth section presents a report on the involvement of VETNET in the international initiative to develop a common framework for Master-level programmes for the field of vocational and professional education. The fifth section discusses the cooperation between VETNET and EERA.
The programme chair for this year has been Nikitas Patiniotis, University of Patras, Greece. A panel of 17 academic re-viewers from 12 European Countries (Swiss, UK, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Netherlands, France, Finland, Spain, Hungary and Estonia) supported the VETNET review process.
The following persons were involved:Prof. Dr. Nick Boreham, Dr. Jittie Brandsma, Dr. M’Hamed Dif, Dr. Phillip Grollman, Pekka Kämärainen, Maria Teresea Oliviera, Barbara Stalder, Prof. Dr. Nikitas Patiniotis, Director Krista Loogma, Dr. Magadalena Benke, Dr. Fernando Marhuenda, Prof. Dr. Johanna Lasonen, Graham Attwell, Dr. Lars Heinemann, David Guile, Dr. Ludger Deitmer, Peter Kaune.
The reviewers sup-ported the review process in time.. At this point the VETNET Board would like to thank them very much for their efficient work. Special thanks has to be given to Ms. Karen Trost, ITB secretary, who did a brilliant job in managing the distribution of the different proposals under the 17 referees.
From the EERA office we received 86 proposals (papers as well as workshop and roundtable proposals). Another 8 Proposals for symposia were received. That’s altogether 94 proposals. This is an increase of submissions by 22 % against the previous VETNET conference in Hamburg.
All proposals were introduced into the double- blind review process which sums up to nearly 200 proposal examinations by referees.
The criteria on which each proposal are assessed:
- Link to the European policies and traditions;
- Scientific quality (referenced theoretical focus; clear research question; transparency of methodological approach);
- Specific guide-lines for round table and symposia.
The criteria are listed in a two page re-view grid (VETNET review grid) which works as a checklist and a scoring board for the reviewers. From the papers, 13 proposals were rejected by the reviewers. This was the case when both reviews resulted in a C vote. In unclear cases, maybe one C and one B, the programme and the board chair decided on the final acceptance of the contribution. Most rejected papers couldn’t clarify sufficiently the theoretical framework, the research questions or the methodological approach (including a missing contribution to the European dimension).
Again this year the VETNET review system worked well. This helped us very much to set up a review list listing accepted and not accepted proposals including short review comments for the proposal. But still the review grid would be further revised for use in 2005.
- The comments from the reviewers had been very helpful both for the chair as well as the authors of the proposals. In future the comments at the end of the review grid should be given also for A and C cases. Fully accepted papers (A) should allow also feed back from reviewers and the reasons for rejections of proposals (C) should be clearly stated on the basis of the two review comments received by the reviewers. It was not seen sufficient this year to state a set of standard sentences under each of the rejected papers.
- EERA should be asked to improve the electronic communication of abstracts for reviewing. This could be done by sending a CD containing the full information of contributing author (the filled out ECER forms). The deluge of individual emails forwarding the abstracts (admittedly only a major issue for Network 2 – VET-NET) made the initial stage of the reviewing process very cumbersome. This produced for the programme managers a lot of extra work.
- The whole review process for the symposia could be strengthened because the single papers were not clearly outlined in every case. Again we had the problem of some overloaded symposia sessions. The board should discuss a proposal to strengthen the review process for symposia.
- Another difficulty was the management of changes which occurred between the publication of the completed programme at the beginning of August and the start of the conference in September. Over thirty changes had to be managed by the chair. Many of the requests from the VET-NET contributors had wishes to present their paper at a dedicated time. But moving people or even whole sessions is difficult when everything is fixed. The board of VETNET will have to discuss solutions how to overcome these difficulties. One immediate point would be to ask the chairs for the Symposia or the Round tables to manage ongoing changes from their contributors directly.
- Some papers programmed for VETNET were also relevant to be placed in other networks; this was the case for example with the open source symposium. EERA might be asked to ‘flag’ such papers for effective cross-posting. EERA might also be asked to insert a second box in the proposal review form so that proposers could identify a second network for their papers.
In 2004 over a hundred contributions from 22 countries were presented in 30 sessions (16 paper sessions, 1 workshop, 4 round table or 8 symposia plus opening discussion) throughout the four days of the VETNET conference. All sessions were well attended varying from a minimum of ten people up to sixty. A rough checking by the chairs indicates that the three parallel sessions were attended by around 60 to 110 people (maximum).
The traditional VETNET opening session, which was introduced by two initial contributions, had an audience of approximately 60 people. The topic of the session: “Is there a role for PISA in VET?” was directed by Nikitas Patiniotis and, with the well placed contributions, produced a lively discussion. In addition, a VET-NET assembly meeting was also held to discuss different issues concerning the organisation of the VETNET community (see minute).
Regarding their geographical origins, most papers came from the North-West European countries. The most active national VET communities are, GB: 21; Finland: 14; Germany: 13; Netherlands: 11 and Sweden: 11. Countries with a low number of submissions were: Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Austria and Ireland. The new entry countries were present at VETNET with Latvia, Estonia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The VET community seems to face rather difficult transformation processes to allow stronger participation. To change this imbalance, it is necessary to do more promotional work in these countries. But also stronger VET re-search communities participate at ECER still acts on a rather low level. For example the German VET research community (DGFE Sektion Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik and Gesellschaft für Arbeitswissenschaft, Sektion Gewerblich-technische Wissenschaften) with altogether ca. 400 members was present at Greece with 13 papers that are ca. 3 %.
Based on the review comments it was possible to build core thematic areas in twelve fields:
- Development of VET professionals
- Evaluation and VET
- Life Long Learning (LLL)
- Political dimension of VET
- Curriculum Reform in VET
- VET Transition: re-entry and school to work
- Work based learning
- Defining skills and shaping competencies
- Learning Theories: Interaction between Theory and Practice
- Apprenticeship training
- VET and E-Learning
- VET research and Innovation
It is the question whether this rather wide spectrum of thematic fields should be kept open also for 2005 or this should be narrowed down to some core thematic fields. Papers, Symposia and Round Table proposals with a general meaning could be moved to other networks. This point has to be discussed on the next board meeting in 2005 in Bremen.
Some comments on this year’s programme:
This year the major concerns (within VET-NET) are not related to quality problems but to relevance for the VETNET programme. With the number of contributions we are coming to a critical number. Therefore the number of contributions may not be exceeded.
- The programme was shaped in terms of 12 thematic strands by grouping the papers in clusters. This gives rise to a discussion whether the strands should be pre-programmed as an orientative framework for the proposals. The discussion is to be continued in the next board meeting.
- Concerning the symposia, there is a need to develop them further. So that the symposia will not appear as a paper session with a common heading. Instead of repeating the pattern of ordinary paper sessions, more effort should be given on producing clear symposium proposals in advance and dedicating more time for discussion.
- Concerning the paper sessions, it was concluded that three (ideal) to four papers per session should be kept as a maximum. Presentation of five or even more papers does not allow enough discussion and is not easy to follow by the audience. Also, some concerns were expressed regarding cases in which the same authors present very similar papers again. In this respect it is recommended that the board should consider the positive and negative aspects of ‘continuing stories’.
- The presentations were sometimes overloaded with too many transparencies (some had over thirty transparencies). Many transparencies were not well designed, having too much information on one side.
- By analysing the return slips from the session chairs (we received ca. half of the return slips) it can be said that all chairs expressed the good atmosphere in their session. There were not many difficulties with language or communication (only in one case the presentation was in Greek language). The attendance in each session was rather good in spanning from around 10 visitors up to 50 people. Even on Saturday morning the sessions were well received. A lot of problems and complaints were resulted from the environment of session rooms e.g. some had bad acoustics through e.g. squeaking doors. Also complaints were received about the lack of air conditioning in rooms. Also the rooms were sometimes too small and offered bad seating which was not suitable to round table discussions for example.
This year we were able to introduce our own homepage for VETNET (www.vet- research.net). This was possible due to help from KNOWNET, Bangor. Many thanks have to be given to Mike Malloch and Graham Attwell, but also to Sabine Manning who helped to provide data from the previous conferences on her WIFO Gateway backed by the European Training Village.
Before the ECER’04 the website was made operational and the abstracts of papers and symposia were uploaded. The participants were requested to upload their full papers and to use the discussion facility for follow-up reflection. So far 134 VETNET researchers registered on the homepage and set up their papers. The page contains not only the actual programme for 2004 but also the conference papers from the previous conferences in Hamburg 2003, Lisbon 2002, Lille 2001 and Edinburgh 2000.
Furthermore, the board is requested to develop ideas how to use the website as a medium to discuss the development of future conferences (e.g. the above mentioned issue on overarching strands) and on special initiatives to be promoted with the support of the VETNET community. The discussion on the development of the website is to be continued in the next board meeting.
Discussion on the plan to launch a new journal
There is a plan to launch a new international journal on VET research, based on related talks with the representatives of UNESCO- UNEVOC and the Kluwer publishing house (latterly merged with the Springer publishing house). The joint proposal had been submitted by UNESCO-UNEVOC and the VETNET network (with a possibility for other ‘regional’ associations or networks in VET research in other global regions to join in). Currently the publishing house will now continue the preparation with a need analysis and with subsequent practical proposals regarding actual measures to launch the journal.
The first event in this context was the international work conference that was organised in collaboration with the UNESCO-UNEVOC (alongside the GTW- Herbstkonferenz in Hamburg, 5th October 2004).The theme of the Hamburg conference was “International perspectives on professionalisation and education of Teachers in TVET”. The Hamburg event was designed as a European preparatory event before a world- wide working meeting. Some case studies had been invited from Germany (Georg Spöttl), Greece (Nikitas Patiniotis), Hungary (Maria Balogh) and Norway (Anne-Lise Höstmark-Tarrou). In addition, two orientative background papers were being prepared from the European point of view. The joint paper of Ludger Deitmer and Pekka Kämäräinen (requested as a VETNET contribution) was designed to give an overview on European policy processes and developments in European cooperation in the field of VET. The joint paper of Philipp Grollmann and Pekka Kämäräinen (prepared as a contribution of two individual experts) explored the background for discussing a common framework for Master programmes for VET professionals. The meeting was concluded with a general agreement to set up a joint initiative group to prepare the European follow-up of the worldwide meeting. The Hungarian participants expressed their willingness to host the first follow-up event in spring 2005 alongside a national conference in Budapest.
The above mentioned worldwide meeting was organised in November 2004 in Hangzhou, China by the UNESCO-UNEVOC Centre, the Chinese UNESCO Commission and the UNESCO office in Bangkok. Mr Pekka Kämäräinen was invited to participate as a VETNET representative to present the results of the European preparatory talks and to introduce the underlying debate on the underlying core concept and curriculum framework for a common developmental process. The working meeting was concluded with a common declaration (based on the discussions in four workshops) and with a decision to set up an international coordination committee for supporting the follow-up process in different global regions (in collaboration with associations and networks that are active in those regions).
Further Development Of The Cooperation With The EERA
Following a request from the Chief Convenor, Edwin Keiner we defined a draft proposal for VETNET descriptor which will be displayed on our website as well as on the EERA page. This descriptor shows the special scope of our network and should guide ECER applicants to our network. It will be also used to propose some possibilities of mapping the network structure of EERA in relation to systematic (or pragmatic) domains of educational research in Europe, including some suggestions for restructuring. We attached also some keywords underlining the special research focus of our network.