Conference Agenda

RN10_02c: Vocational education and training
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Mieke Van Houtte, Ghent University
Location: UP.3.212
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road


Transitioning from Vocational Education and Training to Higher Education: The case of the UK

Geoff Hayward

Cambridge University, United Kingdom

The paper examines the ways transitions to Higher Education (HE) are experienced and

narrated by students with Vocational qualifications in United Kingdom. It draws upon a mixed-method project that combined a survey of the transitional terrain between Vocational Education and Training and HE, with the qualitative exploration of students’ subjective experiences of transition. Focusing on the study’s qualitative strand of data, the paper will present the material derived from the narrative analysis of semi-structured interviews and focus groups conducted with students at five HE Institutions in UK. We utilise interview data to illustrate the centrality of the epistemic and pedagogical struggles that students with vocational background experience. More specifically, a process of differential epistemic positioning was evident in the participants’ narratives, which manifested itself through a misrecognition of their worth in the field of HE. Further, pedagogical struggles were also narrated by the participants in relation to the teaching, learning and assessment regimes prevailing in the selected HE Institutions. In light of the study’s findings we argue for the need to revisit the narrow and static education policy framing that emphasises barriers to access to HE towards addressing instead more comprehensively questions pertaining to pedagogy and knowledge, along with completion and retention rates. Lastly, we conclude by stating that the policy initiatives under the rubric of Widening Participation to HE should aim at contributing towards the transformation of HEI’s pedagogical regimes and organisational logics in the direction of epistemic inclusivity and pedagogical flexibility.

A Theoretical Framework Of Social Institutions Of Technical Vocational Education And Training (TVET)

Jutta Buergi, Ursula Renold

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich ETHZ, Switzerland

This paper aims at developing a theoretical framework of social institutions of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET). Social institutions herein refer to complex social forms that reproduce themselves and influence actors’ choices. Such a theoretical framework should enable us to draw clear hypotheses on how different characteristics of social institutions of TVET make programmes in formal, non-formal and informal systems function in different ways, leading to different outcomes for their students in terms of school-to-work transitions, employment quality, and further education perspectives. We build on Luhmann’s theory of social systems and new institutionalist theory. According to social systems theory, there are two social systems relevant for TVET – the education and employment systems – which need to coordinate and share power to optimally prepare TVET students for their future career across the borders of these two systems. We argue that the types of social institutions in TVET that guide this communication and cooperation between both systems determine the quality of the resulting so-called linkage. We conceptualize social institutions of TVET in a new institutionalist manner as complex social forms consisting of rules, positions, roles, norms, sanctions, values, and cultural-cognitive elements. By reproducing themselves, social institutions constitute the social structures of TVET, forming relatively stable patterns of human activity sustaining the TVET field. The paper develops the definition, multidimensional characterization and interplay of the different kinds of institutions and their functions in the educational process of TVET, as well as their relevance with regard to outcomes in formal, non-formal, and informal TVET.

Towards Competence-based Learning in Civil Protections Vocational Education

Anna Guerrero Lara, Lars Gerhold

Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

During the last years, competence-based learning has become a well-discussed topic within educational sciences. Lately, lecturers in the field of civil protection in Germany have addressed principles of competence-based learning in terms of vocational education, too. Besides knowledge, extensive competences are getting more and more important with regard to effective disaster response. The main problem, however, is that on the one hand civil protections vocational education was traditionally characterized by hierarchical structures, mainly. On the other hand, there is no consistent pedagogical guideline, which defines competences of necessity for emergency responders and explains didactic mediation regarding competence-based learning. In this study, existing didactic models have been and are currently applied using data triangulation to address that gap and to understand the lecturers’ attitude and intention of teaching. Through conducting an exploratory online survey (quantitative) with lecturers and school directors in the field of civil protection (n=108), it was found that lecturers in civil protection assessed didactic principles like active learning, independent learning and participant orientation as relevant factors with regard to competence-based learning. Even if there already is a certain awareness regarding those principles of competence-based learning only 18% of the surveys participants, have them in mind while teaching. Data of the online survey also showed a significant link between lecturers’ training and the lecturers’ attitude considering competence-based learning. At this stage, an observational study (quantitative) of vocational education classes and additional interviews (qualitative) with lecturers are being conducted. Through these methods, it is investigated if and how principles of competence-based learning are affecting the planning and holding of vocational education classes in civil protection.

Horizons of Educational Decision-Making: Symbolic Logics Behind the Decision to Leave School for Vocational Education

Ekaterina Pavlenko

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation

In this research I've applied theoretical approach of “horizons of action” to study educational decision-making among vocational education students in Russia.

I've have built upon the approach of Phil Hodkinson, following him as he shows how young people are restricted in their opportunities to see all the options available to them by the horizon of action. I'm trying to expand upon the cultural and symbolic mechanisms behind this decision-making process and suggest that “horizon of action” is a symbolic structure that renders reality meaningful, a frame of reference (Eviatar Zerubavel) that is a result of meanings shaping young people’s outlook. Using this approach I extract 5 complexes of meanings, "logics of choice”, and further investigate how "serendipity" (Atkins, 2017) and "agency" (Silva, Corse, 2018) are weaven into young people's symbolic logics of choice. I show that students rely on the meaningful frame that allows them to agentically enact a narrative of "bringing adulthood closer", but at the same time are highly uncertain about their future and are open to serendipityserendipity plays a large role in their trajectories.

I use the interview data of qualitative longitudinal project "Tracer Atom", a part of "Trajectories in Education and Career" longitudinal panel study.