The development of VET teacher pedagogy through practice
Vocational education and training (VET) is carried out in many different sites, such as workplaces, vocational colleges and schools. Just as VET is carried out in many different sites, so is the development of VET teacher pedagogy. In this paper, we use the terms VET teachers, and VET teacher pedagogy, as we agree with others (e.g. Wheelahan, & Curtin, 2010) that it is more appropriate than other terms sometimes used such as instructor or trainer in that it better captures the practices which make up educational work in vocational sites. Some develop VET teacher pedagogy through work based learning while working as unqualified teachers in workplaces or in schools. For others their pedagogy is supported and developed through educational arrangements present in university level teaching qualifications. Often there will be a mix of these two practices. The practice architectures that enable and constrain the development of VET teacher pedagogy differ from site to site. In this symposium we explore the practice architectures that enable and constrain (Kemmis et al. 2014) the development of VET teacher pedagogy in three different contexts: Sweden, Finland and Australia. In a number of research studies VET teacher learning has been linked with teaching quality, and thus with VET student learning (Harris, 2015).
The theory of practice architectures identifies cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements that enable and constrain particular practices (Kemmis et al., 2014). Cultural-discursive arrangements take place in the medium of semantics, and prefigure what is said and thought about, in and in relation to, a practice – the sayings. For instance, the language that is used in the teaching workplace to discuss students prefigures the ways in which students are thought about. Concepts and theories of pedagogy prefigure the language in workshops. Material-economic arrangements, which take place in the medium of work and activity, prefigure what is done in a practice – the doings. For instance, the availability of updated teaching and learning materials prefigures the use of learning approaches in classrooms and in workplaces. The availability, or lack of, contemporary industry-related equipment is another example of material-economic arrangements that prefigures how teacher learning is supported. Social-political arrangements, which take place in the medium of power and solidarity, prefigure the relationships that are undertaken in a practice – the relatings (Kemmis et al., 2014). For instance, a senior experienced colleague who introduces a novice teacher to dilemmas in teaching enables different possibilities for the development of VET teacher pedagogy than the arrangement of teaching alone, or the situation of teaching with colleagues who manifest their power.
The four papers in this symposium draw on contemporary empirical studies in Sweden, Finland and Australia. The studies conducted in Sweden and Finland are research-based self-evaluations from the VET teacher education programmes at the University of Gothenburg and the Åbo academy in the tradition of action research (Zeichner, 2008). Francisco’s paper, from Australia, outlines a work-based curriculum for supporting teacher learning of VET pedogogy, focussing on the development of a trellis of practices that support learning (PSLs) at a site based level. Green’s paper is an interview study with eight VET teachers who have worked 12 years, on how the site based development and their teaching practice has been enabled and constrained during their years as VET teachers, and how their teacher identity has been formed.The researchers are part of the international PEP-network http://ips.gu.se/english/cooperation/networks/pep and have co-operated on VET research with publications (e.g. Berglund & Henning Loeb 2013; Green, Brennan Kemmis, Choy & Henning Loeb 2017).
Berglund, I. & Henning Loeb, I. (2013): Renaissance or a backward step? Disparities and tensions in two new Swedish pathways in VET. International Journal of Training Research, 11(2), s. 134–149.
Green, A.; Brennan Kemmis, R., Choy, C. & Henning Loeb, I. (2007): Using the Theory of Practice Architectures to Explore VET in Schools Teachers’ Pedagogy. In K. Mahon, S. Francisco, & S. Kemmis (Eds.), Exploring educational and professional practice: Through the lens of practice architectures. New York: Springer.
Harris, R. (2015). Quality in the Australian VET sector: what has been happening? . International Journal of Training Research, 13(1).
Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Grootenboer, P., Hardy, I., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. New York: Springer.
Wheelahan, L., & Curtin, E. (2010). The quality of teaching in VET: Overview. Melbourne: LH Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management, University of Melbourne.
Zeichner, K. (2008). Accumulating knowledge across self-studies in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(1), 36–46.