Author(s):Pekka Ilmari Kamarainen (presenting)

Conference:ECER 2017

Network:02. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)


Session Information

02 SES 06 B, Assessing Competence in VET

Paper Session



Chair:Jeroen Onstenk


"Begleitforschung" revisited - Reflections on the role of accompanying research in the Learning Layers project, Construction pilot (2012 -2016)

The context: The paper examines the contribution of accompanying research (Begleitforschung)  in the recently completed EU-funded Learning Layers project (2012-2016). The aim of the project was to promote the use of digital media, web resources and mobile devices as support for learning in the context of work. The project focused on two pilot sectors (healthcare in the UK and construction in Germany). The trans-national project consortium provided R&D expertise in system architectures, software solutions, educational technology, healthcare education, vocational education and training and evaluation studies. The specific context of this paper is the work of the accompanying research team in the construction pilot of the Learning Layers project in North Germany – primarily involving the research team, technical partners and the main application partner Bau-ABC Rostrup (intermediate training centre).

The focus (within the Learning Layers project): The paper gives a picture of the participative co-design process in which the Learning Layers project engaged trainers and apprentices from Bau-ABC, technical partners and accompanying research. The process took off with the idea to digitise the hitherto paper-based training materials, instructions and worksheets for reporting on apprentices’ projects. In several iterations and with the help of joint training schemes the process led to creation of an integrative toolset – the Learning Toolbox – to access web resources, to manage communications and to share knowledge and information on construction projects. By the end of the project the Learning Toolbox had been pilot tested as integrative toolset to support the training projects in selected trades.

The interest of knowledge (for revisiting the Learning Layers project): The paper provides background information on earlier models of accompanying research (Begleitforschung) in German innovation programmes on

a) Humanisation of Work (Humanisierung der Arbeit) and Work and Technology (Arbeit und Technik) programmes in the 1980s and 1990s and

b) in the pilot projects (Modellversuche) on the development of the dual system of vocational education and training - including the earlier single pilots and the later programmes, such as the BLK-Programme "Neue Lernkonzepte in der dualen Berufsausbildung" (New learning concepts for the dual system of vocational education and training) in 1996 - 2003.

By revisiting the earlier models of accompanying research the paper highlights the preconditions for (and degrees of freedom in) using accompanying research as support for the co-design process in the Learning Layers project (and its construction pilot).

The research challenge: The paper examines the research materials and documentation of project experience with emphasis on the following questions:

a) In what ways has the work of accompanying research contributed to growth of digital competences and promotion of digital transformation in the application partner organisation (Bau-ABC Rostrup) and in its training practice?

b) In what ways has the accompanying research team been able to develop conceptual interpretation of project work during the processes of co-design, capacity building and piloting with the tools?

c) in what ways can this conceptual interpretation be enriched when compared with predecessor models as well as parallel models of developmental work research or transdisciplinary action research.?


The paper is based on a critical re-examination of the research materials and process documentation provided by the accompanying research team of the Learning Layers Construction pilot (in which the author was involved). This re-examination of this material is supported by similar re-examination of prior models of pilot projects in vocational education and training (VET) with accompanying research (Modellversuchsforschung), see Rauner 2002 and Sloane & Gössling 2014.
The re-examination of the project work in the light of predecessor models presents new insights into the following issues on accompanying research:
a) Dependency on programme goals and/or working hypotheses of pilot projects vs. Relative openness to follow the co-design and introduction of digital tools into the pilot field;
b) Predefined conceptual starting points and methodological commitments vs. flexibility to introduce new interventions and conceptual working perspectives;
c) Balance between responsiveness to application partners' needs and interests in developmental work vs. contribution to project-related conceptual and methodological work.

Expected Outcomes

The critical and comparative re-examination of the project work (of the accompanying research team) in the Learning Layers Construction pilot) is based on the following working hypotheses:
a) As a contrast to the earlier models of Begleitforschung the working context in the Learning Layers was more characterised as a 'creative space' and as an invitation to accompany an open-ended innovation process.
b) The conceptual work of the accompanying research team transformed from presentation of background theories and concepts to studies, how they are embedded into the tools and tool deployment prospects as well as to identifying changing practices when using the tools.
c) The growth of knowledge in examining such innovation processes requires participation and insights into peer learning/ peer tutoring when new tools are being introduced. Likewise, the accompanying researchers need such insights to be able to interpret the practitioners' views on possible implications for their practices and their organisations.


Research literature:
Deitmer, L. 2004: Management regionaler Innovationsnetzwerke. Evaluation als Ansatz zur Effizienzsteigerung regionaler Innovationsprozesse. Nomos Verlag. Baden-Baden.
Deitmer, L., Fischer, M., Gerds, P., Przygodda, K. ,Rauner, F., Ruch, H., Schwarzkopf, K. & Zöller, A. 2004: Neue Lernkonzepte in der dualen Berufsausbildung. Bilanz eines Modellversuchsprogramms der Bund-Länder-Kommission (BLK). Bertelsmann Vlg. Bielefeld.
Fischer, M., Boreham, N. & Nyhan, B. 2004. European perspectives on learning at work: the acquisition of work process knowledge, Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications for the European Communities.
Fischer, M. & Boreham, N. 2008: Work Process Knowledge. In Rauner, F. & Maclean, R. (Eds.) 2008: Handbook of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Research. International Library of Technical and Vocational Education and Training. Springer Verlag.
Rauner, Felix 2002: Modellversuche in der beruflichen Bildung: Zum Transfer ihrer Ergebnisse. Bremen: ITB-Forschungsberichte; 3

Sloane, P. & Gössling, B. 2014: Modellversuchsforschung reloaded: Wie im Wirtschaftspädagogischen Graduiertenkolleg Lehrer zu Forschern werden und danach zurück in die Schule gehen. Zeitschrift für Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik, 110. Band, Heft 1 (2014). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart

Research Articles and Papers from Learning Layers

Conference paper (ECER 2014) The Role of Accompanying Research and Participative Design in the Learning Layers Project - 2014. ResearchGate DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.29877.06881

International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training 1(2):143-160 · December 2014

Learning Layers Theory Camp (2014) papers

WP Accompanying Research: Reviewing the role of Accompanying Research, Interactive Research and Action research as support for participative design processes. ResearchGate DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.22003.32806

WP1/ Work Process Knowledge: Introduction to the reviewing of the legacy of the EU-funded Work Process Knowledge network (FP4 - TSER). ResearchGate DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.34795.95527

WP2/ Work Process Knowledge: Revisiting the Theme ‘Work Process Knowledge’ and its implications for vocational education and training - The position the WPK network. ResearchGate DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.30391.93602

WP3/ Work Process Knowledge: Reviewing Work process knowledge - Summary. ResearchGate DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.23371.39206

WP1/ Vocational and Workplace Learning: Conceptual interpretations of ‘Work Experience’, Vocational professionalism’ and ‘Workplace Learning’ - Overview on selected European studies. ResearchGate DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.22894.61761

WP2/ Vocational and Workplace Learning: Approaching a Synthesis: - Workplace Learning, Vocational Knowledge Processes, Working and Learning Tasks.. ResearchGate DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.30863.79523

WP3/ Vocational and Workplace Learning: Reviewing Vocational and Workplace-based learning - Summary. ResearchGate DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.26805.47842

Logbooks of blogs on the development of the Learning Toolbox (Logbook 2014, Logbook 2015, Logbook 2016a, 2016b)

Author Information

Pekka Ilmari Kamarainen (presenting)
University of Bremen
Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB)