Development of practicum pedagogy to enhance VET teacher learning
This paper reports on a self study conducted into the VET teacher education programme at the University of Gothenburg. Most of the students work as unqualified teachers in upper secondary education and in adult education. The others work in their trades. The students have diverse vocational backgrounds and teaching experiences. The focus of the study is to evaluate how to provide learning experiences that support the diverse groups in their development of VET pedagogy. The Swedish higher education system is highly decentralized. The framework of all teacher education programmes are determined by the Swedish Higher Education Authority, and the universities/colleges design the curriculum of each specific programme. The Swedish VET teacher education programme has 90 credits: 60 credits of course-based studies and 30 credits of practicum. At the University of Gothenburg the VET teacher education programme is a three-year, part-time study program, mostly distance-based with some on-campus meetings. The programme has three practicum periods. Students who are employed as unqualified VET teachers do their practicum in the schools where they teach. For students working in their trades the university arranges their practicum in VET schools. Issues addressed in this paper are: What content and learning outcomes could be developed in the practicum courses to integrate students’ experiences between practicum and campus-based activities? What indications of progression can be identified between the practicum courses and how could these be enhanced? This systematic investigation of how the development of VET teacher pedagogy can be better enabled during the practicum periods of the programme, and how the diverse student pathways to their VET teacher certificate can be improved, is placed in the framework of action research. Hardy & Rönnerman (2011, p. 470) argue that action research is a matter of invoking the conditions to genuinely enrich students learning, and this research aims to do this. The theory of practice architectures (Kemmis et al, 2014) is used as the theoretical framework that informs the research and the analysis of the data. The study was conducted in 2016-2017 and consists of four major parts. Firstly, previous course evaluations of the practicum periods were examined. Next, previous practicum assignments were investigated in order to identify improvements and changes. Thirdly, research on VET-teachers and VET-teacher education will be used for mirroring our findings. Finally, improvements were planned and enacted.
Hardy, I. & Römmerman, K. The value and valuing of continuing professional development: current dilemmas, future directions and the case for action research. Cambridge Journal of Education, 41(4), pp. 461-472.
Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Grootenboer, P., Hardy, I., & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing practices, changing education. New York: Springer.