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Investigating educational issues across Europe (ACROSS Base)
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Project INTEQUAL - The acquisition of integrated qualifications for professional work and study: An assessment of innovative approaches in seven European countries (initial project)

DUOQUAL - Qualifications with a dual orientation towards employment and higher education: Applying a pattern of comparative investigation across European countries (multiplier project)

Overview The aim of the projects was to analyse the characteristics and impact of schemes of dually oriented qualifications (preparing for both skilled employment and advanced study) across European countries. Both projects went through similar phases.

In a first phase, a comparative analysis of the schemes, based on national case studies, was carried out, against a set of agreed research questions. This analysis resulted in comparative studies undertaken by groups of partners and across the partnership. A more detailed analysis, guided by sub-themes and selected indicators, resulted in a comparative survey. A central issue of comparative investigation was the extent to which vocational and general education are integrated; the outcome was a curricular model of dual qualifications. 

In a second phase, specific topics were selected for carrying out collaborative investigations of the schemes within small groups of countries, leading to topic studies. In several cases these were linked with accompanying research or follow-up studies on reforms in the countries concerned. Collaborative work on the topic studies, supported by roundtablediscussions (workshop), provided a major basis for generating lessons of mutual learning and for the dissemination of project results. 

The analysis was extended from an initial group of countries (INTEQUAL) to a larger one (DUOQUAL), by adapting the original methodology to a more diversified context. All partners set out conclusions and lessons of shared learning relevant for their national contexts. The partnership work was accompanied by developing a knowledge base (DQ Base) which served as the major outcome of the project. (Manning, 1996,1997, 1998, 1999+)

Insight The DQ Base (Manning, 1999+) provides comprehensive information about both the process and the outcome of the collaborative project work. In particular, it illustrates the interrelation of all elements and outcomes of the collaborative investigation and describes key events of mutual learning, such as topic workshops and roundtables, in detail. 

The approach of mutual learning, first set out in the INTEQUAL project (Manning, 1997a), is taken up in a reflective study on the completed projects (Manning, 2001). Further reflection on the approach to comparative and collaborative analysis, related to INTEQUAL/ DUOQUAL and POST-16 STRATEGIES/ SPES-NET, is provided in a joint study (Lasonen et al., 2000a, pp. 316-325; 2001). 

For a discussion on the complementary relations between research issues, modes of work and experiences on collaboration and mutual learning in the projects INTEQUAL/ DUOQUAL and POST-16 STRATEGIES/ SPES-NET see Kämäräinen (1999a, 2000a, 2001).

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