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Round table
Proceedings of ECER 2004 round table on 'action research' and a VET framework of innovation


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Round table

'Action research' and a VET framework of innovation


The contributions held at the round table were based on the papers presented below, which are available for downloading from the VETNET website.

Elly de Bruijn & Anneke Westerhuis
Developing practical theory on competence based training in the Netherlands
CINOP is developing its own approach to knowledge production in connection with innovative practice in organisations. Projects have been organised so as to develop both new theories and new practice. Projects or groups of projects have organised in a dual bond wherein the development of new practices produces ‘Mode 2’ knowledge (Gibson et al 1994). This ‘Mode 2’ (local) knowledge can, however, be combined and organised as general concepts - in practical theories. Such theories are not blueprints; they offer validated concepts and a repertoire for practical action consisting of corresponding components: first, a system/model of connected statements, considerations and concepts in relation to a specific field (learning and training in VET); second, a set of instruments and action repertoires, consistent with the model, for all relevant actors (teachers, students, mangers, trainers, companies); third, tools and instruments to implement model and action strategies in specific contexts, relevant within the field (eg, a department in a Regional Vocational College). This methodological approach has been practised since 2002 in an innovation programme on competence based training. Its implications for the process, whereby educational practice gains from educational theory and research and vice versa, will be discussed.

Ludger Deitmer
Action Research in pilot projects - Interaction between VET practitioners and researchers for innovation and research
Presentation  (MSPowerPoint slides) 
The main theme of this contribution will be to what extend innovative changes in VET-institutions and on professionals can be supported by action research in terms of “Begleitforschung” (accompanying research). Within the BLK programme 22 VET school pilot projects experimented under the programme umbrella and made use of theory-practise interaction between: VET teachers taking part in the pilot project, accompanying VET researchers in the pilots itself and as well as the programme team based at the ITB, University of Bremen. The intention of this action oriented research and development programme was to develop curricula with a new quality of occupational action competencies; and following up holistic and self-directed learning arrangements. Outcomes and effects of these change processes were evaluated by action research tools. The contribution aims at reflecting on the relevance of this action research approach: Where are the specific strengths and weaknesses of the action approach? How far did the instruments do they job? What kind of conclusions can be made for the European discussion and the OECD (see above) notion?. The programme evaluation concept is novel and was recently tested in the European research arena (Fetterman, Kaftarian, and Wandersmann 1996; Nyhan, Attwell, Deitmer 1999; Manske et.al. 2002; COVOSECO, 2004).

Pekka Kämäräinen
The role of ‘action research’, ‘accompanying research’ and ‘evaluation research’ in European research on vocational education and training (VET) - Reflections on efforts to develop a common European VET research culture
Paper (available soon)
This article tries to promote methodological reflection on action-oriented and co-participative research designs that are relevant for the development of European research culture in the field of vocational education and training (VET). On the one hand the article draws upon different evolutionary developments in national research cultures that have either promoted or sidelined the consolidation of such research methodologies. On the other hand the article is related to the parallel development of programme frameworks for European cooperation and to the shaping of project designs within the respective programmes. Finally, the article is related to the efforts of the author to stimulate European exchanges and cross-project collaboration within European VET-related research. In this context special emphasis has been given on trans-cultural dialogue and knowledge sharing on the contribution of research to VET-related developmental initiatives.

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