Lessons of mutual learning
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Summary of DUOQUAL lessons

Based on: Manning (2000b) (see REM DUOQUAL folder



Problems of dual qualifications
Learning across schemes of dual qualification
'Good practice' in schemes of dual qualification
Conclusion
 

Problems of dual qualifications 

The subsequent question addressed in the roundtable and in a parallel written statement is: what are the problems in the scheme of dual qualification? This question again focuses on the individual scheme, but opens up the debate about specific as well as common concerns. 
    The concerns addressed by the partners reveal a striking similarity across schemes and national settings. They focus, above all, on the problem of how to achieve a genuine integration of vocational and general subjects in the curriculum and the learning process. In particular there is a tension, perceived in several schemes (CZ, EL, FI, NL, NO, PT, SE), between pedagogic innovation on the one hand and the traditional divide between the academic and vocational 'worlds' (in terms of institutions, administration, qualification structures, teaching staff) on the other hand. Lack of work-place training (outside schools) has been identified as a major drawback (CZ, NO, PT, SE). The integration between theory and practice in everyday classroom and workshop activities is considered a challenge (N=). Commitment to self-directed learning may be hampered by atomistic assessment (En).
    Several schemes (AT, DE, FI), while being considered successful in terms of quality criteria, turn out to be restrictive in access. This in fact draws attention to a general concern which has been raised about dually orientated qualifications. In a context of wide-ranging problems of transition from education to work, with a large section of young people being at risk, dually qualifying pathways are in effect selective, leaving those perceived as ‘low-achievers‘ behind.  The challenge for educational policy, therefore, is to ensure that schemes of dual qualification ar part of transparent and flexible systems, being accessible from any point and linking up to other parts of education and training (see Lasonen & Manning 1999). 

Learning across schemes of dual qualification 

The discussion of problems encountered by individual partners already gave way to a joint learning process. This was carried further by addressing the direct question: which approaches from other schemes may be worth considering? 
    Altogether, 29 lessons have been drawn for 11 schemes (requiring or welcoming approach), with 44 references being made to 11 schemes (providing approach). A closer look at the content of the lessons reveals that approaches to integrating vocational and general education, to assessing competences and to improving the cooperation between institutions of education and work are in the centre of joint interest. These curricular issues may be regarded as central to dually oriented qualifications, also providing the basis for educational and occupational mobility. The major approaches considered as 'lessons' in individual schemes are set out in a map of lessons.
    These approaches are of course integral part of the individual schemes and their national contexts. They could not, therefore, be 'transferred' to any other scheme or put together as 'ingredients' for improving or recreating it. However, the conceptual ideas behind them and the practice which they embody in each case may promote fresh thinking about related concerns in other schemes. 

'Good practice' in schemes of dual qualification 

The references to interesting approaches observed in other schemes are also an indicator of the success of dual qualifications, even if relative to the specific starting point of the learning process. In order to get a broader picture of successful experience, partners were asked about what works well in their schemes of dual qualification. Their assessment not only complements the previous look for approaches by other schemes; it also serves as a presentation of 'good practice' which may offer further stimulus to other schemes. 
This assessment of what works well in a given scheme mostly relates to the national context, contrasting the dual qualification with conventional patterns of vocational and general education at upper secondary level in the country concerned. The evidence of 'good practice', therefore, is specific to the individual scheme and internal national debate. This distinguishes 'good practice' from the 'lessons' (figure 7) which are related to perceived issues or problems of other schemes. Furthermore, 'good practice' is more focused on what actually works well, based on internal enquiry and evaluation, while 'lessons' might refer to both practical experience and conceptual approaches. The major output of 'good practice' established in schemes of dual qualification is summed up in a map of good practice.
    The above mapping of 'good practice' partly corresponds to the evidence which has been reported in the lessons, but it opens up a wider spectrum of positive experience. The evidence of 'good practice' refers to all aspects of quality: both competence and educational/occupational mobility. This is important for underpinning the assumption about the potential of dual qualifications in meeting the quality criteria of VET. Furthermore, 'good practice' is reported across the whole range of schemes involved in the project. In particular the evidence of the newly included schemes (Czech Republic, Greece, Finland and Portugal) enriches the partnership experience about dual qualifications.

Conclusion

The results of mutual learning back up hypotheses which were put forward in earlier phases of the partnership project, in particular the following:

  • Dual qualifications potentially live up to the criteria identified for high standing of VET: providing personal competence and facilitating mobility both in the education system and the labour market. Both the assessment put forward by partners at the roundtable and the evidence from the detailed comparative survey of the schemes support this hypothesis. To a considerable extent, dual qualifications meet the quality criteria not only 'potentially' but in real terms; at the same time they show a significant potential for advance and improvement.
  • There is considerable opportunity for the exchange and transfer of experience across schemes and national systems. The final roundtable discussion provides rich evidence for this hypothesis. More specifically it suggests that curricular approaches, in particular competence development, are more open for mutual learning across schemes than issues of educational pathways and of occupational careers (which are more firmly embedded in national settings). It should be noted, though, that the 'exchange and transfer of experience' as practised in the process of 'mutual learning' within the partnership is confined to the conceptual level, while the practical implications are left open.
The lessons identified by the partnership are to be taken up at national and European level for detailed discussion with policy makers, practitioners and researchers in education. The rich evidence displayed in the DUOQUAL Knowledge Base can support this process of continued learning.

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 First set up 24/04/2000
Latest update: 24/04/2000
 Contact: Sabine Manning
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