learning processes (ILP)
Larsen (ed.), Anne Lazar and Göran Årman
summary - April 2000
topic study of 1997 in DUOQUAL folder)
as a pedagogical quality
of Self, Role and Identity
ownership to methods
to national case studies on dual qualifications in France,
and "DUOQUAL" partnerships focus on educational systems preparing for work
and study qualifications. A central focus has been development of learning
outcomes termed as "higher order skills", "general qualifications", "general
skills", "core qualifications", "core competencies" etc. We conceptualise
these outcomes to have special qualities, and we assume an internal connection
between qualitative aspects of the learning situation and the learning
In the INTEQUAL phase the "ILP-Team” accomplished a study
with the aim to identify obstacles to, and strategies facilitating integrated
learning. Examples from the national contexts of the team-partners were
mapped and analysed . A wide range of possible obstacles and strategies,
conveying categories of curricular, pedagogical /didactical, organisational,
social and other dimensions were identified. DUOQUAL partnership brought
new and interesting perspectives to the discussion.
Here we concentrate on certain categories related to findings and theories
from material provided in the DUOQUAL partnership. The scope of this presentation
is to trace some possible integrative “powers” assumed to generate integrated
learning. To the degree induction is made, it is of a tentative character.
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does a “dual arena” of work and general knowledge-based learning tasks
and strategies of innovative and integrative learning methods looks like?
Different approaches to this problem field have been looked into.
“Learning by doing”, “action learning” and "problem- and action oriented
teaching methods" have been discussed as possible strategies for
generating and integrating the targeted broad competence. We connect “action
learning” and “action competence” to qualities like innovative learning
strategies, self-reliant learning and entrepreneurship, saying something
about qualitative sides applied to the learning process.
The connotation of “Action learning” is dynamic pedagogic, involving
“learning-through action, to act and to take action (“action competence”).
As a learning strategy it may involve processes very close to “real-life
learning”. How close they are to “real-work learning” depends on the learning
tasks and the organisation of the learning situation; to the degree of
resemblance to professional working-life tasks and organisation. This brings
us into vocational didactics.
In school contexts workshop learning and project work have been studied
and assessed as learning arenas for integrative processes. Students reported
experiences of “being in charge” and “learning about working
life” as positive outcomes of project work. These are feelings and experiences
related to the individual self and role development, and may contribute
to creating holistic learning arenas where work-specific and general skills
merge into personal competence.
How work place training can be integrated in a dual oriented curriculum
is of special interest. This has been studied by German partners in pilot
projects (Bremer; Kusch: case/conclusion/papers)
where theory/practice integration takes place in a combined workplace and
school-setting. The didactic aims to develop broad qualifications
and are problem-orientation, action-orientation and with holistic (not
subject-specific) criteria grouped subject matter .
A French paper (Lazar: summary)
draws attention to the viewpoint that good knowledge of the company seems
to be a precondition for creating inventive learning possibilities. It
points to research on the link between work and learning/instruction as
dependent on the best knowledge of the context, its contributions and its
possibilities for training. Also it is important to study the formative
nature of work.
It may be profitable to study if and how workplace relevance in curriculum
and learning tasks may influence learning successes.
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as a pedagogical quality
relevance” here means work based learning tasks that develop competencies
relevant in working life. Most students who choose vocational tracks need
to recognise this relevance. For some students recognition is a prerequisite
for motivation. From this perspective “relevance” may, for certain students,
be a basic prerequisite for successful learning processes. Maybe also for
integrating general and vocational subjects into one education - which
underlines the change of focus from an academic knowledge tradition to
a broader and more work and experiential based concept of knowledge and
Relevance is a contextual phenomenon as related to the outer world. For
the individual self it is a feeling or experience of relationship between
the outer and own world. For the individual learner the recognition of
relevance as a professional and /or personal experience, may empower and
motivate. If we use the search model
and apply “the map” as a tool for own reflections about the age group of
16-17 years (vocational foundation year), we may find that fields of working
life skills are little developed and loosely or not connected to personal
feelings of identity.
Development of social skills is a targeted learning outcome in schools
and working life. Team works and reflections about own learning are seen
as ways to capitalise both social skills and development of personal work
related competence. Such activities require both non-verbal and verbal
communication, and some level of common references as a basic coding platform.
Questions about the written word, conceptual and cognitive articulation
and recognition of cultural aspects of the vocational field (see Lazar:
are important to explore.
We have pointed to the need for students to recognise working life relevance
in their learning tasks. Reflections about the work relevance of learning
tasks may be a precondition for turning learning experiences into personal
skills (basic, comprehensive or specific).
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of Self, Role and Identity
relevant in work and for mastering social and cultural realities is subject
of fast transformations in modern and post-modern societies. Most students
in upper secondary are young persons with limited experiences and in rapid
and change. They are working on their self- and role construction as advancing
into the grown up world. “Competence” as grown up job takers is part of
Learning about Self as a person in interaction with others in school, working
life and society is, as all learning, an individual process, carried out
in processes of cultural and social realities. Today production work is
more or less disappeared as “activities of daily living” at homes and neighbourhoods.
Daily life of children and young people seems quite tapped for relevant
experiences generating real images of working roles. If we again use the
model for mapping basic personal skills in this age group (16-17),
we may find little of relevance for vocational trade and professional
skill - beside new technology for those interested in technology.
And if we still apply the search model mapping this age group, a large
proportion may show the field of “basic working life related skills”
to be rather meagre, tentative or filled with images of “dream-stuff “.
Society provides them with little relevant experiences, and young people
face life tasks asking them to become innovative, communicative and competent
entrepreneurs and to construct a self to fill in with this role description.
In the meantime they spend their time sitting at a desk in a classroom.
With vocational schools and workplaces divided in time and space, images,
knowledge and skills that schools present as relevant for a specific vocational
area may not be recognised as such, and students may not identify themselves
with it. One challenge faced when students enter a vocational track may
be to provide for authentic relevance, both cognitive and emotional. If
not, loss of motivation and lack of feeling of relevance may become the
least problematic outcome.
But then, some students know what they want, recognise the school content
as fairly commensurable with this, or as instrumental but necessary preconditions
to obtain their image.
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ownership to methods
Sweden and Norway teachers have had great freedom to choose their teaching
methods. In the Swedish INTEQUAL and DUOQUAL material (Arman: case/conclusions)
pilot-school teachers participating in the study, expressed as a fairly
common view that teachers’ change of methods must build on voluntarism.
They pointed to development and change of teaching strategies as a relative
long process. The research schools were selected because of teachers’ interest
and motivation and supportive school leaders.
In Norway the evaluation reports (Larsen et al: case/conclusions/paper)
found teachers to be fairly positive to the reform and able to identify
themselves with it. But little changes in the everyday school life, like
co-operative relations between teacher /students and teacher /teacher were
found. With the demand for "Self-reliant learning", more responsibility
is given to students which affects the role structure, requiring teachers
to perceive their roles in new ways.
If we apply the search model mapping
the vocational teachers' skills and relate it to their self perception,
vocational working life dimension may be important for their personal identity.
Team and self reliant work methods are quite usual in qualified working
life today, and vocational teachers are accustomed to it. In school as
an institution these kind of skills have no high esteem compared to the
status of academic subjects and general teaching, which on the other hand
groups of students choosing vocational tracks does not see as relevant.
In this collision of work and learning cultures the work-based competence,
traditions and identity are overruled.
The upper secondary teaching tradition is not an innovative or fast changing
tradition. Even if teachers seem to accept the ideas of new methods, we
may ask if they own it or possess the needed competence. Teachers
may need time and feeling of safety to experience, reflect, accept and
develop the new teaching role.
School culture and role of school leaders: School leaders are seen as critical
factors in any particular school. Without interested, supportive school
leaders, teachers find it difficult to change their teaching. In the Swedish
material (Arman: case/conclusions)
teachers stated the necessity of supportive school leaders as a prerequisite
In Norway the White Paper (Larsen et al: case/conclusions/paper)
calls upon teachers and school leaders to modernise structure and culture
of today’s school system in order to develop the qualities needed to meet
requirements and demands for a changing world.
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Norwegian White Paper (Larsen et al: case/conclusions/paper)
declares competence to be about “the will and power to use your knowledge:
to employ it in specific situations as the base of action, creativity,
intuition, ethical based considerations, and for best judgement” (translation
by LL). The term is given a broad and dynamic content. It focuses on self
and identity related processes and persons’ subjectivity and relates to
the notion of “integrated human being” (Norwegian Core Curriculum).
If we ask students what they need for working self-reliant, being innovative,
responsible and whatever - to develop the targeted competence, what do
they answer? In a study following
students during project work periods, answers were about “support,
trust, room for being different, for experiencing, experimenting and failing,
open communication and democratic processes, time to discuss and reflect,
guidance when needed”. Answers the teachers also think as important when
it comes to developing own part of the required role system: being a tutor,
work leader and grown up guide for students self-reliant processes.
It may be an idea to ask more questions about the role of learning cultures,
identity formation and self-actualisation, roles and experiences as basic
integrative forces for development of action competence and holistic learning.