Haaga-Helia School of Vocational Teacher Education is the partner of Erasmus -project INAPPME WBL (Innovative and Applicative Methods in Work Based Learning). Other countries involved in the project are Romania, Turkey, and Italy. The general objective of the project is to promote European VET School teachers the application of effective innovative teaching methods and tools in work-based learning contexts.
School of Vocational Teacher Education, as an intellectual partner, will facilitate the training process during the project. The aim of the training is to strengthen the position of a learner and collaboration-centered pedagogy in the work-based learning context. To achieve this goal, VET teachers and work life representatives from each country participate in training in order to implement successful and high-quality learning processes based on the pedagogical dimensions of collaborative teaching and learning.
The role of teachers and trainers in the VET system has become more complex in recent years. Guidance, counseling, teamwork, cooperation with enterprises and communication with stakeholders have become increasingly important. This development is evident in all countries but is especially clear in countries undergoing heavy reforms trying to encompass the new realities of the VET system in the context of the developing knowledge society. (Keurulainen 2014.) The new approaches and practices in teaching and guidance demand a new way of thinking. In INAPPME training we are developing a common understanding and competence to face new challenges and possibilities in learner-centered, collaborative, work-based pedagogy.
The specific needs for developing VET education
The traditions differ in our partner countries. While in some countries, teachers are already familiar with collaborative teaching methods, teachers in other countries are implementing strongly teacher-centered methods. In addition, the national trends for the development of VET education concentrate on different dimensions in each country. In order to enable the relevant development in this project, we chose to apply Inquiry-based learning as the main approach to facilitate the training process.
According to the inquiry-based approach as interpreted by Paula Sincero (2006), students learn best when they are at the center of their own learning, hence indicating an active owner and experiences-related knowledge creation process. Inquiry-based learning is, according to Sincero, a learning process in which questions are generated from students’ interests, curiosities, and perspectives, as well as experiences of the learner. The training increases the teachers’ and work life representatives´ knowledge in inquiry-based learning approach as well as practical operating methods and improves their ability to justify their choice of methods. (Isacsson 2013.) Within these arguments, inquiry-based learning is an effective approach considering work-based learning.
In the inquiry-based process, the students, working life representatives, and teachers go through a process involving six steps as described in figure 1.
In our training process so far, the partner countries have analyzed and finally identified their specific development tasks. Our Romanian partner is concentrating on Career guidance and counseling. The aim of the development is to increase student’s motivation toward learning and work. To reach this aim, the Romanian partner is giving an effort to students self-assessment skills and experience of participation in their learning community. In Romania, the project activities confirm teachers competence in career guidance.
Italian partner focuses on developing collaboration teaching. The chosen perspective is very practical in order to increase a common understanding of the work-based learning approach and implement successful team teaching in multi-professional collaboration. Turkey, instead, is reaching pedagogical collaboration between VET teachers and working life representatives. Their activities confirm the sustaining, cross-sectoral collaboration culture.
Practical learning design
The significance of development tasks in this training process is convenient when considering the practical methods to implement learner-centered, collaborative pedagogy. By defining the dimensions of work-based pedagogy, it’s possible to reach the core competencies to implement it in practice. By this, we mean competence in learning design. What are the learning activities and methods to promote learning objectives? What are the relevant learning environments, and how to assess learning? In learner-centered, collaborative pedagogy we see a student as a subject, not as an object. That contains also an idea that students should be able to validate their prior learning reached in informal learning environments, such as work.
So, to achieve sustaining a culture of learner-centered, collaborative teaching we should understand the learning process in a new way. That demands more attention in collaborative work among teachers, like team teaching, more accurate career guidance for students, teachers role as counselors, multi-professional cooperation as well as individual learning paths and self-assessment. The core of learner-centered pedagogy is that teaching and guidance encourage students in reflecting and being active in their own learning process.
Our challenge in this facilitation process is to enable partners to reach the large scene in learning-centered, collaborative pedagogy in work-based learning, as well as enable teachers and work life representatives to achieve competence in collaborative and relevant learning activities and methods.
Isacsson, A. (2013). Inquiry-based learning at Haaga-Helia Porvoo Campus depicted through curricular development work and student stories. In Aaltonen, K., Isacsson, A., Laukia, J. & Vanhanen-Nuutinen, L. (Eds.), Practical skills, education, and development – vocational education and training in Finland (pp. 251-231). Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences – School of Vocational Teacher Education. Retrieved from: https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/105167/HH+Practical_skills.pdf?sequence=1
Keurulainen, H. (2014). An overview of European VET-teacher qualifications and VET-teacher education. Elinikäisen ohjauksen verkkolehti. JAMK. Retrieved from: https://verkkolehdet.jamk.fi/elo/2014/12/20/an-overview-of-european-vet-teacher-qualifications-and-vet-teacher-education/