The main work of this research group concerns training and professionalization in vocational education. It concerns the learning processes that take place and how they are supported by teachers and trainers.
The main distinctive feature of vocational education is that learning takes place at school and in the workplace, as well as through other variations such as simulations within the school or educational departments in companies. Connecting these two places of learning requires action that transcends the boundaries between them. Educating students to become new professionals, and thereby developing a basis for professional conduct in terms of specialist knowledge, specialist skills and professional attitudes, is not a goal that can be achieved by educating participants only in university or in the workplace. This type of education needs to take place both inside and outside the university. A central quality issue in vocational education is, consequently, how to design this connection between the different contexts in such a way that learners receive optimum support in applying what they have learned in these different contexts.
Learning at and across boundaries, as we may refer to the learning processes described above in the context of vocational education, requires specific guidance. Making differences productive in terms of learning requires considerable mastery of the educational component that is being taught and at the same time it demands a great deal from the nature of the profession that students are being trained for. It requires an all-embracing perspective and an agile and nimble approach to the development of the profession or sector on the part of the teacher or trainer. In addition to this agility in terms of substance, the wide variety of course content and training placements, and even the variety among the learners themselves, also means that flexibility must remain a key word at all times.
This research group aims to contribute to the development, validation and dissemination of knowledge to improve the quality of vocational education. For this research group’s second term (2011-2015), there is:
- a stronger focus on professional development when it comes to research-oriented thinking and when it comes to working with knowledge (knowledge valorization) about learning and supervision in courses of vocational education.
- a stronger focus on issues relating to the quality of learning and supervision in courses of vocational education based on developing professional competencies with sound basic knowledge and assuming heterogeneity among the student population.
- in addition to the continuing focus on these issues in MBO (and if possible professional learning pathways into VMBO), a stronger focus on these issues in their own HBO programmes. One result of this has been the direct involvement of the research group in the design of the research centre for lecturers in higher vocational education since the end of 2012.