My colleagues, Mette Allermand, Anna Brodersen, Carsten Lund Rasmussen, and I have an extended summary accepted for the SFI VET Congress 2017. The congress takes place at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) in Bern/Zollikofen, Switzerland from March 14-16 2017. The theme of the congress is Unleashing the creative potential of VET, and Danish Professor, Lene Tanggaard Pedersen is one of the keynote speakers.
Our extended summary is entitled Technology-mediated Boundary Objects and Boundary Crossing in Vocational Education and Training – an instructional design model, and the abstract reads as follows:
In this extended summary, we propose an instructional design model aimed at using technology-mediated boundary objects and boundary crossing processes in vocational education and training. The model is based on preliminary findings from a current research project (2015-2017) on vocational teachers’ perceptions of transfer and boundary crossing and their use of information and communication technology (ICT) in relation to such processes. Theoretically the model is inspired by Akkerman & Bakker’s (2011) proposal of four dialogical learning processes, which are attributed boundary crossing potential. Empirically the model has been field validated among Danish vocational teachers attending continuing professional development courses at The Metropolitan University College in Denmark. While the instructional design model has been positively received among the vocational teachers, we still consider it to be a work-in-progress, and further research on how to scaffold the use of the model is needed.
As seen in this abstract, we aim to present an instructional design model we have developed based on findings in the first phase of our research project on ICT, transfer and boundary crossing in vocational education and training that we are currently conducting at the Metropolitan University College. Based predominantly on boundary crossing theory, but also with theoretical inspiration from Henningsen & Mogensen (2013) in relation to mediating tools, we have developed an instructional design model. Figure 1 below shows the model in its initial conception:
Figure 1. The TBOC-model version 1.0.
In figure 2 the TBOC-model is shown with examples of technologies that can be used in relation to different boundary crossing processes.
Figure 2. TBOC-model with examples.
It’s important to notices that our work with the model is still very much in progress. Carsten and I have used the model in pedagogical exercises with in-service vocational teachers this fall, and we are still in the process of analyzing data from those design experiments. Furthermore, we are revisiting data from previous interviews and observations in an effort to further validate the model. In the spring of 2017, we plan to collect more data at vocational schools, and we’ll continue our work with the model – also based on new theoretical insights (e.g. this study by Marheineke).
Akkerman, S.F. & Bakker, A. (2011). Boundary crossing and boundary objects. In Review of Educational Research. June 2011, Vol. 81, No. 2, pp. 132-169
Henningsen, S.E. & Mogensen, F. (red.) (2013). Mellem teori og praksis. Om transfer i professionsuddannelser. [Between theory and praxis. On transfer in Bachelor’s Degree and Academy Profession Degree programmes. ] VIA Systime.
Even though, my colleagues and I’ve presented our preliminary research results on several occasions, so far we’ve only presented in English once. In May 2016, I had the opportunity of presenting a short paper at the Designs for Learning conference in Copenhagen at AAU-CPH:
Our short paper can be found here (pp. 97-101)
For those readers who understand Danish, I’ve written a more detailed post about the conference on our Danish research blog.
For the time being, this will be the third and final post describing our research project. In the first post, I wrote about the background for initiating the project, and in the the second post I zoomed in on our research questions. In this post, I focus on the design of our study.
According to Mackenzie & Knipe (2006), in the social and applied science, the exact nature of how research is defined will depend on the researcher’s personal and professional beliefs. Therefore, it is important to discern such assumptions before embarking in any research endeavour, because:
All research is interpretive: it is guided by a set of beliefs and feelings about the world and how it should be understood and studied. Some beliefs may be taken for granted, invisible, or only assumed, whereas others are highly problematic and controversial. (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011, p. 13)
Mackenzie & Knipe (2006) suggest four sets of underlying assumptions or paradigms: 1) Positivist/postpositivist, 2) Interpretivist/constructivist, 3) Transformative, and 4) Pragmatic. It is the choice of paradigm that sets down the intent, motivation and expectation for the research, and I would say that our project mainly is situated within an interpretivist line of thinking in which the intention of the research is to understand the world by trying to make sense of the experiences and attributed meanings others have about the world. Researchers focus on the processes of interaction among individuals and on the specific contexts in which individuals live and work. Further, proponents of this paradigm recognize that the researchers’ own background impact the research and their interpretation hereof. Initially we wanted to design our project as a transformative study building on a Design based Research approach, but our local research leader advised against this assuming the VET schools would be too busy to get involved in a significant manner.
Consequently, we ended up designing our project as a multiple case study (Yin, 2009) with interviews and observations as primary methods to generate and collect data in different phases of the project.
In the preliminary research phase of the project we conducted six ethnographic interviews with VET teachers, which we have written about in a short paper presented at the Designs for Learning 2016 conference (Riis et al, 2016). Building on Spradley’s (1979) ideas of descriptive questioning, and questions loosely structured around the elements in a third generation activity system, we interviewed six vocational teachers from the three dominant strands of the Danish VET system (technical, business and social- and health schools). As stated by Spradley (1979), descriptive questioning aims at uncovering the informant’s personal experience with the practice and phenomenon under study by way of having the informant elaborate through thick descriptions and examples, often times by repeating and rephrasing questions. The data generated in this initial phase was mainly targeted at answering our first sub-question regarding VET teachers’ understanding and practice concerning the concepts of boundary crossing and continuity. In brief, we found that the interviewed VET teachers predominantly think in terms of vertical learning processes and one-time and one-directional transfer, rather than horizontal processes, continuity, and boundary crossing.
In the second phase of the project (Spring 2016), we conducted classroom observations combined with further interviews (with VET students and trainers as well), and we are still in the process of analyzing the data.
Due to organizational changes in our department, which led to a reduction from five to three people in the research group (with one being a newcomer to the project), we decided not to interact directly with VET schools this fall. Instead we have focused on analyzing data and on field validating some of our pedagogic-didactic materials that we have developed, and this we have done in our teaching at the Diploma for VET teachers.
Based on our findings so far, it has become obvious that we need to focus on observing teachers and students acting with technology in the future in order to better understand the phenomenon of ICT-based artefacts and their role in boundary crossing. When looking at the different types of ICT that participants in our study actually use, it seems fruitful to focus on the use of video and learning management systems, and we are hoping to interact with VET schools in this regard beginning 2017.
Denzin, N.K. & Lincoln, Y.S. (2011). The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research. SAGE
Mackenzie, N. & Knipe, S. (2006). Research dilemmas: Paradigms, methods and methodology. Issues In Educational Research, Vol 16, 2006.
Riis, M., Bergstedt, P., Jørgensen, C.B., Koch, H.H. & Rasmussen, C.L. (2016). Challenges in designing for horizontal learning – in the Danish VET system. Short paper accepted for Designs for Learning conference, May 18.-20., 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark at Aalborg University, http://www.designsforlearning2016.aau.dk/
Spradley, J.P. (1979). The Ethnographic Interview. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Yin, R. K. (2009). Case Study Research. Design and methods. 4th edition. SAGE.