Heterogeneity in EBA and PrA classes in vocational school instruction (LUNA II)
Background and aims
In the last decade, vocational training has changed greatly in Switzerland. New training courses have been created for learners with special education needs: basic vocational training (shortened apprenticeship) leading to the Federal VET Certificate (EBA) and Practical Training (PrA). Both are designed for young people who for various reasons are not up to completing more demanding education and training. Initial results of the research project Trainees Facing Transitions in Low-Threshold Training (LUNA: Main Study) indicate that the trainees enter the courses with often very different prerequisites (e.g. due to their prior school career or due to migration background). According to initial feedback from teachers, instruction in the vocational schools and training institutions under these conditions is challenging. The aim of the planned research project is to capture teachers’ experiences in vocational school instruction systematically.
Regarding instruction, how do teachers deal with the heterogeneity in EBA and PrA classes, and how can they ensure that the different groups are integrated into the educational process? In particular, the study will examine the following research questions:
- How do teachers perceive the trainees, and what specific problems arise in instruction?
- What strategies and instruments are available to the teachers in this situation, and how are they implemented? What do teachers see as their limitations under the given conditions?
- How do the trainees experience the instruction?
In a first step, we will conduct explorative surveys by means of focus group interviews at four vocational institutions. Based on the results, we will prepare an initial overview of the problems and derive the basis for systematic data collection through guided interviews. Twenty vocational school teachers will be selected based on secondary analyses in the LUNA research project (e.g. teachers with classes with great heterogeneity in terms of certain characteristics). In addition, we plan to conduct participatory observations during instruction in selected classes.
As little is known up to now on how teachers deal with the heterogeneity of the trainees in vocational school instruction, this research project can deliver a systematic stocktaking and situation analysis. The study will not focus primarily on the “problem”, for initial analyses in LUNA revealed that trainees’ satisfaction with vocation school instruction is high overall. This indicates that many teachers are dealing successfully with the situation. Looking towards valorization, of particular interest are vocational school teachers’ positive experiences, their strategies, and the framework conditions that make this possible. From this we can derive the extent of the need for action and starting points.