The effectiveness of all education systems depends critically on the quality of teaching and learning in the classrooms, workshops, laboratories and other spaces in which the education takes place. While outstanding teachers (including lecturers, trainers, tutors, and coaches), engaged students, well-designed courses, facilities which are fit for purpose, and a good level of resources are necessary for any kind of educational provision is to be excellent, they alone are not sufficient. The real answers to improving outcomes from vocational education lie in the ‘classroom’, in understanding the many decisions ‘teachers’ take as they interact with students.
When vocational education and training systems were initially created, discussions about vocational pedagogy were likely to be derived from the principles of general education. Even today, there is a sense in which vocational pedagogy sits in a no man’s land between what is taught, in colleges and by training providers, and what is needed in the workplace. And too often employers complain that the content taught does not connect closely enough with the requirements of a particular occupation.
There are many different approaches to constructing learning in vocational education. The report “How to teach vocational education: A theory of vocational pedagogy” (1) is listing a number of approached for effective pedagogy in vocational education:
1. Learning by watching
2. Learning by imitating
3. Learning by practising (‘trial and error’)
4. Learning through feedback
5. Learning through conversation
6. Learning by teaching and helping
7. Learning by real-world problem-solving
8. Learning through enquiry
9. Learning through enquiry
10. Learning by listening, transcribing and remembering
11. Learning by drafting and sketching
12. Learning on the fly
13. Learning by being coached
14. Learning by competing
15. Learning through virtual environments
16. Learning through simulation and role play
17. Learning through games
The list can probably be much longer. There are many ways of learning and training. However, the list gives some indication of good pedagogy in vocational education.
(1) Bill Lucas, Ellen Spencer and Guy Claxton: How to teach vocational education: A theory of vocational pedagogy, The City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development (December 2012)
Lucubrate Magazine August 2019
The picture on top: rocketclips