Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

PRELIMINARY Session Overview
Paper Session 1B: Teaching and learning
Wednesday, 02/Feb/2022:
1:30pm - 3:00pm

Location: Room 2

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What obstacles can be identified when programming a programmable logic controller?

Nico Link1, Hannes Helmut Nepper2, Bernd Geißel3

1TU Dresden, Germany; 2PH Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany; 3PH Ludwigsburg, Germany

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) have become an indispensable part of automated production in professional practice. Approaches to programming, for example in computer science didactics, are often based on the theory of problem-solving (Adelson, 1981; Dörner, 1976). Our main research aim is to examine in detail, what concrete obstacles occur for trainees when programming a PLC. The study is based on a qualitative content-analytical evaluation (Gläser & Laudel, 2009; Mayring, 2019). The sample size is n = 150 electronic technicians for automation technology and mechatronic technicians in Germany at the end of their vocational training. Our analyses show that it is possible to identify and characterize concrete obstacles in PLC programming in the problem areas reversing contactors and quantity control.

Analyzing guided inquiry with interactive simulations in VET: a study across school years with chemistry laboratory technician apprentices

Christian GIANG1,2, Jade COCK1, David RESIN1, Carmen POPA1, Peter BÜHLMANN1, Mirko MARRAS3, Tanja KÄSER1

1EPFL, Switzerland; 2SUPSI-DFA, Switzerland; 3University of Cagliari, Italy

Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a pedagogical approach that allows students to perform their own investigative activity based on scientific methods. In the context of vocational education and training (VET), it has been considered a promising approach to foster essential competencies of the future workforce, such as digital and soft skills. However, for IBL to be effective and pedagogically meaningful, it is crucial that such activities are adequately designed and implemented. A particularly important choice to be made is how much information and guidance should be provided to the learner in such activities. However, in the context of VET, this aspect still appears to be under explored. To address this gap, we present the results of a study performed with 309 chemistry laboratory technician apprentices from first, second and third school years. Specifically, the apprentices were asked to solve a guided inquiry task using an interactive simulation. The results showed that no differences were found between genders and apprentices from higher school years generally displayed higher levels of inquiry skills. However, we also observed that some younger apprentices succeeded to solve the task showing high levels of inquiry skills, while on the other hand, there were also third year students who struggled with the task. Our findings suggest that guided inquiry in VET can be most efficient for senior apprentices who have at least acquired some prior knowledge with respect to the subject covered by the task. Nevertheless, the efficacy of IBL could potentially be enhanced by providing (especially less experienced) apprentices with more personalized guidance that is adapted to their individual needs.

Integration of General Subjects into VET Teaching in Germany

Andreas SANITER, Irina Pavlovic, Nils Weinowski

Universität Bremen, Germany

In a narrow perspective, Vocational Education and Training (VET) pursuits two aims: Enabling apprentices to work and to impart a deeper knowledge about the scientific (science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM)) and cultural (ethics, languages) backgrounds of the working processes of the respective vocation (cf. Pukas, (2012)). In our current research and development project “SteBs”, we research into the challenges met by German VET teachers when trying to reach both aims.

Methodologically, we rely on semi-standardized interview questionnaires (both for VET teachers and VET teacher educators) and participant observation of teaching VET in technical vocations.

Findings reveal that content that goes beyond work-process knowledge, skills and competences (KSC) is almost always neglected. Moreover, teachers lack pedagogical concepts on how to impart STEM or English into their lessons. Therefore, young skilled workers are able to perform work tasks, but often not to answer questions about the reasons why they chose a certain procedure or how they would act in a similar, but slightly different, situation.

Our main idea to work on this desideratum is to develop exemplary “learning and working situations”, where scientific backgrounds or English are taught integrated into work-process oriented teaching, and this scientific background and the language skills, respectively, would be useful not only to perform, but also to understand and shape the work-process. We are developing and videotaping short (approx. ten minutes) sequences that integrate pedagogical teaching of STEM and English, respectively, into work-process oriented learning and are interested to receive feedback by an international audience during the conference on this approach.

PUKAS, D. (2012): Gestaltung des Verhältnisses von beruflicher und allgemeiner Bildung als Zugang zur Hochschulbildung. In: bwp@ Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik – online, Ausgabe 23, 1-23. Online: (12-12-2012).

From Practice to Theory and Back Again: Experiences of VET Students in the Tension Between Vocational and Scientific Learning Processes


University College of Teacher Education Tyrol, Austria

The paper discusses the tension between vocational and scientific knowledge, which often presents itself as a question of theory-practice transfer. The context of the study are VET programs in the initial teacher training in Tyrol, Austria. One dimension of the research question focuses on the students’ perspective: How do they perceive and evaluate the different forms of knowledge? A second dimension concerns the integration of learning experiences into the process of professionalization.

Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, the paper analyses material from different sources (questionnaires, focus groups transcripts, observation protocols), in which a total of 21-29 students from three VET programs were consulted over a period of four years.

The findings display the students’ expectations as well as their assessment of the relevance of theory. While the evaluation of scientific knowledge depends on the students (professional) background, the importance of reflection is being emphasized for the development of teacher professionalization. The connection to prior professional experience is expressed less through vocational knowledge or skills, but rather through social competencies.

While the integration of learning experiences into the process of professionalization can be explained through reflective competence, the tension between vocational and scientific knowledge remains ambiguous at several levels of the VET programs. The results provide insights into the potentials that can be activated by the VET programs for creating transitions to past or future learning pathways. While many in-service students already are part of a "community of practice" in their professional field, they now become immersed into a new one without completely uncoupling from the old.

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