The place of underpinning knowledge and understanding in National Vocational Qualifications : a case study in beauty therapy.
This thesis is concerned with the analysis and comparison of the science
underpinning knowledge and understanding (UKU) component of the City and
Guilds of London Institute (CGLI) programme in Beauty Therapy and its
replacement, the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ). NVQs are primarily
concerned with practical competence, this being specified solely in terms of
outcomes or outputs. The perceived predominance of practical skills over
theoretical UKU within NVQs has led to concerns that trainees would no
longer be able to solve problems, or deal with novel or non-standard situations
as they arise in the workplace.
The research includes both qualitative and quantitative research tools used to
evaluate the amount and depth of UKU learned by CGLI and NVQ trainees
within five Further Education colleges. Although the amount of science taught
on the CGLI programme was judged to be greater and more demanding than
the NVQ, it was largely taught and assessed in terms of pure theory rather than
practical application. In contrast, the science UKU taught and assessed in the
NVa programme was specified alongside each of the practical skills; however,
it was found that NVQ trainees were less able to deal with real-life problems
that might be encountered in the workplace. The ability of both cohorts to apply
the UKU learned to workplace problems was impeded by their lack of problem
solving skills, this being a major deficiency of both programmes.
The conclusion is that a new framework is required for the derivation and
speCification of UKU within NVQs, which incorporates both learning input and
assessment output. A proposed format for the NVQ programme, which
specifies the relevant science UKU in terms of each practical skill and the
overall programme, is put forward as the blueprint for al\ NVQs. Problem
solving skills should also be directly incorporated into NVQ standards.
The results obtained are discussed in the light of potential philosophical and
epistemological paradigms associated with the NVQ model.