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Title: Innovation in vocational education and training in England, Germany, and Austria : implications of practitioners' perspectives for policy development and college leadership
Author: Friedrich, Florian
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 8280
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This research project conducted an in-depth, qualitative assessment of vocational education and training (VET) teachers’ perceptions of pedagogic innovation, with an emphasis on obstacles and supporting factors. The main research question was: “How do teachers’ roles and perspectives shape innovation processes in VET and what does this imply for the development of teaching and learning practices?” Three clusters of subsidiary questions were derived around thematic foci: ‘perceptions and concepts’, ‘documentation of practice’, and ‘dynamics, limitations, and lessons for innovation’. Based on analytical strategies derived from grounded theory, two phases of interviews – the first with ten experts and the second with 62 VET practitioners at 20 colleges – were conducted in England, Germany, and Austria, with a focus on full-time VET (Further Education Colleges, Berufskollegs, and Berufsbildende Mittlere und Höhere Schulen) in the 16-19 age range. Classroom observation preceded semi-structured, 30 to 60 minute interviews with teachers. The study builds on previous research and existing frameworks such as Lipsky’s concept of ‘street-level bureaucracy’ and Flyvbjerg’s ‘critical cases’. However, it fills a gap in the literature by focusing on practitioner perceptions, motivations, professionalism, autonomy, work contexts, and own learning in relation to pedagogic innovation, whilst tracing relevant connections to educational policy, college management, and societal influences. Teachers are shown in multiple roles as inventors, designers, and implementers of innovation, facing nine categories of obstacles. Those include limited time and budgets, bureaucracy and lack of autonomy, problems with project planning and execution, and issues related to lack of support. In addition, this study provides a comparative investigation of practitioners’ interpretations of key terms (‘pedagogy’, ‘didactics’, ‘innovation’), revealing differences between England on the one hand, and Germany and Austria on the other, based on different degrees of autonomy and innovative focus. Based on such findings, the study details recommendations for college leaders and policy makers for facilitating pedagogic innovation, placing each in their respective national contexts.
Supervisor: Ertl, Hubert Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Comparative and international education ; Learning facilitation ; Teaching and teacher education ; Vocational and professional learning ; Vocational Education and Training ; England ; Germany ; Austria ; pedagogy ; innovation ; FE Colleges ; Berufskollegs ; berufsbildende Schulen ; critical case ; interviews ; qualitative ; grounded theory ; street-level bureaucracy ; full-time vocational education