Educating the educators
Vocational and educational training (VET) plays a key role in maintaining and improving Europe’s economy, particularly in these times of rapid economic and technological change. Only by ensuring that every generation of workers has the skills to do their jobs well can the EU hope to compete with its global rivals. Whether people are learning to make machine parts or good food, it is vital that they get the best training.
An EU-funded project called QUAL-PRAXIS – Quality Assurance and Practice-Orientated Assessment in Vocational Education and Training – aims to help vocational educators and trainers deliver the very best help to their students.
The project, which ran from 2003 to 2006, examined different methods of student assessment in several European countries. It paid particular attention to finding good examples of what educators call "practice-orientated assessment". Long term, the project should boost co-operation on quality assurance in this field.
The project team was very keen to disseminate its results
to relevant professionals, such as advisers, vocational
training policy-makers, educational administrators and
training programme managers.
QUAL-PRAXIS devoted a lot of time and energy to developing a range of dissemination and exploitation products. A comprehensive website was created to carry detailed information about the project and its progress.
The partners – from educational institutes in Finland, Austria, Estonia, Germany and Ireland – were all actively involved in drafting brochures and publicity posters in their own languages to ensure maximum reach.
The team wants its work to influence policy decision-making throughout Europe. That is why the partners produced a manual of good assessment practice which examined different VET systems in different economic sectors.
Although VET education varies depending on the area of study, the project team is confident that, in time, the assessment practices can be transferred between fields, thanks to the circulation of the case studies. Publicising good practice will also help to strengthen the European dimension of VET and make it more transparent.
QUAL-PRAXIS will publish a final results book, where each partner will flesh out in detail on the case studies they worked on and explain how VET works in their own countries. This will be supported by trans-national workshops to present project findings to decision-makers and researchers. Project findings have also been showcased at national and international conferences.
To further strengthen project exploitation, training
modules have been drawn-up for teachers, teacher
trainers and college principals.
The project has also been busy networking. The project manager – the Institute for Educational Research, based in Finland – plans to form a network of co-operation with another Leonardo da Vinci project called SKILLDA.
The SKILLDA network aims to gather information on Finnish Leonardo da Vinci projects, which are engaged in the study of skills demonstrations.