How to meet the challenges of recent changes in Danish VET? Professional learning communities (PLCs) as an approach to supporting teachers’ implementation of changes in Danish VET

Henriette Skjærbæk Duch, Karen Andreasen

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftAbstraktForskningpeer review


General description of research questions, objectives, and theoretical framework (up to 600 words) In Denmark, there is a strong political focus on VET due to an expected lack of skilled workers, both presently and in the future. Analyses illustrate the fact that too few young people attend VET (Government et al., 2018). To meet this challenge, new political initiatives have been implemented. In 2014, a reform of VET was resolved, and, in 2018, new initiatives were taken to introduce and underline the importance of vocational skills in primary schools (Government et al., 2018). Other political initiatives are new combinations of existing educational programmes. One example is a relatively new youth education at upper secondary level called EUX (Ministry of Education, 2018). EUX combines general subjects and gives access to higher education and a vocational-oriented education. EUX is promoted to attract strong and gifted pupils to VET. Another example is a combination of primary school and VET taking place at vocational colleges. The course, eud10 [VET10], combines an introduction to vocational education and general subjects in the 10th grade in primary school (Ministry of Education, 2014). The objective is to introduce VET and build the capacity of pupils’ basic skills, thus granting access to VET. Pupils taking EUX and eud10 are examples of new target groups teachers in VET who are calling for new ways of teaching and collaboration across professions. Furthermore, the reform of VET from 2014 and other political initiatives in general intend to attract and increase the enrolment of younger pupils directly from state schools. New target groups on VET programmes might challenge the teachers, who will have to renew their didactic and pedagogic approach. The objective of this research project is to contribute to this renewal, helping the teachers to understand the students and the changes needed of the pedagogy and didactics to support their inclusion on VET programmes. In Denmark, professional learning communities (PLCs) are an emerging approach in state schools to support the implementation of changes (Albrechtsen, 2010). Municipalities are using PLCs in a number of schools in the district on a large scale with school management, managers at the municipalities, team leaders, and teachers (VIA, 2017). University colleges are also offering different kinds of courses and workshops in PLCs. There are some new evaluations and research results regarding PLCs in general and how PLCs are implemented in practice in the Danish education system (e.g. VIVE, 2018), but the knowledge about this new practice is sparse. The research question is how PLCs, as a method, can support teachers developing an approach that meets the challenges of new target groups in VET. The theoretical framework is the idea of learning organisations (Senge, 1990), although the understanding of collaboration and learning communities differs in educational research (Vangrieken, Dochy, Raes, & Kyndt, 2015). The idea of PLCs is introduced and practiced in Denmark based on five basic characteristics: (i) common values, (ii) deprivatisering (iii) cooperation, (iv) reflective dialogues, and (v) focus on pupils learning. (Albrechtsen, 2010; 2016; Marzano, Heflebower, Hoegh, Warrick, & Grift, 2016). In some approaches in Denmark, PLCs are deeply linked to data-based documentation and evidence (Qvortrup, 2016). As an analytical tool to analyse PLCs in practice, Etienne Wenger’s theory of communities of practice is utilised (Wenger, 1998). Wenger divides communities of practice into three levels: the actor, the community, and the organisation. Wenger defines practice as social processes, in which meaning is negotiated by engagement, activity, and representation. The theory is utilised to analyse how teachers use their experiences from the classroom to negotiate and create meaning in the team as a community. The question of whether organisational change is involved in these processes is also analysed. Methods/Methodology (up to 400 words) The methodological design is based on action research and the research project is conducted from October 2018 to June 2019 at a VET college. The project thus employs a case study design where participation, action, and critical reflection are at the core of the approach (Dich, 2015). As an action research project, the researcher undertakes the role of teacher, coach, and data collector (Brydon-Miller & Aragón, 2018). The teachers are part of the research process in term of defining problems, creating and defining knowledge, learning processes, and implementing PLCs (Kildedal & Laursen, 2012). Theory and action are entangled, and the objective is problem-solving in practice (Nielsen, 2012; Stegeager & Willert, 2012; Dick, 2015). The teachers define the core of their learning goals in the project (Madsen, 2010; Kildedal & Laursen, 2012). An important tool in the project is the communication, where teachers jointly describe and reflect on their own actions (Revans, 2011; Madsen, 2010). Data is collected from a team including 15 teachers within the subject area Care, Health and Pedagogy. The team consists of more or less organised sub-teams, and the teachers are teaching in different subjects and at different levels in VET. At the college, differentiation is part of the pedagogical and didactic values that are decided in an organisational process. From November to April, the team is introduced to and work with PLCs at a monthly four-hour meeting. Between those meetings, some teachers are observed in their teaching. This involves teaching at `Basic programme´ (the first year in VET), the following main programme, EUX, and eud10. The focus of the observations is discussed with the teacher, though in general it involves how to differentiate matching pupils’ challenges on VET programmes. Eud10 has a sub-team, and some team meetings are included in the dataset. At the end of the project, team members and the team leader are interviewed. Expected outcomes/results (up to 300 words) The expected outcome involves obtaining an insight into the pedagogical and didactic challenges that teachers on VETprogrammes encounter when new types of students are included as a consequence of new ways of organising VET. The project can analyse and document how teachers act and mitigate when confronted with such challenges. Adding to this, it includes how they reflect on and undertake new actions supported by the communication in the team and the sub-teams. Consequently, while the college tries out PLCs’ effect as a helpful tool to meet the challenges in VET by focusing on differentiation, the project also offers insight into how teachers differentiate and learn in collegiate processes. As an effect of this, an outcome might be a discussion about what PLCs are able to shed light on and the difficulties in implementing PLCs in VET. The results can contribute to discussions on how to implement political decisions in VET teaching to meet the societal challenges in relation to the labour force and also add important knowledge to the effects and results of the new practice of PLCs. References (400 words) Albrechtsen, T. (2010). Professionelle læringsfællesskaber: - en vision for danske skoler? Dansk pædagogisk tidsskrift, 2010(3), 84–92. Albrechtsen, T. (red.) (2016). Professionelle læringsfællesskaber og fagdidaktik: Professionel kapital og undervisningens fremtid. Dafolo. Brydon-Miller, M. & Aragón A. O. (2018). The 500 hats of the action researcher. In Bilfeldt, A.; Jørgensen, M. S.; Andersen, J & Perry K. A. Den ufærdige fremtid – Aktionsforskningens potentialer og udfordringer. Aalborg Universitetsforlag. Dick, B. (2015). Reflections on the SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research and what it says about action research and its methodologies, Action Research, 13(4), 431-444. Kildedal, K. & Laursen, E. (2012). Professionsudvikling – udvikling af professionel praksis gennem aktionsforskning. I Duus, G., Husted, M., Kildedal, K., Laursen, E. & Tofteng, D. Red. Aktionsforskning. En grundbog. Frederiksbjerg: Samfundslitteratur. Madsen, B. (2010). Aktionslæringens DNA. En håndborg om aktionslæringens teori og metode. Viborg: VIASystime. Marzano, R., Heflebower, T., Hoegh, J. K., Warrick, P., & Grift, G. (2016). Næste skridt i professionelle læringsfællesskaber. Frederikshavn: Dafolo. Nielsen, K. A. (2012). Aktionsforskningens historie – på vej til et refleksivt akademisk selskab. I Duus, G., Husted, M., Kildedal, K., Laursen, E. & Tofteng, D. Red. Aktionsforskning. En grundbog. Frederiksbjerg: Samfundslitteratur. Qvortrup, L. (2016). Professionelle læringsfællesskaber. Dafolo. Revans, R. (2011)[1998]. ABC of action learning. Gower Senge, P.M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline. London: Century Business. Stegeager, N. & Willert, S. (2012). Aktionsforskning som organisationsudviklende praksis. I Duus, G., Husted, M., Kildedal, K., Laursen, E. & Tofteng, D. Red. Aktionsforskning. En grundbog. Frederiksbjerg: Samfundslitteratur. Regeringen, Socialdemokratiet, Dansk Folkeparti, Radikale Venstre, Socialistisk Folkeparti [Government et. al.](2018). Fra folkeskole til faglært – erhvervsuddannelser til fremtiden. Retrieved 4. December 2018 at Undervisningsministeriet [Ministry of Education] (2014). Bekendtgørelse om overenskomst mellem en kommunalbestyrelse og en institution, der udbyder erhvervsuddannelse, om varetagelse af 10. klasseundervisning samt om 10. -klasseforløbene eud10 og kombineret 10. klasse med 1. del af erhvervsuddannelsernes grundforløb. Retrieved 4. December 2018 at Undervisningsministeriet [Ministry of Education] (2018). Bekendtgørelse af lov om erhvervsfaglig studentereksamen i forbindelse med erhvervsuddannelse (eux) m.v. Retrieved 4. December 2018 at Vangrieken, Vangrieken, K., Dochy, F., Raes, E., & Kyndt, E. (2015). Teacher collaboration: A systematic review. Educational research review, 15, 17-40. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2015.04.002. VIA [VIA University College] (2017). Professionelle Lærings Fællesskaber. LIV i skolen, nr. 2, maj 2017. VIVE (2018). Evaluering af projekt ”Professionelle Læringsfællesskaber” i Aarhus og Randers Kommuner. Hentet 10. oktober 2018 på Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice. Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
StatusUdgivet - 2019
BegivenhedECER 2019: 'Education in an Era of Risk – the Role of Educational Research for the Future' - Hamborg, Tyskland
Varighed: 3 sep. 20196 sep. 2019


KonferenceECER 2019


  • Læring, pædagogik og undervisning