Vocational teachers and the notion of ’good teaching’: a study of habitus and doxa in vocational schools

Henriette Skjærbæk Duch, Lars Bang Jensen

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalPaperResearchpeer-review


A new type of pedagogical course for vocational teachers has the intention to qualify teaching in vocational schools (Ministry of Higher Education and Science 2012). In Denmark, the educational subfield of vocational schooling includes e.g technical-, mercantile- and social- and health-oriented lines of education. Vocational teachers thus hail from a diverse range of vocational- and educational backgrounds and experience. The pedagogical course envisioned as a universal pedagogical training thus has an intrinsic problematic when facing the differentiated background and vocational training of the respective teachers.

Our research interest becomes the specific role of the vocational teachers and how they see ‘good teaching practice’. We draw upon Bourdieu’s notion of habitus, and doxa to understand the various positions and arguments the teachers explicit in their description of good teaching and the connected advanced pedagogical training, meant to improve their teaching (Bourdieu, 1977, 1998). Through such an investigation we potentially outline the problematic and forces connected to implementing a general pedagogical training across various vocational- and professional forms of habitus and connected practice, exposing that the notion of good teaching is a locally institutional constructed phenomena.

The investigation of the vocational teachers outlines the issues of a desired institutional change and improvement of quality, juxtaposing it with the local realities of the vocational teachers, and the various professional conflicts arising in such an institution. The above research thus outlines the unequal forms of capital and power between the bureaucratic field and the educational field, stressing the ramifications for the vocational teachers caught in such a struggle.

The study is inspired by Bourdieu’s praxeology. The ethnographic inspired design uses documentary analysis, observations and focus group interview (Barbour 2007). The central data will be focus group interviews collected in November 2015. The interview question relates to change in the teachers teaching as a practice. In the paper we discuss how focus group interviews, inspired by the method Interview to the double, can capture such a complex theme as “good teaching” (Nicolini 2009). Overall the intention is thus to highlight the possibilities and complexities related to good teaching in vocational context. It potentially expose the need for a new envisioned sense or habitus of solidarity and equality within the vocational schools in the struggle with the bureaucratic field.

The outcome will be seen in the perspective of discussions of good teaching and evidence in teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventNERA 2016 - Helsinki Universitet, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 9 Mar 201611 Mar 2016


ConferenceNERA 2016
LocationHelsinki Universitet


  • learning, educational science and teaching

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