Title: Career learning in vocational education: guiding conversations for career development
Authors: Winters, Annemie
Issue Date: 20-Sep-2012
Abstract: Career learning is especially relevant in a fast changing knowledge society and labor market, bringing individuals to self-directedness and employability in their life course. At the same time, a comprehensive theoretical framework for career learning in vocational education is missing. For this study, we participated in a three year research and development project, aiming to realize a career learning environment in a Dutch school for secondary vocational education and to contribute to theory building about career learning. The research questions were: (a) how can we understand (situate, define, conceptualize, measure) career learning and (b) how can the learning environment, and more specifically guidance conversations in vocational training, stimulate the career learning process?To answer the first question, a critical concept analysis was conducted, situating career learning from a discussion of what careers are today, how they develop and how career learning can thus be conceptualized. Since there is no consensus in current theories on career learning regarding concepts, and empirical research is scarce, it was decided to first test the propositions on which the only available validated instrument (a self-evaluation questionnaire for career competencies, based on Kuijpers, 2003) builds. From a longitudinal perspective – 250 students have filled out the questionnaire on three occasions during their study career choice making process – it was shown that career competencies do develop, that this process is stimulated by career guidance in the learning environment, and that it leads to positive career outcomes.Given this strong evidence for the essential role of career guidance in the learning environment for career competency development, it was decided to focus further on vocational training conversations as a potentially rich context for career guidance. For answering the second question, four empirical studies were conducted. The first study describes the initial situation of career guidance in vocational training conversations in secondary vocational education. From an analysis of 24 video-recordings of vocational training conversations for formal characteristics, content, form and relational components follows that the potential of the ‘trialogue’ (communication between the student, teacher and mentor from practice) is hardly utilized. The second study examines any changes from that initial situation which resulted from a specific teacher training intervention. Results from the analysis of 30 conversations before and after training support the assumptions that guiding career learning can be stimulated, that vocational training conversations can fulfill their potential for career learning and that the efforts made in educational reform now only partially have the desired effect on interactive behavior in actual guidance conversations. The third study offers from the Dialogical Self Theory a qualitative broadening of the analysis framework based on the concept of student positioning, with the new framework used in the fourth study for the analysis of 30 student guidance conversations. Results show that the most suitable teacher interventions to respond to student positioning in guidance conversations – aimed to stimulate a career learning process – must be dialogical, which implies stimulating students and supporting them in self-reflection and action for the future.
Table of Contents: CONTENTS
General introduction 1
Chapter 1, Studying career learning: a critical concept overview 29
Chapter 2, Developing career competencies in the transition from prevocational to secondary vocational education 67
Chapter 3, What are vocational training conversations about? Analysis of vocational training conversations in Dutch vocational education from a career learning perspective 99
Chapter 4, Can training teachers stimulate career learning conversations? Analysis of vocational training conversations in Dutch secondary vocational education 137
Chapter 5, The self in career learning: an evolving dialogue 177
Chapter 6, The narrative quality of career conversations in vocational education 205
General conclusions & discussion 231
List of publications 271
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:AVL - Academic Centre for Teacher Training
Education and Training
Educational Effectiveness and Evaluation

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