The evaluation aimed to highlight key elements of practical training in higher vocational education programmes, collect approaches and good practices in work-based learning (WBL) design, and provide guidance for further development of practical training in work organisations.
The evaluation was set up as a case study. In the six participating higher vocational schools a total of 16 programmes were implemented in school year 2013/14: hospitality and tourism, wellness, information technology, mechatronics, nature conservation and landscape management, business administration, economy and bionics.
Data were obtained by literature research and studying national guidelines which regulate WBL, by reviewing WBL documentation supplied by schools, and by interviewing principals, WBL organisers, employers and students. The evaluation focused on four topics: cooperation between schools and work organisations, WBL planning and implementation, WBL assessment and examination, and preparation of diploma theses.
- representatives of schools believe that WBL organisation in systematic guidelines is too complicated and considering the current economic state also unrealistic. In addition, there are not enough supporting documents to improve WBL quality;
- all stakeholders, especially employers, require proper instructions on which competences students should develop in WBL, and how to assess these competences. Although a knowledge catalogue for WBL exists at system level and contains general and subject-specific competences and informative and formative objectives, these objectives are not consistent and differ from programme to programme. Some programmes contain such a multitude of goals that they cannot be used, because they are too comprehensive and too fragmented.
Therefore, for WBL development, preparation of methodology or rather professional guidelines is recommended. WBL objectives or rather competences need to be translated into real work tasks. All responsible personnel in schools should be involved in this process as well as representatives from labour organisations. It should not be done separately for each student, module, or organisation. When certain tasks, criteria and methods of verifying achievement of competences are determined, they will need to be adjusted to specific organisations.
Only when the methodology is sufficiently developed and applicable to all sectors, is it appropriate to introduce changes at system level.