On 17 February 2021, five VET teachers presented their PhD proposals to a committee of academic professors and PhD-holding researchers. An online audience of VET teachers, representatives of teacher training colleges and experts from the National Council of VET Schools, as well as the education ministry attended this festive closing of the third preparation course (nationally referred to as pre-promotion course) exclusively organised for VET teachers.
Committee member: ‘It was great to see the candidates working so passionately on their research and involving their colleagues. Their research sets something in motion, which I find inspiring'.
For over a year and a half, these teachers had immersed themselves in research, preparing a PhD proposal and looking for a promotor at one of the universities.
PhD candidate: ‘In the run-up to the presentation to the committee, I had many doubts about my research plan. That made it quite exciting to present it online for a critical audience. The views and questions of the committee members made me think again'.
Promoting research in VET schools
Preparation courses aim to help VET teachers to obtain a PhD, raise the attractiveness of working in VET, and strengthen the (still modest) research tradition in Dutch VET. Establishing a research tradition is also important for raising VET quality in terms of responding to business needs and applying – if not developing – evidence-based learning strategies. Preparation courses are in line with the introduction of teacher-researcher positions in VET schools.
Aims of preparation courses
A growing number of VET teachers have engaged in research projects, with positive feedback. For some of them, obtaining a PhD was an impossible goal to achieve, as the preparation process is considered too complicated. Preparation courses for VET teachers were developed to overcome exactly this type of obstacle, supporting them before and during their PhD studies.
One of the most interesting aspects of the course is that prospective doctoral candidates refresh their research skills during school practice, boosting research activities in their school as a result. Another aim is to help VET teachers decide whether PhD studies is something for them. Although some candidates have left prematurely, this is not considered a setback, as the course offers a realistic picture of what PhD studies entail.
Preparation courses are an initiative of the Professional Association of Trainers in Secondary VET (BVMBO), the Dutch Expert Centre for VET (ECBO), the VET lectorate of the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (HU) and the Open University (OU). The next – fourth – intake of the course is scheduled for September 2021.
Een geslaagd slotsymposium prepromotietraject - ECBO [A successful pre-PhD trajectory closing symposium – ECBO]