Published August 9, 2022 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

Training School Leaders to Improve School Practices. Cooperation Between Vocational School Leaders and Researchers

  • 1. Aarhus University, Denmark.
  • 2. Aarhus University, Denmark
  • 1. University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Switzerland
  • 2. IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society, UK
  • 3. Bern University of Teacher Education, Switzerland



Context: A fundamental problem in competence development is how the added competences lead to a change in practice. There is a transfer problem from the competence development process to change of actual actions and activities. A similar fundamental problem is found in development projects when the new experiences do not lead to permanent new activities. In this project, an approach is used that qualifies the school leaders to perform new activities and ensure that these activities are used in practice. In the study, we anticipated that the interplay between researchers and school leaders would improve the quality of vocational education program at the participating schools. 

Approach: Based on experiences from a project about improving practices at eight vocational schools in four countries, we analyse a cooperation between researchers and school leaders. Through this cooperation, the school leaders were trained to handle educational change. In this project, a development model is used to ensure quality development at the schools and for the competence development of the school leaders. The article describes how this learning process can be conducted and how the leaders’ competences are developed, and not least, how they used this competence in practice. The specific activities in this development project include three factors. The first is a process in which the school leaders clarify what the development work is about and what goals they have. The second factor includes leaders' systematic reflection on what they do and what they learn from what they are doing. The third factor concerns systematic summaries of the reflection on the learning process. 

Findings: We found that there was a long-lasting process and a systematic and guided interchange between reflections and actions. Mutual trust and positive personal relations are factors that benefit the process. Different understanding of purpose and meaning and the need for reflections are obstacles. 

Conclusions: The findings indicate that establishing a constructive dialogue around a learning circle between researchers and practitioners is not a straightforward process. The practitioners’ ability to join the process must not be taken for granted. 


VETNET ECER Proceedings BOOK 2022 Seiten 187-196.pdf

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