On September 18 I presented the first research review on vocational education and training. It is based on the papers of the VETNET program at the ECER in 2011, and various selected journal articles which appeared in the same year. Eline Roelofs did the basic work for the review.
Based on the review and extensive experience with VET research we can say that VET research has grown and that colleagues in European VET research are in a vibrant community and in a collective learning process.
Despite attempts to thematically structure VET research, it is still to a large extent fragmented. There is little convergence of theories and there are many mini-theories, there is little consensus about definitions, little operationalization of concepts in the direction of practice, research results are not binding for practice, and there is a huge divide between research technical quality and relevance of VET research.
Until now there is no literature that addresses the main components of VET in a comprehensive way, amongst which the VET system, VET administration, VET policy, management and organization of VET schools and training sites, VET curriculum development, learning and instruction in VET contexts, VET media and testing, and VET teacher education and professional development.
Research priorities we see are aimed at improving VET vocational teacher education and professional development, reaching demotivated youth in VET, prevent drop-out of VET, HRM in VET, competence modelling and assessment in VET, entrepreneurship and education provided by VET, innovation education in VET, and the relationships between the corporate, national and individual perspective on VET.
In terms of research policy development and general VET research planning we strongly believe that research should address pressing and relevant problems in educational practice, and practical, policy-oriented and fundamental research studies should be combined to solve these problems. It would be quite detrimental for both research and practice if the field of VET research would continue to be fragmented.
The paper can be ordered by sending an email to me. The suggested citation is: Mulder, M. and E. Roelofs (2012). A Review of Vocational Education and Training Research and Suggestions for the Research Agenda. Paper presented at the ECER Conference, 18 September, Cádiz, Spain.