Swedish report on workshop for VET-teachers: the overview of QinVET peer review report
Many teachers are of the opinion that none of the institute quality initiatives was directed at the process of teaching and learning and result is not reaching the classroom and the learners. They don’t believe the quality system has really been aimed at the teaching programs to any great extent. It has certainly added new bureaucratic constraints but it has not changed the face-to-face teaching strategies. Being a time consuming enterprise, procedural factors become the burden which quality assurance activities put on staff.
Furthermore, the relationship between quality initiatives and the actual learning is not clear for many teachers: it is difficult to see a link between an award for business excellence and learning experience. Teaching staff cannot clearly see any quality initiatives, which had directly increased the quality of education of their students.
In the telephone interview groups of teachers in Swedish VET programs were asked about their experiences of quality assurance and evaluation practices such as performance measurement, evaluation and review, and the impact on their work and morale. The interview focused on differences and similarities in teachers’ and administrators attitudes to QA within the Swedish VET system.
The interviewed teacher represented 5 different Folkuniversitetet foundations existing in 12 different municipalities.
According to the interviewees the right quality approach:
- empowers, and encourages teachers to look at different ways of improving delivery
- encourages teachers to self-assess and reflect on teaching practices
- creates greater enthusiasm for teaching and learning
- encourages teachers to be more innovative and flexible e) leads to continual upgrading of skills
Resources and support from management
Most of the teachers commented that the available resources were limited and more were needed. In order to be able to engage with QA, the teacher expressed that following were needed:
- Teacher need time release to update skills, release hours to develop modules, release to attend meetings
- Teachers need professional development opportunities in the form of short-day training sessions and in-service training on quality assurance training, and strategic planning training
- Teachers need sets of procedures, checklists, guidelines, and implementation kits for QA
Quality initiatives and teaching
Discussions with teachers identified many factors which affected the teacher’s view of quality and its implementation:
- The way in which quality was implemented in the institute has an impact on how teachers feel about it. If it was imposed in a hurry to meet national requirements, there was considerably more resistance.
- Many teachers were concerned by the funding issues, perceiving that there exists a ‘get costs lower, cheaper is better mentality’ which they see as being at odds with the philosophy of continuous improvement.
- The role of training programs was identified as an issue: training programs were not de facto delivery. Many teachers felt that the interaction between teachers and students was being ignored and undervalued. At the same time there were high expectations of the role of the programs.
- Lack of leadership was a significant issue. In units where the leader was committed to quality, had vision and acted upon it, there was a mood of energy and excitement about the new perspectives. Where such leadership was lacking, there were feelings of weariness and fear of further change.
The extent to which teachers monitor their performance seems to depend on the attitude of the team and the leadership. There was a consensus that the quality system has had no real impact on the way that teachers monitor their performance.
Teachers tend to monitor their performance by using the data on student learning. They also measure their performance by means such as: class meetings, student feedback or letters of appreciation formal student representative council meetings team meetings, peer feedback, and moderating each other’s’ classes student demand levels and attendance levels analyses of enrolments, completions.
VET-teacher roles in perspectiveThe general picture that emerged from the interviews with teachers was that:
- VET-institutes teachers are tired of change. They said that any new QA initiative will bring reactions such as anger, denial, resistance and acceptance.
- The job of the VET- teacher has expanded in recent years, due to Swedish national initiatives, such as the competency-based approach in higher VET to training and assessment and flexible delivery.
- The administrative load on teachers has increased, due to implementing quality and to changes in staff roles within institutes.
Teacher perceptions of management and the quality system
Where quality initiatives have been imposed by management and implemented quickly, there is more resistance and the initiatives are seen as unstructured, unplanned and reactive. There appears therefore to be little commitment from management to quality implementation.
As one teacher expressed, there appeared to be a ‘them and us’ mentality among teachers and management. Too many demands were being placed on teachers.
Some teachers expressed the view that implementing quality had created a whole new bureaucracy with a new department devoted to strategic planning. The system had become a barrier, which no longer supported core business. Teachers who achieved excellence and delivered a good service to their students did so despite the system.
Final remarks by teachers
- Quality had been implemented from the top down, in the view of some teachers.
- Teachers noted the need for balance and a prime focus on teaching. Teachers believe that quality has improved but that respect for the profession has declined: teachers are contributing to that improvement but not gaining status or acknowledgement of their efforts from pupils, parents or policy-makers
- Teachers are more positive about QA processes over which they have some degree of control, rather than those that are top-down;
- Teachers are in broad agreement about QA processes and their effects but teachers highlight the importance of self-regulation and feel less regulated from above.