Behind MAP: Peer reviews and best practice

The Quality map highlights in most cases best practice in Finland and Denmark, as some of the early movers in Europe. These two countries opened their practice for peer reviews from Slovenia, The Netherlands and UK/Wales in March 2014. The peer reviews were prepared and subsequently analyzed in a series of online meetings, two personal transnational meetings and local desktop analyses of a massive amount of data.

In general, a well-implemented Finnish and Danish practice with individualized learning was found, inspiring the structure and content of MAP. As the the development of MAP proceeded and new practice was developed in all partner countries, several cases also from Wales, Holland and Slovenia were added.

Best practice in Finland and Denmark

The Danish well-established practice for a close and flexible interaction with industry, craft and service was pointed out as one of the most outstanding characteristics. This enables flexible study plans for vocational students.

The new school-based training centers promote this approach even more. A high degree of differentiation in teaching was noted, both regarding levels of performance, individual learning preferences and recognition of prior competencies. Law and regulations also support individual pathways.

In Finland, the individual learning approach is a basic principle and is increasingly promoted, as its inital success in the adult education sector is convincing. Among other things, the system for recognition of prior learning regarding adult students is very well-implemented and works smoothly.

The Finnish VET teacher education impressed with an advanced use of digital tools and virtual infrastructure, supporting the lecturers´ authentic contact to the teaching students. In initial VET, the teacher-initiated collaboration among the students was remarkable, resulting in valuable peer learning and peer evaluations, as well as high ambitions on behalf of the professions.

New initiatives in Wales, the Netherlands and Slovenia

The reviewing countries could transfer innovation and implemented several new initiatives:

  • Welsh Coleg Cambria added social media to the automotive, catering and plumbing programs, for increased dialogue among the students and with the teachers. Furthermore, the college´s online tool for tracking learning, Promonitor, was extended with several functionalities, supporting the data handling of individual study plans. The college´s own teacher education of learning coaches was extended to embrace individualized learning.
  • The Dutch college ROC Westbrabrant developed 3 new learning units for their teacher training, regarding the support of students with special needs. The learning units were designed according to practice with recognition of prior learning.
  • The Slovenian national institute CPI initiated class teachers´ personal interviews with their students, for identification of individual competencies and as motivation for the work with portfolios. A new model was developed to unroll this system throughout Slovenia by giving colleges ownership, with the possibility of local adaptations.  Mutual assistance among the colleges is a part of this implementation process.

Improvement in Denmark and Finland

By being reviewed, the Danish vocational college Mercantec became aware of their lack of local quality management regarding teachers´ cooperation and efficiency in individual study plans. This resulted in a new generic model for an effective meeting structure, supported by stringent data handling.

Danish consultancy firm Moeve aps could transfer screening principles of the peer reviews´ Quality grid to other professional fields, such as literacy guidance.

Meanwhile, the Finnish University for Applied Sciences HAMK decided to further develop their innovative practice with supportive virtual learning environments. A MOOC on individualized learning was developed in transnational co-production.

Caution

Inspite of a huge collection of qualitative and quantitative data, the results from the peer reviews are not representative. Nationwide reports could compensate to a certain degree.
Nevertheless, the data were sufficient for developing new joint educational products and inventing local improvements.