New Publication Announcement: Vocational competence in the Vocational Qualification in Information and Communications Technology

Vocational education Virpi Pietiläinen

The assessment focused on all students who had started studying towards a Vocational Qualification in Information and Communications Technology in vocational upper secondary education and training (VET) in autumn 2012 and on all units providing such VET programmes. Assessment data was obtained from vocational skills demonstrations and from supplementary data describing the arrangement of such demonstrations. Data was collected from all VET providers (n=44), 41 of which (93%) participated in the assessment. The data covered 931 students and 4,157 skills demonstrations. The assessment also focused on special needs students. The data covered 585 skills demonstrations performed by special needs students. It included skills demonstration plans from 27 VET providers and a total of 4,387 descriptions of skills demonstrations. Self-assessment data was submitted by 37 providers.

More than one half of the students (54%) received the final grade “excellent” for the demonstration, 38% the grade “good”, and 8% the grade “satisfactory”. The most common grade awarded to the students for all areas of competence assessment was “excellent”. The greatest number of “excellent” grades (57%) was awarded for key competences for lifelong learning, and the lowest number for mastering the underpinning knowledge of the work (48%) and the work process (49%). The averages of the targets of assessment varied from 2.38 to 2.50. The average of final grades awarded for the demonstrations was 2.46. Women’s grades were slightly better than men’s. There was no significant difference between the grades awarded to Swedish-speaking and Finnish-speaking students. On the other hand, differences in the grades awarded were observed between VET providers.

Special needs students had fewer “excellent” and more “satisfactory” and “good” grades than other students. Almost all special needs students (97%) managed the demonstrations without modified learning outcomes. Slightly over one half of the grades awarded for demonstrations without modified learning outcomes (52%) were “good”. The share of “excellent” grades was 30% and “satisfactory” grades 17%.

The education and training programmes leading to a Vocational Qualification in Information and Communications Technology show a reasonably good level of working life relevance. Slightly over one half of the vocational skills demonstrations (54%) were given on the workplace, and a workplace representative participated in assessing well over one half of them (61%). The self-assessments of VET providers indicate that on-the-job learning places that match the qualification requirements are reasonably easy to find in the Information and Communications Technology field. The availability of workplaces matching the requirements in which demonstrations could be organised, on the other hand, was evaluated as slightly poorer.

Pedagogical activities were not found to show a statistically significant correlation with the learning outcomes. On the other hand, the grades for demonstrations of professional competence were to some extent dependent on the evaluators. The best grades on average were awarded for demonstrations subjected to tripartite assessment (student, teacher and workplace representative). The assessment thus highlighted challenges in determining the competence requirements and assessment criteria and interpreting vocational competences. These challenges are associated with training needs of workplace instructors, in particular in performing criteria-based assessments and assessment of key competences for lifelong learning. Differences were also observed in the quality of demonstrations and demonstration plans. Further development needs were identified in the utilisation of the monitoring and feedback data collected by education providers and ensuring teachers’ professional competence in the relevant sector.

The assessment highlighted the development needs of both VET providers and units providing upper secondary VET in Information and Communications Technology on the one hand, and educational administration on the other.

Report: Ruuskanen, J. & Kilpeläinen, P. 2016. Vocational competence in the Vocational Qualification in Information and Communications Technology. Helsinki: Finnish Education Evaluation Centre.

The report is available on FINEEC’s website in Finnish (includes an abstract in English) at: https://karvi.fi/app/uploads/2016/11/KARVI_2716.pdf