The competence of students of horticulture excellent – differences in working life relevance between VET providers

Vocational education Virpi Pietiläinen

The most common grade awarded for demonstrations in the Vocational qualification in Horticulture was ‘excellent’. The qualification also showed a reasonably good level of working life relevance, but there were considerable differences between VET providers. Compared to other qualifications, assessment is modified for a large number of demonstrations given by special needs students.

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) has evaluated the learning outcomes of the Vocational qualification in Horticulture. The evaluation data was obtained from grades awarded for vocational skills demonstrations and the data describing the arrangement of such demonstrations. The evaluation covered about 200 students and 15 VET providers. The results of the evaluation will be published on 22 Nov 2018.

An excellent standard of vocational competence – key competences for lifelong learning mastered better than the underpinning knowledge of the work

In the demonstrations, 50 % of the students were awarded the grade ‘excellent’, 40 % the grade ‘good’, and 10 % the grade ‘satisfactory’. The greatest number of ‘excellent’ grades was awarded for key competences for lifelong learning, whereas the greatest number of ‘satisfactory’ grades was awarded for mastering the underpinning knowledge of the work. The average of final grades awarded for skills demonstrations was 2.40 on a scale of 1 to 3.

Special needs students also showed a good level of competence. Compared to other qualifications, the assessment of demonstrations in the Vocational qualification in Horticulture was modified for a fairly large number of special needs students. Modified learning outcomes were used in 29% of the demonstrations given by special needs students.

– Teachers often find it laborious to modify the assessment of the demonstrations. However, appropriate modification of the objectives of the demonstrations can be considered to contribute to a more reliable picture of special needs students’ competences, says Evaluation Expert Veera Stylman.

Working life relevance on average at a reasonably good level – considerable differences between VET providers 

A reform aiming to increase for example the working life relevance of VET and the acquisition of learning at workplaces was carried out in 2018. The Vocational qualification in Horticulture showed a reasonably good level of working life relevance. Of all demonstrations, 49% were carried out at workplaces or jointly at the workplace and the vocational institution and 51% at vocational institutions. Also, working life representatives often participated in the assessment of the demonstrations carried out at vocational institutions and in decisions on the grade awarded for the demonstration.

However, considerable differences were discovered in working life relevance between VET providers. For example, the proportion of teachers who participated in professional development placements varied between 0 and 100% between VET providers over the past five years. Furthermore, the number of workplace instructors who had received induction and training varied between 0 and 75% between VET providers.

Attention must be paid to the development and maintenance of working life contacts

Following the VET reform, education providers must have good and effective working life contacts which enable the students to acquire and demonstrate knowledge and skills in line with the objectives. In the programme in horticulture, attention should still be paid to the development and maintenance of working life contacts to ensure good preconditions for responding to the challenges resulting from the reform.

Evaluation targets are no longer used in the assessment of demonstrations, but attention should still be paid to mastering the theoretical content included in the studies. The increasing use of new technologies and innovations in the sector will further emphasise the importance of mastering theoretical knowledge.

On 5 December 2018, the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre will organise a webinar to discuss the learning outcomes of the programme in Horticulture, offering education providers and employers an opportunity for peer learning and sharing of good practices.

Report:

Stylman, V. & Jalolahti, J. Ammatillinen osaaminen puutarhatalouden perustutkinnossa (‘Vocational competence in the Vocational qualification in Horticulture’). Publications 26:2018. Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. www.karvi.fi

Further information:

Veera Stylman, Evaluation Expert, tel. +358 29 533 5555, firstname.lastname@karvi.fi

Paula Kilpeläinen, Senior Advisor, tel. +358 29 533 5557, firstname.lastname@karvi.fi