I am part of the research group of Adult education and popular education and the research group of Vocational education. The research groups are closely connected. Nowadays my research concerns vocational education with focus on school-based teaching, training and learning. I have studied vocational teachers’ learning trajectories and now I examine vocational teachers’ continuing professional development in relation to their teaching vocational subjects.
I also have an interest in supervision and learning - how we can support learning in school, work and associations. I have studied learning in trade unions, supervision for professional development of forensic experts and the “becoming” of adult teachers and vocational teachers. I was also engaged in the design of the vocational teacher-training programme that started in 2011.
Focus on vocational education
In my division research on vocational education and pedagogic is conducted. There is a special interest directed towards vocational teaching and learning for adults, but we also carry out research that deals with vocational education and training for young people. In the last years, my interest in research as well as teaching has been directed towards vocational education and vocational teachers’ development. There are specific pedagogical questions within vocational education, regarding organization and implementation of teaching, and students’ learning. Theses pedagogical questions are stressed in the new vocational teacher training programme, and I and my teacher colleagues have published a textbook for vocational teacher students: “Learning for becoming a vocational teacher”. Vocational education is mainly based on vocational subjects, but vocational students also study academic subjects such as mathematics, Swedish etc. which are supposed to be adapted to the specific vocational programme, e.g. mathematics for future farmers. Thus, cooperation between teachers teaching different subjects are important. I am part of the steering committee of the Forum for Subject Didactics and a representative of the vocational didactic area. Furthermore, I have initiated the Research Seminar for Vocational Education. Research on vocational education is interdisciplinary and thus, the research seminar directs for teachers/researchers in various disciplines. The seminar has active participants, mainly from Linköping University, but also researchers from other universities. The invited guests are national and international researchers.
The competence of vocational teachers
In a present research project i and Per Andersson put focus on how vocational teachers handle the challenge of retaining and developing their vocational competence, i.e., still being professional within their original vocation. Vocational teachers are a category of teachers that could be seen as having a ’double identity’ or professions. They have a background in a vocation within which they have been practicing. They have then moved on to becoming teachers, training new generations in this vocation. The challenge for the vocational teachers is to develop their professionalism as teachers, while they also need to retain and develop the professionalism in their original vocation, as this is where the knowledge and skills related to their teaching subjects is situated. The project runs 2014-2016 and is financed by the Swedish Research Council.
Vocational teachers’ learning trajectories
Recently I and Andreas Fejes have completed a research study whose purpose was to develop knowledge of the “becoming” of vocational teachers, i.e., the winding roads from working in a specific work-life community of practice into the practice of teaching a vocational subject in upper secondary school. The study is based on interviews with vocational teachers and shows that vocational teachers' participation in and movements between different practices, i.e., vocational education, teacher training and work in the previous occupation, are important for the shaping of a vocational teacher identity. Among other issues our research brought out the need of and constraints for vocational teachers' opportunities to retain and further develop their knowledge and skills in their teaching vocational subject. Thus, the study is thus partly due to the above-mentioned research concerning vocational teachers’ continuous professional development.