Title Cross Cultural Learning and Teaching in Vocational Education and Training (CCLVET)
Project Number LLP-LDV-TOI-08-AT-0021
Project Type Transfer of Innovation
Marketing Text Education and training have always been two of the most important factors in personal and societal development. Today and in the future it will be the internatioal dimension of such activities that contributes added value in the building of European communities that span borders and will be instrumental in solving the European and global problems of tomorrow. Reaching beyond mobility programs based on bilateral cooperation agreements between universities, more and more European VET institutions, companies offering international traineeships, and institutions of higher education are promoting their programs to persons coming from different countries and having a different cultural background. The increasing flow of persons working in other countries than the country of origin shows another necessity to adapt local ways of delivering knowledge to a strategy that includes cultural specification in approaches to learning. Only a few institutions have realized that working with persons from different countries and cultures is just the first step of a new era in the internationalization of training and education as part of the intensified European integration. Very rarely have such institutions recognized the fact that as values, attitudes and behaviour vary a cross cultural borders, so does the way learners perceive, process and present information. What they have only experienced are inefficiencies in teaching and learning, both on an individual and an institutional level.
The results and recommendations accumulated by research on cross cultural learning styles, conducted by different partner institutions in Europe, South America and Asia, funded through four different EU Grant Programmes’ , will form a solid basis for the project at hand. Over the course of four years of intensive research including a survey of thousands of students and a series of successful conferences revealed interesting similarities and differences and a number of best practice examples. This project is the logical continuation of these efforts, and aims to serve as a guideline for teachers and trainers in vocational training institutions in Europe but also in the rest of the world. Teaching in a multicultural classroom environment is a great opportunity and a challenge at the same time. A culturally heterogeneous group of trainees is not easy to handle and there are a multitude of possibilities for misunderstandings between the students and the teacher or between the students themselves. Students are not only different in the way they perceive and understand their environment or how they act in it, but also in the way they learn. To enable teachers and students to understand the differences between their usual single-culture environment and a multicultural setting, not only the students, but often also the teacher, must learn to look at many interactions from a different viewpoint.
The Cross Cultural Learning and Teaching Styles (CCLTS) series of projects and events has looked at the problem of cross cultural issues from many different angles but with a unified method, which has been developed and refined throughout the projects mentioned above. Its strength lies in its multicultural approach in analyzing learning and teaching styles and the size of the accumulated knowledge base consisting of the results of a large scale survey and the four-year research on cross cultural topics. This knowledge base has been used to produce a number of successful brochures, books and websites which are used by professors and students all over the world. Until now this products were tailored for higher education institutions, especially for universities acting in an international environment not for vocational training institutions, also the focus of CCLTS was not mainly on inter European cultural differences. In the scope of this project the aim is to use the knowledge base of the CCLTS projects and the well established methodology to assess the cultural differences between European countries and to focus our product development as well as dissemination efforts on vocational training institutions in the partner countries. In this way we will be able to use the synergies available and to expand the scope of the consortium’s knowledge base at the same time .
The present proposal will use existing results listed above in many ways. For the academic results, such as the books, and not listed academic papers, which are also of key value forming the knowledge basis for the products, we will use them as reference material from which we will take the method for information gathering and establishment of cultural differences in learning. So these are the basis for the transfer of methods and investigation results to the VET sector. The products and practical results listed above will be used directly in the development of the e-manual. Where adaptations are needed these will be made according to the insights gained on the new countries. The added value will be to broaden the scope of the topic cross cultural learning from higher education towards VET as well as to include countries within Europe that previously had not undertaken any efforts in systematically observing cultural differences in learning and to develop standardized as well as localized approaches to tackle cultural frictions to increase the learning efficacy of VET systems.
The international state of the art in cross cultural educational research and development is still mainly focusing on higher education as this is the sector which already has experienced substantial internationalization trends in the past. However it is imperative to extend the research and adaptation processes from higher education to the VET sector to ensure efficacy and high learning outcomes also in the near future. There are few measurement instruments working in cross cultural research settings with adequate statistical quality. In previous projects the state of the art was scrutinized in depth and the choice for the current methodology is well documented . The currently most comprehensive international comparisons of approaches to learning are provided by the applicant together with partners from previous projects. This is also true for the practically usable products where already 3 brochures have been created on cross cultural education. This pedagogical material is based on research outcomes which are not yet available for many EU countries. Furthermore research focused on HE and not VET. Therefore research results and data have to be collected on the VET sector in each country to ensure seamless adaptation of products and recommendations for the European VET area.
Methodology: In the first year of the project the knowledge and products/results have been transferred within the project team but also on the sectoral and country level. To adapt results quantitative and qualitative data have been collected. The quantitative part focussing on VET trainees and students included surveys whose items base on accepted survey instruments such as the the Approaches to Study Skills inventories for Students (ASSIST). Within a qualitative part “focus groups” deepened the information gained from the qualitative part via semi-structured, oral group interviews of VET trainers. These sources of information are evaluated by the consortium and recommendations as well as training materials and methods are developed to suit the actual approaches to learning of persons with different cultural backgrounds. Mixing qualitative and quantitative data turned out to be the best way to produce both scientifically meaningful and easy to understand information. Whereas the quantitative data will give the underlying pattern for different approaches to learning the qualitative information will lead to easy to understand and useful information how to learn and teach in multicultural environments. This is of special importance when moving from the HE sector to VET. The project language as well as the publication about the main findings (for researchers, and persons with high interest) will be in English. The e-manual (the practical main product of the project) will be produced in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Slovakian, Czech, and Turkish.
1. Research results will be provided for countries where to date no internationally comparable research on cross cultural differences in learning exists.
2. Meaningful insights into cross-cultural differences in approaches to learning and teaching styles will be developed from previous results as well as new research outcomes. They will serve as a basis for upgrading cross cultural awareness and skills of VET trainers
3. Awareness of intercultural differences in learning behaviour and teaching methods and reflections on personal behaviour of students and professors/educators will be created for VET trainers who in turn will share them with VET trainees and students
4. Intercultural competence of teaching staff at European educational institutions and organizations will be increased through workshops and the training manual
5. Strategies that help create synergetic approaches to learning in cross-cultural environments will be identified
6. Efficiency (e. g. shorten durations for completion of trainings, lower failure rates, improve average grades, enhance learning outcomes, etc.) in the educational sector, by creating cross-cultural learning environments that are conducive to learning, will be improved
7. A more effective climate for mutual research and development of common projects between institutions of higher education and vocational training institutes is created within Europe with the aim to get to know more about cross-cultural issues in learning and teaching
8. Networks of collaborating institutions of higher education, vocational training, and business will be shared, connected and extended.
Open and distance learning
material for open learning
Main Products wiis an e-manual (it is currently in alpha version):
Development of e-manual is based on several steps: Transfer of knowledge from former projects, survey results conc. adaptation needs for sectoral and country transfer, and pilot testing. Within the e-manual the section covering practical implications for trainers is based on the blended learning approach.