The title of speech for school:
Motivation through activity in a community of learners for vocational orientation
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My name is Annoesjka Boersma. I am a female PhD student at the Graduate school of teaching and learning of the University of Amsterdam (Spinozastraat 55, 1018 HJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands, tel: ++31205251595). My supervisors are prof. dr. Geert ten Dam, prof. dr. Monique Volman and dr. Wim Wardekker of the University of Amsterdam and the Free University Amsterdam. My PhD project is subsidized by the Dutch Council for Educational Research. It is called: ‘A community of learners for the vocational orientation of students in pre-vocational secondary education’.
The project departs from the statement that in most Western society’s part of youngsters’ learning process is taken out of societal practices and relegated to schools. Motivational problems and resistance to learning are the result. Innovative Dutch schools started to organize teaching and learning around simulated workplaces. This could, but not necessarily does, re-establish the link between education and vocational practices students may become engaged in, and subsequently raise student motivation. My supervisors and I developed a conceptual framework for the design of learning environments that foster ‘communities of learners for vocational orientation’. The framework combines the explicit focus on learning of a ‘community of learners’ (Brown & Campione, 1994) with the idea of learning by participating in vocational activities of a ‘community of practice’ (Wenger, 1998). We contend that in such a community students are stimulated to develop an inquisitive stance that enables them to distinguish directions in which they are willing and able to develop themselves. Subsequently, we conducted a two year design experiment in cooperation with two schools for pre-vocational secondary education. Six teachers and I jointly redesigned parts of the curriculum of the vocational subject Care & Welfare on the basis of our theoretical framework. We investigated whether the realized learning environments indeed fostered communities of learners for vocational orientation. Also, we examined how being a community member influenced the students’ motivation and learning results.
Momentarily, I try to make sense of all data and experiences I gathered during the design experiment. I have written one article in which my supervisors and I discuss our theoretical framework for ‘communities of learners for vocational orientation’. There are three more articles to come: one about how the learning environments we designed fostered communities of learners for vocational orientation, one about motivation in such communities, and one about the learning results in and of the communities. I have one more year left to deliver these articles. They will form the basis of my PhD dissertation.
In the last few years I have participated in several international conferences like the meetings of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI), the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the International Society for Design and Development in Education (ISDDE). Although I met interesting people with interesting ideas during these meetings, I found most inspiration during the meetings of the International Society for Cultural and Activity Research (ISCAR). The only problem I ran into during these meetings was that of a beginner: I could not always understand the lines of thought that were presented. I missed background knowledge, especially of well-excepted translations and interpretations of the ideas of the first thinkers in cultural-historical dimensions of human practice.
During the Summer School I hope to find keystones that help me fill this gap. Besides that, I look forward to discuss and exchange ideas with others who work from a cultural-historical perspective. In the Netherlands this perspective is not the mainstream perspective. Therefore, research that is consistent with it, like mine, is not always taken seriously. That makes it hard to talk, think about, and thus to further my project. Questions I would like to deal with are: ‘How can motivation be conceptualized from a cultural-historical perspective?’ and ‘What methods and methodology of research need to be used in order to arrive at conclusions that really add to the theory and school practice that the study started out with?’ I appreciate the initiative to the Summer School very much. I think this, along with a PhD pre-congress, makes ISCAR complete, with explicit room for peripheral members next to experienced ones. I hope I can join the Summer School!
- Boersma, A., Dam, G. ten, Volman, M., & Wardekker, W. (2010). ‘This baby… it isn’t alive.’ Towards a community of learners for vocational orientation. British Educational research Journal, 36 (1), 3-25.
- Boersma, A., Dam, G. ten, & Volman, M. (2009). Identiteitsvorming in een leergemeenschap voor beroepsvoorbereiding in het vmbo (Identity development in a community of learners for vocational orientation in pre-vocational secondary education.). In B. van Oers, Y. Leeman, & M. Volman (Eds.), Burgerschapsvorming en identiteitsontwikkeling. Een bijdrage aan pedagogische kwaliteit in het onderwijs (pp.79-89). Assen: Van Gorcum
- Boersma, A. (2006). De klas als leergemeenschap (The classroom as a community of learners.). In G. Geerdink, M. Volman, & W. Wardekker (Eds.), Pedagogische kwaliteit in de basisschool (pp91-98). Baarn: HB Uitgevers
Annoesjka Boersma “Motivation through activity in a community of learners for vocational orientation”