A Review of Technical Education
25 November 2015
The Association of Colleges commissioned NFER to carry out a rapid literature review to identify the key characteristics and essential elements of teaching and learning in technical and vocational education. The review, carried out between July and September 2015, addressed the following research questions: 1) What are the characteristics of technical and vocational education? 2) What makes good technical teaching and learning? 3) How do teaching and learning in technical and vocational subjects differ from the teaching and learning of academic and general subjects?
The systematic search of bibliographic databases (texts published in English in the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA, from 2010 to the present) and websites of key organisations identified 98 items. Based on relevance to the research questions and the quality of the evidence, 17 texts were reviewed.
- This review found limited literature referring specifically to technical education, which is an under-researched area of education provision. Technical education is not generally defined as a separate entity as distinct from vocational education
- The evidence highlights that the characteristics of vocational education include not only those associated with all learning (such as supportive teacher/learner relationships and having a culture of aspiration), but also the distinctive, additional features of meeting the diversity of vocational learners’ needs and contextualisation of learning
- Contextualisation, relevant also to technical education, includes the importance of relevance to the workplace sector, access to industry-standard facilities and resources, drawing on teachers’ dual professionalism, teachers place in a community of practice, links with employers and the sequencing of experiences.