Universiteit Leiden

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PhD defence

Professional learning of vocational teachers in the context of work placement

  • N. Zhou
Wednesday 1 March 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof. W.F. Admiraal



To maintain in-service vocational teachers’ occupational competence, work placement as a professional development programme occurring in the industry has been widely implemented. However, until now, how vocational teachers’ learning takes place in this programme and how their learning supports their teaching in school is still unclear. This dissertation provides insight into vocational teachers’ learning process in this programme within Chinese vocational education.

Specifically, the first study generalised vocational teachers’ learning activities and outcomes in all various contexts with a systematic literature review, and four categories of learning activities, as well as eight types of learning outcomes, were summarised. Then, the second study focused on vocational teachers’ motivational beliefs and engagement toward work placement. A quantitative analysis of questionnaire data displayed a significant relationship between them. Next, the third study utilised in-depth interviews to investigate vocational teachers’ learning activities, goals, and outcomes during work placement. The findings showed that vocational teachers employed seven categories of formal and informal activities in this programme and obtained a variety of benefits with regard to cognition, behaviour, emotion, and institution. The fourth and fifth studies both examined factors influencing vocational teachers’ transfer of learning from work placement to school practice. There were three categories of factors captured, i.e., teacher characteristics, work placement programme, and school environment.

The findings mentioned above contribute to a comprehensive understanding of vocational teachers’ professional learning in work placement. This will inspire policymakers, school leaders, and vocational teachers themselves to consider how to promote their learning in this programme.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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