Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Professional development of VET teachers in the context of work placement

This project focuses on vocational teachers’ professional development in work placement. Teachers’ learning motivation, learning experience and learning outcomes within work placement will be explored in depth.

2019 - 2023
Na Zhou
China Scholarship Council

Institute of Vocational and Technical Education at Tongji University


  • N. Zhou - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. W.F. Admiraal - supervisor
  • dr. E.H. Tigelaar - co-supervisor

Research questions

  • What is the relationship between vocational teachers’ motivational beliefs and their engagement in work placement?
  • How to understand vocational teachers’ professional development in work placement from the perspective of their perceived learning goals, activities, and outcomes?
  • What is the effect of work placement on vocational teachers’ teaching practice?
  • What factors do vocational teachers perceive facilitating or hindering the effectiveness of work placement on their teaching practice?

Social relevance

Work placement is specified as a continuing professional development programme where vocational teachers deepen their understanding of the real world of work through authentic experience. It has been regarded as an effective way to keep up-to-date vocational teachers’ working life knowledge and skills and is advocated by policymakers in many countries, particular in China. The results of this research will contribute to the understanding of teachers’ professional development in work placement, which may inspire the programme designers, school leaders, or policymakers to support teachers’ learning during work placement.

Scientific relevance

This project could provide an insight in vocational teachers’ professional development in a professional development programme occurring in working life. An evaluation of vocational teaches’ learning outcomes in the real world of work will be demonstrated clearly. Moreover, the gap of transforming from what they have learned to teaching practice can be filled out explicitly. 

Materials and methods

This project will be conducted in the context of China, in which all vocational teachers are required to participate in work placement for at least one month every year. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be combined and applied in this project. Questionnaires and interviews will become the main ways to collect data. Particularly, a small sample of vocational teachers will be interviewed several times over a longer period to know their learning and teaching experience.  

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