In the spotlight: Practoraat in the Netherlands
In the spotlight: Practoraat in the Netherlands, facilitating the cooperation between VET education and SMEs doing Applied Innovation and Research
Within the AIRinVET project, one of the things we have done, is interviewing people working at institutions for VET education, to learn from their experiences with conducting Applied Research.
One of those interviews took place with Jorrick Scheering, director of the foundation ‘Elk MBO een practoraat’, freely translated to ‘Every institution for VET school a practoraat’.
And: we are impressed. Therefore, hereby, we would like to show you what a practoraat is and how it facilitates institutions for VET education to do Applied Research, in cooperation with the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) within their own region.
What is a PRACTOR?
Based on the way of work that was already existing within universities (of applied sciences), where Lectors are teaching students, Jorrick and his companions got the idea that within VET education, students could be guided by a ‘Practical Lector’, now known as a Practor.
So, the Practor is a teacher-researcher, working at an institution for VET education, who has some (or sometimes even all) of his/her working hours reserved for his/her work as a practor – those hours are paid and reserved, and explicitly not meant for teaching.
What is a Practor doing?
Practors operate as mediators conducting and linking research with education practice. They form teams with specialised teacher within their institution of VET education, focused around an occupational domain (like e.g. logistics, mechatronics, welfare, care, social media, etc.), or an educational/didactical theme (like e.g. citizenship, work-based learning, media literacy, prevention from drop out, etc.), depending on the expertise of the teachers involved and the projects they work on, together with the SMEs.
Practors promote research as a method of evidence-informed innovation of education practices. They step in on various moments, but especially when facilitating the cooperation with the SMEs within the region of the institution of VET education, guiding the students of their school during internships and projects, concerning Applied Research. Demand-led and practice-based research should lead to innovation in vocational programmes or raising the quality of teaching and learning.
Improving VET education
Following this concept, a practoraat provides direct links between research and the application of its outcomes in school practice, by applying methods of practice-based professional learning. Research is focused on questions raised in the education practice by teachers or the school management.
New and creative forms of knowledge dissemination are used to spread the findings in the organisation.
The concept is even welcomed as a milestone in the process of transforming VET-schools into centres of knowledge, operating as platforms for programming practice-based research and exchanging of knowledge and research experiences in schools.
With this transformation, VET-schools are growing to their expected role as provider of applied innovation and research services to the SMEs in their region. As a result, VET schools not only train the work force for the SMEs in their region, but also fullfill the research needs of SMEs. And that is why in The Netherlands connections are built between the AIRinVET-project and the Practorates.
Website practoraten.nl in English: