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Journal of Vocational Education & Training

Abstract Deadline: 31 October 2019 

Special Issue:

Knowledge and Expertise in Vocational Education and Training

Views of the nature of vocational knowledge and expertise are influential in shaping VET systems and programs in different societies and for different occupations, and reflect different philosophies of the purpose of VET and its relationship to other forms of education. Debates center around the role of formal knowledge derived from academic disciplines, the extent to which situated knowledge and practical understanding is key to the development of expertise, and epistemological questions about
the relationship between forms of know-that and know-how (Winch 2010). For example, a creativity focused ‘epistemology of the hand’ (Brinkmann and Tanggaard 2010) could be seen to imply that VET expertise has little to do with forms of systematically-produced knowledge, which could be castigated as ‘inert’ and ‘irrelevant’ to much vocational practice. Others have however suggested that expertise in many occupations relies on ‘specialized’ knowledge (Young and Muller 2014), which could be seen as indispensable for the making of sound judgements in practice (Winch 2010; Shalem 2014).

Suggestions that ‘practice’ should be considered the prime locus for the development of vocational expertise, as could be understood from some workplace learning or communities of practice theories, lead to calls for situated understanding to be prioritized in VET curricula. Some argue that vocational knowledge can only be developed through participation within a practice community. The proponents of this approach argue that the centrality of 'practice' in learning an occupation is also intertwined with issues of identity formation, ‘becoming’ and community participation (Gherardi and Perotta 2014;Hodkinson et al. 2008). These ideas may have considerable resonance amongst those involved with VET, conscious of the importance of practical acquaintance with work contexts for vocational learning. However, such arguments may be challenged for neglect of generalisable knowledge that may have considerable transformative value to individuals and society (Wheelahan 2010; Johnson 1988). Notions of ‘community’ in workplace contexts could also be challenged on the grounds that they underestimate changes in the nature of work and inter-professional activity, and therefore neglect the forms of knowledge and knowing increasingly valued in the contemporary workplace (Eraut 2004;Guile 2010).

Despite recognition of the value of situated knowledge in VET and workplace practice (Billett 2006; Fuller et al. 2007), many societies retain vocational programmes that involve the acquisition of formal bodies of vocationally-orientated knowledge alongside more ‘general’ academic knowledge. Some VET reforms advocate the decentring of knowledge from discussions about VET, suggesting that observable work performances are more effective and valuable indicators of occupational competence, as is implied by much competency-based education in the UK, Australia and the U.S. Such forms of competency-based education have long been criticised for their behaviouralist and instrumentalist underpinnings (Hyland 1993; Allais 2014), and can be contrasted with approaches to competence that rely to a greater extent on systematic knowledge (Brockmann et al. 2011). Some have instead proposed re-focusing VET on the differentiated nature of occupational work processes as a guide to knowledge and curriculum requirements (Gamble 2016).

This special issue aims to progress discussion around the role of knowledge in vocational education and training, with reference to some of the ongoing debates outlined above. All forms of research article are encouraged, including those which present empirically-based research, articles that are primarily conceptual or reflective, and those which seek to make a case for a particular approach to vocational knowledge and expertise. Contributions are welcome that broadly address one or more of the following themes:

· Theories and conceptualisations of vocational and professional knowledge
· The relationship between knowledge and expertise in vocational and professional contexts
· Vocational practice and knowledge
· The role of knowledge in VET system reform
· Knowledge and the professions, or in professionalising occupations
· VET curriculum development
· Knowledge and vocational pedagogy
· Vocational knowledge and competence
· Knowledgeability and VET
· ‘Knowing’ and vocational expertise
· Situatedness, situated knowledge and vocational education
· The production of knowledge and VET
· Knowledge and learning in vocational contexts
· New forms of working and their implications for knowledge
· Knowledge and assessment in VET

Journal of Vocational Education & Training

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Jim Hordern, Yael Shalem, Bill Esmond and Daniel Bishop

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Submission Guidelines

Proposals for the Special Issue should consist of a 400 word extended abstract to be sent to Jim Hordern and Bill Esmond at by 31st October 2019. The editors will contact all contributors and inform them of the outcome of their submission within four weeks. Selected authors will be invited to submit a full paper with a deadline for submission in September 2020. An invitation to submit a full paper does not guarantee publication as all papers will be subject to the Journal’s peer review process. The current plan is for the Special Issue to be published in 2021. Submitted papers must follow the journal's 'Instructions for Authors', and submit through the ScholarOne system.

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Allais, S. (2004) Selling out education: National qualification frameworks and the neglect of knowledge. Rotterdam: Sense.
Billett, S. (2006) Constituting the workplace curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies 38(1), 31-48
Brinkmann, S., & Tanggaard, L. (2010) Toward an epistemology of the hand. Studies in Philosophy and Education 29(3), 243–257
Brockmann, M., Clarke, L. and Winch, C. (eds.) (2011) Knowledge, Skills and Competence in the European Labour Market. Routledge, Abingdon.
Eraut, M. (2004) Informal learning in the workplace. Studies in Continuing Education 26 (2), 247-273
Gherardi, S. and Perotta, M. (2014) Becoming a practitioner: professional learning as a social practice. In: Billet, S, Harteis, C., and Gruber, H. (eds.) International handbook of research in professional and practicebased
learning. Springer: Dordrecht, pp. 139-162
Guile, D. (2010) The Learning Challenge of the Knowledge Economy. Rotterdam: Sense
Fuller A, Unwin L, Felstead A, Jewson N, Kakavelakis K (2007) Creating and using knowledge: an analysis of the differentiated nature of workplace learning environments. British Educational Research Journal 33 (5):
Gamble, J. (2016) From labour market to labour process: finding a basis for curriculum in TVET. International Journal of Training Research 14 (3), 215-229.
Hodkinson, P., Biesta, G. and James, D. (2008) Understanding learning culturally: overcoming the dualism between social and individual views of learning. Vocations and Learning 1 (1), 27-47.
Hyland, T. (1993) Competence, knowledge and education. Journal of Philosophy of Education 27 (1), 57-68.
Johnson, R. (1988) Really useful knowledge 1790-1850: memories for education in the 1980s. In: T.Lovett (Ed.) Radical Adult Education. London: Routledge, pp.3-34.
Shalem, Y. (2014) What binds professional judgement - the case of teaching. In: Young, M., Muller, J. (eds) Knowledge, expertise and the professions. Routledge: Abingdon, pp. 93-105
Wheelahan L (2010) Why knowledge matters in curriculum. Routledge: London
Winch C (2010) Dimensions of Expertise: A Conceptual Exploration of Vocational Knowledge. Continuum: London
Young, M. and Muller, J. (2014) Towards the Sociology of Professional Knowledge. In: Young M, Muller J (eds) Knowledge, expertise and the professions. Routledge: Abingdon, pp. 3-17.