I met with my advisor this week and had to explain my project and what I hope to accomplish. She then introduced me around to everybody in the department and I had to explain it to each person I met. I figured since I have become an expert at it, I would to explain a little more here.
In Finland, their educational system looks a little like this:
At 16, students choose whether to go into an upper secondary academic track or into a vocational track. From all that I have read and heard, both tracks are very highly regarded. My advisor is a well known researcher regarding vocational schools which is why I was paired with her. My hope is to spend the next 6 months finding the answers (or changing the questions) to the following research questions:
1. What factors influence a student’s decision to attend an academic or vocational school for upper secondary schooling?
2. What are the curricular differences between the academic and vocational track? Do students who choose the vocational track learn the critical thinking, literacy and civic skills that students on the academic track acquire? Once in the vocational track, do students have the opportunity to switch to the academic track and are they successful?
3. What lessons from Finnish vocational schools can I bring back to my students who opt out of the college track?
I also just want to add to my bag of teacher tricks by observing and talking to teachers about new strategies and ideas. So this is where I am starting out, but there is no guarantee I will finish with a project that answers these questions. I just may find better ones to ask!