Teachers' Perceptions of Teaching in Workplace Simulations in Vocational Education

Helen Jossberger*, Saskia Brand-Gruwel, Margje W. J. van de Wiel, Henny P. A. Boshuizen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In a large-scale top-down innovation operation in the Netherlands, workplace simulations have been implemented in vocational schools, where students are required to work independently and self-direct their learning. However, research has shown that the success of such large-scale top-down innovations depends on how well their execution in schools matches the theoretical plans and goals. Given that teachers play a crucial role in translating innovative concepts to educational practice, their perceptions of teaching in these environments may provide useful information about how to best match the goals of workplace simulation to its execution. In this interview study, we therefore focussed on teachers' views of designing instructional material and providing pedagogical guidance in workplace simulations. Twenty teachers belonging to six teams participated. The results reveal that teachers face difficulties on both aspects and it became clear that the top-down innovations influenced their daily practice. Old routines and spontaneous and immediate reactions determined much of the teachers' approaches to implementation, and it appeared that they were not yet sufficiently prepared to help students develop metacognitive skills. Furthermore, self-regulation and self-direction among students are not sufficiently promoted and supported in workplace simulations. Teachers often experienced a deep conflict between maintaining control and letting go. Our results point out that teachers need to be supported and guided during the implementation process of any top-down innovation, so that they learn how to adjust their teaching to the new requirements of workplace simulations. It seems important to ensure that teachers are also well skilled for reflecting on their own practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-318
JournalVocations and Learning
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Self-regulated learning
  • Self-directed learning
  • Vocational education
  • Teachers' perceptions
  • Workplace simulation

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