Yrjö Engeström originally developed the cycle of expansive developmental research on the basis of Vygotsky´s cultural-historical methodology (cf. Engeström 1987, pp. 318-337; Engeström, 2005). The aims of this paper are two fold: it seeks to explore and like wise discuss potentialities of this methodological construct in the field of VET.
Cultural historical activity theory, and in particular the so called cycle of expansive developmental research (cf, Engestrom, 1987, Engeström, 2005) serves as theoretical foundation and framework of analysis of the experiences and developmental work presented and discussed in this paper. The exploration of the use of the cycle of expansive developmental research is much inspired by an earlier use of this methodological approach by the author of the paper (cf, Moreno Herrera, 1998). In this paper the methodology developed by Engeström around learning processes has been operationalized and used as a methodological framework applied to the analysis of the field of VET. Likewise there are no intentions to make an interpretation in its original formulation but rather to explore potentialities for its operationalization. As already clarified in an earlier us of this paradigm (cf. Moreno Herrera, 1998), the cycle of expansive developmental research, as any other methodological framework, could be to a great extent critically discussed. In this case, as in the previous one, the paper argues for potentialities and shortcomings.
VET is here assumed to be a well-delineated activity system with clearly identified features and a stated need, i.e., the need for improvement in its practice as the main way to fulfil social expectations of various kinds. In order to contribute to meeting the already mentioned needs, a rigorous analysis of the activity system is required. Following the original paradigm the paper discussed the relevance that this analysis includes the following: (a) object-historical analysis, (b) theory-historical analysis and (c) actual- empirical analysis. The various sections of this paper deals, in an operationalised way, with these analyses. The analyses need to be followed by a stage of formation of new instruments, resulting in the arising of qualitatively new models (Engeström 1987, pp. 328-329). According to the methodological operationalization developed for this study, the new models and constructs do not emerge independently, but as a result of the empirical analysis and on the grounds of the historical analyses. There is, however, a need for a stage of in-depth reflection, a concise summary, where a final shape and a reflective accounting for the contributions and bases, which allow a transformation of the new models into new forms of practice.
Following one of the main tenets in expansive developmental research (c.f., Engeström 1987) the ‘new’ models should be evaluated with the help of results of the historical analyses. In line with the original paradigm the paper argues that the new models and constructs need to be assessed considering meaningful aspects arising in the three historical analyses. The new models are assumed to be an important contribution to and basis for an expected qualitative development of the activity system VET. Arguably their practical application depends, however, on normative elements beyond the area of influence of research.
From this stand point the paper proposes what the author considers some of the comprehensive ways forwards in research within VET.
2014. -8 p.
III International Conference & Research Workshop. Vocational Education & Training Emerging Issues? Voices from Research. May 12-13,2014