Views and Concerns of Vocational Educators about the Adoption of the Reformed Vocational Curriculum: A Case Study Using Concerns-Based Adoption Model
HASSAN, SHENIN PARACKAL
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The UAE’s education sector has been undergoing tremendous reforms, keeping abreast with an overarching vision of transforming the nation to a knowledge-based economy. These revolutionizing initiatives have revamped the entire Vocational Education and Training (VET) landscape, as a response to meeting the ever-changing occupational skills demands. Governance and structural reforms in the VET sector has been perceived as a means to address UAE’s alarmingly higher skills-gap challenges, enhance national workforce competencies, and establish training systems to meet 21st century skills demands. One of the significant reforms within the VET sector is the introduction of the new vocational curriculum model, that forms the basis of vocational qualifications (Q) based on the National Occupational Skills Standards (NOSS), collectively referred to as the Q+NOSS. However, these innovations have posed implementation challenges to VET providers and vocational educators in particular. It is a transition phase for UAE’s vocational educators, shifting their classroom-delivery practices from a competency-based, non-NOSS curriculum framework to a NOSS-based curriculum model. Previous research studies have highlighted a number of innovation adoption challenges and emphasized the critical contributions of teachers in the successful implementation of any educational innovations. A detailed examination of vocational educators’ innovation adoption practices would be useful to understand not only their views about the curriculum, but also help identify factors that influence the adoption process. As the VET sector in the UAE is gearing up to undertake these educational innovations, a closer look at various aspects of implementation would be worth undertaking. In congruent with the aforementioned circumstances, this research aims to examine the views and concerns of vocational teachers who are engaged in the adoption process. This research attempts to 1) describe the newly introduced Q+NOSS model, 2) examine the views and concerns of adopters (vocational educators) and 3) determine the extent to which the curriculum implementation is congruent with those mandated by the regulators. Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) lays the theoretical base for this research, which is deeply rooted in Fuller’s concerns theory embodied within the developmental conceptualization framework. Teachers’ views and concerns are examined using two diagnostic constructs, namely Stages of Concern (SoC) and Levels of Use (LoU) advanced by the CBAM. The research has adopted a convergent parallel mixed methods approach influenced by the underlying theoretical constructs and the diagnostic tools. Data collection methods included document analysis, qualitative interviews and quantitative questionnaire-based survey. The two CBAM diagnostic constructs (SoC, and LoU) recommends the administration of a combination of qualitative interview and a survey-based SoC Questionnaire (SoCQ) to collect teacher concerns-related data, and a qualitative interview method to capture the Levels of Usage in regards to the innovation. The research found that majority of the vocational educators view curriculum as a prescribed set of instructional directives or mandates, a characteristic of most of the prescriptive curriculum implementation models. Research findings also indicate that majority of the teachers experience highly intense personal and informational concerns. These concerns results from the lack of standardized communication between key stakeholders, issues relating to the occupational relevance and currency of the subject matter, adequacy of the classroom support systems, workload distribution, regulatory challenges and collaboration issues. In addition, the research indicates that most of the teachers are currently at a ‘routine’ usage level and does not intent to suggest or make any radical changes to the curriculum, despite the acknowledgement of a number of adoption challenges. These findings could be used as a basis for further investigation by the change facilitators and policy makers to formulate effective early intervention strategies.
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