An exploration of British Columbia's TVET instructors' perceptions that influence their curriculum choices

Date created: 
Trades and vocational education
Curriculum studies
21st Century skills
Q methodology

Instructors’ perceptions, values, and belief structures influence their curriculum decisions and may fundamentally overlap, contradict, and/or conflict, leading to a confluence of curricula cultures within the classroom. This study investigated Trades and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) instructors’ perceptions to gain a better understanding of how those perceptions give rise to cultures of curriculum, particularly those that inhabit postsecondary TVET in British Columbia (BC). A total of 37 TVET instructors from BC participated in this study. Collectively, the participants represented a total of 10 Red Seal trades. Joseph’s (2000) conceptualization of curriculum as culture was used as the theoretical lens to investigate vocational instructors’ general perceptions regarding (a) their role as a teacher, (b) the intellectual capacities of their students, and (c) the purpose and future needs of vocational education. Q Methodology (Stephenson, 1935) was selected as the optimal research approach. Q factor analysis resulted in a four-factor solution, revealing the correlation of participants’ shared curricular beliefs and values as four statistically distinct perspectives. Factor array tables and interview transcripts were reviewed to interpret and name the viewpoints as expressed by the participants grouping together in each factor: Factor 1 – the constructivist crew, Factor 2 – the canonical cluster, Factor 3 – the experiential team, and Factor 4 – the 21st century progressives. Two major findings were gleaned from this study. First, tensions exist between the theoretical underpinnings of competency based education and training (CBET) and the curricular beliefs held by Factors 1, 2 and 4. Factor 3, however, is found to be in broad agreement with the goals and pedagogies associated with CBET. Second, distinct views held by each factor are theoretically opposed to those of other groupings, creating incompatibilities and divisions within the education system. The findings from this study have implications for future research, practice, policy, and theory and lend support to other curriculum studies in both mainstream education and TVET. My intention is for these findings to bring forth awareness of the largely unexamined theoretical confusion that I found to exist within the BC TVET system and to provide a reference point for stakeholders’ discussions and future curricular decisions.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Michelle Pidgeon
Natalia Gajdamaschko
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.