Vocational College Teacher! (BeLEK) – Cooperative support of teacher training for vocational colleges in Rhineland educational region at RWTH Aachen University in association with selected technical universities

Funding: Ministry for Innovation, Science and Research of North Rhine-Westphalia; Term: 2013–2017; Amount: 2,500,000 Euro

In North Rhine-Westphalia, there is an urgent need for teaching personnel for vocational colleges, especially in the industrial/technical area. Due to the low demand for these fields of study, only relatively few students are trained at the universities of North Rhine-Westphalia. Added to this is the fact that bachelor students at technical universities usually do not see teaching at a vocational school as a career option.

In order to meet the future demand for teaching personnel, measures are needed to improve the recognition structures, acquire new interest groups and ensure the necessary competencies for the fields of action of vocational schools systematically and sustainably. The aim of RWTH Aachen University together with technical universities in the Rhineland educational region is to train more teachers in industrial/technical disciplines for the vocational school, ensure the necessary technical didactic and professional pedagogical competencies for a skilled occupation in this field of action by establishing collaborative training structures and guaranteeing polyvalency for them at the same time. In addition, training modules in the area of vocational education for the second and third phase of the teacher training are to be developed, which aim for a differentiation of the competency building initiated in the first phase.

To this end, the Faculty for Civil Engineering of RWTH Aachen University cooperates with the Department of Civil Engineering of FH Aachen so that interested FH students can participate in a combined study program of the major vocational discipline of structural engineering together with the minor vocational disciplines of wood technology or civil engineering. A cooperation with TH Köln is currently being planned.


Heterogeneity – domain-specific concretization of a complex phenomenon in the vocational field of structural engineering as the basis for an inclusive technical didactics

Funding: in-house project

The term heterogeneity is used as a buzzword in the context of vocational education, especially for describing the learning prerequisites of trainees and vocational students. This often involves paradigms for the design of teaching/learning processes for example, inclusion, individual support.

However, the theoretical construct is already proving to be quite complex (for example, Helmke 2015) and is reflected in the equally diverse empirical findings in vocational education. For the vocational field of structural engineering dealt with here, existing studies mainly investigate cognitive learning requirements (for language development needs, see Grotlüschen/Riekmann 2012) and their promotion (see also Norwig/Petsch/Nikolaus 2010; Rexing/Keimes/Ziegler 2015).

Another (cross-occupational) focus has to do with aspects of cultural diversity (for example, Kimmelmann 2009). For inclusion, there appears to be a similar lack of conceptual clarity.

The article attempts to contribute to a conceptual clarification by seeking a differentiated concretization of heterogeneity to the greatest extent possible and elucidating a workable domain-specific understanding of inclusion for the vocational field of structural engineering on a theoretical and empirical level. This is done by means of a systematic literature review (for example, Rowley/Slack 2004). The focus is on publications that examine heterogeneity from an empirical perspective in the context of vocational education, especially for the vocational field of structural engineering.

The aim is to have a basis from which to describe domain-specific challenges for the design of teaching/learning processes and identify desiderata for further research in the context of an inclusive technical didactics (for example, KMK/HRK 2015).


Reading requirements in industrial/technical educational programs as a basis for the development of recipient-specific integrated concepts for the promotion of reading strategies

Funding: in-house project

The empirical findings gathered so far in the context of promoting reading skills in vocational education show that the corresponding promotional strategies associated with it have had little effect. The problematic motivational attitude of the students towards reading has proven to be particularly significant with respect to the poor efficiency of the promotion efforts.

Evidently, it is futile to explain the vocational relevance of reading competency to the students. A key finding of the research conducted to date therefore is the need to formulate support concepts in relation to authentic challenging vocational situations. To this extent, the key aim of the project now is to determine the concrete relevance of reading competence in vocational situations.

An issue related to this is the creation of a corresponding vocation-specific support concept, whose effectiveness is to be evaluated within the context of an intervention study.