EAPRIL Conference November 23rd to 25th, 2011Roundtable 23rd of November 13.45-15.15 hoursWorkplace Learning in co-makersh...
The Breakthrough Series and Breakthrough Method in HealthcareThe method underlying the Breakthrough Project Workplace Lear...
represent a specific group and do not want to defend solutions that arise from a specificgroup, but give a neutral descrip...
from VET College Zadkine, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and a range of healthcare institutions. With the introd...
implemented to improve the situation. At the same time the innovation process andoutcomes will be monitored. This implies ...
elaborate and accentuate the ideas set by the consultation trainers meeting’ and develop aproposal for a practical approac...
4. The quality of learning in the learning department can be enhanced by several factors.Besides a careful matching of stu...
current project they invested mainly in the Study-phase: to describe and evaluate the theoryand practice of workplace lear...
Are the reports accessible enough? And at the same time: Is the scientific quality of the fieldstudies at stake? The "shor...
LiteratureAkker, J. van den (1999). Principles and Methods of Development Research . In J. van denAkker, R. Maribe Branch,...
Dutch Education Counsil (Onderwijsraad)(2006). Naar meer evidence based onderwijs. DenHaag: Onderwijsraad.Ferrance, E. (20...
Tartwijk, J. van (2011). Van onderzoek naar onderwijs, of de kunst van de toepassing.Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht.Verschu...
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Breakthrough method in education, innovation-driven research or research-oriented innovation? "The Rotterdam approach", a case study

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Since 2008, VET College Zadkine, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and three
healthcare institutions in the Rijnmond region in the Netherlands have participated in the
national Workplace Learning Breakthrough Project – an initiative of the national Platform for
Vocational Education (HPBO). The project is a research and development project in which
schools, healthcare institutions and researchers work together on various issues of
workplace learning. The main question is: how can the cooperation between education and
professional practice in learning in the workplace (in so called learning departments) be
optimized, using both scientific and practical knowledge and experience?

The Rijnmond project focuses on workplace learning in learning departments in hospitals,
nursing homes and other healthcare institutions in the region. About ten students ‘care’
(intermediate level vocational education) and ‘nursing’ (intermediate level vocational
education as well as higher level of vocational education), work and learn together in a
learning department under the responsibility of qualified health professionals (work
supervisors and trainers). The student posts are supplementary and provide all possible
activities in the field of ‘care’ and ‘nursing’. They work and learn in an authentic setting,
namely the actual job practice, in which the students – after obtaining their diploma – will
continue their professional carreer. During their workplace learning route, they will be
supervised by healthcare professionals and teachers from intermediate and higher
vocational education (also designated as trainers).

In the project a major role is allocated to (practical) research and experimentation. Thereby,
"co-maker ship in triplicate" – between education and healthcare institutions, between
research and education, and between rural and regional actors – will be addressed (Van den
Berg, 2009; Van den Berg, De Jongh, Klous & Streumer, 2010). These activities are dedicated
to the improvement of the practice of workplace learning. This means that research is
focused on specific changes in that part of the curriculum that is situated in the professional
practice. The emphasis is on increasing the professional behaviour of trainers, offering them
a wider range of intervention tools to increase learning effects for students. During an
interim audit, the Audit Committie described the approach used in the Rijnmond project, as
"the Rotterdam approach" and the commission called for this approach to be documented
further. This resulted in the seventh report on the project, which specifically, addresses the
'co-maker ship' between research and education (Van den Berg & Streumer, 2011).

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Breakthrough method in education, innovation-driven research or research-oriented innovation? "The Rotterdam approach", a case study

  1. 1. EAPRIL Conference November 23rd to 25th, 2011Roundtable 23rd of November 13.45-15.15 hoursWorkplace Learning in co-makership or intermediate VET: a methodological introductionBreakthrough method in education, innovation-driven research or research-orientedinnovation? "The Rotterdam approach", a case studyNiek van den Berg & Jan Streumern.vandenberg@zadkine.nlj.n.streumer@hr.nlIntroductionSince 2008, VET College Zadkine, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and threehealthcare institutions in the Rijnmond region in the Netherlands have participated in thenational Workplace Learning Breakthrough Project – an initiative of the national Platform forVocational Education (HPBO). The project is a research and development project in whichschools, healthcare institutions and researchers work together on various issues ofworkplace learning. The main question is: how can the cooperation between education andprofessional practice in learning in the workplace (in so called learning departments) beoptimized, using both scientific and practical knowledge and experience?The Rijnmond project focuses on workplace learning in learning departments in hospitals,nursing homes and other healthcare institutions in the region. About ten students ‘care’(intermediate level vocational education) and ‘nursing’ (intermediate level vocationaleducation as well as higher level of vocational education), work and learn together in alearning department under the responsibility of qualified health professionals (worksupervisors and trainers). The student posts are supplementary and provide all possibleactivities in the field of ‘care’ and ‘nursing’. They work and learn in an authentic setting,namely the actual job practice, in which the students – after obtaining their diploma – willcontinue their professional carreer. During their workplace learning route, they will besupervised by healthcare professionals and teachers from intermediate and highervocational education (also designated as trainers).In the project a major role is allocated to (practical) research and experimentation. Thereby,"co-maker ship in triplicate" – between education and healthcare institutions, betweenresearch and education, and between rural and regional actors – will be addressed (Van denBerg, 2009; Van den Berg, De Jongh, Klous & Streumer, 2010). These activities are dedicatedto the improvement of the practice of workplace learning. This means that research isfocused on specific changes in that part of the curriculum that is situated in the professionalpractice. The emphasis is on increasing the professional behaviour of trainers, offering thema wider range of intervention tools to increase learning effects for students. During aninterim audit, the Audit Committie described the approach used in the Rijnmond project, as"the Rotterdam approach" and the commission called for this approach to be documentedfurther. This resulted in the seventh report on the project, which specifically, addresses theco-maker ship between research and education (Van den Berg & Streumer, 2011). 1
  2. 2. The Breakthrough Series and Breakthrough Method in HealthcareThe method underlying the Breakthrough Project Workplace Learning and otherBreakthrough projects in vocational education, has been developed in the last decade of thetwentieth century in the United States and was focused on healthcare. Some years later, thisbreakthrough method was introduced in the Dutch healthcare sector.Since 1999, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement CBO has put on pressure to implementthe BTS model in the Netherlands. In 2007 CBO published “Breaking Through with results inhealthcare” – a collection of a large number of project examples and a reflection on themethodology – making the Breakthrough Method (also indicated as BTS model) available fora wider audience (Schouten, Minkman, De Moel and Van Everdingen (ed.), 2007; Geurts,2010a). The method involves "a fairly tight structure to introduce changes aimed atimproving an existing situation" (CBO, 2010, p.17). Organisations interested in thebreakthrough method are able to create a structure that enables parties to learn from eachother and from leading experts, both substantively and methodologically, in a field orsubject they want to improve – a combination of learning and changing. Collaborativelearning is a key element of the method. Therefore, the breakthrough method, is alsoreferred to as a ‘collaborative learning system’.Research and practice: a problematic relationshipGeurts (2010a, 2010b, 2011) speaks of a disappointing situation with regard to the roleresearch plays in the innovation projects of HPBO. "(...) the returns on what works so far isstill disappointing; the same is true for available knowledge” (Geurts 2011, p.35). Accordingto Geurts this has to do with "a much more general phenomenon, namely the gap betweeneducational practice and educational research. An analysis of the educational literatureshows that this view is widely shared (see e.g. Van den Akker, 1999, 2010, Barab & Squire,2004; Ferrance, 2000, Martens, 2010; Dutch Education Council, 2003, 2006, Van den Berg &Riemersma, 2006, Van den Berg, 2006; McKenny, Nieveen & Van den Akker, 2006, Plomp,2010; Reeves, McKenny & Herrington, 2010; Verschuren, 2009; Van Tartwijk, 2011). It alsoshows that the gap-issue has a long history. However, as noted by Broekkamp & Van Hout-Wolters (2006), in recent years the debate becomes increasingly fierce and intense. Monocausal analyses – the determination of a single cause, often associated with a plea for acomprehensive and rigorous application of a solution – dominate frequently, resulting in apolarized debate based on opinions and assumptions. It should be noted that this is not onlya battle between concerned researchers and users of research data. Martens (2010) forexample, found himself within the so-called ivory tower for a long time and therefore isacquainted with the scientific culture from within. Now he seems to have shed his scientificfeathers, given his argument against the mores of the scientific enterprise. Even Reeves,McKenny & Herrington (2010) hold an unequivocally clear opinion. They mention the"hypocrisy of educational research as we know it." First, it is extremely difficult to assess theimpact of educational research on something that really matters; on the other hand moreand more countries and universities attempt to measure the impact of their publications inleading scientific journals based on citations analysis, which, according to the authors, are"questionable" at the least.In order to bring the different actors back to the discussion table – in a more constructiveway – the Dutch Education Council (2003) – in line with the demand of the Dutch Minister ofEducation and Science – and Broekkamp & Van Hout-Wolters (2006), do not choose to 2
  3. 3. represent a specific group and do not want to defend solutions that arise from a specificgroup, but give a neutral description of the supposed gap between the educational practiceand educational research from a broad perspective. They discuss the problematic situationbetween both phenomena, the causes as well as the possible solutions. The EducationCouncil (2003) points to the way research generally is funded, to how the research agenda isestablished, to how defects in the translation of and information on knowledge istransferred towards the world of practice, and to weaknesses in the cooperation betweenresearchers, intermediaries and practice.The intermediaries encounter problems of fragmentation, and on the side of the schools –according to the Education Council – insufficient skills to exploit knowledge is involved.According to the Council, knowledge producers must pay much more attention to theimplementation of knowledge, energy and money should be invested in knowledgecommunities, and finally incentives are needed to improve knowledge management inschools. Broekkamp & Van Hout-Wolters (2006) come to a similar analysis. According tothem, negative labels of research deal with (a) the output of educational research and / or(b) the use of the research output in daily educational practice. Practitioners – teachers –find reports on educational research often inaccessible, irrelevant and unreliable andtherefore pay little attention to research output. Even politicians are generally negativeabout educational research. In their eyes, educational research is making little progress andresearch findings often look trivial and are sometimes contradictory. At the same timepoliticians tend to "selective shopping": they often choose studies that fit their ideas best.Researchers have their own frustrations. Research outputs, are frequently irresponsibly andineffectively used in policies, professionalisation programs and (commercial) educationalmaterials. The use and quality of use often leave much to be desired. In addition,practitioners are not sufficiently stimulated, equipped and supported to make use of theresearch output.Growing attention to practice based researchIn the social sciences, theory-oriented research has long been the most common type ofresearch. This involved the construction of a coherent, abstract and generally accepted bodyof knowledge. In this context, Verschuren (2009) speaks of a focus on knowledge forknowledge; Den Boer a.o. (2011) specify this as knowledge of what is true. Results of thistype of analysis were primarily conceptual of nature. The influence of science on the socialreality was thus a long-term effect, blurringly unpredictable, slowly and diffuse. Especiallycommunications media and education played an important role in the dissemination ofknowledge, while scientists focused exclusively on their colleagues. This did not mean thatthe practical relevance of science never came up.Since the nineteen eighties, scientists pay more attention to social reality, which is more orless the birth of the phenomenon of applied research. Verschuren (2009) characterises thisdevelopment as a transition to an "instrumental use" of science. The idea is that "researchshould provide a more direct basis for making decisions, to solve problems and moregenerally, to consciously and actively intervene in reality” (p. 25).Characteristics and results of the Rijnmond ProjectThe regional Rijnmond Breakthrough Project as mentioned above, evolved from an alreadyexisting community of practice’ to learning departments in health care, with representatives 3
  4. 4. from VET College Zadkine, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and a range of healthcare institutions. With the introduction of learning departments the institutions hoped tofind a solution for (among others) the then impending shortages of traditional internships inhealth care. Also the improvement of the flow of students (in health care programs) fromintermediate to higher vocational/professional education was an aim.Learning departments have been on the rise elsewhere in the country for several years.Since 2005 specific stimulants have been available and the number of learning departmentsgrew rapidly. The purpose of the community of practice in Rijnmond was to collect and share(available) experiences and knowledge in setting up and running learning departments inhealth care institutions as partners and to improve the actual practice. The community ofpractice still exists and the number of participating institutions has increased drastically.During this pilot phase of learning departments in Rijnmond, a small scale study on thedifferences (and possible advantages) of learning departments in comparison withtraditional individual internships was done by Klingeman & De Lange (2008). According tothem, learning departments yield more benefits than traditional individual internships, butas yet, their conclusion is not yet supported by other research (Streumer, 2010, p.26-33).Because of this, the research question on the relation of design features to the effects andefficiency of the learning departments compared with traditional individual internships,remained open. For those involved in learning department, the Rijnmond BreakthroughProject offers an opportunity for more research into the learning departments in the regionand also to benefit from the knowledge and experience in other regions and the nationalresearch project (by Tilburg University). The regional project focuses on three learningdepartments in hospital substitution health care (Hannie Dekhuyzen Humanitas, Rotterdam),geriatric health care (the Plantation, Brielle) and psychiatric health care (Bavo Europoort,Berkel and Rodenrijs).Managers of these institutions, together with the project leader and the researchers, form asteering group. In addition, a so-called consultation trainers meeting’ is formed by theproject leader, the researchers, teachers form the participating schools and therepresentatives of the participating health care institutions (in particular those who areresponsible for HRM and in service training). On December 9th, 2008, this consultationtrainers meeting’ met for the first time. An important outcome of this meeting was that theresearch done in the Rijnmond Project should, as much as possible, have the nature ofpractice-based research and should be executed by researchers in close cooperation withthe trainers (teachers and mentors) of VET College Zadkine, Rotterdam University of AppliedScjences and the participating health care institutions. This approach is aimed at helpinglearning departments in action to become a learning community in which trainees andtrainers work and learn together. This approach appeals to all members of the learningdepartments and is ratified by the steering group of the project.As outlined in the national overarching project organisation in the steering group and theconsultation trainers meeting’ has been discussed and it was decided that in the first yearthe trainers will go about their work as usual and that the emphasis of the research is ondescribing what the actual situation is. In the second experimental year the trainers willbridge the gap between the actual situation and the desired situation. Interventions will be 4
  5. 5. implemented to improve the situation. At the same time the innovation process andoutcomes will be monitored. This implies that before the summer of 2009 decisions had tobe made on what aspects (innovations) the Rijnmond Project had to focus in theexperimental phase.Furthermore, the research questions of the regional Rijnmond Project were discussed andspecified according to the wishes of the HRM professionals and trainers. The outcome is adocument with research questions that has to be dealt with. The questions were as follows:1) Does recent research literature provide directions for the design, effects and ‘return oninvestment’ on workplace learning, and learning departments in particular?2) What is the current practice (actual situation) of the learning departments with respect tothe design characteristics?3) What are the effects and the efficiency of the learning departments?4) What are the design features, impact and cost of traditional individual internships?5) What is the difference between the design features, effects and efficiency of learningdepartments compared to design features etc. of traditional internships?6) Which competencies should trainers (teachers and mentors) vocational/professional ofthe school and in practice possess to be able to create a ‘powerful context-rich learningenvironment’ in a learning department?These questions were answered by a combination of literature review and qualitative fieldresearch (with interviews and reflection-reports). At a regional conference on October 8th,2009, the researchers presented the results of the first two studies (questions 1 and 2) tothe HRM professionals and trainers. During the same session trainers and HRM professionalsexplored a number of additional themes. In response to the outcome of this exploration, theresearchers made a list of further research topics and possible interventions (improvementsuggestions) for workplace learning in the learning departments. On January 19th, 2010, theresult (approximately 30 described options) were discussed and prioritised by trainers andHRM professionals. The priorities were categorised in three cross-cutting themes: 1)‘counselling fatigue’, 2) learn-work route of the students in the learning department(intermediate as well as higher VET students ), and 3) the skills of trainers (intermediate aswell as higher VET teachers and mentors) in relation to theme 2.At a further session of the consultation trainers meeting’ on February 18th, 2010, it wasdecided to focus on themes 2 and 3 and more in particular on what distinguishes learningdepartments from other forms of workplace learning, namely learning and working together(experts and novices) to realise effective (successful) and efficient learning processes andoutcomes. One of the principles of teaching departments is that learning and workingtogether adds value compared to individual forms of workplace learning. Firstly, this appliesfor learning and working together by a group of intermediate and higher VET students.Secondly, this applies to the collaboration of trainers (teachers and mentors) and students.Thirdly, the group-approach of the workplace learning implies that mentors as well asmentors and teachers (should) work together. Furthermore, trainers and researchers foundthat, before improvements in the workplace are implemented, sufficient knowledge shouldbe collected on which choices can be made which will prove to be promising.Regarding the research questions, it was agreed that the researchers would further 5
  6. 6. elaborate and accentuate the ideas set by the consultation trainers meeting’ and develop aproposal for a practical approach in which research, professionalisation and educationalimprovement go hand in hand. The proposed approach does not only aim at substantiveanswers, but also at giving substance to the professionalisation of trainers in relation toimprovements in students learn-work route. On March 23rd, 2010, the consultationtrainers meeting’ discussed the proposal developed by the researchers. This resulted in thedecision to start a small study concerning ‘counselling fatigue’ in one of the participatinghealth care institutions, where this problem was revealed. However, the main theme in theproposed approach is "the learn-work route’of the student and the counselling skills oftrainers. The follow-up activities focus on aspects related to (successful and profitable)collaboration and learning in learning departments of all involved. The relevant aspects forsuccessful collaboration and learning together are expected to lead to the intended learningoutcomes and the additional value of leaning departments compared to individualtraditional internships. In this context, three studies are planned:1) literature review of counselling/coaching in learning departments,2) field research on the design of the matching of students (student placement) andinterpersonal relationships on the work floor in learning departments between all workingand learning there and3) field research (combined with an intervention aimed at the professionalisation ofmentors) focused on meaningful learning situations in the learning departments.Based on the studies carried out, the researchers conclude that:1. The variety of learning situations appointed, is an indication that the teachingdepartments are basically rich learning environments. This richness could increase further, ifthe learning departments would have more characteristics of a learning organisation, forexample by (explicitly) working on the implementation of health care innovations.2. Meaningful learning is an issue in interactions between students and trainers, amongstudents, between trainers and between students and other persons (patients, relatives ofpatients, other professionals in health care). In principle, due to the variety of relationshipsin which the students are engaged, the learning potential of the learning department ismuch higher than in an individual traditional internship. Mainly the group interactionbetween students (peer review) and collaborative learning of students while working in thelearning department, are activities that do not exist in traditional individual internships.According to students and trainers, these activities are very powerful for learning.3. There is evidence that students learn more and/or learn faster, but hard evidence basedon comparative data is difficult to present. Data from tests, retention and graduation ratesand other data from study careers of students are available, but they are difficult to analyseand interpret in relation to learning in learning departments compared to traditionalindividual internships. Students take different internships, both individual and in learningdepartments. As a result of the growth of the number of learning departments, almost allstudents at any given time and even more than once in their educational career will beassigned to a learning department, which makes a comparison difficult. Graus & Poortman(2011) – researchers at the Utrecht Workplace Learning Project – also conclude that it isdifficult to attribute differences in learning (progress) exclusively to the two conditions:learning in learning departments versus learning in individual internships. Learningdepartments seem not inferior to an individual internship, but the question remains whetherstudents learn more in learning departments. 6
  7. 7. 4. The quality of learning in the learning department can be enhanced by several factors.Besides a careful matching of students and health care institutions/trainers, goodinformation and clear and laid down agreements, trainers should have excellent coachingskills, hands-on and ‘hands on the back’ competencies, social competencies that will enablethem to collaborate successfully with students and each other, and above all have a positivelearning attitude. Various research themes mentioned are examples of “critical professionalsituations" of trainers that belong on the agenda of information sessions, training programs,peer support programs etc., provided that trainers are really professionally interested andwant to learn about these themes. How such a professionalisation process can take shape,has been tried out in a pilot. The pilot shows that an this kind of investment effect on thequality of supervision/coaching.The third study concerning meaningful learning situations has immediately been used todesign and to implement a professionalisation program for trainers, more in particular thementors. The experience here is that reflection-reports that were used in the study, are agood basis for professional development through peer review .ReflectionThe issue of design and performance output of the learning departments compared toindividual internships, culminated into three years applied research by researchers of theRotterdam University of Applied Sciences and VET College Zadkine, in consultation withtrainers (teachers and mentors) from both schools and the three participating health careinstitutions. All parties have had their input into the project and research plan. In line, theresearchers elaborated the formulated research questions in close consultation with theother members of the consultation trainers meeting’ . Next, the researchers conducted thestudy, and communicated the results for each sub-study with the consultation trainersmeeting’. The consultation trainers meeting’ determined the significance of these findingsfor the future: either input for interventions in the learning and supervision/coachingprocess, or for further research.Generally speaking, the method is more an alternation of 1) joint meetings of researchers,trainers and HRM professionals of the health care institutions to determine the approachand next steps, 2) preparation and carrying out research by the researchers and 3)communicating the results to the consultation trainers meeting’ followed by discussion,then there is 1) once more. The plan – in line with the nationally agreed approach – toexplicitly experiment (designing and implementation of interventions) in the second year ofthe project was not achieved. Instead, after the first research round, a second, more in-depth study followed, in addition to relatively small scale improvements by teams orindividual trainers, plus the temporary suspension of one, later a second learningdepartment. The in-depth study was followed by a professionalisation program for trainers,based on results of the prior field study.The fact that research questions derived from already existing learning departments are thebasis for the current project, basically means that the Plan phase of the Plan-Do-Study-Actcycle already passed and the Do-phase was already under way, before the RijnmondBreakthrough Project started. Any accommodating research was already available, but thatdid not adequately respond the research questions of the project. With the start of the 7
  8. 8. current project they invested mainly in the Study-phase: to describe and evaluate the theoryand practice of workplace learning and workplace learning in learning departments inparticular, trying to grasp the effects of the learning departments, and the like. Thediscussions and reports on these themes do give the professionals of the learningdepartments an overview of the scientific insights in workplace learning (particularly throughthe literature studies) and an a explicit and (more) objective view of their own workpractices (especially through field studies and the discussions).The study did not produce concrete instruments – like manuals and so on – to improve thepractice, except for the form to describe meaningful learning that does occur in the learningdepartments. Several participants in the project indicated that this form could also be usedby students and trainers in counselling/coaching situations; the pilot on theprofessionalisation program provides clear evidence. However, the study first and foremosthas the function to encourage professionals to discuss the significance of research outcomesfor their own practice. This applies to both board and management of the health careinstitutions involved as teachers, trainers and work supervisors. Increasingly they come tothe conclusion that the concept of learning departments should be reassessed to thechanged circumstances and opportunities. Full adjustment of the ‘learning departmentconcept’ is not (yet) an issue, although, as mentioned above, one, and later another learningdepartment temporarily stopped to rethink the format. The project helps them tocontemplate on the restart, as is shown in the words of one of the trainers in the concludingdialogue between educators and researchers (June 2011): "To restart a learning departmentthat was punt on hold for two years, any material from the project is useful as discussionmaterial.” Trainers also make small improvements in their practice. One of the trainers said,for example: "The discussion about ‘counselling fatigue’ of trainers was very informative andhas helped me to implement changes in practice.”A strict distinction between the Study- and Act-stage where the revised innovation is re-tested does not exist.Regarding the co-maker ship between researchers and trainers the project leader andresearchers halfway during the project observed that professionals from research andpractice got to know each other and could easily find each other outside meetings (Van denBerg, De Jongh, and Streumer Klous, 2010, p.9). In the final consultation trainers meeting’in June 2011 the attendees noted that the cooperation between trainers and mentors ofdifferent institutions (schools as well as health care institutions), and cooperation amongstthese participants and researchers, are achievements of the project. Project participants arepositive about these achievements.The practice based nature of the research led to an intensive and positively valuedcollaboration between educators and researchers. Inherent to this approach is that somedangers are lurking: e.g. dangers related to the realisation of both good research (academicquality) and impact in practice (improvements fuelled by the knowledge gained). Theimpression may be that the Rijnmond project has produced more knowledge revenues thanchange of practice. 8
  9. 9. Are the reports accessible enough? And at the same time: Is the scientific quality of the fieldstudies at stake? The "shortcomings" in the study can be attributed mainly to the (too?)large and possibly one-sided emphasis on the content of the research study, the researchtheme (instead of a sound and scientific accepted methodology) . Several authors, includingVerschuren (2009) have warned for this problem, but apparently this is an inherent risk ofvarious forms of applied, practice-based research. The actual phase of the project explainswhy there is so much focus on content. The learning department is a relatively new form ofworkplace learning, thus still under construction. This explains why It is often unclear whatscientific paradigm suits best. Thinking of concepts such as evidence-based practice andpractice-based evidence, the approach used in literature study and descriptive/comparativefieldwork is an adequate mix, especially in combination with oral presentations andsubsequent discussions.ConclusionsThe teaching department as a form of workplace learning is still under construction, forwhich inside and outside the region no examples are available. This has clear implications forthe possibilities of research. For example, it is still too early to apply hard researchmethods. Therefore, the study is primarily targeted to content. In itself, this is not wrong,provided the requirements for high quality applied research are not violated. At this point itappears the shoe in some cases pinches. Are the researchers to blame? Given theirbackgrounds – professors with a specific assignment and experience in this field – theanswer must be negative. A much more plausible explanation lies in the double innovationbuilt in in the project: firstly, the Breakthrough Method, which was unknown to all involvedand secondly, of course, the learning department itself. This has resulted in the RijnmondProject to be mainly a research-oriented innovation, and consequently hardly an innovation-oriented research study. Research in the Rijnmond Project almost became an end in itself,partly because the need for knowledge from practice was big. Simultaneously, theresearchers experienced that practice can sometimes be very stubborn, and that thingssometimes not happen as expected. Thus, concrete solutions for practical problems werenot always energetically tackled, which also may have to do with the inexperience with thephenomena of the learning department.‘Co-maker ship and practice-based are indeed the core of the Rotterdam Approach, but intheir reflection on the sometimes disappointing response of trainers, researchers arepuzzled, because the research approach was an explicit choice of trainers, instructionsessions have been organised and also during the study weeks there has always beencontact. That should have enabled a high level of participation. Are there basic principles ofthe Rotterdam Approach at stake? It seems that frequent and intensive mutual contacts areno guarantee for successful research. Perhaps luck is another indispensible criterion for goodresearch? 9
  10. 10. LiteratureAkker, J. van den (1999). Principles and Methods of Development Research . In J. van denAkker, R. Maribe Branch, K. Gustafson, N. Nieveen & Tj. Plomp (Eds.). Design Approaches andTools in Education and Training. (pp. 1–14). Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer AcademicPublishers.Akker, J. van den (2010). Curriculum Design Research. In Tj. Plomp & N. Nieveen. (Eds.), AnIntroduction to Educational Design Research. Proceedings of the seminar conducted at theEast China Normal University, Shanghai (PR China), November 23-26, 2007. 3rd print March2010, (p.37–51). Retrieved May 16, 2011, fromhttp://www.slo.nl/downloads/2009/Introduction_20to_20education_20design_20research.pdf/.Barab, S. & Squire, K. (2004). Design-Based Research: Putting a Stake in the Ground. TheJournal of the Learning Sciences, 13(1), p.1–14. Retrieved May 16, 2011, fromhttp://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=890C9747F0808C070CEBF85F6F41DFA2?doi=10.1.1.128.5080&rep=rep1&type=pdf.Berg, N. van den (2006). Verbindend beroepsonderwijs. Competentiegericht onderwijs,samenwerking met bedrijven en de bijdrage van lectoraten. Rotterdam/’s-Hertogenbosch:Zadkine/CINOP Expertisecentrum.Berg, N. van den (2009). Co-makership in drievoud; Doorbraakproject werkplekleren inRijnmond als casus. Paper voor de OnderwijsResearchDagen, Leuven.Berg, N. van den, Jongh, A. de, Klous, A. & Streumer, J. (2010). De leerafdeling: een specifiekevorm van werkplekleren. Rotterdam: Zadkine/Hogeschool Rotterdam.Berg, N. van den & Riemersma, F. (2006). Van het uitproberen van concepten enpraktijkervaringen van leraren tot en met ‘echte’experimenten: naar een meer evidencebased benadering van onderwijs. Paper voor de Onderwijs Research Dagen 2006,Amsterdam.Berg, N. van den Streumer, J. (2011). Doorbraakmethode in het onderwijs, innovatiegerichtonderzoeken of onderzoekgericht innoveren? “de Rotterdamse methode” als casus.Rotterdam: Zadkine/Hogeschool Rotterdam.Boer, P. den, Harms, T., Hoeve, A., Nieuwenhuis, L., Smulders, H. & Teurlings, C. (2011).Onderzoek-in-de-praktijk. Een zoektocht naar de wijze waarop onderzoek dekennisontwikkeling binnen onderwijsinstellingen kan versterken. ’s-Hertogenbosch/Utrecht,ecbo.Broekkamp, H. & Hout-Wolters, B. van (2006). De kloof tussen onderwijsonderzoek enonderwijspraktijk, Een overzichtsstudie van problemen, oorzaken en oplossingen. RetrievedJune 1, 2011, from http://www.kohnstammsymposium.nl/Kohnstamm-2006.PDF.Dutch Education Counsil (Onderwijsraad)(2003). Kennis van onderwijs. Den Haag:Onderwijsraad. 10
  11. 11. Dutch Education Counsil (Onderwijsraad)(2006). Naar meer evidence based onderwijs. DenHaag: Onderwijsraad.Ferrance, E. (2000). Action Research. Northeast and Islands Regional Educational LaboratoryAt Brown University. Retrieved May 19, 2011, fromhttp://www.alliance.brown.edu/pubs/themes_ed/act_research.pdf.Geurts, J. (2010a). Kwaliteitsverbetering beroepsonderwijs in de knel, Pleidooi voor eenDoorbraakmethode die werkt. Retrieved May 16, 2011, fromhttp://www.hetplatformberoepsonderwijs.nl/downloads/Kennisontwikkeling%20in%20de%20knel%20GidsBVE.pdfGeurts, J. (2010b). Met Doorbraakmethode betere kwaliteit beroepsonderwijs. Evaluatie vaneen beloftevolle innovatiemethodiek. Retrieved June 5, 2011, fromhttp://www.hetplatformberoepsonderwijs.nl/artikel.php?artikel_id=3025.Geurts, J (2011). Samen innoveren en onderzoeken. Tijdschrift Onderwijsinnovatie, Juni2011, nummer 2, p.35-39.Graus, M. & Poortman, C. (2011). ‘De leukste plek om te leren’. Onderzoeksverslag naar deleerafdelingen in de regio ROC Midden-Nederland en Hogeschool Utrecht in het kader vanhet Doorbraakproject Werkplekleren. Utrecht: ROC Midden-Nederland.Klingeman, C & Lange, J. de (2008). Leerwerkplaatsen in de zorg. Evaluatieonderzoek van depilot mbo-hbo in de regio Rijnmond. Rotterdam: Kenniskring Transities in Zorg, HogeschoolRotterdam.Martens, R.L. (2010). Zin in onderzoek, Docentprofessionalisering. Retrieved May 20, 2011,from http://www.ou.nl/Docs/Expertise/RdMC/Oratie_martens_web.pdf.McKenney, S., Nieveen, N. & Akker, J. van den (2006). Design research from a curriculumperspective. In J. van den Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. McKenny, N. Nieveen (Eds.), EducationalDesign Research, (pp .67–90). London, New York: Routledge.Plomp, Tj. (2010). Educational Design Research: an Introduction. In Tj. Plomp & N. Nieveen.(Eds.), An Introduction to Educational Design Research. Proceedings of the seminarconducted at the East China Normal University, Shanghai (PR China), November 23-26, 2007.3rd print March 2010, (p.9-35). Retrieved May 16, 2011, fromhttp://www.slo.nl/downloads/2009/Introduction_20to_20education_20design_20research.pdfReeves, T.C., McKenney, S. & Herrington, J. (2011). Publishing and perishing: The criticalimportance of educational design research. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology,27(1), 55 – 65. Retrieved June 15, 2011, http://ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet27/reeves.html.Schouten, L., Minkman, M., Moel J. de & Everdingen J. van (red.)(2007). Doorbreken metresultaten in de gezondheidszorg. Assen: Van Gorkum.Streumer, J. (2010). Leren op de werkplek; terug in de zorg. Rotterdam: Zadkine/HogeschoolRotterdam. 11
  12. 12. Tartwijk, J. van (2011). Van onderzoek naar onderwijs, of de kunst van de toepassing.Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht.Verschuren, P.J.M. (2009). Praktijkgericht onderzoek, Ontwerp van organisatie- enbeleidsonderzoek. Den Haag: Boom Lemma Uitgevers. 12

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