Analysis and comparison of field-based and institutional perceptions of quality in vocational education and training

This thesis explores the notion of quality as it is perceived by the various actors involved in dual-track vocational education and training (VET) in the French-speaking region of Switzerland.

This PhD is part of an SNSF-funded project ‘How is the quality of upper-secondary-level VET understood by its players, and how does it influence learner commitment? An analysis of the various learning locations and the development of a scientifically-based assessment tool’.

The thesis examines the relationship, differences and similarities between quality concepts perceived by two groups of actors: those who are directly involved in VET 'in the field' (learners, vocational school teachers, workplace trainers); and the institutional stakeholders (e.g. representatives of cantonal VET offices and professional organisations) that establish and monitor compliance with VET principles. The aim is to identify and describe the various perceptions of quality of VET in the field and to highlight possible similarities and differences with respect to the requirements established by institutional stakeholders.

This thesis is also intended to critically assess whether the interaction between classroom instruction and workplace training improve the quality of VET. This combination of theory and practice is a salient feature of Swiss dual-track VET programmes. Indeed, this alternation between school and workplace offers the possibility of more complete training, anchored in both theory and practice, while facilitating the transition to working life at the same time. However, the dual-track approach can also make it more difficult for learners to correlate their different experiences at three different learning locations (vocational school, training company and branch training courses) and transfer the knowledge gained from one learning location to the other.

Supervisors of the dissertation:


The theoretical framework is drawn from the fields of education and political science. The methodology is qualitative in nature. The data will be obtained from the replies given to open-ended questions in a questionnaire, from focus group discussions with persons in the field as well as from interviews with institutional stakeholders. Thematic analyses will be used to process the data.

In progress
1.2.2019 to 30.6.2022
Project manager: 
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)