Students’ meaning-making and sense-making of vocational knowledge in Dutch senior secondary vocational education

Authors Nienke Bijlsma, Harmen Schaap, Elly de Bruijn
Published in Journal of Vocational Education and Training
Publication date 2016
Research groups Vocational Education
Type Article


Meaning-making and sense-making are generally assumed to be part of students’ personal vocational knowledge development, since they contribute to both students’ socialisation in a vocation and students’ personalisation of concepts, values and beliefs regarding that vocation. However, how students in vocational education acquire meaning and make sense of vocational knowledge is not explained. Furthermore, examples of what these processes entail in the context of vocational education are lacking. A multiple case study was performed to explore students’ meaning-making and sense-making in classroom interactions in Dutch senior secondary vocational education. Our results show that meaning-making is a process in which students interpret vocational knowledge by explicating and clarifying this knowledge. Sense-making is perceived to be a process in which students concretise vocational knowledge by testing and justifying this knowledge. A research model was developed to describe how students make meaning and sense of vocational knowledge in interaction with practitioners.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Journal of Vocational Education and Training
Year and volume Volume 68, 2016 Issue 3
Key words Meaning-making and sense-making, vocational education, students’ vocational knowledge development, classroom interactions
Page range 378-394

Vocational Education