Practical subjects in the vocational curriculum: A critical review of the literature

Keywords: practical subjects; vocational education; vocational colleges; critical review of the literature, semantic gravity


There is a growing number of studies in the field of vocational education and training, including studies on the practical training that takes place in vocational colleges to prepare students for successful transition into workplaces. There is need to review these studies for systematic knowledge building in the field, and to provide an evidence base for practical training in colleges. This is what this critical review of the literature on practical training in vocational colleges set out to do. The review identified theoretical, procedural, technical and contextual forms of knowledge in practical work, and found that different knowledge types underpin different kinds of practical tasks. Based on these findings, the study proposes a framework towards enhancing practical training in colleges.

Author Biographies

Christine Winberg, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Chris Winberg holds the South African National Research Foundation Chair in Work-integrated Learning and leads the Professional Education Research Institute at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, South Africa. Chris is a member of the Ministerial Oversight Committee on Transformation in Higher Education. Her research focus is professional and vocational education (with a particular focus on engineering education), the professional development of university teachers, and technical communication. She obtained a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Cape Town and lectured in applied linguistics and language education at the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape and at the University of Stockholm in Sweden. From 2010 – 2012, she was chairperson of the South African Association for Applied Linguistics. Chris was the director of the Fundani Centre for Higher Education Development at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology from 2011 – 2015 where she was responsible for supporting curriculum renewal, academic staff development, and for promoting educational research.

Shairn Hollis-Turner, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Dr Shairn Hollis-Turner is a senior lecturer in the Department of Office Management and Technology at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She has previously taught at a TVET college and has research interest in technical and vocational education.

Research Articles