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Reformed firefighter training program in Sweden: Conflicting instructor conceptions of professional learning
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2014 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Vocational Education and Training, ISSN 2242-458X, E-ISSN 2242-458X, Vol. 4, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In 2003, the content and form of Swedish firefighter training were reformed. New curricula and guidelines were implemented, instructors from different fields of knowledge were recruited and the training program was extended. In this study, 29 instructors were interviewed with a view to identifying and analyzing the salient conceptions of professional learning amongthem and how their conceptions have been affected by, and have affected, the implementation of the new training program. The resultsshow thatthe dominant conception among fire and rescueinstructors continuesto be adaptation-oriented, and that it has not changed significantly,despiterevisedtraininggoalsand challengesfromthe development-orientedattitudeprevalent among the risk andsafetyinstructors.It is also shown that this fundamentalcontradictionbetween instructor conceptions is manifested inseveraldilemmasand conflictsduring the negotiationand implementation phases ofthe new training program

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 4, no 2
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-96589DOI: 10.3384/njvet.2242-458X.14v4i2a5OAI: diva2:765520
Available from: 2014-11-24 Created: 2014-11-24 Last updated: 2016-04-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Brandmannautbildning på distans, en het fråga: om utmaningar, motsättningar och förändringar vid implementering av distansutbildning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Brandmannautbildning på distans, en het fråga: om utmaningar, motsättningar och förändringar vid implementering av distansutbildning
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Firefighter Training at a Distance, a hot topic : on Challenges, Contradictions and Changes in the Implementation of a Distance Training Mode
Abstract [en]

In recent years, distance courses combining online studies with physical meetings on campus have become increasingly common as an alternative to regular campus courses, even in vocational training programs with extensive practical skills components. This thesis is focused on the implementation of distance firefighter training in Sweden and the ways in which this intervention has affected training activities and participants, as well as on the impact that historical and contextual training aspects have had on the implementation process. Based on a sociocultural and activity theory framework, a longitudinal, comparative study was made of the distance and campus study modes, focusing on those challenges, contradictions and changes resulting from this intervention that have had the greatest impact on the students’ learning processes, the instructors’ teaching roles and the basic training program as a whole. Four data collections were made over a period of about five years. The data consisted of interviews with students and instructors, observations of practical exercises, logbook notes and general documents pertaining to the training programme. Three phases were identified in the implementation, viz. an introduction phase, an extension phase and a consolidation phase. The introduction phase was characterized by a focus on instructor-driven approaches where the instructors’ traditional one-way knowledge transfer approach to teaching was gradually re-assessed, which made possible the introduction of a technology-supported, more process-oriented and student-centered course design. This resulted in the distance students beginning to take greater individual responsibility for their studies than the campus students, who proved to be more dependent on the knowledge imparted by their instructors. The extension phase, during which other instructors, usually with little experience of technology-supported teaching, and additional student groups were included in the distance training, was characterized by a normalization of the changes brought about during the introduction phase, meaning that, to some extent, they tended to shift in the direction of the traditional knowledge transfer and practice-oriented approaches of the campus training mode. This tendency can be attributed to conflicts between the instructors’ conceptions of the online learning environment and their views of how vocational training should be conducted. The manner in which they dealt with these conflicts can be summarized as quiet resistance, manifested by reduced online presence, less support to the distance students and a continued focus on their commitments on the campus program. Over time, this appears to have resulted in the distance students adapting their study strategies to the dominating attitudes in the training program and spending less time interacting online. Although these patterns also occurred in the consolidation phase, it would appear that during this phase the distance students developed their own goal-oriented and self-directed learning strategies. An important conclusion of this thesis is that the traditional attitudes commonly found in the firefighter profession had less impact on the distance students’ learning processes than on those of the campus students. Furthermore, it was found that the implementation of the distance mode was a catalyst that brought to light conflicting views about the program’s goals and core content, and contributed to established attitudes to teaching and learning being challenged. However, it also contributed to some extent to changes in the approaches to teaching. Finally, the thesis demonstrates that the gradual changes in course design and the division of responsibility between instructors and students in the technology-supported distance mode resulted in the students becoming more goal-oriented, more focused on exercise preparations and better able to participate in exercises in a manner that deepened their understanding of the complexity of exercises.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2015. 110 p.
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768 ; 111
Firefighter training, online vocational training, learning processes, instructor roles, activity theory, contradictions, Brandmannautbildning, nätbaserad yrkesutbildning, lärprocesser, instruktörsroller, aktivitetsteori, kontradiktioner
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-101813 (URN)978-91-7601-248-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-05-08, Humanisthuset, Hörsal E, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2015-04-16 Created: 2015-04-13 Last updated: 2015-05-08Bibliographically approved

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