Explicating students’ personal professional theories in vocational education through multi-method triangulation

Harmen Schaap, Elly De Bruijn, Marieke Van der Schaaf, Liesbeth Baartman, Paul A. Kirschner

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Students in competence-based vocational education are expected to actively construct a personal professional theory, in which they integrate different types of knowledge and beliefs. Students’ personal professional theories are seen as an important learning outcome of competence-based vocational education. However, it is unknown how personal professional theories can be measured. This study focused on measuring the content and nature of students’ personal professional theories using a multi-method triangulation approach, in which 16 students in the domain of Social Work constructed a concept map, an interview and a self-report. The results show that the relatively structured methods (i.e., interviews and concept maps) reveal more insight into students’ personal professional theories than less structured methods (i.e., self-reports). It is concluded that both structure as well as adequate prompts are important in the process of explicating personal professional theories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-586
JournalScandinavian Journal of Educational Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2011


  • personal professional theories
  • vocational education
  • multi-method triangulation


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