Exploring Co-Construction of Learning Environments at the Boundary of School and Work Through the Lens of Vocational Practice

Erica Bouw, Ilya Zitter, Elly De Bruijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Educational institutions and vocational practices need to collaborate to design learning environments that meet current-day societal demands and support the development of learners’ vocational competence. Integration of learning experiences across contexts can be facilitated by intentionally structured learning environments at the boundary of school and work. Such learning environments are co-constructed by educational institutions and vocational practices. However, co-construction is challenged by differences between the practices of school and work, which can lead to discontinuities across the school–work boundary. More understanding is needed about the nature of these discontinuities and about design considerations to counterbalance these discontinuities. Studies on the co-construction of learning environments are scarce, especially studies from the perspective of representatives of work practice. Therefore, the present study explores design considerations for coconstruction through the lens of vocational practice. The study reveals a variety of discontinuities related to the designable elements of learning environments (i.e. epistemic, spatial, instrumental, temporal, and social elements). The findings help to improve understanding of design strategies for counterbalancing discontinuities at the interpersonal and institutional levels of the learning environment. The findings confirm that work practice has a different orientation than school practice since there is a stronger focus on productivity and on the quality of the services provided. However, various strategies for co-construction also seem to take into account the mutually beneficial learning potential of the school–work boundary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-588
Number of pages30
JournalVocations and Learning
Issue number3
Early online date16 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Co-constructed learning environments
  • Design considerations
  • Discontinuities
  • Educational design
  • School–work boundary


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