The eight-floor building of the Zurich University of Teacher Education is situated right next to the central railway station. Mrs Barbara Nafzger from the International Office guided us through the very modern building of the university on the very first day of our visit. There are various rooms for students and teachers used not only for teaching courses but also for resting, a library, a canteen and a café with a terrace. Larger auditorium is mainly used for lectures and festive events, the three smaller ones are available for courses. Vocational education provides no lectures, but only seminars and exercises.
There is a staff foyer for meetings and breaks in the 8th floor. Employees can enjoy themselves in relaxation rooms too, which are directly below the foyer.
After the tour, we were welcomed by our host, Prof. Dr. Christoph Städeli, and a part of his team. Prof. Dr. Markus Maurer explained to us the Swiss education system. We learned some details on a vocational teacher training from Prof. Dr. Städeli. Prof. Dr. Claudio Caduff offered us some detailed information on the models of the vocational education. Finally, Prof. Dr. habil. Manfred Pfiffner and lic. jur. Saskia Sterel presented their Jugend-Diagnose-Tool on the topic of reading as well as their new book on the model of 4Cs skills in education. This model was already briefly presented by colleague Pfiffner during the visit of the University College of Teacher Education Vienna, at the Institute for Vocational Education.
In return, the representatives of the University College of Teacher Education Vienna presented the university’s dual training system and the organization forms of the training of vocational teachers, as well as its didactic-pedagogic focuses.
Dr. Mohl presented his current research project.
There was an intensive exchange and discussions which we were able to continue in the presence of other colleagues from the Zurich University of Teacher Education in the restaurant Reithalle.
The following day we drove to Winterthur where lic. jur. Simone Büchi awaited us at the railway station and accompanied us to the vocational school in Winterthur, where the directors Roland Vogel and Manuel Klaus informed us about the school’s focal points. In addition to the training at a vocational school (one day per week), young people can also apply for a vocational baccalaureate in accordance with their vocational training centre. For this purpose, the trainees go to school every other day.
Colleague Patrick Sigrist explained to us how he proceeds in his classes and we also could watch young students in the subject Drawing Technique in the Department of Engineering.
We enjoyed our lunch together with teachers and students in a large light canteen where various, partly vegetarian meals were offered. There are also built-in microwave ovens which are at students’ disposal to warm up the food they had brought with them.
In the afternoon we had the chance to visit a chemistry lesson for IT trainees and a social sciences lesson in an adult class in the so called Berufsmaturitätsschule (vocational school).
On Friday, the last day of our visit, we were excited to see the didactical-methodological implementation of the model of 4Cs skills in education. It involves these 4 central areas:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Creativity and Innovation
Just as in Austria, students work already at a vocational school and go to the university on Fridays only, except for some additional block courses.
An essential part of each module is a so called week review with which a student opens the event with a self-chosen topic (3 to 5 events of the past week). All listeners have to give a feedback afterwards. As for our visit, a colleague of us spoke about digitalization and gave examples from various subject areas.
Afterwards, Prof. Dr. Pfiffner gave an input lecture on the topic Adolescence. The input lectures are designed to serve as a preparation to following learning tasks to be done in a learning group or within a guided self-study.
All in all, we could discover many similarities with the forms of work at the IBB at the University College of Teacher Education Vienna, but, on the other hand, also differences which led to numerous discussions. It is certain that this exchange is very motivating for all participants and that it is desired and planned by both sides to continue with further cooperation.Mag. Stefan Illedits, DI Georg Jäggle MA, Dr. Erich Mohl, Mag. Elisabeth Schön