The current Special Issue of the MENON: Journal of Educational Research consists of papers presented at the “3rd International Conference on Values and Knowledge Education (VaKE) and beyond”. The conference was held from 16 April 2018 to 20 April 2018 on the campus of the University of Western Macedonia (UOWM) in Florina, Greece. The “3rd International Conference on Values and Knowledge Education (VaKE) and beyond” was organized by the Department of Primary Education, UOWM and its Postgraduate Program on Educational Sciences in collaboration with the Association for Values and Knowledge Education (AVaKE). The conference provided the opportunity to researchers in Education as well as teachers to discuss the use of the VaKE method, to share ideas as well as good practices and to present implementations of the VaKE method in their classrooms. Moreover, the conference provided educators the opportunity to discuss the importance of Values Education in primary, secondary as well as higher education and to familiarize teachers who are interested in VaKE with the method.
Values are considered among the essential key-components that students should enhance in order to be adequate in dealing with ethical issues in science and technology (e.g., Artificial Intelligence, Bioethical Issues) and societal challenges (e.g., refugee crisis, citizenship) that will escalate during the forthcoming decade (OECD, 2019). Various educational systems employ integrated approaches for values education through explicit or implicit instruction. Still, values education is underrepresented in learning and instruction and is most frequently omitted by teachers. In many cases teachers do not have a clear concept on which values to teach (Willemse, te Dam, Geijsel, van Wessum & Wollman, 2015), or feel reluctant to engage with values education as they might interfere with values and attitudes held by other members of the educational community (Gruber, 2009). Moreover, they focus on the knowledge acquisition and instruction of declarative knowledge, which is crucial for the students’ assessment, final examinations or for the completion of the curriculum (Gruber, 2009). Finally, there is the case that teachers have not been equipped during their studies with instructional approaches or teaching strategies for the implementation of values education in learning and instruction (Willemse et al., 2015).
To meet this educational challenge, an instructional approach has been proposed by Jean-Luc Patry and his colleagues at the University of Salzburg, namely the Values and Knowledge Education (VaKE) approach (e.g., Patry, Weirynger & Weinberger, 2007; Patry, Weinberger, Weyringer & Nussbaumer, 2013; Pnevmatikos et al., 2016). VaKE is a constructivist instructional approach that combines knowledge acquisition with values education through the implementation of a moral dilemma that triggers learners’ moral argumentation and inquiry (Patry, Weirynger & Weinberger, 2007; Patry, Weinberger, Weyringer & Nussbaumer, 2013; Pnevmatikos et al., 2016). VaKE has been evaluated through the years in various educational levels (i.e., primary, secondary, tertiary, lifelong education, special education, etc.) and contexts (i.e., STEM education, teachers’ training, intercultural education, nursing education, etc.) and has been supported by various teaching approaches (i.e., problem based learning, inquiry based learning, collaborative learning, etc.) and theoretical frameworks (i.e., transdisciplinarity, assimilation and accommodation vs. conceptual change, etc.).
In the current Special Issue, seven papers discuss research results, present teachers’ training programs as well as implementations of the VaKE method in classroom and propose future directions. In the first paper, Trikalliotis and Christodoulou examine public school teachers’ self-efficacy to deal with violence prevention after an intensive training session on the VaKE approach, which was introduced as a violence prevention strategy to teachers. Data analysis revealed significant differences between the pre and post measurements for some of the variables measuring self-efficacy (i.e., personal teaching efficacy) with a large main effect. The authors conclude by discussing their findings with respect to the design of the intensive training session and the possibilities of the VaKE approach to be exploited as a violence prevention strategy in learning and instruction.
In the second paper, authors investigate whether the language course books include reading and listening texts and activities that explicitly or implicitly refer to values apart from knowledge education and which instructional approaches are proposed in order to discuss values in classroom. Lindita Kacani and Olsa Pema provide an argumentation of the current books employed for the instruction of English as a foreign language in secondary Albanian schools. They conclude that topics concerning values education are reflected in the textbooks, however, an innovative instructional approach like VaKE is not proposed as an appropriate instructional approach, highlighting the need for further research that could advance the argument for the implementation of VaKE in the instruction of foreign languages.
Apart from issues concerning teachers’ self-efficacy as well as opportunities provided by textbooks to discuss values, the current special issue also includes papers referring to the implementation of VaKE in specific subjects, such as Sustainability, as well as in specific subjects, such as “Text Analysis”. In the third paper, Natascha Diekmann describes the concept of Sustainability and highlights through a literature review, and the specific case of “consumption”, the need as well as the requirements for the implementation of Sustainability Education (SE) in learning and instruction. Additionally, the connection between SE and values is stressed. Moreover, the author suggests explicitly how the VaKE approach can promote the implementation of SE and underlines the common lines that VaKE shares with the requirements of SE. The author concludes by reflecting on the reasons that render VaKE as the most appropriate method for the introduction of SE in practice.
In the fourth paper, Fabiola Kadi and Helona Pani report their experience of applying VaKE in the module of “Text Analysis”. According to the authors, students learned how to analyse texts and offer their interpretations, while at the same time they provided viable arguments regarding the values involved in the dilemma discussion. This case study offers another perspective of how VaKE can be adopted to fit the aims and objectives of the specific course. In the same line of inquiry, the fifth paper by Dorela Kaçauni provides us with a case study regarding her experience of implementing the VaKE approach in an English course about “Text Analysis” in higher education. The author adopts VaKE in order to promote values education while at the same time meet the objectives of the course.
Moreover, the last two papers that were included in the Special Issue present adaptations of the VaKE method. More specifically, in the sixth paper, Eriola Qafzezi and Juliana Çyfeku describe their experience of introducing VaKE in the module of “Text Analysis” aiming to advance the instruction of values in higher education. The approach they follow is an adaptation of the original VaKE method, while they employ a poem of a Japanese poet, as a dilemmatic situation raising moral issues related with beauty stereotypes, cultural diversity and self-respect. Further, the authors report the steps they followed to implement the method and conclude by highlighting whether VaKE is an appropriate approach that fosters both values education as well as the aims of the “Text Analysis” module. Finally, in the seventh paper, Lorena Robo with her study aims at describing how a VaKE adaptation can promote autonomous learning during the implementation of a dilemmatic situation in a module of “Text Analysis”. The author provides students arguments and quotes of their final essay to support the effectiveness of the method towards the achievement of autonomous learning and moral argumentation.
All seven papers describe VaKE as a valuable tool that can help teachers discuss values with students. We hope that the readers will enjoy this issue and will find interesting ideas to implement in classroom.
Gruber, G. (2009). Hindernisse schulischer Werteerziehung aus Lehrersicht [Obstacles to moral education from the teachers point of view]. Baltmannsweiler: Schneider Verlag Hohengehren.
Patry, J.-L., Weinberger, A., Weyringer, S., & Nussbaumer, M. (2013). Combining values and knowledge education. In B. J. Irby, G. Brown, R. Lara-Alecio & S. Jackson (Eds.), The Handbook of Educational Theories (pp. 565-579). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Patry, J. L., Weyringer, S., & Weinberger, A. (2007). Combining values and knowledge education. Aspin D.N., & J.D. Chapman (Eds.), Values Education and Lifelong Learning. Lifelong Learning Book Series, vol 10, (pp. 160-179). Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6184-4_9
Pnevmatikos, D., Patry, J. L., Weinberger, A., Linortner, L., Weyringer, S., Maron, R., & Gordon-Shaag, A. (2016). Combining values and knowledge education for lifelong transformative learning. In Panitsides, E.A., & Talbot, J. (Eds.), Lifelong learning: Concepts, benefits, and challenges, (pp 109-134). Nova Science Publishers, New York.
OECD. (2019). OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 Conceptual learning framework. Concept note: Attitudes and Values for 2030. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/education/2030-project/teaching-and-learning/learning/attitudes-and-values/
Willemse, T. M., ten Dam, G., Geijsel, F., van Wessum, L., & Volman, M. (2015). Fostering teachers' professional development for citizenship education. Teaching and teacher education, 49, 118-127.