Motivating styles in dual, initial vocational education and training

  • Valentin Gross Lausanne University, Switzerland
  • Jean-Louis Berger SFIVET, Switzerland
  • Matilde Wenger SFIVET, Switzerland
  • Florina Sauli SFIVET, Switzerland
Keywords: Initial vocational education and training; dual system; motivating styles; autonomy support; control; Switzerland


In Switzerland, individuals who follow the typical dual form of an initial vocational education and training (VET) programme to learn a trade do so at two main learning sites: a training company and a vocational school. In this context, apprentices’ motivations differ noticeably between the school and the training company. Based on the self-determination theory constructs of motivating styles, basic psychological needs, and autonomous versus controlled motivations, this study aims to understand how apprentices perceive their teachers’ and trainers’ motivating styles, control and autonomy support at the two learning sites. Three hundred and twenty apprentices provided written answers to open-ended questions. We coded the data using thematic analysis. While the exercise of control appeared to be rather similar at the two learning sites, autonomy support varied greatly. At the vocational school, autonomy support was expressed through teachers’ listening skills and availability; at the training company, it was related to independence and equal recognition of apprentices and employees. The apprentices perceived teachers as having a more controlled motivating style and in-company trainers as having a more autonomy-supportive style. At the school, control was described primarily as organisational pressure and teachers’ demands, whereas, at the training company, it was reflected in a lack of recognition and thankless tasks. We discuss the relationship between motivating styles and the satisfaction of basic psychological needs in the context of dual VET.

Author Biographies

Valentin Gross, Lausanne University, Switzerland

Valentin Gross is a PhD student in the Laboratory of Social Psychology at Lausanne University. His research interests are social influence on pro-environmental behaviours as well as contextual influence on learning and work motivation.

Jean-Louis Berger, SFIVET, Switzerland

Jean-Louis Berger is Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET). His research interests include the perception of training quality, in addition to apprentices’, teachers’ and trainers’ beliefs, motivation and self-regulated learning in the context of vocational education and training.

Matilde Wenger, SFIVET, Switzerland

Matilde Wenger is a junior researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET). Her research interests are teachers’ gender identities, apprentices’, teachers’ and trainers’ perception of training quality, and apprentices’ commitment to vocational education and training.

Florina Sauli, SFIVET, Switzerland

Florinda Sauli is a junior researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET). Her PhD will compare the perception of training quality of institutional and non-institutional actors in the context of Swiss vocational education and training.

How to Cite
Gross, V., Berger, J.-L., Wenger, M., & Sauli, F. (2020). Motivating styles in dual, initial vocational education and training. Journal of Vocational, Adult and Continuing Education and Training, 3(1), 22.