The present paper addresses the phenomenon of student dropout from vocational education in Denmark. It does so by addressing the need to critically discuss the term ‘drop-out’ taking the perspective of students’ own reflections on the topic. The empirical findings indicate that dropout is considered in terms of two very different, but intersecting broad explanations voiced by students themselves: (1) as something created in educational institutions in various situations, such as when teachers spend more time and resources on the more affluent, quick-witted and clever students or when there is a lack of trainee places and (2) an act resulting from individual initiative and or a lack of perseverance. Secondly, and as a result of analysing the possible interplay between and differences related to the above two broad explanations, the empirical material reveals alternatives to the dropout concept in order to create a potentially creative resource for educational institutions concerned with learning and change. The merits of these different empirical findings are discussed, in relation to strategies for dropout prevention in vocational education. The empirical aspect of the paper consists of 106 interviews with students in eight different basic vocational educational courses in Denmark.
Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 2013, Vol 65, Issue 3, p. 422-439