Modèles d’Alternance

I’ve discovered yesterday that there is a scientific theory (and a name) for my own private conception of academic/professional training…

Vanhulle, Merhan & Ronveaux (2007) have described 4 different models of academic training program that also aim at the development of professional competencies… which they call “modèles d’alternance”, since students switch or alternate between moments of learning and training at the university and learning in the respective field of their future profession (for instance school classrooms)…

I’ll briefly state these 4 models here for archive purposes… (in French)

1. Applicationiste: L’esprit précède le geste

2. Acculturateur: Les compétences s’acquièrent en situation et dans le contact avec des contextes de pratique

3. Intégrateur fondé sur le modèle du praticien réflexif: démarches d’analyse des pratiques plus ou moins systématiques

4. Intégrateur fondé sur la dialectique théorie-pratique: des constructions théoriques progressives sont nécessaires pour alimenter des modèles d’intélligibilité et d’action qui sont mis à l’épreuve de la pratique

Needless to say, that this listing reflects a historically hierarchy as well as an added-value (in terms of the development of the educational sciences over the last century)… and that I’m happy to be able to state that my conceptions are best reflected by the latest and “best” model… 🙂 but beyond being happy to be not-so-old-fashioned, these models really help me better understand certain expectations that in-service teachers formulate when they express their doubts about the new Bachelor in Educational Sciences study program where I teach.

Since I’ve been studying psychology at the Université libre de Bruxelles (1993-2003), I’ve always thought that theoretical scientific knowledge is important and paramount for anybody who wants to act as a true professional of their domain… Without a true scientific theory all “experience-based knowledge” is anecdotical and has no power of explanation… And scientific theories are not shallow and empty… and “theory” is not the opposite of “practice”… there is no good scientific theory without empirical data (“practical observations or experiences”)! Having a theory, furthermore, allows you to understand (everyday) phenomena in deeper ways than your own limited personal experiences do. And best of all, theories do make predictions about phenomena or aspects of phenomena that one would not even look for based on mere personal experiences.

Being a professional of any domain means being able to make decisions based on scientific knowledge in a flexible and informed way… Or to say it with the words of my professor in Statistics @ the ULB: “Vous devrez être capable de prendre des décisions qui seront mieux que de jeter une pièce!” Surely, many situations where we have to make decisions in our professional lives require the choice between more than 2 alternatives… and often we do create the very conditions under which decisions and actions become possible and/or constrained… so it may be even more complicated than suggested by his metaphor… and thus more important to have solid scientific knowledge at our hands to inform our professional practices…

and we should also keep in mind that the benefits of the scientific method also stem from its systematic “doubt & try to disconfirm” approach, which allows us to remain critical of the very knowledge that we construct… and to evaluate the effectiveness of the professional choices we make, as well as the theoretical models which they are based upon…


  • Vanhulle,S., Merhan, F. & Ronveaux, C. (2007). Du principe d’alternance aux alternances en formation des enseignants et des adultes. In  F. Merhan, C. Ronveaux & S. Vanhulle (Ed.) Alternances en formation (p. 7-45).  Bruxelles : De Boeck. Collection : Raisons éducatives (11).