In a programme designed to detect differences in teaching and learning between academic and vocational courses, the observation of classroom practice is of central importance. It is, however, immediately evident that not every academic and vocational course can be studied, neither can every aspect of the complex human environment that constitutes a classroom. The first part of this chapter therefore raises and suggests answers to three deceptively simple questions in order to detect any differences that may exist:

• Which academic and vocational courses should be the subject of enquiry? • Upon which aspects of classroom practice should observation focus? • When the focus for observation is established, what methods are appropriate?