Voc.-Ed. Teachers Cite Limited Resources as Most Serious Concern
Anaheim, Calif--Vocational-education teachers are most concerned about the limited resources for their programs and the limited opportunities for students to gain useful work experience, according to a national survey released here this month at the annual convention of the American Vocational Association.
The survey, conducted by the vo-cational association's Teacher Concerns Committee, includes the responses of 243 vocational teachers representing 38 states and the 13 divisions within the national association. The survey was designed by researchers at the National Center for Research in Vocational Education, a federally supported facility at The Ohio State University.
John K. Corwin, professor of electronics at Miami-Dade Community College and a member of the concerns committee, said the survey's 4-percent response rate was too low to permit broad generalizations. But he said the survey did accomplish the committee's goal of gauging the professional and curricular concerns of vocational teachers so that the association could focus its efforts accordingly.
Respondents listed as their most serious professional concerns the need for more support for vocational-education programs and the need for more relevant professional development.
Under a separate category on programs, the vocational teachers responding to the survey rated as most important "providing opportunities for students to develop positive work habits and attitudes." The second highest rating was given to "obtaining up-to-date equipment."
The survey's results in both categories, according to Mr. Corwin, reflect a common theme that vocational programs must offer more "hands-on" training. "Many programs," he said, "are as old as the schools." For example, most schools continue to teach manual drafting techniques even though most companies now use computers to assist with drafting designs.
"If you try to teach without hands-on experience," Mr. Corwin said, students get a false impression of job requirements. He said vocational teachers would like to see that all students' work habits and skills are based on "reasonably up-to-date equipment."
"You can send out an 'A' student with poor skills and an average student with good work skills," and the average student will consistently fare far better than the better student, Mr. Corwin asserted.
In response to some ava members' complaints that the association is dominated by administrators, its assembly of delegates approved a resolution at the convention directing the leadership to respond to the teachers' concerns during the coming year. Mr. Corwin said vocational teachers believe that the association could provide more information on such educational resources as computer software and robotics training.