ERIC Identifier: ED353005
Publication Date: 1982-04-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges Los
Incorporating Humanities Instruction in Vocational Programs.
ERIC Fact Sheet, No. 4.
Traditionally, humanities instruction at two-year colleges has been identified with transfer education. But the varying educational needs of nontraditional students at today's community college have caused humanities educators to reassess their role. Decreasing enrollments in traditional lower division courses have relegated the humanities to an increasingly smaller position within the college's instructional program. The future viability of the humanities curriculum, then, will depend to a large degree on the ability of community college educators to provide humanities instruction for the growing number of vocationally oriented students. Koehnline writes that humanities and vocational education can no longer be separated: "Today, when education conveys no automatic social distinction, and when leisure is not assured except for the retired and the unemployed, the humanities serve changed human needs" (Koehnline, p. 84).
As an aid to community college practitioners faced with the task of
developing a humanities component for vocational students, this Fact Sheet
outlines some common approaches to this problem; lists interdisciplinary
humanities modules or courses that have been or are offered by some two-year
colleges; and provides an ERIC bibliography of materials dealing with humanities
instruction for vocational students.
WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES?
Changing humanities from a strict
collegiate orientation to one that also serves the needs of vocational students
depends on cooperation between faculty in both areas. Instructors cannot afford
to remain isolated in their own departments, even though some humanities faculty
are not enthusiastic about teaching nontransfer students and some occupational
students and faculty feel that the humanities are "those damned classes required
for graduation" (Slonecker, p.2). In addition, humanities faculty who rely
primarily on the lecture method need to become proficient in nontraditional
instructional techniques, such as team teaching, modular instruction, and the
use of audio-visual materials. As humanities programs shift their orientation
from transfer to occupational students, faculty need to reassess long accepted
attitudes toward, and approaches to, humanities instruction.
WHAT METHODS HAVE BEEN USED?
Advisory boards often resist
humanities course requirements. It seems more productive to adopt nontraditional
instructional methods and to insert humanities modules in vocational courses.
Changing traditional humanities courses to reflect the noncollegiate concerns of
vocational students is also feasible.
Beckwith (1981) identifies four commonly used methods of incorporating the
humanities in vocational studies: interdisciplinary courses; specialized courses
for targeted populations; modules; and the formal or informal sharing of
materials and personnel between vocational and humanities departments. Brief
descriptions of each method are presented below.
Interdisciplinary courses provide
instruction in two or more subject areas and may be used to expose the student
to a range of topics wider than that possible in a traditional lecture course.
Thus, the interdisciplinary approach is particularly useful to vocational
students who are not preparing for further study in the humanities.
Several methods have been used to structure interdisciplinary courses:
utilizing a team of instructors representing two or more subject areas;
examining a central topic, such as American History, through art, literature,
music, and other disciplines; examining the interrelationships between various
topics, such as the impact of technology on contemporary society; and providing
"tandem courses," i.e., classes on two topics such as economics and business,
which are taught back to back during the same quarter or semester.
While showing much promise, interdisciplinary courses are not trouble free;
they require an adjustment on the part of faculty and students who are more used
to the privacy of their own classroom. Schulz notes that "successful team
teaching often intimidates the students and relies on a harmonious interplay of
personalities which are willing to compromise" (Schulz, p.19). Planning for
interdisciplinary courses, then, must take into account student and faculty
attitudes as well as the instructional subject matter.
SPECIALIZED COURSES FOR TARGETED POPULATIONS
courses, humanities subject matter is examined in relation to the career
interests of specific vocational students. Several ethics courses have been
developed for students in allied health, business, law enforcement, and other
vocational fields. Examples of other courses include "Literature for
Technicians" (Slonecker) and "Humanities and Civil Engineering" (Schulz). Such
courses remove the mystique of academe from the humanities and allow students to
relate the humanities to everyday life.
Modules, or "short (instructional) segments that
can be inserted into the occupational programs themselves" (Cohen, p.68), can
also be used to demonstrate the value of the humanities to a student's
occupational life. Modules may consist of informal guest lectures; one-credit,
day-long seminars; or the integration of a humanities topic in a vocational
course through specially prepared video presentations or other instructional
materials. Many ethics modules have been developed for vocational courses, but
less work has been done in preparing literature or history modules that are
geared towards students in automotive, electronics, and other technical programs
In considering modules, two problems should be kept in mind. First, planning
and implementing modules is a difficult task requiring great care. Schulz points
out that "they (modules) require careful planning and excellent teaching, making
certain that the material is interfaced with the remaining parts of the course,
so that the students are not left with fragments" (Schulz, p.19). Second,
planners need to consider the impact of a module on the transferability of
credit for allied health and other vocational courses. Koehnline notes that "If
the standard course description calls for 16 weeks of clinical instruction, one
cannot insert five weeks of something else...and live up to the expectations on
which most current transfer agreements are based" (Koehnline, p.83).
Accordingly, Koehnline suggests that courses with a formal and extensive
humanities module be planned with additional hours and fractional credit.
Specific factors that need to be considered in planning humanities modules
for vocational courses are outlined by Edwards (1979).
SHARING RESOURCE MATERIALS AND PERSONNEL
On a less formal
scale, humanities instructors are providing colleagues in vocational departments
with bibliographies and other humanities-related materials. In some instances,
humanities instructors give informal guest lectures in vocational courses or
write case studies in ethics for business and other occupational classes. Such
informal activities are a first step toward the cooperation required in
developing interdisciplinary courses or humanities modules.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF THESE COURSES, MODULES, AND COOPERATIVE EFFORTS?
The following colleges have developed
interdisciplinary courses, modules, and other techniques to provide vocational
and other students with nontraditional humanities instruction. The names of
contact persons at each college are provided.
Bristol Community College offers three interdisciplinary courses of value to
students in business, criminal justice, nursing, and other vocational fields.
The courses are entitled "The Criminal in Literature and Art," "Business Ethics
and the Arts," and "Coping with Life and Death." Obtain information from Paul
Fletcher; Divisional Chair, Arts, English, Humanities, and Language; Bristol
Community College; 777 Elsbree Street; Fall River, Massachusetts 02720.
Telephone number (617) 678-2811.
Chemeketa Community College offers an interdisciplinary "Oceans" course drawing
from the arts, humanities, and the sciences in an investigation of the world's
oceans. Obtain information from William G. Slonecker, Chemeketa Community
College, 4000 Lancaster Drive NE, Salem, Oregon 97305. Telephone number (503)
Clark Technical College offers a team-taught, interdisciplinary humanities
course entitled "Work and Human Fulfillment." In this course, work is explored
in relation to myth, other cultures, human nature, and justice. The college also
offers (1) one-credit "trailer courses" entitled "Law and You as a Worker,"
"Work and Leisure," and "Human Values in the Marketplace"; and (2) tandem
courses in economics and ethics. These tandem courses are taught in adjacent
rooms; students share a common syllabus and occasionally meet jointly. For
further information, contact Lloyd Monnin, Chairman, General Education
Department, Clark Technical College, 570 East Leffels Lane, Springfield, Ohio
45501. Telephone number (513) 325-0691.
For the past year, Edmonds Community College has offered several one-credit,
interdisciplinary humanities modules. Topics for the modules include the
American labor movement as portrayed in film, literature, local history, and
song; marriage and divorce; and women in the workplace. The college also offers
a core course entitled "Humanities for Vocational Students." For further
information contact Mary Hale, Edmonds Community College, 20000 68 Avenue West,
Wynnwood, Washington 98036. Telephone number (206) 775-4444.
Hagerstown Junior College has, since 1973, offered interdisciplinary humanities
courses. One course, "The Arts: A Creative Synthesis," uses a multi-media
approach to an examination of the arts. Another course, "Man: Some Human
Perspectives," examines mankind from scientific, theological, psychological,
sociological, ecological, and historical perspectives. Information about the
courses can be obtained from Michael H. Parsons, Dean of Instruction, Hagerstown
Junior College, 751 Robinwood Drive, Hagerstown, Maryland 221740. Telephone
number (301) 731-2800.
Faculty at Johnson County Community College have developed a set of humanities
modules for various occupational programs (Beckwith, pp.61-62). These modules
include (1) classroom presentations on the history of law enforcement for
courses in criminal justice; (2) case studies on ethics for business students;
and (3) modules on medical ethics for nursing students. Multi-media modules have
also been developed on the history and impact of concrete production and on the
discrimination suffered by the handicapped. For further information, contact
Landon Kirchner, Johnson County Community College, College Blvd. at Quivira
Road, Overland Park, Kansas 66201. Telephone number (913) 888-8500.
With special grant funds, Highline Community College developed and offered an
interdisciplinary course entitled "Business Civilization: A Literary Review."
The course was taught by humanities, business, and journalism faculty; students
examined the portrayal of American business in fiction, drama, and poetry. For
further information contact Catharine Harrington, Humanities Division Chair,
Highline Community College, Pacific Highway South, Midway, Washington 98031.
Telephone number (206) 878-3710.
WHERE CAN I FIND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION?
The above listing
represents only a small sample of the efforts undertaken by the nation's
two-year colleges to provide humanities instruction for vocational students. A
more in-depth study should include a review of the literature. The following
bibliography cites journal articles and documents in the ERIC database on the
topic of humanities for vocational students. The ERIC documents (those tagged
with an "ED" number) are available on microfiche at over 700 libraries across
the country; please contact the Clearinghouse for a directory of ERIC microfiche
collections in your area.
Beckwith, Miriam M. "An ERIC Review: Integrating the Humanities in
Occupational Programs: An Inventory of Current Practices." COMMUNITY COLLEGE
REVIEW. 1981, 9 (1), 57-64.
Cantor, Harold. "Curriculum and Instruction in the Community College: A
Working Paper." Unpublished paper, 1979. 13pp. (ED 179 258)
Cohen, Arthur M. "What Next for the Humanities." COMMUNITY COLLEGE REVIEW.
1980, 7 (4), 66-71.
Davidson, Arnold C. "Can Liberal Arts and Occupational Education Get Along."
COMMUNITY COLLEGE FRONTIERS. 1978, 7 (1), 4-8.
Dziech, Billie. "The Role of the Humanities in Vocational and Technical
Programs." Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Association
of Community and Junior Colleges, Chicago, IL, April 29-May 2, 1979. 11pp. (ED
Howard, Judy Jeffery. "Discussion, Debate, and Learning." COMMUNITY AND
JUNIOR COLLEGE JOURNAL. 1981, 52 (1), 28-31.
"The Humanities Curriculum in Washington's Two-Year Colleges: Report #1-9."
Los Angeles: Center for the Study of Community Colleges, 1980. 22pp. (ED 197
Johnson, Brent M. "Strengthening Humanities in Community Colleges through the
Development of Support at County, State, and National Levels." Unpublished
paper, 1979. 7pp. (ED 178 117)
Koehnline, William A. "The Marriage of the Humanities and the Trades." NEW
DIRECTIONS FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGES. 1981, 9 (1), 77-84.
Parsons, Michael H. "A Sense of Perspective: Four Years of Experience with an
Integrated Humanities Course for Career Students." Paper presented at the "What
Ever Happened to the Humanities?" Conference, Catonsville, MD, May 23, 1978.
19pp. (ED 156 281)
Schmeltekopf, Donald D. (ed); Rassweiler, Anne D. (ed). "Challenges Before
the Humanities in Community Colleges: Review and Proceedings of the Community
College Humanities Association (National Planning Workshop)." Cranford, NJ:
Community College Humanities Association, 1980. 92pp. (ED 186 063)
Schulz, Beate A. "Strengthening Humanities in Occupational Curricula: A Brief
Review of Strategies, Sources, and Models." Paper Presented at the Annual
Meeting of the Northeast Regional Conference on English in the Two-Year College.
New York, October 16-18, 1980. 32pp. (ED 202 508)
Slonecker, William G. "Strengthening Humanities in the Occupational
Curriculums at Chemeketa Community College." Paper presented at the American
Association of Community and Junior Colleges National Endowment for Humanities
Conference on Strengthening the Humanities, Los Angeles, February 4-7, 1981.
30pp. (ED 202 561)