Helping Schools with Career Infusion. ERIC Digest.
by Millar, Garnet
Infusion is an interesting concept. According to Webster, infusion refers
to the act or process of steeping or soaking in water or a substance in
order to extract its virtues. The Gage Canadian Dictionary uses the words
"permeate," "fill with," and "inspire" to define infusion. Lately, the
word infusion has been adapted by career educators to refer to the introduction
of career concepts and strategies into the regular curriculum in order
to instill relevance and quality to subject matter at school.
THE INFUSION APPROACH
The infusion of career development and planning skills into the regular
school curriculum is advocated by career leaders. Hiebert (1993), in a
theme editorial in "Guidance and Counselling," calls for an infusion or
integration of career concepts across all grade levels and in all subjects.
He contends that in addition to providing information about the specific
subject matter, teachers may properly discuss the roles of various jobs.
Whether the subject is science, health, or mathematics, students must learn
that it is natural and important to ask questions about the nature of jobs
in which people engage. School counselors can facilitate infusion of career
skills by consulting with teachers and by teaching units for/with them.
This approach of infusing career information into subject matter will add
relevance and interest for young people and, ultimately, will contribute
to the establishment of a "Career Development Culture."
Over the years, the author has been involved in a number of studies
dealing with the infusion of sets of skills (research, thinking, questioning)
into the regular school curriculum, as opposed to teaching these skills
separately. These studies (Millar, 1994; Himsl & Millar, 1988) have
indicated that the infusion approach for education is best, as long as
it is accompanied by professional development or staff training either
at the preservice level (university) and/or inservice level (schools).
In Alberta, to accomplish this staff training goal, a course entitled "Everyday
Career Development" was created to help teachers infuse career skills into
their daily teaching activities.
"Everyday Career Development" is a 3-day professional development course
for secondary school teachers. "Homework" is assigned to enable educators
to implement and receive feedback on various strategies. The strategies
included in the course largely require an awareness of career development,
rather than an entirely new set of duties for teachers. After a field-test
of the course, teachers overwhelmingly reported satisfaction and confidence
in their ability to implement the ideas in their math, science or English
classes. A Facilitator Guide to Everyday Career Development (Redekopp,
1994) has been prepared to help local facilitators maintain quality control
when delivering the course.
A METHOD OF INFUSING CAREER SKILLS
Whether they realize it or not, teachers have a strong influence on
students' career development. The course "Everyday Career Development,"
enables them to make a conscious impact on students by using the infusion
approach. Teachers learn how to connect activities in the classroom to
the events unfolding in the labor market. The ultimate goal of the course
is for students to have a smooth transition from school-to-school or school-to-work,
assisted by a network of teachers who are infusing career development concepts
and strategies into their everyday teaching activities.
The course reference book, "Everyday Career Development - Concepts and
Practices" (Participant Guide), (Redekopp, Fiske, Lemon, & Garber -
Conrad, 1994) contains six chapters: Chapter 1, provides a perspective
of global trends; Chapter 2, provides a view of career development; Chapter
3, provides an overview of career development in the school context; Chapter
4, provides a description of the labor market or work dynamic analysis;
Chapter 5, provides specific strategies for helping students build their
career; and Chapter 6, provides the learning options for students from
three perspectives - high school courses, informal learning events, and
learning experiences after high school.
In this guide, teachers learn a basic framework for career planning.
Briefly, this model examines a process which includes self-analysis/re-analysis,
learning, and experiences within the contexts of the world and the students'
world. The components of this model are described more fully by Redekopp,
Day, and Robb (1995).
The course typically is delivered in two, one and one-half day workshops
with "homework" in between. The following "homework" activities are included
for the teachers: (a) review the curriculum they teach and describe how
it helps students meet the workforce requirements of the new economy; (b)
identify their values, beliefs and interests and identify how these are
fulfilled in their work and non-work lives; and (c) have a class generate
a list of activities and skill sets for a job sector related to a subject
Teachers can use a variety of methods or strategies to help students
gain a better understanding of themselves in relation to the career building
process. Some of these are as follows:
*Encourage students to examine and describe their school performance.
*Help students identify competencies used in school performance.
*Encourage students to talk with and observe individuals in a variety
*Help students connect their enduring visions with "the world."
In addition to infusing career development ideas in career content,
teachers are encouraged to implement the ideas incidentally, i.e., make
casual comments when they see students in the hall or in class. Parents
can also assist by acting as volunteers. For example, in one school a parent,
acting as a career technician, used a telephone hotline and interactive
video disc to assist students in exploring various career paths.
THE NEED FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
In order for teachers and counselors to infuse career development into
the curriculum, professional development needs to be provided. Ministries
of Education have a responsibility to make professional development happen.
The province of Alberta chose to use a partnership model rather than do
it alone. Alberta developed a partnership with the provincial teachers'
union and a private foundation (the Canadian Guidance and Counselling Foundation)
to deliver the inservice. One of the guiding principles of this professional
development initiative is that inservice opportunities should be available
to teachers and counselors in their home locales. Local facilitators who
are trained, provide this inservice around their home jurisdictions. A
detailed facilitator guide is prepared for each course to promote consistency
across different offerings of the same course. Each teacher and counselor
who completes a specific number of courses will receive a certificate designating
them as a "career education specialist."
In addition to "Everyday Career Development," other professional development
courses offered to teachers explore methods in group career education and
career education for special populations. These courses, in combination
with "Everyday Career Development," will help ensure that teachers and
counselors have the background and skills needed to implement successful
Clearly, career education is moving away from addressing careers as
a single choice in time, or one unit or course in a curriculum, to a pervasive,
life-span focus. Infusing career education into all subject areas by providing
professional development to educators, can make this approach a reality.
As a result, students will learn to view careers as dynamic and to view
change as an indispensable element in their future work. The youth of today
will require the career development concepts and strategies embodied in
this infusion approach to live productively, successfully, and happily
in the world of tomorrow.
Hiebert, B. (1993). "Career Education: A Time for Infusion." Guidance
& Counselling, 8(3), 5-10.
Himsl, R. & Millar, G. (1988). "Breaking New Ground: Teaching the
Skills of Intelligence." Edmonton, AB: Alberta Education, Planning and
Millar, G. W. (1994). "Developing Student Questioning Skills." Bensenville,
IL: Scholastic Testing Services, Inc.
Redekopp, D. E. (1994). "Everyday Career Development: Concepts and Practices-A
Guidebook for Secondary School Educators" (Facilitator Guide). Edmonton,
AB: Special Education Branch, Alberta Education.
Redekopp, D., Day, B., & Robb, M. (1994). "The "High Five" of Career
Development." ERIC Digest No.ED-CG-95-64.
Redekopp, D., Fiske, L., Lemon, F., & Garber-Conrad, B. (1994).
"Everyday Career Development: Concepts and Practices-A Guidebook for Secondary
School Educators" (Participant Guide). Edmonton, AB: Special Education
Branch, Alberta Education.
Garnet Millar, Ph.D. is Provincial Coordinator of Guidance and Counselling
in the Special Education Branch of Alberta Education, and Adjunct Associate
Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta,
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.