ERIC Identifier: ED424590
Publication Date: 1998-00-00
Author: Ngeow, Karen Yeok-Hwa
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Reading English and Communication Bloomington IN.
School-to-Work Transition in Language Arts Classrooms:
School-Based Learning Approaches and Practices. ERIC Digest.
School-to-Work (STW) Transition is an education initiative that brings
educators, students, business, and industry together to help young people
progress smoothly from their classrooms to their careers. STW programs are aimed
at developing an integrated secondary school curriculum that facilitates
students' transition from school to the workplace. Some benefits of the STW
it adds relevance to the classroom (e.g., by creating opportunities to integrate
academic instruction with real-world work experience).
it provides the students with the knowledge and experience needed to make
informed career choices (e.g., by developing job readiness and good work habits
such as leadership and teamwork skills).
it improves students' performance, resulting in higher achievement levels,
increased motivation, improved attendance rates, and reduced dropout rates.
SCHOOL-BASED LEARNING IN STW PROGRAMS
generally comprise three major components: (1) school-based learning, (2)
work-based learning, and (3) activities to connect school-based and work-based
learning. School-based learning is classroom practice that integrates high
academic standards with workplace skills. Work-based learning refers to
experience at job sites that allows students to develop skills and apply content
knowledge in a hands-on, occupational setting. Connecting activities are aimed
at providing program coordination and support for students, schools and
employers in areas such as career counseling, post-secondary education, and job
The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) identifies
two types of skills considered necessary for students' success in the workplace:
school-based foundations and work-based competencies (Washington State
Work-Based Learning Resource Center, 1997). Many STW initiatives and research
grants generally emphasize developing work-based competencies. These work-based
learning strategies include field trips to workplaces, classroom visits by
entrepreneurs, job shadowing certain workers, and getting involved in internship
and apprenticeship programs in occupational settings. However, there is
comparatively little emphasis on exploring or developing strategies that would
help K-12 teachers meet STW goals in their classrooms. Since most children spend
more time in the school than any other environment before they enter the
workforce, it is equally important to explore ways for teachers to help students
develop foundation skills, which are usually described as a K-12 responsibility.
Therefore, the focus of this paper is to discuss initiatives in the school-based
learning component, and explore various practices that Language Arts teachers
can use in classrooms to meet STW goals.
Students cannot succeed without a strong academic foundation in basic skills
such as reading, writing, communication, and math. They must have a broad range
of knowledge, and they must understand and be able to apply that knowledge,
regardless of their career interests. Foundation skills can be divided into
three components. The first component is made up of the basic skills of reading,
writing, arithmetic/mathematics, speaking, and listening. The second component
consists of thinking skills, which include creative thinking, decision-making,
problem-solving, mental visualization, knowing how to learn, and reasoning. The
third component of the SCAN skills addresses the development of personal
qualities such as responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, and
integrity (Packer & Pines, 1996).
Changes in the contexts of learning have led educators to believe that for
skills acquired in schools to be applicable in the workplace, school-based
learning needs to be contextualized and meaningful. Students need to develop
knowledge and skills in situated settings so that they are able to see the
relevance of knowledge and skill acquisition in meeting real-world needs
(Resnick, 1987; Brock, 1992).
SCHOOL-BASED LEARNING APPROACHES AND EXEMPLARY PRACTICES IN STW PROGRAMS
Practices that promote school-based STW learning goals in
K-12 Language Arts classrooms can be divided into three categories:
A. PRACTICES THAT SUPPORT INTERDISCIPLINARY LEARNING, OR LEARNING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
Elements of an interdisciplinary
curriculum include contextual approaches to instruction, applied learning, team
teaching, project-based instruction, and structured work-based learning that is
linked to classroom instruction. In this approach, students participate in
collaborative projects that extend across various disciplines (Wonacott, 1992).
Some exemplary interdisciplinary practices in this category include:
Organizing media publication projects, such as publishing a school newsletter or
producing weekly talk or radio shows.
Creating an Individual/Personal Career Inventory, in which students integrate
activities from various disciplines to their career development.
Learning technology skills that are necessary for the workplace, such as word
processing, searching the World Wide Web for information, and appropriate use of
electronic communication systems. Students can, for example, learn about
formatting and document design while writing a research paper.
B. STUDENT-CENTERED CAREER EXPLORATION PROJECTS
involves providing a supportive framework for students to determine their career
paths, identify related skills needed for careers of interest, and conduct
self-assessment of job readiness skills (Jones, 1996). Career planning requires
intensive guidance to ensure that students are equipped to make an informed
decision in choosing a pathway. Initial aptitude tests, career exposure and
awareness activities, labor market information, and the advice of counselors,
parents, teachers, and employers can all help students choose a pathway that
leads them to develop their interests, abilities, and goals.
These are some exemplary practices that students could be involved in:
Helping to organize and attending career fairs, after which they write
job-awareness reports focusing on necessary skills and abilities keyed to career
paths of interest.
Attending talks by job professionals and recruiters in order to obtain
information on topics such as business communication, interviewing do's and
don'ts, and job-related requirements.
Building career portfolios that showcase products of career-related
proficiencies, resumes, application letters, and testimonials of involvement in
school or community-based projects.
Developing a five-year career plan, during which they interview personnel in
specific jobs, assess their job readiness, and reflect on the development of
their involvement in this field.
C. ENTREPRENEURIAL SCHOOL PROJECTS
projects, students apply language, math, and decision-making skills as they
develop business plans and analyze strategies needed to improve business
performances. Such projects include:
Selling goods and services for a profit, marketing homemade products, or running
a school store for books and stationery. To do this, students learn to research
markets, analyze costs, and work out sales and publicity strategies, all of
which are important information skills for workplace success.
Volunteering and participating in community and organizational projects like
fairs, conventions and conferences. This involvement provides students with
organizational experience, and teaches team-building and responsible work
Teachers and curriculum planners recognize that school-based learning
practices that are clearly linked to students' career achievement are successful
in heightening learner motivation and improving performance. Changes in
school-based learning approaches are linked to changes in attitudes, curriculum
reforms, and educational outcomes. Schools cannot succeed unless teachers
believe in the applicability of the skills and knowledge they impart, and unless
students appreciate the purpose of education. Thus, educators who are
responsible for developing school curricula and learning outcomes need to remain
abreast of educational reforms that will meet the demands of a more dynamic
Brock, W. E. (1992). A vision for education:
SCANS chairman sees need for high performance schools. Vocational Education
Journal, 67(7), 20-22. [EJ 451 027]
Jones, L. K. (1996). Job skills for the 21st century: A guide for students.
Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press. [ED 394 042]
Packer, A. H., and Pines, M. W. (1996). School-to-work. Princeton, NJ: Eye on
Education, Inc. [ED 397 165]
Resnick, L. B. (1987). Learning in school and out. Educational Researcher, 16
(9), 13-20. [EJ 368 309]
Washington State Work-Based Learning Resource Center. (1997). Washington
State Guide to planning, implementing and improving work-based learning: A guide
for educators at all levels. Highline Community Coll., Des Moines, WA. [ED 410
Wonacott, M. E. (1992). Career education and applied academics. Columbus, OH:
ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. [ED 350 488]