ERIC Identifier: ED292973
Publication Date: 1988-00-00
Author: Naylor, Michele
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Improving Basic Skills of Vocational Education Students. ERIC
Digest No. 69.
The educational excellence movement has made an academic curriculum a high
priority for all students in many states and local districts. Because at least
40 percent of high school graduates do not go on to attend college, the
development of good basic skills should not be the sole responsibility of the
academic curriculum. A previous ERIC Digest reviewed the reasons why the basics
are an important part of vocational education and examined three models--the
nonintegrated, integrated, and combination models--for infusing basic skills
training into vocational programs (Imel 1984). This Digest examines the
philosophy underlying the joint efforts approach to incorporating basic skills
instruction into the vocational curriculum and describes selected joint efforts
techniques that may be used in vocational programs based on either the
integrated, nonintegrated, or combination model of providing basic skills
THE PHILOSOPHY UNDERLYING THE JOINT EFFORTS APPROACH
joint efforts approach is based on the following widely held assumptions: o
Academic skills are embedded in vocational education. o Vocational tasks provide
for realistic use of academic basic skills; connecting academic learning with
application strengthens students' basic skills. o Neither academic basic skills
nor vocational skills should be taught in isolation from each other; teachers
need to make students aware of the bonding between academic basic skills and
vocational tasks. (Pritz and Crowe 1987a, p. 16)
Several strategies for combining the expertise of subject matter specialists
and vocational instructors are possible, depending on whether an integrated,
nonintegrated, or combination model of infusing basic skills instruction into
the vocational curriculum has been selected.
POSSIBLE JOINT EFFORT STRATEGIES
Vocational and academic
teachers who desire to develop an integrated and articulated program in which
vocational students can receive instruction in the basic skills have three main
options (Pritz and Crowe 1987c): sharing, teaming, or crossing over. Sharing is
the most basic form of joint efforts on the part of vocational and academic
teachers. It is differentiated from teaming in that sharing refers to sharing
concerns, strategies, and resource materials about teaching whereas teaming
refers to sharing actual teaching responsibilities.
Sharing can occur during the program-planning process (to decide who will
teach which skills and coordinate the types and sizes of assignments made in
each course); the instructional materials selection and development process (to
ensure that the academic course is made relevant to the vocational course and
that the vocational course reinforces the basic skill concepts introduced in the
academic course); the teacher preparation process (to allow academic and
vocational teachers to gain some expertise in each other's area of
specialization); and the program implementation process (to iron out concern
over the effect of program modification on such things as job security, teacher
autonomy, and the effect of additional amounts of work on students and teachers
Like sharing, teaming can occur at any stage throughout the program
design-development-evaluation cycle. Academic and vocational teachers can team
up to develop instructional materials, design courses, grade assignments, and
present instructional materials. The teaming arrangement can assume many forms.
In a regular or periodic team teaching arrangement, for example, an academic
teacher could work in the vocational classroom to teach or reinforce a
particular academic concept that will be applied in a vocational task and the
vocational teacher could take over to present the application part of the
lesson. Another possibility would be to have the academic and vocational
teachers teaching concurrently in the same classroom. The two teachers could
each work with different groups, thereby allowing the academic teacher to
provide extra help to students in need of additional or even remedial
Staff crossover involves teachers actually exchanging roles with each other.
Pritz and Crowe (1987c) describe the following ways in which teachers can take
advantage of the crossover strategy: using consultants from other departments,
making assignments in another teacher's course (for example, a shop teacher
suggesting topics for papers to be written in a communications class), setting
up a review of student papers in which each teacher performs a different
function (the shop teacher can review for content while the communications
teacher reviews writing and format), attending classes in each other's course in
an auditing capacity, and analyzing time use in each other's classes.
PROGRAM TYPES AND INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS
and crossing over can be used in all types of programs, including traditional
vocational programs, compensatory and support-oriented programs (the former
being programs intended to remediate or compensate for basic skills deficiencies
and the latter being programs that are designed to reinforce or maintain
proficiencies in basic skills), and alternative programs such as those based on
learning centers and laboratories (Norton, King-Fitch, and Harrington 1986).
Student learning contracts, visiting consultants or specialists, cooperative
programs, competency-based education (CBE), applied learning in a
problem-solving mode, and Academic Development Plans (ADPs) are all effective in
programs infusing academic instruction into the vocational curriculum. The
latter three will be examined briefly.
Because CBE is based on the
principle of analyzing complex skills, breaking them down into their component
tasks, and then teaching them in a logically designed series of performance
objectives, it is particularly well suited to joint teaching efforts, whether
such efforts are based on sharing, teaming, crossing over, or a combination of
the three approaches.
APPLIED LEARNING IN A PROBLEM-SOLVING MODE
The technique of
applying academic concepts in learning activities that require students to solve
a problem related to their vocational program is another effective way of
combining basic skills and vocational instruction. The approach is based on the
following principles: o Problem-solving and decision-making processes and
competencies are embedded in the activities. o Activities are participatory in
nature and related to the real world and real consequences. o Reinforcement of
basic skills information needed in the situation is provided along with a
suitable degree of guidance on how to proceed. (Pritz and Crowe 1987a, p. 47)
Because such instructional materials help students develop strong
problem-solving skills (skills that employers find very important in workers)
and present material in a context whose relevance is readily apparent to
students (which has been shown to increase students' motivation to learn), they
are doubly effective in preparing vocational students for eventual employment.
ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT PLANS
An Academic Development Plan
(ADP) is similar to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in that both are
individualized plans for students' progress that are worked out cooperatively by
students and any of a number of key individuals involved in helping them learn.
The main thrust of the ADP concept is to address the need to help students
develop basic academic skills and improve their academic achievement. Possible
members of the ADP planning team include the student, a parent or guardian, the
vocational teacher, the academic teacher, special services personnel, an
employer, a guidance counselor, a community agency representative, and an adult
friend. Like IEPs, ADPs can be particularly effective in developing
individualized programs to respond to students' special needs. ADPs can thus be
very effective in ensuring sex equity, drawing on community resources, and
meeting the needs of such special clients as migrant, minority, disabled, and
gifted and talented youth. Other advantages of ADPs are that they serve as a
motivational device, encourage students to assume responsibility for their own
learning, provide a vehicle for periodic evaluations, and treat students as
The basic components of the ADP are as follows: o A statement of the present
levels of the student's educational performance o A statement of annual goals,
including short-term instructional objectives for each student o Appropriate
objective criteria and evaluation procedures and schedules for determining, at
least on an annual basis, whether instructional objectives are being achieved
(Pritz and Crowe 1987b, pp. 2-3)
Veach and Crowe (1987) collected 47 exemplary basic skills techniques and 24
exemplary joint efforts techniques that have proven effective in the various
arrangements (sharing, teaming, and crossing over) of helping vocational
students develop and reinforce basic academic skills. Many are geared toward one
or more vocational service areas and/or special student populations.
Imel, Susan. LEARNING THE NEW BASICS THROUGH
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION. ERIC DIGEST NO. 35. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult,
Career, and Vocational Education, The National Center for Research in Vocational
Education, The Ohio State University, 1984. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service
No. ED 252 693).
Norton, Robert E.; King-Fitch, Catherine C.; and Harrington, Lois G.
IMPROVING THE BASIC SKILLS OF VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL STUDENTS: AN ADMINISTRATOR'S
GUIDE. Columbus: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The
Ohio State University, 1986. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 266
Pritz, Sandra G., and Crowe, Michael R. INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS DEVELOPMENT.
Columbus: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio
State University, 1987a. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 288 958).
Pritz, Sandra G., and Crowe, Michael R. TECHNIQUE FOR INDIVIDUALIZATION: THE
ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN. Columbus: The National Center for Research in
Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1987b. (ERIC Document
Reproduction Service No. ED 288 964).
Pritz, Sandra G., and Crowe, Michael R. TECHNIQUES FOR JOINT EFFORT: THE
VOCATIONAL-ACADEMIC APPROACH. Columbus: The National Center for Research in
Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1987c. (ERIC Document
Reproduction Service No. ED 288 960).
Veach, June P., and Crowe, Michael R. PRIMER OF EXEMPLARY STRATEGIES.
Columbus: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio
State University, 1987. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 288 956).
All of these materials, with the exception of ERIC Digest No. 35, are part of
a package entitled BASICS: BRIDGING VOCATIONAL AND ACADEMIC SKILLS.