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Current Editor: Dr. Robert T. Howell  bhowell@fhsu.edu
Volume 37, Number 2
Winter 2000


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A Comparison of Traditionally and Alternatively Certified Technology Education Teachers' Professional Development and Receptivity to Change

Steven L. Wash
Batesburg-Leesville High School
Gerald G. Lovedahl
Clemson University
William D. Paige
Clemson University

Perhaps no issue is more important to our profession than the growing shortage of well-trained technology education teachers. In many parts of our nation, technology education programs are not being implemented because of a lack of teachers (Monroe, 1996; Petty, 1992). Weston (1997) projects that, during the five-year period ending in 2001, there will be over 13,000 vacancies nationwide for technology education teachers. This large number of vacancies, coupled with an inadequate number of new teachers completing undergraduate technology education programs, requires states school boards of education to look beyond the traditional programs and find new methods of preparing teachers for technology education positions (Linnell & Simmons, 1996). One way that states are attempting to meet the demand for technology education teachers is through alternative certification programs. Forty-eight states reported having alternative certification programs in 1990 (AACTE, 1990). Between 1985 and 1990, approximately 20,000 candidates were certified through alternative programs, and the number increased to 40,000 by 1992 (Feistritzer, 1992). According to Young-Hawkins (1996), the growing use of alternative certification programs has become controversial. However, Young-Hawkins views technology teacher education as a "highly diversified endeavor" (p. 30) and suggests that our profession accept alternative certification "to help shape future attempts to strengthen and diversify the teaching pool" (p. 30).

Most alternative certification programs are postbaccalaureate programs with the following general characteristics:

  1. a rigorous screening process to ensure the selection of talented, qualified teacher interns who are academically and personally competent;
  2. high-quality preservice training in methodology, classroom management, and human development;
  3. a structured, well-supervised induction period that includes guidance by a mentor teacher for the period of one year;
  4. a requirement of ongoing professional development (e.g., seminars, workshops, and university course work) that addresses the specific needs of the teacher-intern; and
  5. post-internship training to ensure continued effective training (Littleton & Holcomb, 1994).

Despite these similarities, alternative certification programs vary significantly from state to state in content, specificity, structure, and in base organization. For example, the programs at Christopher Newport University, Tarleton State University, and Clemson University take three entirely different approaches to alternative certification.

Christopher Newport University offers an alternative licensure program for people with earned degrees in liberal arts or science. The professional education courses in this program have been resequenced into a single semester (18 semester hours). Students then participate in an internship program and take two additional courses (16 semester hours) to complete the requirements for licensure (American Association of State Colleges and Universities [AASCU], 1995).

The program at Tarleton State University is known as the Tarleton Model of Accelerated Teaching (TMATE). A consortium of the university and school districts in Texas operates it. Students in TMATE complete a 12 semester-hour block of courses in teaching methodology, classroom management, and instructional design. The program then provides a student-teaching experience in a summer enrichment program for K-8 students. In the fall, the TMATE students assume full-time teaching responsibilities, under the direction of a school-based mentor and university supervisor. While teaching, the students also attend a series of weekend seminars. During the next summer, the students take a post-internship block of courses in preparation for the licensure examination. In the eight years prior to 1995, more than 400 persons successfully completed all TMATE requirements, and 93% of the completers were placed in teaching positions in rural schools (AASCU, 1995).

The Clemson University Add-On Certification Program is designed to prepare individuals who are currently certified in other teaching fields for add-on certification in technology education. Students complete a 36 semester-hour program of technical courses over a three-year period. The state of South Carolina funds the program in an effort to alleviate the growing shortage of certified technology education teachers. To date, 100% of the individuals completing the program have passed the NTE Praxis Examination in Technology Education.

An additional area of concern in our profession is the reluctance on the part of some technology education teachers to move from the old industrial arts curriculum to the newer technology education curriculum. In the mid-1980s, many schools in the United States were engaged in replacing the established industrial arts curriculum with the technology education curriculum (Linnell, 1992). The need for receptivity to change and innovation on the part of technology education teachers was further emphasized by Daugherty and Boser (1993), who observed that more change occurred in our profession's philosophy, curricula, and methodologies during the 10 years from 1983 to 1993 than during the previous 100 years. In a study by Wicklein (1993), however, which utilized a modified Delphi technique to identify and rank the top 15 critical issues and problems in technology education, teachers' resistance to change ranked third. Therefore, if the field of technology education hopes to survive, it must find innovative methods of recruiting and training teachers and must encourage those teachers to continue their professional growth after entering the classroom. As Daugherty (1997) stated: "members of the profession must resolve themselves to developing new approaches to teacher training and the career development of teachers . . . the initial preparation of teachers and their continuing professional development are key factors in improving technology education at all levels" (p. 52).

Background

A survey of state supervisors for technology education published by the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) revealed 313 openings for technology teachers in the southeastern United States ("Teacher Shortage," 1994). However, only 115 recent graduates of traditional education technology programs in those states were available to fill those positions. The breakdown of vacant positions is shown in Table 1.

Table 1
Technology Education Teacher Vacancies
in the Southeastern United States

State Vacancies

Delaware 12
Florida 50
Georgia 30
Kentucky 15
Maryland 40
North Carolina 60
South Carolina 30
Tennessee 24
Virginia 47
West Virginia 5

Total 313

In response to the increasing shortage of teachers, many states have instituted alternative certification programs for technology education. However, many questions remain concerning the effectiveness of technology education teachers who are certified via alternative certification methods. One such question is the extent to which alternatively certified teachers differ from traditionally certified teachers in willingness to embrace change and participate in professional development activities. The majority of states (65%) require a standardized exam, such as the National Teachers' Examination, as a requirement for initial certification (Wicklein, 1991). However, these standardized examinations measure only understanding of content and professional knowledge. Because many practitioners are convinced that receptivity to change and participation in professional development activities also are necessary for success in the technology education classroom (Tracey, 1993; Wicklein, 1993), there is a need to determine if differences exist between alternatively and traditionally certified technology education teachers with respect to these factors.

Purpose of the Study

One purpose of this study, conducted in the spring of 1998, was to measure and compare receptivity to change between traditionally and alternatively certified technology education teachers. Another purpose of the study was to identify the professional development activities that are most common among technology education teachers and to examine the extent to which participation in those activities differed between traditionally and alternatively certified technology education teachers. For purposes of this study, traditionally certified technology education teachers were defined as middle or high school teachers who received their initial teacher training from baccalaureate programs established for training technology education teachers. Conversely, alternatively certified technology education teachers were defined as middle or high school technology education teachers who received their initial teacher training in technology education by methods other than baccalaureate programs established for training technology education teachers.

Methodology

Population

The population for this study consisted of technology education teachers from the 10 southeastern states in Table 1. We chose these states because the ITEA, a recognized leader in technology education, has identified them as having significant demand for technology education teachers.

Technology education teachers in the target states were identified through mailing lists provided by state supervisors of technology education, post secondary institutions with programs in technology education, and state technology education associations.

Instrumentation

The research instrument utilized in this study consisted of three sections. One section measured the respondent's receptivity to change. We measured receptivity to change by using a shortened form of the dogmatism scale developed by Milton Rokeach (1960). Early versions of the dogmatism scale, developed in 1952, contained as many as 68 questions. Rokeach developed a 40-item version of the dogmatism scale for administration in the United States.

Powell and Troldahl (1965) subsequently developed a shortened version of Rokeach's 40-item dogmatism scale. Powell and Troldahl estimated the reliability coefficient of a 10-item version of Rokeach's dogmatism scale to be .66 as compared to a reliability coefficient of .84 for Rokeach's entire 40-item scale. From Rokeach's 40 items, Powell and Troldahl then identified the 20 items with the highest reliability coefficient and recommended that researchers who wished to use a short form of the dogmatism scale select items from that list. For this survey, we selected the 12 items that had the highest reliability coefficient for self-administration. Permission to use a shortened version of Rokeach's scale was granted by Harper Collins Publishers. Using the Spearman-Brown Formula, we estimated the reliability coefficient for the 12-item version of the scale used in this study to be .70.

Donnelly, Gibson and Ivancevich (1995) adapted a 12-item scale based on the work of Powell and Troldahl and utilized the following scoring format:

Response Number X Weight = Score
(1) Agree very much _______ +3 ____________
(2) Agree in general _______ +2 ____________
(3) Agree somewhat _______ +1 ____________
(4) Disagree somewhat _______ -1 ____________
(5) Disagree in general _______ -2 ____________
(6) Disagree very much _______ -3 ____________
Total Score ____________

Rokeach used this same scoring format for the original dogmatism scale. Accordingly, we also used this format to score the shortened dogmatism scale used in this study. The underlying assumption of the scoring format, according to Rokeach (1960), is "that if a person strongly agrees with such statements it would indicate that he possesses one extreme of the characteristic being tapped, and if he strongly disagrees, that he possesses the opposite extreme" (p. xx). Thus, on a 12-item scale measuring receptivity to change, a totally closed-minded person would score +36, while a totally open-minded person would score -36.

A second section of the survey measured the respondent's participation in professional development activities. The professional development activities used in this study were compiled with the assistance of a panel of experts. We invited experts to serve on the panel by mailing a cover letter and questionnaire to ten technology teacher educators, nine state supervisors of technology education and nine technology education teachers from the ten states included in this study. These individuals were identified from the Industrial Teacher Education Directory (Bell, 1997) and the ITEA web site. The panel was comprised of the five technology teacher educators, five state supervisors of technology education, and three technology education teachers who responded to the questionnaire. These individuals represented seven of the ten states included in this study. The panel identified 24 professional development activities that would improve a technology teacher's ability to implement changes related to the field of technology education.

The third section of the survey collected demographic data about the survey respondents. The data included gender, age, prior certification, previous teaching experience, years of experience teaching technology education, total years of teaching experience, and method of certification.

Seventeen technology education teachers participated in a pilot test of the survey instrument, at the January 1998 meeting of the South Carolina Technology Education Association. As a result of the pilot study, references in the demographic section to "Technology Education" were changed to "Technology Education/Industrial Arts," in order to reduce confusion concerning previous teaching experience and certification.

Procedures and Data Collection

Surveys were mailed to 400 technology education teachers in the southeastern United States. The sample was randomly selected from the total population (n = 3931) identified from the mailing lists of technology education teachers that had been supplied from sources in the states involved in the study. The percentage of teachers from each state in the sample reflected that state's percentage of the total population of teachers.

An initial mailing, consisting of a cover letter briefly describing the purpose of the study, the two-page survey, and a stamped, self-addressed return envelope, was sent to the 400 technology education teachers selected to participate in the study. The surveys themselves contained no markings to identify respondents; however, return envelopes were coded to facilitate follow-up of unreturned surveys. Of the 400 surveys in the initial mailing, 152 (38%) completed surveys were returned.

After 16 days, a follow-up mailing, consisting of a cover letter emphasizing the importance of the study, the two-page survey, and a stamped, self-addressed return envelope, was mailed to the non-respondents from the initial mailing. The surveys and return envelopes contained no markings to identify individual respondents. It was hoped that the absence of any identifying marking would improve the rate of return for the follow-up mailing. To facilitate the tracking of return rates for individual states, the addresses on the return envelopes were slightly different for each state.

The follow-up mailing yielded an additional 88 (22%) completed surveys, for a total return rate of 60% (n = 240). Eleven more surveys were returned unusable. Of that eleven, three were returned by respondents who chose not to participate, three were returned undeliverable, four were returned several weeks after the deadline, and one was returned by a media specialist. Table 2 presents the frequencies and percentages of the returned surveys.

Results

Teacher Data

No statistical tests were applied to the data collected from the teacher demographic section. However, totals and percentages for each item in this section were calculated. These figures are provided to assist in identifying and targeting potential participants for alternative certification programs.

Gender. Of the 240 respondents, 217 (90%) were men and 22 (9%) were women. One respondent, a traditionally certified technology education teacher, failed to specify his or her gender. Of traditionally certified technology education teachers, 158 (96%) were men and 6 (4%) were women. Twenty-one percent (n = 16) of alternatively certified technology education teachers were women and 79% (n = 59) were men.

Table 2
Frequencies and Percentages of Returned Surveys for Individual States

State Sample Size Returned Surveys Return Rate

Delaware 10 6 60%
Florida 75 43 57%
Georgia 52 31 60%
Kentucky 43 24 56%
Maryland 57 28 49%
North Carolina 64 38 59%
South Carolina 22 19 86%
Tennessee 32 22 69%
Virginia 24 17 71%
West Virginia 21 12 57%

Totals 400 240 60%

Age. Thirty-eight percent (n = 90) of all respondents were between 41 and 50-years-old. The largest single group of traditionally certified technology education teachers (40%) was also in the 41 and 50-year-old age range. The largest single group of alternatively certified technology education teachers (35%) was in the 51 and 60-year-old age range.

Prior Certification. Because many technology education teachers were initially certified in industrial arts, questions in the demographic section of the survey referred to technology education as "Technology Education/Industrial Arts." Sixty-one percent (n = 46) of alternatively certified technology education teachers were previously certified in fields other than technology education or industrial arts, compared to only 29% (n = 48) of traditionally certified technology education teachers.

Previous Teaching Experience. The majority (60%) of all respondents had no previous teaching experience prior to teaching either technology education or industrial arts. However, 75% (n = 56) of alternatively certified technology education teachers had previous teaching experience, while only 17% (n = 40) of traditionally certified technology education teachers had previous teaching experience. Some of the respondents had experience in more that one academic area.

Experience Teaching Technology Education or Industrial Arts. There was a fairly even distribution of years of experience teaching technology education or industrial arts, with the largest group (22%) in the 21 to 25-year bracket (n = 37). In contrast, nearly one-half (49%) of the alternatively certified technology education teachers (n = 37) had only zero to five years of experience teaching technology education or industrial arts.

Total Years of Teaching Experience. Nearly one-third (32%) of the alternatively certified technology education teachers (n = 24) had zero to five years of total teaching experience. However, there was a fairly even distribution of total years of teaching experience among traditionally certified technology education teachers, with the largest group (22%) in the 21 to 25-year bracket (n = 37).

Methods of Training Which Led to Certification. Over two-thirds (n = 165) of the respondents received the training that led to certification in technology education or industrial arts as part of a traditional bachelor's degree program in industrial arts or technology education. Twenty-two respondents received their technology education teacher training as part of a master's degree program. Thirty-six respondents received their training through a certification program sponsored by the state. The remaining respondents (n = 17) received technology education teacher training trough a variety of methods, which included: work experience in a technology related industry, military experience, course work at the bachelor's level after completion of a bachelor's degree in architecture, a certification program sponsored by the local school district, teacher certification in science, completion of an engineering degree, work experience as a long-term substitute teacher for technology education, and completion of a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering. The percentages for the different methods of technology education teacher training for the respondents are represented in Figure 1.

Figure 1.
Methods of training leading to certification.

Sixty-nine percent of teachers had traditional training, nine percent held a master's degree, fifteen percent from a state program, and seven percent from another source.

Receptivity to Change

Research question one asked if there was a difference in the receptivity to change between traditionally certified technology education teachers and alternatively certified technology education teachers. The mean score for the traditionally certified respondents' receptivity to change was -5.83 (SD = 11.78, n = 165) as compared to a mean score of -3.88 (SD = 10.08, n = 75) for respondents with alternative certification. These scores suggest that both groups are "open-minded." Further analysis of the data indicated the value of t calculated to be -1.24. At an alpha level of .05, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that there is a difference in the receptivity to change between traditionally certified technology education teachers and alternatively certified technology education teachers.

Professional Development Activities

Research question two asked if there was a difference in participation in professional development activities between traditionally certified technology education teachers and alternatively certified technology education teachers. Respondents were asked to indicate their involvement in 24 different professional development activities by characterizing their involvement as "never," "occasionally" or "regularly." Responses of "never" were assigned a score of 0. A score of 1 was assigned to responses of "occasionally." Responses of "regularly" were given a score of 2. Therefore, a respondent who never participated in any of the activities would receive a total score of 0 while a respondent who participated in all the activities on a regular basis would receive a total score of 48. The scores for traditionally certified technology education teachers ranged from 0 to 43. Similarly, the scores for alternatively certified technology education teachers ranged from 5 to 39.

The mean score for the traditionally certified respondents' participation in professional activities was 20.78 (SD = 7.98, n = 165) compared to a mean score of 18.96 (SD = 7.55, n = 75) for respondents with alternative certification. Further analysis of the data found the value of t-calculated to be 1.66. At an alpha level of .05, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that there is a difference in participation in professional development activities between traditionally certified technology education teachers and alternatively certified technology education teachers. Although not statistically tested, the mean score for recipients of the Program Excellence and Teacher Excellence awards was 28.48 compared to a mean score of 19.42 for non-recipients of these awards.

Research question three asked what professional development activities are most common among technology education teachers. Analysis of the data revealed that reading professional journals and other literature related to technology education was the most common professional development activity among all respondents.

Other highly ranked professional development activities included participation in staff development or inservice or state department workshops, participation in curriculum development, membership in a state professional association, and visiting technology education programs at other schools. Table 3 contains the rankings for both traditionally and alternatively certified technology education teachers with respect to these activities.

Table 3
Ranking of Professional Development Activities for Traditionally and Alternatively Certified Technology Education Teachers

Professional Development Activity Traditionally Certified Alternatively Certified

Read professional journals and other literature related to technology education 1 1
Participate in curriculum development 2 3
Participate in staff development/inservice/state department workshops 3 2
Membership in state professional association 4 4
Visit technology education programs at other schools 5 6
Tour a technology related industry 6 5
Participate in special interest sessions at conferences 7 7
Complete a professional development plan 8 8
Attend state technology education conference 9 11
Take graduate coursework related to technology education 10 9
Work in a related industry in the summer 11 15
Membership in a national professional association (ITEA or AVA-TED) 12 12
Join and participate in a civic organization 13 10
Sponsor a TSA chapter or technology club 14 16
Form a local technology education advisory committee 15 *17
Participate in research related to technology education 16 14
Publicize change in your classroom through the newspaper or TV 17 13
Present a learning activity at a technology education meeting 18 20
Write a grant related to technology education 19 19
Attend a conference for a related area, such as math or science 20 *17
Attend ITEA conference 21 21
Serve on a state association committee 22 23
Participate in electronic panel discussions via e-mail/list-serve 23 22
Write an article or book for publication 24 24

* These items were tied for 17th place in the ranking.

Discussion

The first research hypothesis was that there would be a difference between traditionally and alternatively certified technology education teachers in willingness to accept and incorporated changes related to technology education. After examining the data, it was found that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that there is a difference in the receptivity to change between these two groups. Therefore there is no reason to expect any difference in the acceptance of change in the technology education programs maintained by traditionally certified and alternatively certified technology education teachers.

The second research hypothesis was that there would be a difference between traditionally certified and alternatively certified technology education teachers in the level of participation in selected professional development activities. At an alpha level of .05, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that there is a difference in participation in professional development activities between these two groups. This suggests that alternatively certified technology education teachers are neither less nor more likely than traditionally certified technology education teachers to stay abreast of current practices and trends in technology education through participation in selected professional development activities.

Careful examination of the data revealed that the most common professional development activity among all respondents was reading professional journals and other literature related to technology education. This professional development activity was also the top-ranked activity for both traditionally certified and alternatively certified technology education teachers. It is not the intention of the authors to suggest participation in particular activities; however, leaders wishing to introduce new concepts and teaching strategies might concentrate their efforts in the activities with the highest rankings. For example, 95% of the respondents read literature related to technology education while less than 10% of the respondents attended an ITEA conference. Therefore, a new concept introduced in a professional journal might reach a far larger audience than a presentation at an ITEA conference. Furthermore, examination of the rankings for respondents with traditional certification and alternatively certified respondents revealed that nine of the top ten activities were shared by both groups of teachers. Based on these rankings, it appears that there is no difference in the types of activities in which traditionally certified and alternatively certified technology education teachers participate.

As stated earlier, our profession is facing two immediate problems, a severe shortage of certified technology education teachers and reluctance on the part of some current technology education teachers to accept change related to our field. In order to incorporate change into the classroom, technology education teachers need access to information concerning current practices and trends in technology education. One vehicle for obtaining this information is active participation in selected professional development activities. Furthermore, teachers need to be willing to embrace change related to our profession. Because the field of technology education is changing at such a rapid pace, it could be argued that one measure of the long-range effectiveness of its teachers might be those teachers' willingness to accept and incorporate change into their individual programs. Since this study found no evidence of any differences in participation in professional development activities and receptivity to change between traditionally and alternatively certified technology education teachers, it appears that alternatively certified technology education teachers are as receptive to change and willing to learn as their traditionally certified counterparts. These two traits are essential to long-term effectiveness in the technology education classroom.

Author

Wash is a technology education teacher in the Department of Technology Education at Batesburg-Leesville High School, Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina.

Lovedahl is Professor and Chair of the Department of Technology and Human Resource Development at Clemson University, South Carolina.

Paige is a Professor in the Department of Technology and Human Resource Development at Clemson University, South Carolina.

References

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Young-Hawkins, L. (1996). Recruiting technology education teachers. The Technology Teacher, 56(2), 26-30.


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