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Current Editor: Dr. Robert T. Howell  bhowell@fhsu.edu
Volume 38, Number 4
Summer 2001


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Infusing the Career Development Facilitator Curriculum Into Career and Technical Teacher Education: A Model for Fundamental Change to Improve Outcomes for All Students

Keith W. Schmidli
Buffalo State College-State University of New York

Recent high school reform initiatives are causing changes in the field of Career and Technical Education (CTE) that, in some ways, far outweigh the changes required for the field of Industrial Arts to make the transition to Technology Education. In response to these changes, CTE teacher educators must consider some new directions for their programs. These reform initiatives have brought with them new challenges, but also new opportunities for improving career and technical education at all levels. Additionally, the new emphasis on broad-based career preparation of students at the secondary level, rather than on more narrowly defined technical skill preparation, requires teachers to have a more thorough understanding of career development processes so that they are better able to assist school counselors in providing students with the direction needed for future careers.

The intent of this article is to stimulate further thinking and debate about a possible future role for CTE teachers. Highlighted are several major problems and concerns CTE teacher educators face that indicate a need to include career development processes and theories in their teacher preparation curricula. An overview of some relatively new secondary education reform initiatives, including the U.S. Department of Education Career Clusters Initiative, is provided. The article addresses the current competencies required by CTE teachers, and offers a rationale for providing occupational teachers with career counseling skills. The Career Development Facilitator curriculum and national certification credentialing process are explained, showing the significance of infusing the curriculum into teacher education programs to meet career development goals. In conclusion, an active teacher education infusion model is presented.

Secondary Education Reform

In 1991, the U.S. Department of Education assembled a broad-based advisory group to create a new set of criteria for defining the attributes of a high-quality American high school. The group addressed the need for all students to achieve high levels of academic and technical skills (U.S. Department of Education, 1991). The criteria for the new American high school developed by the group are:

  1. Help students achieve high levels of academic and technical skills.
  2. Teach students in the context of a career major or other special interest.
  3. Offer hands-on learning in classrooms, workplaces or community service.
  4. Access a wide range of career and college information.
  5. Prepare students for college and careers.
  6. Work with teachers in small schools-within-schools.
  7. Win the support of a caring community.
  8. Receive extra support from adult mentors.
  9. Benefit from strong links with postsecondary institutions.
  10. Use technology to enhance instruction and learning. (Vocational Education Weekly, 1996, p. 4)

The theme entertained by the U.S. Department of Education during its sponsored symposium in June, 2000, "Educating Career & Technical Education Teachers: Building a New Model," was to organize schools around relevant career majors and to deliver integrated career and academic instruction using applied learning programs. Patricia O'Neil, then Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education, addressed the challenges ahead in her opening statements. Areas that were emphasized as being necessary for Career and Technical Education Teachers included (a) solid grounding in the academic foundation of their field, (b) knowledge of industry specific knowledge and skills, (c) proficiency in classroom management, (d) familiarity with labor market and industry-related needs, (e) ability to utilize labor market information to develop industry partnerships, (f) ability to arrange internships, and (g) knowing what is best learned in the classroom and what is best learned in the field (U.S. Department of Education, 2000).

The OVAE launched the New American High Schools Initiative in 1996. It was a research-based initiative that recognized high schools that were committed to high standards for all students. The New American High Schools include comprehensive schools, magnet schools, redesigned vocational/technical schools, theme schools, pilot schools, and alternative schools. In addition to the redesign models that originated from the New American High Schools initiative, there were nationally tested models such as Paideia and Accelerated Schools, and a few models created by individual schools. "High Schools That Work," an initiative developed through the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta that combined high academic standards with a career vocational focus, and the Boston-based Jobs for the Future were also awarded U.S. Department of Education contracts because of their interest in fostering high school reform and their ability to implement the goal of infusing New American High Schools strategies into local school systems.

The vocational education field has historically responded to the needs of the national economy by preparing individuals to enter jobs in demand (Evans & Herr, 1978). Vocational education played a vital role in helping our nation transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy through education and training. Today, schools are faced with the new challenge of helping our nation and its people transition from an industrial economy to a "new knowledge" economy. In response to this challenge, and coinciding with the New American High Schools Initiative, the U.S. Department of Education established 16 broad career clusters through its Career Cluster Initiative that reflect a new direction for education. Each cluster lists entry- through professional-level occupations within a broad industry area, and outlines the preparation needed for continuing education and eventual careers. Organizing schools around career clusters provides an ideal mechanism for high school reform efforts and establishes a structure that promotes and sustains the components of School-to-Work. The 16 career clusters, with sample occupations for each, are listed in Table 1. (Additional information about the Career Clusters Initiative is available at: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OVAE/clusters/)

Table 1

Career Clusters and Sample Occupations for Each

1. Agriculture & Natural Resources
Food Scientist, Environmental Engineer, Agriculture Teacher, Animal Scientist, Biochemist, Veterinarian Assistant
2. Arts, A/V Technology & Communications
Actor, Musician, Video Producer, Journalist, Audio Engineer, Telecommunications Technologist, Printing/Graphics Technologist
3. Business and Administration
Human Resource Administrator, Administrative Specialist, Financial Analyst, International Trade Manager, Entrepreneur, Accountant
4. Architecture and Construction
Contractor, Architect, Electrician, Heavy Equipment Operator, Carpenter, Plumber
5. Education and Training
Teacher, Principal, School Counselor, College Professor, Corporate Trainer, Coach
6. Finance
Stock Broker, Banker, Insurance Agent, Financial Planner, Loan Officer, Tax Examiner
7. Health Services
Pediatrician, Physical Therapist, Radiologic Technologist, Occupational Therapist, Medical Assistant, Hospital Administrator
8. Hospitality and Tourism
Lodging Manager, Chef, Travel and Tourism Manager, Food Service Manager, Restaurant Manager, Leisure and Entertainment Manager
9. Human Services
Social Worker, Psychologist, Child Care Worker, Substance Abuse Specialist, Employment Specialist, Psychotherapist
10. Information Technology
Software Engineer, Network Administrator, Web Designer/Developer, Database Manager, Technical Writer, Multimedia Producer
11. Law and Public Safety
Attorney, Fire Fighter, Police Officer, Judge, Paramedic, Paralegal
12. Manufacturing
Machinist, Manufacturing Engineer, Automated Process Technician, Production Engineer/Technician, Welding Technician, Quality Technician
13. Government and Public Administration
Legislator, City Manager, Policy/Budget Analyst, Recreation/Parks Director, State/Federal Agency Director, Urban/Regional Planner
14. Retail/Wholesale Sales and Service
Sales Associate, Interior Designer, Marketing Director, Buyer, Real Estate Broker, Customer Service Representative
15. Scientific Research/Engineering
Chemical Engineer, Mathematician, Bio Technologist, Electrical Engineer, Biologist, Oceanographer
16. Transportation, Distribution & Logistics
Pilot, Automotive Technician, Logistics Manager Flight Attendant, Warehouse Manager, Truck Driver

The career clusters have similar characteristics. They represent high growth industry areas that offer high-tech, high-wage career opportunities. Technical skills and knowledge within the field require high levels of mathematics and science. Pathways toward these careers typically include post-secondary education and training. Significant development work to define these broad pathways is underway or completed and, for most, industry skill standards are available. Finally, these clusters align with activities in other vocational education and School-to-Work investments.

The curricular models based on broad career clusters are intended to provide students with the opportunity to learn about all aspects of an industry and provide a context and relevance for academic learning. The U.S. Department of Education contends that Career Clusters provide an ideal organizing tool to assist educators, counselors, and parents in their work with students to identify their interests and goals for the future. The belief is that the career clusters model can improve outcomes for all students, whether they wish to become physicians, homemakers, carpenters, or rock music stars.

History of the Career Clusters Initiative

A major component of education reform is to provide relevance to any curriculum (Marland, 1971a; 1971b; Parnell, 1995; 2001). The premise is that students, from pre- kindergarten through adulthood, who grasp the relevance of what they are learning become motivated to work harder and may enroll in more rigorous courses. If students work harder, they prepare themselves better for further education and/or employment. Better prepared students exiting high school should be able to meet the challenges of the ever-increasing demands of a globally connected, technologically advanced society.

Based on this premise, a program was created through the OVAE, the National School-to-Work Office (NSTWO), and the National Skill Standards Board (NSSB) in 1996. "Building Linkages Between Academic and Skill Standards at the State Level" was created to support School-to-Work (STW) agencies in developing strategies to integrate national academic and skill standards into STW career majors, courses of study, and skill certificates. The original initiative was launched to promote linkages between state academic standards and recognized skill standards through the creation of consortia in three broad career clusters. The original consortia addressed the areas of Manufacturing, Health Sciences, and Business and Management. They focused on the creation of curricular frameworks intended to prepare students both for college and career entry. Collaboration with employers, organized labor, and vocational and academic education at the secondary and post-secondary levels was critical to their work.

The Building Linkages through Career Clusters Initiative was based on evaluation findings from early efforts. It was found that the creation of curricular models within the context of broad career clusters ensures the alignment of academic and technical instructional strategies with the requirements of postsecondary education and the expectations of employers in increasingly academic and technologically demanding careers. The career clusters focus of the 1970s led by Sidney Marland (1971a; 1971b) speculated on such an achievement but his vision was never fully realized.

In addition, the OVAE concluded that a consortium of state, national, and regional partners would have the capacity to identify, coordinate, and leverage isolated efforts. It was decided that the initiative would have a broader impact on the integration of academic and vocational education and promote linkages among state educational agencies, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions, employers, industry groups, Federal agencies, and other stakeholders.

The U.S. Department of Education, along with the other consortium members, decided that curriculum strategies developed through the Career Clusters Initiative would increase student achievement by providing a context in which challenging math, science, language arts, and other academic subjects could be made relevant to students and to their postsecondary and career choices in areas other than the original three career clusters.

The national initiative to restructure education based on 16 career clusters includes, for each cluster, a public-private partnership of federal, state, and local government agencies, the academic and education community, professional associations, labor, businesses, and individuals who share a deep interest in improving the skills and abilities of students pursuing a career in a particular career field. In addition to the career cluster framework, each individual Career Cluster Initiative is developing career information, technical assistance materials, and curriculum and assessment resources that are being implemented in pilot school sites throughout the United States.

Initially, five clusters were emphasized: (a) Arts, A/V Technology, and Communication; (b) Health Services; (c) Information Technology; (d) Manufacturing; and (e) Transportation, Distribution and Logistics. Through the cooperative agreements awarded through Career Clusters Initiative competitive grants, the U.S. Department of Education, in cooperation with the National School-to-Work Office, is facilitating the completion of the remaining 11 Career Clusters. The Secretary of Education is funding these cooperative agreements under authority of section 114 (c) (6) (A) of Perkins III. Under this provision, the Secretary of Education is authorized to carry out demonstration vocational and technical education programs, to replicate model vocational and technical education programs, to disseminate best practices information, and to provide technical assistance upon the request of a state, for the purposes of developing, improving, and identifying the most successful methods and techniques for providing vocational and technical education programs assisted under Perkins III (U.S. Department of Education, 2000).

Reform and Career and Technical Education Teacher Preparation

According to Perry and Ward (1997), to implement the dramatic changes envisioned in our secondary schools, teachers should also be well versed in career development. The problem is that pre-service and in-service teacher education programs do not adequately prepare their students in the career development area (Montross, Kane, & Ginn, 1997). The remaining sections of this article outline the current standards for preparation of CTE teachers, and present a model for enhancing their career development skills in alignment with the national initiatives described.

Current Competencies Required by Career and Technical Teachers

The National Association of Industrial and Technical Teacher Educators (NAITTE) 1995-97 research subcommittee on standards of quality for the preparation of the certification of Trade and Industrial (T&I) education teachers developed a comprehensive set of standards to guide the profession in maintaining quality preparation of skilled trade professionals. The set of preparation and certification standards (last updated in January, 2000) are of two types: (a) the process (or delivery) of T&I teacher education standards that frame a continuum of preparation for T&I teachers and provide a description of how programs of preparation should be designed for this field, and (b) the content (or instructional) standards that describe what an accomplished T&I teacher should know and be able to do (National Association of Industrial and Technical Teacher Educators, 2001).

The standards developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards are more detailed than the standards developed by NAITTE. A number of the standards require the vocational teacher to be proficient in many general career development areas. Standards for master vocational teachers of early adolescents through young adults are organized into thirteen standards as recommended by the Vocational Education Standards Committee for National Board Certification. The summary standard statements are not placed in any order of priority; each standard reflects an important facet of the art and science of teaching. In practice, these often occur concurrently, exemplifying a seamless quality of accomplished practice. They are presented in table form in Table 2.

Table 2

Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood/Vocational Education Standards

Creating a Productive Learning Environment Advanced Student Learning Transition to Work and Adult Roles Professional Development and Outreach
1. Knowledge of Students -
Accomplished vocational teachers are dedicated to advancing the learning and well-being of all students. They personalize their instruction and apply knowledge of human development to best understand and meet their students' needs.
5. Advancing Knowledge of Vocational Subject Matter -
Accomplished vocational teachers foster experienced, conceptual and performance-based student learning of vocational subject matter and create important, engaging activities for students that draw upon an extensive repertoire of methods, strategies and resources. Their practice is also marked by their ability to integrate vocational and academic disciplines productively.
7. Workplace Readiness -
Accomplished vocational teachers develop student career decision-making and employability skills by creating opportunities for students to gain understanding of workplace cultures and expectations.
10. Reflective Practice -
Accomplished vocational teachers regularly analyze, evaluate and strengthen the effectiveness and quality of their practice through life-long learning.
2. Knowledge of Subject Matter -
Accomplished vocational teachers command a core body of general vocational knowledge about the world of work in general and the skills and processes that cut across industries, industry specific knowledge, and a base of general academic knowledge. They draw on this knowledge to establish curricular goals, design instruction, facilitate student learning and assess student progress.
6. Assessment -
Accomplished vocational teachers utilize a variety of assessment methods to obtain useful information about student learning and development, to assist students in reflecting on their own progress and to refine their teaching.
8. Managing and Balancing Multiple Life Roles -
Accomplished vocational teachers develop in students an understanding of the competing demands and responsibilities that are part of the world of work, and guide students as they begin to balance those roles in their own lives.
11. Collaborative Partnerships -
Accomplished vocational teachers work with colleagues, the community, business and industry, and postsecondary institutions to extend and enrich the learning opportunities available to students and to ease school to work transition.
3. Learning Environment -
Accomplished vocational teachers efficiently manage their classroom and create an environment that fosters democratic values, risk taking and a love of learning. In this environment, students develop knowledge, skills and confidence through contexualized learning activities, independent and collaborative laboratory work, and simulated workplace experiences.
  9. Social Development -
Accomplished vocational teachers develop in students self-awareness and confidence, character, leadership and sound personal, social and civic values and ethics.
12. Contributions to the Education Profession -
Accomplished vocational teachers work with colleagues and the larger educational community both to improve schools and to advance knowledge and practice in their field.
4.Diversity -
Accomplished vocational teachers create an environment where equal treatment, fairness, and respect for diversity are modeled, taught, and practiced by all. They take steps to ensure quality vocational learning opportunities for students.
    13. Family and Community Partnership -
Accomplished vocational teachers work with families and communities to achieve common goals for the education of all students.
Source: 1999-2000 Guide to National Board Certification (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 1999).

Rationale for Providing Occupational Teachers with Career Counseling Skills

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, occupational education and vocational guidance have had a strong interrelationship (Evans & Herr, 1978). This relationship was based on the supposition that vocational guidance could help people make wise career choices and that occupational education could help them prepare for their chosen occupation. As vocational education was being touted for its economic and practical values, Dewey advanced the belief that vocational education "also served exploration goals and was an opportunity for workers to learn of the social and cultural background of their vocation as well as the skills involved" (Evans & Herr, 1978, pp. 166-167). Miller (1973) reports that vocational guidance during the first decades of the twentieth century tended to emphasize a "tryout-through-training" approach, where much importance was placed upon occupational information. This information was delivered through counseling which was fundamentally directive and consisted primarily of advice-giving; thus, only a minimal amount of psychological appraisal of the individual was applied.

The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 was the first Federal mandate to promote vocational education in school systems. It was during this time that vocational education and vocational guidance lost their initial partnership. Part of the reason for the end of the relationship was the unwillingness of the National Education Association (NEA) to view vocational education and vocational guidance as parts of an amalgamation. Instead, the NEA in 1918 emphasized the craft rather than the technical training emphasis in vocational education and accepted a view of guidance for education rather than for vocations. Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s vocational guidance gradually became the province of school (guidance) counselors, but was never considered a central focus of their activities. However, legislation enacted since 1917 has continually reaffirmed the reciprocal needs that vocational guidance and vocational education have for each other (Evans & Herr, 1978).

Impetus for CTE Teachers to Facilitate Career Development

Since the 1920s, school guidance counselors were left with the responsibility of providing career guidance to students. The school counseling profession stemmed from vocational guidance and the need to place people in the labor force in the early twentieth century (American Counseling Association, 1987). The passing of the National Defense Education Act in 1957 gave teachers the opportunity to return to school for re-training as school counselors. However, the counselor education programs were poor in quality due to the quickness of their assembly. The main emphasis of school counselors was on college placement (Kozinski, 1997; Ragsdale, 1987).

Since then, their role has expanded to include individual counseling, group counseling, testing, student appraisal, scheduling, college planning, career planning, and administration activities. With an increase in responsibilities, the challenges facing counselors and the demands on their time will continue to grow (Sears, 1993).

Today, with the enormous increase of both student caseloads because of staffing shortages and added responsibilities, school guidance counselors are ill equipped to spend sufficient time with students in this all too important area, namely, career development (Murray, 1995). Nearly 30 percent of the school counselor's time is spent doing individual counseling, followed by guidance activities unrelated to counseling (Partin, 1993). The literature on time allocation of school counselors rarely lists career counseling or transition planning as a category of counseling activity (Hopper & Schroder, 1974; Kareck, 1998; Mustaine, Pappalardo, & Wyrick, 1996). This makes it nearly impossible to determine the amount of time counselors are spending preparing students for the transition out of school (Napierkowski & Parsons, 1995).

Some have suggested that school counselors should become specifically career-focused counselors, and that their other duties be eliminated. Von Villas (1995) believes that adjustment counselors, social workers, or psychologists, who are better prepared for addressing social or emotional maladjustment, should manage students' personal needs. He also emphasized that successful career development programs cannot be implemented into the current system, which usually assigns an excessive student load. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the ratio of students to guidance counselors can go as high as 500-to-1 or greater (Viadero, 2001).

In addition, counselors are often seen as fulfilling a "quasi-administrator" role rather than as incorporating new programs to enhance students' post-secondary opportunities (Partin, 1993; Von Villas, 1995). For all of these reasons, teachers are increasingly being used to fill the counseling void that currently exists, as secondary school reform based on the concept of "career majors" is implemented.

Career Development Goals

As career development becomes an increasingly important component of educational systems, the issue of how best to deliver this knowledge to students needs to be a major concern. In today's workplace, what was once known as employment security has been replaced by "employability security" (Kanter, 1991, p. 9). Employability security can best be described as the knowledge that one has of the competencies demanded in a global economy and the ability to expand and adjust those competencies as requirements change. The challenge of preparing our young people for this new workplace has generated legislative efforts to stimulate educational reform directed at creating "world class" education and a comprehensive system for helping American youth make a smooth transition from high school to productive, skilled employment and further learning. The Goals 2000: Educate America Act established eight national education goals and two national councils to stimulate the development of voluntary academic standards and to identify essential occupational skills. The School to Work Opportunities Act of 1994 was a strategy to implement the purpose of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act (National School-to-Work Learning and Information Center, U.S. Department of Education, 1996).

The renewed interest in career development has confronted us with the dilemmas of both efficient delivery and accountability. CTE legislation has placed the onus on school systems to provide programs that help students make informed career decisions, and to provide opportunities for students to take responsibility for their career development. However, this raises a number of compelling questions, including:

  1. What is the best way for schools to offer the necessary career guidance and counseling to support student learning?
  2. How can we ensure that those facilitating the career development process possess the knowledge and skills needed to allow students to achieve the desired career development standards?

These questions will form the basis for the remainder of this article.

The Career Development Facilitator Model

In answer to the question concerning how we can ensure that those facilitating the career development process possess the knowledge and skills needed, an innovative curriculum developed through the collaborative efforts of the National Career Development Association (NCDA), National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (NOICC), the Career Development and Training Institute (CDTI) at Oakland University, and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) has led to an innovative approach toward expanding the "one career course masters" typical of traditional counselor education programs. Generally, professional counselors with specialties in School Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, Community or Agency Counseling, and College Student Development, among others, have only one course to prepare them for delivery of career-related services (Casey, 1999). Concurrently, the need for more and better career development services has dramatically increased over the past decade (Splete & Hoppin, 2000). This need has been consistently expressed by workers undergoing career and job transitions, by underemployed and unemployed persons, and by students preparing for the world of work (Hoyt & Lester, 1995). In response to this need there emerged a new credential whose significance has already been recognized by the Occupational Outlook Quarterly (Mariani, 1998). That credential is known as the Career Development Facilitator (CDF). According to Splete and Hoppin (2000):

CDFs hold various titles such as career advisor, case manager, job search trainer, placement specialist, intake interviewer, school-to-work coordinator, and career resource center manager. Even though they do not have master's degrees in career counseling, they do facilitate the career development of people in virtually every setting, including one-stop career centers, high schools, vocational rehabilitation agencies, business and industry, and employment services. (p. 340)

CDF Program Components

The CDF Program consists of an expansive curriculum that can be adopted for undergraduate career courses, infused into existing graduate curricula, offered through distance learning, used as the basis for a continuing education certificate program, or offered as inservice for field-based practitioners (Casey, 1999). The CDF curriculum consists of a 120-hour curriculum divided into four modules, each with 30 clock hours. The modules are designed to prepare career service providers with competency in the 12 areas listed in Table 3. The modules are titled:

  • Module 1 - Career Development Overview
  • Module 2 - Helping and Assessment Skills
  • Module 3 - Career Information, Resources, and Program Design
  • Module 4 - Reality Checks, Goal Setting, and Action Plans

Recently, the curriculum has undergone a revision where completion of 80 seat-hours of class time and 40 hours of individual coursework provided on an interactive CD-ROM, coupled with work experience and an ethical commitment, can lead to national certification through CCE. The revised curriculum is divided into 10 units, with topics ranging from "Developing a Helping Relationship" to "Designing and Implementing Career Planning Services."

The curriculum consists of brief lectures and related learning activities, such as keeping a journal and using the Internet for career and labor market information. It also allows students to share related experiences, such as how they design and implement career planning services, what software they are using, and how they publicize their services. NCDA is managing the Registry of instructors who have completed CDF instructor training. The Registry insures that listed instructors are trained by qualified CDF instructor trainers and that they have developed programs that address all of the CDF competencies as specified in the CDTI curriculum. The Registry also benefits instructors and programs by promoting these programs to prospective CDFs. The CDF curriculum has been reviewed and given endorsements by boards and officials of NCDA, NECA, NOICC, and the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP).

The Development of the CDF Curriculum

To insure that the career development process is effectively implemented in schools, a credentialing process such as the one just described is necessary. The aim of NCDA and NOICC throughout the development of the CDF curriculum was to establish a national certification to recognize the training and background of CDFs. " The CDF credential was developed to provide standards, training specifications, and credentials to formally recognize those career providers who meet the professional counseling requirements" (Splete & Hoppin, 2000, p. 344).

Hoppin and Splete (1996) state that, through the CDTI at Oakland University, the NCDA and NOICC continued their efforts to develop some basic standards for career development facilitators by promoting the establishment of a universal curriculum. To provide reference points for the development of a training curriculum, CDF competencies were identified. The results of the CDTI survey, along with several discussions with members of the survey project resource team that included counselor supervisors of career development staff, directors of community and government agencies, and business and industry personnel, provided the basis for the CDF competencies. In addition, national career development experts were summoned for their views on the topic.

For two years the initial competencies were used as a basis for developing the CDF curriculum and CDF certification. After further discussion in November 1998 between the NCDA, NOICC, and the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE), a division of the NBCC, a revised set of competencies was agreed upon, as shown in Table 3.

Infusing CDF Training into a Career and Technical Teacher Education Program

Buffalo State College, the largest university college in the State University of New York system, has a commitment to career preparation that has not only endured, but has actually intensified. Offering nearly 70 undergraduate and more than 30 graduate degree programs, Buffalo State has kept pace with the demands of an increasingly specialized job market by continually revising and expanding the curriculum to meet the professional needs of its students and those who would employ them.

Traditionally, Buffalo State College's Career and Technical Education Program prepared skilled experienced trades-persons to become certified teachers for educational programs offered at Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), comprehensive high schools, proprietary schools, post-secondary institutions, the Department of Corrections, and the Division of Youth. Theoretical and practical experience in planning, instructing, and managing the learning environment is provided to students who have or will have extensive work experiences in a specific trade. The central theme in these programs is education for the high-tech, high-skill, high paying jobs in the world of work.

Table 3

CDF Competencies

1. Helping skills Be proficient in the basic career facilitating process while including productive interpersonal relationships
2. Labor market information and resources Understand labor market and occupational information and trends. Be able to use current resources
3. Assessment Comprehend and use (under supervision) both formal and informal career development assessments with emphasis on relating appropriate career development assessments to the population served
4. Diverse populations Recognize special needs of various groups and adapt services to meet their needs
5. Ethical and legal issues Follow the CDF Code of Ethics and know current legislative regulations
6. Career development models Understand career development theories, models, and techniques as they apply to lifelong development, gender, age, and ethnic background
7. Employability skills Know job search strategies and placement techniques, especially in work with specific groups
8. Training clients and peers Prepare and develop materials for training programs and presentations
9. Program management and implementation Understand programs and their implementation and work as a liaison in collaborative relationships
10. Promotion and public relations Market and promote career development programs with staff and supervisors
11. Technology Comprehend and use career development computer applications
12. Consultation and supervision Accept suggestions for performance improvement from consultants or supervisor
Source: Splete & Hoppin, 2000, p. 344

Presently, the Career and Technical Education Program is a partner in the federally funded Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP). GEAR UP is a national initiative that began in 1999 to encourage more young people to have high expectations, stay in school, study hard, and take the right courses to go to college. GEAR UP is modeled in part after former President Clinton's High Hopes for College proposal to create a national goal that every college should partner with at least one middle school in a low-income community to help raise expectations and ensure that students are well-prepared for college. This initiative, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, uniquely benefits students, parents, educators, and the whole community as multiple resources are galvanized into a coordinated educational system which promotes early career awareness and academic achievement for all students at both the local and State level.

A Unique CDF Training Approach

The Career and Technical Teacher Education (CTE) Program of Buffalo State College is continually and actively seeking opportunities to provide career development activities to all populations expressing a need in this area. Career development activities that CTE students engage in include career fairs, career and academic mentoring, guest speaking engagements, one-on-one career guidance, career exploration, and contextual application of math, science, language arts, and technology. Those presently being served include elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, youth centers, adult education centers, and community organizations.

Topics include career clusters, career opportunities, and career laddering. Interest surveys are employed to aid clients (students) in their ability to make informed career choices. Career shadowing, exploration, or internships are developed while working with individual schools, One-Stop Centers, community organizations, and parent groups. Introductory skill development in a variety of career areas is taught. Information sources include the New York State Learning Standards where the Career Development and Occupational Studies (C-DOS) learning standards provide the framework.

The interactive career fairs are designed to inform and to provide awareness of potential skill opportunities and careers. Related coursework is then taught to enhance career choice, job seeking, job placement, and job retention. Introductory occupational skills are offered to middle school students as part of the mentoring and the cohort is followed through 12th grade.

The CTE Program's approach to working with youth is to provide hands-on activities under the guidance of experienced technicians in an attempt to demonstrate the types of tasks and challenges which make up a rewarding career as a technician. Demonstrated is the wide range of educational opportunities and fulfilling positions that are available to technically competent individuals, complete with salary ranges.

The Career Fairs represent the 16 career clusters and over 200 occupations where individuals provide the interactive career exploration activities. Each career area represents options for two-year post-secondary training, baccalaureate, and graduate study options in each field. This is all accomplished by the CTE students who are successful tradespersons with considerable experience in the world of work.

The CTE Program is a non-traditional program serving students who are skilled and licensed craft-persons learning to teach their career area of expertise and seeking to become certified by New York State to teach their occupation. The CTE Program provides students with the opportunity to develop teaching skills and prepare classes while developing an understanding of the relationships educators have with community resources and needs. The field experiences CTE students participate in through the interactive career fairs and mentoring activities with public school students accumulate and can later be used toward meeting the professional experience requirement for CDF certification.

The CTE students gain theoretical knowledge needed to be proficient as career development facilitators (CDF) by successfully completing courses that have had the competencies needed to become a certified CDF infused into them. After completing the required coursework and related professional experience requirements, students may qualify to apply for national certification.

CTE students, who are also professionals from the chosen career of interest, provide mentoring services to clients (K-adult) through one-on-one or small group settings. In-depth activities related to the field, as well as applied math, science, and language arts skills needed to successfully acquire a job in that area, are emphasized. All of the activities of the CTE students are monitored and guided by experienced educators who have a wide range of educational and technical expertise.

Through the structured Career Fairs and career mentoring provided to students in the geographical region of Buffalo, New York, the youth served by Buffalo State College have benefited by being provided with career exploration, career readiness, life skills, and academic counseling services. Both career and college awareness is offered to all school grade levels and their families to aid in preparing students for college, employment, and/or postsecondary training.

These career development activities can be considered part of a win-win situation. The public school students and other participating clients receive both exposure to, and an education about, many different career choices and activities. At the same time, the Buffalo State College CTE students earn college credit and valuable experience that they can use later in their teaching careers, whether they choose to pursue the nationally certified career development facilitator (CDF) credential or not.

Implications for Teacher Education

Reform of teaching practices is generally looked at from the viewpoint of changing the educational system. An alternative perspective is to look at incremental change from the bottom up. In other words, making changes in the day-to-day practices of preservice teachers will work toward reforming the system (Smith & O'Bannon, 1999; Thompson, Schmidt, & Hadjiyianni, 1995).

Seasoned teachers' apparent imperviousness to change often stems from the propensity of educational systems to confuse familiarity with proficiency (Englemann, 1988). Preservice teachers are continuously exposed to a variety of education topics that are "new and different," thereby building a repertoire of techniques and practices they develop some acquaintance with, but seldom achieve full proficiency of use. Once preservice teachers have become "familiarized," it is difficult to re-interest them in the more in depth training that would be necessary for successful implementation when they become full fledged teachers (Cleland, 1969). Therefore, it is not surprising that an experimentally verified curriculum or teaching strategy may be met with a comment such as "That won't work in my class."

An experiential element to preservice education, such as the interactive career fairs and mentoring activities described above, can afford teachers the opportunity to observe proficient use of a practice by other colleagues, make important distinctions between familiarity and proficiency, and develop an appreciation for what is necessary to achieve it (Showers & Joyce, 1996). A follow-up element to the preservice career development activities after the teacher obtains a teaching position would be to work in collaboration with the school counselor. This can help ensure that teachers make the necessary adjustments in their classrooms and get past the crucial stages - problems in implementing new or different practices. This model provides participants with support and technical assistance while they translate the content of the preservice training from theory and structured, supervised practice into practice in their own sites.

In summary, we envision a future for preservice education in which experiential forms of career development facilitator preparation play an integral role. Instead of being an afterthought or "add-on" to new initiatives for public education, career development facilitation as a component of preservice education will be strategically designed and supported as a conduit for research-based practices and systematic change.

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Author's Note. For more information about CDF instructor training, training of CDF instructor trainers, and the provision of CDF courses, contact the CDF Project Director at NCDA, c/o Creative Management Alliance, 10820 East 45th Street, Suite 210, Tulsa, OK 74146, or by telephone at (918) 663-7060, toll-free: (866) 367-6232, or fax: (918) 663-7058. For more information about CCE and the CDF certification process, contact the Council for Credentialing and Education, 3 Terrace Way, Suite A, Greensboro, NC 27403-3660, or by telephone at (888) 335-9233. For more information about the Career and Technical Teacher Education Program of Buffalo State College, contact Dr. N. John Popovich, Associate Professor & CTE Program Coordinator, or Dr. Keith W. Schmidli, Assistant Professor and CDF Instructor, Buffalo State College, Educational Foundations Department, 306 Bacon Hall, 1300 Buffalo Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222, or by telephone at (716) 878-4717.

Schmidli is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Foundations Department at Buffalo State College in Buffalo, NY. He can be reached at: schmidkw@buffalostate.edu


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