JITE v32n1 - Competencies of Two-Year College Technical Instructors and Technical Trainers: Similarities and Differences

Volume 32, Number 1
Fall 1994

Competencies of Two-Year College Technical Instructors and Technical Trainers: Similarities and Differences

Susan J. Olson
The University of Akron

Technical education and training are big business. In 1986 there were 203 million technical workers in the United States, which accounted for 18.2% of the American workforce ( Carvenvale, Gainer, & Schulz, 1990 ). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Carvenvale et al., 1990 ), technical jobs are expected to increase from 21% to 32% in the next 10 years. The same projections for jobs as a whole are only expected to increase from 13% to 23%. The Hudson Institute predicts that jobs created between now and the year 2000 will require the equivalent of 13.5 years of education ( Johnson & Packer, 1987 ). The percentages of jobs requiring post-secondary education will rise from 42% for current jobs to 52% for the new jobs created between now and the year 2000.

Labor shortages due to an aging workforce, advanced technologies requiring higher levels of basic skills, and competition created by the global economy have compelled companies to spend billions of dollars a year on training. According to Carvenvale and colleagues ( 1990 ), employers are the largest providers of training for the technical workforce, accounting for 38% of the upgrade training for technical workers. However, much of this training is provided by external agencies rather than the employers themselves.

The United States Census Bureau ( 1987 ) found that 46.7% of the purchased training comes from post-secondary education, while only 15.7% is provided by the private sector. "Today, more than ever, business and industries are contacting local post-secondary institutions seeking customized job training programs for their employees" ( Cheek & Campbell, 1989, p. 38 ), particularly small employers with little capacity for training employees ( Graba, 1989 ). These customized training programs include technical skills training and skill updating for new and incumbent workers. With such a large investment in training, it is critical that quality instructors are available to deliver it.

Dahlgren and Stone ( 1990 ) found that industry is concerned about the quality of the technical instructors who deliver technical training. This is also supported by Jacobs ( 1989 ), who stated that

[m]any community college teachers do not have the skills necessary to educate the modern workforce. Although most community colleges have recently spent large amounts of money on state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, they have not developed staff who can program it--let alone teach students about it. The industrial experience of most staff predates the microcomputer. ( p. 70 )

To compound this problem, technical education and training have grown rapidly in the last 20 years. For example, the number of students enrolled in technical programs in Ohio has nearly tripled since 1985 ( Fountain & Tollsfson, 1989 ). There appears to be a growing need for competent technical instructors.

Responsibilities of Technical Instructors and Trainers

The responsibilities of two-year college technical instructors and technical trainers in business and industry are similar; both groups provide entry level and upgrade courses in technical education and training. Technical instructors in two-year colleges prepare persons for jobs as paraprofessionals, mid-level managers, and technical workers. These instructors are involved in formal education programs leading to certificates and associate degrees (less than a baccalaureate degree). With the advent of economic development programs and increased partnerships with business and industry, two-year college technical instructors are being called upon to deliver customized training programs and courses for business and industry. The instructors for these programs are accountable to their students, business and industry, the community, and the taxpayer.

Similarly, technical trainers teach in both formal and informal instructional settings to provide workers with basic entry level technical education or to upgrade their technical competencies. As with the college instruction, this instruction may include one-on-one, regular classroom, and self-directed instruction. In contrast with the college instructors, trainers are accountable solely to the company that employs them.

Profiles of Technical Instructors and Trainers

The typical two-year college technical instructor is an older, white male. Based on a sample of 1,206 public two-year college faculty from 51 colleges in 32 states, Keim ( 1989 ) found that most full-time two-year college occupational-technical instructors were male (61%), 40 years of age or older (65%), possessed a master's degree (57%), and had approximately 10 years of teaching experience. Cohen and Brawer ( 1989 ) had not found the technical instructor to be as educated, with few having graduate degrees.

Technical trainers in industry are also well educated. McCullough cites a membership survey conducted by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) which revealed that most (98%) of their members have some college education: 89% with a bachelor's, 41% with a master's degree, and 13% with a doctorate. McCullough also presented findings from a Training magazine "Industry Report" for 1985 that revealed most trainers' degrees were in education (17.6%), followed by business and management (16%), social sciences (14.7%), and psychology (10.8%). Disciplines for postgraduate degrees paralleled those for the baccalaureate: education, 31.6%; business/management, 18.6%; psychology, 10.4%; and social sciences, 6.7% ( p. 36 ). Davie, Suessmuth, and Thomas ( 1986 ) and Fernandez ( 1982 ) also found that education was the most common degree among industrial trainers.

Competencies of Technical Instructors and Trainers

Two-year College Technical Instructor Competencies

There is little recent research dealing with the competencies needed by technical instructors in the two-year college ( James, 1988 ), while there is considerable research related to technical training. Gordon (cited in Lolley, 1980 ) found that the competencies needed by vocational-technical teachers in the two-year college include the ability to (a) use a variety of instructional techniques, (b) communicate effectively with students and colleagues, and (c) cope with a wide variety of student abilities and interests. Other authors suggest that more competencies are needed. Those who teach in the community and technical college are seen as needing unique competencies ( Cohen & Brawer, 1989 ; Rouch, 1983 ; Wattenburger, 1982). Although knowledge of teaching is seen only as desirable ( Glenn & Walter, 1989 ), industrial and business experience continues to be seen as essential for the technical instructors in two-year colleges.

Technical Trainer Competencies

According to McCullough ( 1987 ), "the field of training is relatively new and its core of knowledge is still being formulated" ( p. 35 ). There have been numerous studies conducted to validate the competencies needed by trainers in business and industry ( Dixon & Henkelman, 1991 ), with a movement towards certification ( International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction, 1988 ; Leach, 1991 ; University of Wisconsin, 1991 ). In 1977, the Association of Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) Special Certification Task Force, within the Division of Instructional Development, and the National Society for Performance and Instruction (NSPI) made the first attempt toward certifying industry trainers, media specialists, and other HRD practitioners ( Dixon & Henkelman, 1991 ).

Several authors suggest that trainers need to be more than subject matter experts. Quick ( 1991 ) stated that "[i]f trainers don't have a good theoretical and conceptual base, they simply cannot design relevant, realistic, effective training" ( p. 73 ). Reiss ( 1991 ) found that "subject matter experts with background in education or instructional design [are] quite rare … with classroom instruction not coming easy for this group" ( p. 47 ). Carvenvale et al. ( 1990 ) also found this to be true of technical trainers in America.

LaSota (cited in Callahan, 1990 ) identified the following topics found in train-the-trainer workshops for technical trainers: learning styles and theories, needs analysis, learning objectives, training methods, selecting content, dealing with complexity, arranging material for the best results, activities and timelines, presentation skills, appropriate use of visual aids, individual training plans, evaluation tools, and transfer of learning strategies. Of these, LaSota felt the most important skill for technical trainers is "breaking down complex content and designing easily usable training materials" (cited in Callahan, 1990, p. 21 ). DiGeorge ( 1982 ) recommended "that neophytes need to have knowledge of terminology used in the field; information about the training field; skills for conducting adult training programs; knowledge of specific content areas and skills; and knowledge in how to make a career change" ( p. 22 ). Birnbrauer and Tyson ( 1985 ) suggest that when selecting technical trainers, candidates must have technical experience, training experience, job knowledge, model appropriate behavior, relate well with people, loyalty, and ethics.

Core Competencies

While much of the literature addresses bits and pieces of the needed competencies, a more complete list was developed by the International Board of Standards for Training Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI) ( 1988 ). They identified 14 core competencies needed by both post-secondary instructors and technical trainers. Balogh ( 1982 ) and James ( 1988 ) identified many of the same competencies with a few additions (see Figure 1 ).

Together, these competency studies reveal a definite pattern of similar competencies, including presentation and communication skills, group facilitation skills, and adult teaching methods. These are common skills that are generic for both two-year college instructors and industrial trainers. Weischadle ( 1984 ) concluded in his study of college instructors as industrial trainers "that people in positions to hire trainers feel teachers are good prospects. Training professionals felt that teaching and training were similar, however [they] are two different functions" ( p. 22 ). Weischadle ( 1984 ) also found that 55% of the training managers had identified themselves as former instructors, while only 25% felt that teachers were well received by the training profession. Teachers with business experience were preferred over those with no experience to work as trainers.

This study was designed to add clarity to the literature regarding both the core competencies and those unique to each group. The specific purpose of this study was to determine which competencies were common to technical instructors in public two-year colleges and technical trainers in business and industry in Ohio, as well as those competencies that tended to be unique to each group.

Figure 1
Competencies of post-secondary instructors and industrial trainers.

  1. Analyze course materials and learner information.
  2. Assure preparation of the instructional site. ( IBSTPI, 1988 )
  3. Establish and maintain instructor credibility. ( IBSTPI, 1988 )
  4. Manage the learning environment. ( James, 1988 ; IBSTPI, 1988)
  5. Possess technical knowledge and skill in the subject matter being taught. ( Balogh, 1982 )
  6. Demonstrate effective communication skills. ( IBSTPI, 1988 ; James, 1988 ; Balogh, 1982 )
  7. Demonstrate effective presentation skills. ( IBSTPI, 1988 ; James, 1988 ; Balogh, 1982 )
  8. Demonstrate effective questioning skills and techniques. ( IBSTPI, 1988 ; James, 1988 ; Balogh, 1982 )
  9. Respond appropriately to learnersU needs for clarification or feedback. James, 1988 ; IBSTPI, 1988 )
  10. Provide positive reinforcement and motivational incentives. ( James, 1988 ; IBSTPI, 1988 )
  11. Understand adult teaching methods. ( Balogh, 1982 ; James, 1988 )
  12. Use media effectively. ( IBSTPI, 1988 )
  13. Evaluate learner performance. ( IBSTPI, 1988 )
  14. Evaluate delivery of instruction. ( IBSTPI, 1988 )
  15. Report evaluation information. ( IBSTPI, 1988 )
  16. Understand the program development process including developing skills in determining objectives, initiating, directing, and evaluating activities for the accomplishment of these objectives. ( James, 1988 ; Balogh, 1982 )
  17. Understand training and development. ( James, 1988 )


Instrument Development

A review of literature was conducted to assess the current knowledge in the field regarding the competencies needed by technical instructors in two-year colleges and technical trainers in business and industry. Ultimately, two sources were used to develop the final competency listing: Davie, Suessmuth, and Thomas ( 1986 ) and the National Center for Research in Vocational Education ( 1975 ). Lists from these two sources were merged and cross referenced with other related competency lists ( American Society for Training and Development, 1983 ; Andreyka, 1969 ; Balogh, 1982 ; Blank, 1982 ; Christensen, 1976 ; International Board of Standards for Training, 1988 ; Performance and Instruction, 1991; McCullough, 1991 ; Ontario Society for Training and Development, 1979 ).

An instrument developed by Andreyka ( 1969 ) was modified to include the competencies identified in the literature. This resulted in a 14 page questionnaire. The first two pages of the questionnaire gathered demographic information (i.e., age, gender, education, experience) from the respondents. The remainder of the questionnaire contained a list of 184 competencies, divided into nine categories.

The instrument was then pilot tested with a group of ten persons currently working in either technical training or technical education. They were asked to review the instrument for clarity of instructions and completeness. Minor modifications in the questionnaire were then made.

Technical instructors. Technical instructors were defined as those persons teaching a technical subject full-time at one of Ohio's 54 public two-year colleges. All 54 Ohio public two-year colleges (which included 26 branch campuses, 16 technical colleges, 3 state community colleges, 5 community colleges, and 4 urban community/technical colleges) were contacted and invited to participate in this study. Each institution's head administrator was sent a copy of the cover letter and instrument and was asked to provide the names of all full-time technical faculty. Twenty-five of the 54 colleges (46.3%) responded and 20 had technical instructors. The sample was then sorted by type of public two-year college: urban community/technical colleges (2), technical colleges (7), state community colleges (2), and branch campuses (9). A total of 937 technical instructors were identified. A random sample of 94 technical instructors was then selected from the 937 instructors identified by the administrators.

Technical trainers. A technical trainer was defined as one who designed or taught technical education or training programs in business and industry with the title of trainer, technical trainer, instructional/educational specialist, or technical educator working in business/industry. The sample of Ohio technical trainers was drawn from a mailing list provided by the American Society for Training and Development ( 1991 ) and the National Society for Performance and Instruction ( 1991 ). ASTD ( 1991 ) provided a set of mailing labels for all Ohio members and non-members who identified their area of interest as technical and skills training. NSPI ( 1991 ) provided a set of mailing labels of all those in Ohio who identified an interest in technical delivery-technical skills. These two lists were cross referenced and duplicate names were removed. The combined list of names, after adjusting for duplicates, totaled 562, with 350 from the ASTD list and 212 from the NSPI list. A 10% random sample of 56 was drawn from this final list.


A cover letter, the instrument, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope were sent to each person in the 150 person sample (94 technical instructors and 56 technical trainers). Eighty-six usable questionnaires were returned for a return rate of 57.3%. Of the 94 technical instructors surveyed, 55 usable surveys were returned, for a return rate of 58.5%. Of the 56 technical trainers, 31 usable surveys were returned, for a return rate of 55.4%. Based on a 10% sample of non-returns, it was determined that the responses from those not returned were not significantly different than those returned.

Respondents were asked to validate the importance of each competency, using a 3-point scale: very important (3), somewhat important (2), and not important (1). The respondents also reported their use of the competencies, which was measured using a five point scale of daily (5), weekly (4), monthly (3), yearly (2), and never (1). Weighted scores were calculated for each competency by adding the importance score to the frequency score. For example, a very important competency or task (3) added to the frequency of done daily (5) yielded a weighted score of 8, while those competencies or tasks perceived as not important (1) and never done (1) on the job resulted in a weighted score of 2.

Mean scores were calculated for each group (technical instructors and technical trainers), based on the independently calculated weighted scores. A two-tailed independent sample t-test was used to compare mean scores on competency statements between the two groups under study. When homogeneity of variance ( Best & Kahn, 1989 ) was found, which occurred in most cases, the method of pooled variance was used to determine the significance of the difference between the two independent means. The level of significance was set at a = 0.01. The statistical power of the test was 0.99.


Demographic Profiles

Characteristics of two-year college instructors . A profile of the respondents was developed from the demographic information obtained from the survey. The typical two-year college technical instructor respondent was between the ages of 36 and 44 (40%), male (66.6%), employed full-time (94.7%), had a technical classification in Business Technology (40%), held the rank of instructor (20%) or associate professor (20%), and taught in a community or technical college (55.3%). Most instructors (86.8%) spent 16-18 contact hours per week with learners, and 4-6 hours per week in lab (26.3%). All respondents taught in programs that offered two-year associate degrees.

Most of the instructors (73.9%) had more than 11 years of experience in post-secondary education, and a few (26.3%) had high school teaching experience. Those with high school teaching experience typically had three years or less experience. Most of the respondents (94.7%) had some college or university teaching experience with the largest number having five to ten years experience (36.8%). Approximately 26% of respondents had no technical training experience. Over half of the respondents had received a master's degree (67.4%), while for 14.3% the bachelor's was their highest degree. Most of the respondents with master's degrees were in business programs (40%), followed by 35% in education programs, and 20% in engineering programs. Those with a bachelor's degree or an associate degree as their highest degree typically had a degree in their area of technical expertise.

Most of the instructors (52.6%) had between eight and twelve years of technical work experience. Half (50%) cited on-the-job training, followed by college and university education as sources of their technical knowledge. Most received their preparation for teaching from a college or university (52.6%), while a few did student teaching or had a similar type of experience (15.8%). Most (50%) were employed full-time in their technical field prior to their teaching position. Approximately 80% felt their orientation to the job had been adequate, while the same number felt that in-service training was lacking. The profile of gender, age, employment status, education degree, and teaching experience was consistent with the findings of Keim ( 1989 ) for two-year occupational-technical instructors.

Characteristics of technical trainers . The profiles of the technical training respondents were similar to the technical educators in gender, age, technical classification, years of technical experience, and prior employment status. The typical technical training respondent was male (74.2%), between 36 and 44 years old (58.1%), worked in the engineering/industrial area (50%), had more than eight years of technical experience (57%), and was employed in a technical area prior to going into technical training (57%). However, they differed in several areas. Technical trainers had fewer learner contact hours, with the largest group (21.4%) having between 10 and 12 hours per week. Technical trainers had fewer years of experience in post-secondary technical education with 64% having no experience. None of the survey respondents reported having any high school teaching experience. Technical trainers were also less likely to have taught at the college or university level. The master's in education (63.6%) was the most common degree for technical trainers.

The majority of trainers gained their technical knowledge on the job (78.6%), with most of their preparation for training coming from in-service programs. Half of the respondents felt that the initial orientation to their job was lacking, while most (57.1%) felt the ongoing in-service training program met their needs. Most of the trainers who responded work for large firms (64.5%) of over 1000 employees in a service (35.7%) or business (28.6%) oriented company. This profile of education and work experience background is similar to findings of Fernandez ( 1982 ) and ASTD (as cited in McCullough, 1987 ) for trainers in general.

Common Competencies

Overall, 119 competencies were common between the two groups, with no statistically significant differences. Of these, 32 had a mean weighted score of 6.0 or greater for one of the groups indicating this task was both important and performed often.

Seven of the top ten competencies were considered very important and performed often by both groups: (a) knowledge of subject matter, (b) ability to solve problems, (c) effective communication skills, (d) discussion and group facilitation skills, (e) ability to write effectively, (f) ability to set priorities and use time effectively, and (g) knowledge of adult learning theory (see Table 1 ). These findings are consistent with the top five competencies identified by Balogh ( 1982 ), James ( 1988 ), and IBSTPI ( 1988 ).

Unique Competencies

There were 65 competencies that differed between these two groups (see Table 2 ). Of these, 12 competencies had a mean score of 6.0 or greater for one of the two groups indicating these competencies were important and performed often. The highest mean score for all competencies dealt with the use and understanding of computers, which appeared on only one competency list used for the study ( Ontario Society for Training and Development, 1979 ). Technical trainers gave "understanding and use of computers" their highest rating, with a mean of 7.76 on an 8-point scale, and very little deviation (.45); technical instructors rated the use of computers much lower, with a mean of 6.62 and a standard deviation of 2.04. Three technical instructors even commented that they did not want to work with computers in any fashion.

The remainder of the differing top 12 competencies were in the areas (duties) of instructional delivery, evaluation, advising/counseling, organizational relationships, professionalism, program designing, and needs analysis. Those in technical instruction in the two-year college favored the use of the traditional instructional techniques (lecture and chalkboard) more than the trainers in business and industry. The two-year college faculty were also, as expected, more involved in formal evaluation-often in the form of grades and tests. The college faculty were also more involved in student advising and counseling than the trainers in business and industry. Technical trainers, however, were more involved in organizational relationships and training needs documentation.

Respondents were also given the opportunity to add competencies they felt were missing from the list. Each group added tasks, rating all added tasks as very important and performed daily. Technical instructors added the following tasks: learn institutional politics, supervise skill performance, provide committee service, write grants, work within the system, be a solitary donator, coordinate student/professional organizations, and motivate students. Technical trainers added the following tasks: to apply what one learns, serve as a role model, identify one's major client, evaluate front line results of training, and maintain management support for training.

Table 1
Common Competencies of Technical Educators and Trainers

Rank Competency Statement Area M

1 Knowledge of subject matter taught Basic Skills 7.516
2 Able to solve problems Basic Skills 7.505
3 Able to communicate effectively orally Basic Skills 7.373
4 Able to use group process skills Basic Skills 7.337
5 Able to write effectively Basic Skills 7.288
6 Able to set priorities and use time efficiently Basic Skills 7.141
7 Employ oral questioning techniques Deliver Instruction 7.031
8 Knowledge of adult learning theory Basic Skills 7.013
9 Able to plan and organize Basic Skills 6.979
10 Summarize a lesson Deliver Instruction 6.928
11 Introduce a lesson Deliver Instruction 6.854
12 Direct students in applying problemsolving techniques Deliver Instruction 6.835
13 Knowledge of technical training/education resources Basic Skills 6.698
14 Employ reinforcement techniques Deliver Instruction 6.691
15 Demonstrate a concept or principle Design Instruction 6.481
16 Use Discussion techniques Deliver Instruction 6.361
17 Evaluate oneUs instr. effectiveness Design Instruction 6.336
18 Assess learning performance skills Design Instruction 6.327
19 Conduct technical training/ed. programs Designing Instruction 6.298
20.5 Prepare instructor-made instructional materials Designing Instruction 6.275
20.5 Develop a lesson plan Designing Instruction 6.275
21 Provide instruction for slower and more capable learners Designing Instruction 6.160
22 Develop a unit of instruction Designing Instruction 6.159
23 Develop training materials Designing Instruction 6.154
24 Ability to gather and analyze data Basic Skills 6.111
25 Maintain a filing system Managing Activities 6.086
26 Establish rapport and credibility with key personnel in the organization Org. Relationships 6.085
27 Select learner instructional materials Designing Instruction 6.055
28.5 Establish learner performance criteria Designing Instruction 6.042
28.5 Assess learner performance knowledge Designing Instruction 6.042
29 Use coaching and counseling techniques Designing Instruction 6.032
30 Determine program content Designing Instruction 6.019

Note: Scale used to determine mean scores; 8 = very important/performed daily; 7 = very important/done weekly; 6 = very important/done monthly or somewhat important/done monthly or somewhat important/done weekly.


Business and industry are the largest providers of technical education and training ( Carnevale et al., 1990 ). While business and industry provide much of this training themselves, they also purchase training from other sources. The majority of this purchased training (46.7%) is provided by post-secondary institutions ( U. S. Census Bureau, 1987 ). Community and technical colleges in particular have been called upon to deliver customized job training ( Cheek & Campbell, 1989 ), especially to small companies. However, industry expressed a concern about the quality of instruction delivered this way. Industry wants an instructor who is a subject matter expert and who can communicate those skills and knowledge to others ( Dahlgren & Stone, 1990 ).

This study found that the technical two-year college instructors tended to have a degree in their subject matter and an average of 8-12 years work experience. In-service training was considered inadequate. This group was also more likely to come to the job with teaching experience, thus finding orientation to the job adequate.

Trainers, on the other hand, found orientation to the job lacking, and tended not to have prior teaching experience. They, however, felt in-service training was good. This group was more likely to hold a master's degree in education than in their technical area.

Table 2
Highly Rated Tasks (at least one mean score > 6.0) That Differ Between Two-Year College Technical Institutions and Technical Trainers in Business and Industry

Task Statement Duty Instructors
n = 55
n = 31

Understand and be able to use computers Basic Skills** 6.623 (2.04) 7.767 (.450)*
Use lecture techniques Delivering** 7.235 (1.11)* 5.593 (1.49)
Present information with chalkboard Instruction** Delivering 6.789 (1.68)* 4.923 (2.37)
Determine student grades Evaluation** 6.539 (1.33)* 4.889 (2.21)
Develop exercises and tests for measurement of learning Evaluation** 6.226 (1.42)* 5.357 (1.19)
Counsel employees/students on training/education matters Advising/Counseling** 6.340 (1.43)* 5.308 (1.76)
Counseling individuals on career development Advising/Counseling** 6.239 (1.53)* 4.308 (2.00)
Establish and maintain good work relationships with managers as clients Organizational Relationships** 4.628 (1.87) 6.192 (1.88)*
Explain recommendations to gain acceptance for them Organizational Relationships** 4.604 (1.75) 6.077 (1.70)*
Serve your profession Professionalism 6.076 (1.59)* 4.692 (1.87)
Assist learners in developing self-discipline Designing Instruction** 6.057 (2.04)* 4.808 (2.15)
Analyze performance problems to determine any applicable technical training or education solutions Analyzing Needs** 5.036 (1.86) 6.035 (1.09)*

Note: Scale used to determine mean scores; 8 = very important/performed daily; 7 = very important/done weekly; 6 = very important/done monthly or somewhat important/done monthly or somewhat important/done weekly.
*Score used to rank order task statements.
**p < .01

There appear to be more similarities than differences between these two-year college technical instructors and technical trainers. Similarity of duties appeared in three major areas: possessing basic skills, delivering instruction, and designing instruction. These duty areas tended to be reflective of the formal instruction provided by both groups.

Differences in competencies between the two groups tended to be reflective of the nature of the two occupations. Two-year college instructors were more service oriented and accountable to their communities; therefore, student advising and counseling and serving the profession were rated much higher by two-year college instructors. More traditional instructional methods, such as lecture or use of a chalkboard, were also rated higher by instructors. This may be due to a lack of innovative, alternative instructional resources and training.

The two-year college instructor deals with learners who have selected their own programs and course work, whether appropriate or not. The two-year college learner has a diverse background and may come to the classroom unprepared to learn. Outcomes here are more broad and long-term. The experiences of two-year college technical instructors may benefit trainers in companies experiencing downsizing and reorganization to provide much needed career advising/counseling. Two-year college faculty are constantly advising their students on career/education plans.

Trainers, on the other hand, work in a variety of learning situations. Their learners are often told to attend their classes, so motivating and stimulating learning is very important. Also, trainers must "connect to the organization's business plan" ( Oppelt, 1994, p. 11 ) and meet the needs of both the learners and the company. Their training cannot occur in isolation. They need the support of the organization's decision makers. These trainers are expected to develop, manage, implement, deliver, and evaluate their technical training programs. This is reflective of the tasks rated higher by this group, such as organizational relationships and needs analyses. This pattern is also reflective of the tasks added to the list by trainers.

Instructional delivery also tends to be more varied for technical trainers, via the use of resource persons and consultants and alternative delivery systems such as the computer. These trainers' experiences may be helpful to two-year college technical faculty in student retention, helping faculty deliver more meaningful learning experiences to their very diverse learners. Trainers cannot assume a captive audience. Trainers must see results. They must motivate the learner. Ultimately, if their students do not learn, the trainer may be out of a job.

Perhaps an exchange between technical two-year college faculty and training staff could help eliminate some culture shock and stimulate the exchange of successful teaching strategies and designs. This exchange could also stimulate the exchange of subject matter content. Both groups perform many of the same tasks; however, outcomes, goals, and rationale for instruction differ between the two cultures. Business is profit oriented. Training is needed to have a more productive worker. Content is current and directly related to the needs of the business.


This research has several implications for individuals who are currently preparing for technical training positions and those wishing to develop a program to prepare post-secondary technical instructors. While this will be a growth area in teacher education, few programs exist currently that prepare either technical trainers or two-year college technical instructors ( Gilbert, 1991 ; Hawthorne, 1994 ; Leach, 1991 ; Olson, 1991 ). It is interesting to note that subject matter knowledge and experience is seen as very important by both groups, but trainers are more likely to be educated and trained in how to teach. The emphasis on subject matter training and experience as a prerequisite to teaching in the two-year college continues ( Cohen & Brawer, 1989 ; Olson, 1991 ). The training field continues to define the competencies needed by trainers as they move toward certification ( Dixon & Henkelman, 1991 ; Leach, 1991 ; Olson, 1993 ).

A core curriculum could be developed around the common competencies of instructional design and delivery with differential coursework for those more interested in either one of the two directions; industrial training or two-year college instruction. For those wishing to teach in the two-year college, additional courses on career counseling and a course on the two-year college would also be helpful. For those wishing to be technical trainers, a course on organizational development and business principles and management would be most helpful.

Individuals with limited experience would benefit from an instructional internship experience, where they could learn about the different culture of the business and industry training environment and could develop the needed organizational and managerial skills. Those without recent industry experience may also need to update their technical knowledge and skills prior to entry into an instructor training internship. However, those who enter a graduate program to prepare for two-year college teaching would benefit from an internship in a two-year college.

Administrators in two-year colleges that intend to use their current technical instructors as technical trainers should find this study helpful. These faculty should have the basic instructional competencies to provide needed technical training; however, they will also benefit from or need pre-service training to adapt to a different type of learner, environment, and outcome expectations. The instructors will also need to be current in the subject matter being taught.

This study provides baseline data for planning a program that prepares both post-secondary technical instructors and trainers. However, further study needs to be done on a larger sample size to analyze what factors determine competencies within groups (technical trainers and technical instructors). For example, how does preparation for instruction/training influence respondents' ratings of tasks? More specifically, how do responses differ between those who have completed a vocational-technical education program and those who have other education or training? How does amount and type of instructional experiences influence ratings of tasks? How does type and size of the school or company influence respondents' ratings of tasks?


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