JITE v34n1 - The Rationale in Support of the Standards

Volume 34, Number 1
Fall 1996

Standards of Quality for the Preparation and Certification of Trade and Industrial (T&I) Education Teachers

Nevin R. Frantz, Jr.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Joan E. Friedenberg
Southern Illinois University
James A. Gregson
Oklahoma State University
Richard A. Walter
Pennsylvania State University

The quality of trade and industrial (T&I) education programs is determined largely by the success students have in acquiring the skills, knowledge, and values needed by society and, more specifically, the workplace. Today, a series of complex developments are creating workplaces typified by continuous change. These developments have important implications for the type of instruction students receive from teachers in order to enter into and succeed in a changing work environment.

The Context For Quality Standards

The workplace of today is being driven by three major developments: (a) the emergence of a competitive global marketplace, (b) the use of new technologies in producing goods and services, and (c) the introduction of different forms of work organization ( Applebaum & Batt, 1994 ; Carnevale, 1991 ; Cornbleth, 1990 ; Kincheloe, 1995 ; Simon, Dippo, & Schenke, 1991 ). Beginning in the 1960s, the amount of international trade with the United States has increased to the extent that today more than 70% of the goods produced in this nation are competing actively with those made in other countries ( Reich, 1991 ). A factor contributing to this scenario is that it is now possible to produce goods and services at low cost in one or even several different countries and then market them very competitively to consumers throughout the world.

To remain competitive in the global marketplace, U.S. businesses and industries have employed several strategies. These strategies include (a) reducing the number of employees needed for production, (b) moving into niche markets, (c) increasing the use of computer-based technologies in processing information, (d) customizing goods and services to better meet consumer needs, (e) improving the quality of work, and (f) reducing the time required for production and delivery to the customer. The strategies, as they have been employed in whole or in part by U.S. business and industry, have impacted workers and the ways in which they perform their jobs. For instance, these strategies have created workplaces that demand more complex tasks, use new technologies, involve less direct supervision of workers, and require the use of higher skill and knowledge levels in making decisions and solving problems individually and as members of collaborative work teams. As Robert T. Jones, the recently appointed president of the National Alliance of Business indicated, "Competition, globalization and the rapid spread of technology…have forever changed the way we work" ( National Alliance of Business, 1996 ). Johnston and Packer (1987) , in their report on work and workers in the year 2000, stated "for the nation, the success with which the workforce is prepared for high-skilled jobs will be an essential ingredient in maintaining a high productivity, high wage economy" (p. 103).

At the same time global and economic forces are changing the workplace, demographic and social changes also are impacting upon the educational community. Over the next decade enrollments in public secondary schools are expected to increase, and the socioeconomic backgrounds of students are expected to become more diverse (United States Department of Education, 1995). One indicator of this trend is that the composition of secondary school populations is increasingly becoming composed of racial and ethnic minorities. By the year 2000 nearly one-third of all school-aged children will be from minority groups ( Population Reference Bureau, 1989b ). Many of these youth will come from sociologically and economically-disadvantaged backgrounds and will have special needs to address such as limited English proficiency and poor learning skills. Data reported by the National Center for Education Statistics ( U.S. Department of Education, 1995 ) about vocational education indicated that "economically disadvantaged students were more likely than their advantaged counterparts to participate heavily in vocational education" (p. 14). In 1992, high school graduates "who were members of special populations were more likely than other graduates to participate in vocational education overall and in occupationally specific education" (p. 14). Furthermore, "…economically and academically disadvantaged graduates were more likely than their counterparts to concentrate in trade and industry" (p. 14).

In the discussion that follows, the context of the forces shaping society and education is used to present a rationale for the specific standards prepared by the committee. The issues of diversity in schools, the need to better prepare students for a changing world, and the need for a safe learning environment are further refined and illuminated as they relate to the need for each of the Standards of Quality as presented in the previous article.

Teacher Preparation and Certification

As the United States moves into the 21st century, the trend toward an increasingly diverse public school population is expected to continue. T&I education classrooms will be comprised of more students with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, as well as of students with special learning needs. The diverse backgrounds of these youth will require teachers to be skilled in addressing a range of learning styles, and in meeting the special needs of students as they study to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for making a successful transition from school to the workplace.

T&I teachers must be better prepared than ever before to teach this diverse group of students technical skills and conceptual knowledge. However, since the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, teachers have been credentialed to teach primarily on the basis of their work experience rather than through formalized and degree-oriented teacher preparation programs. Not surprisingly, most of the secondary school teachers in the U.S. who have not completed a 4-year baccalaureate degree program leading to certification are found in T&I programs. According to the National Assessment of Vocational Education Report ( U.S. Department of Education, 1994 ) "some 45 percent of trade and industry teachers have less than a bachelor's degree, while in other vocational fields few teachers have this little education" (p. 66).

In the majority of states, the initial certification of T&I teachers is based upon years of work experience rather than on collegiate-level teacher preparation. As noted earlier, this practice had its origins in the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, which required states to recruit and certify teachers from business and industry in order to receive federal funds in support of T&I education programs. At that time, years of work experience in a specific trade was considered to be the optimum route for an individual to obtain the competence needed to teach T&I subjects in the public schools. This belief remains the cornerstone of certification policies for T&I education teachers today ( Duenk, 1990b ; Lynch, 1994 ).

The findings of many studies conducted since the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act suggest that there is no strong relationship between extensive work experience and tested occupational competence, teaching performance, and student achievement ( U.S. Department of Education, 1994 ). Research does indicate, however, that a positive relationship exists between the formal education vocational education teachers receive, their performance in the classroom, and the achievement of their students. A recent review of 17 studies on labor market performance of students found that "The type and quality of vocational education…stands out as having the largest number of positive results" (NAVE, 1994, p. 66). The report concluded that "better teachers produce better employees: that is, better-educated teachers produce labor market results for their students…" ( Johnson & Summers, 1993, p. 14 ). These studies also were examined for The National Assessment of Vocational Education (1994) where it was reported that "formal postsecondary education is associated with positive teaching outcomes" (p. 66). In fact, the authors of the report recommended that "state certification requirements for all new vocational teachers, including those in trade and industry, include attainment of a bachelor's degree and preparation in teaching methods" ( U.S. Department of Education, 1994, p. 66 ).

The NAITTE committee agreed with the NAVE recommendation and prepared a standard that increases the threshold for entry into T&I education. The standard requires beginning teachers to (a) hold an associate degree from an accredited postsecondary institution, (b) demonstrate their technical competency by completing a nationally approved competency exam, and (c) have work-related experiences. The standard provides for a probationary period during which the teacher must earn a baccalaureate degree if permanent certification is to be granted by the responsible state agency. The standard reflects the practical need to recruit technically competent individuals with some work experience, but also recognizes a well-educated teacher (i.e., one who has general academic skills as well as professional competence) as being absolutely necessary to meet the current and future demands of T&I education.

The standard to obtain a minimum level of academic, technical, and professional education competence is important if T&I teachers are to impart a high level of skill and knowledge to their students. With the advent of the Tech Prep concept, teachers need to have, at the very least, attained higher levels of education themselves if they are to inspire and motivate their students to pursue postsecondary education. The mandatory requirement for a baccalaureate degree for professional endorsement will build upon the general and technical education background acquired through an associate degree.

The professional development obtained through the teacher preparation component of the 4-year program will provide T&I education teachers with the competence needed to function as well-qualified teachers before entering the classroom, rather than after being employed by a school division. The professional preparation component will enable prospective teachers to gain competence as well as confidence in planning, delivering, and evaluating instruction; in safely managing a laboratory; and in teaching students with special needs under a planned, coherent, and well-supervised set of experiences. The master-teacher level will provide the opportunity for continued growth and development leading to a master's degree. Ideally, additional incentives will be in place in the future for teachers to continue their professional and technical development so they are preparing students for the present and future rather than for the past.

Curriculum and Instruction

Though many educators perceive curriculum and instruction as considerably intertwined, the two concepts are often addressed separately to promote greater clarity. Curriculum focuses on the educational content of schools or programs, while teaching is conceptualized as the vehicle to deliver curriculum ( McCutcheon, 1988 ). The language used in state certification requirements (e.g., Arkansas, Ohio, and Oklahoma) and descriptions of courses in T&I teacher preparation programs (e.g., instructional procedures and curriculum development) reinforce this distinction. The committee adopted this approach and developed standards for both curriculum and instruction. Nevertheless, because the two components overlap in practice, we will examine them together in this discussion in order to promote a richer, more holistic discussion of curricular and instructional issues related to the preparation of T&I teachers.

A Lens for Greater Clarity in Viewing Instructional and Curricular Reform

The field of T&I education has long been dominated by practical concerns. However, the past decade has witnessed a renewed discourse on the philosophical framework or paradigm that should be used to guide practice ( Gregson, 1993 ; Lewis, 1991 ; Pratzner, 1985 ). Historically, behaviorism has dominated vocational education by focusing on competency-based education, behavioral objectives, performance accountability, and criterion-referenced assessment ( Elias & Merriam, 1995 ). Further, with the current emphasis on credentialization, certification, and licensing for business and industry, behaviorism is likely to continue to influence the field.

Though the influence of behaviorism on vocational teacher education programs persists, movement toward a more Deweyan (or progressive) philosophical orientation is also emerging ( Pratzner, 1985 ). Some scholars historically have advocated progressivism for vocational education because of humanistic concerns for students and the desire to promote the development of creative problem-solvers ( Dewey, 1916 ; Wirth, 1983 ). Others have suggested that while behaviorism may have been appropriate for an industrial society, progressivism or pragmatism are more appropriate for vocational education in a post-industrial context ( Howard & Scheffler, 1995 ).

The curriculum and instruction standards approved by NAITTE's membership were intended to blur the boundaries between behaviorism and progressivism. The acknowledgment of this lens, or what some have labeled as pragmatism, is important because it can contribute to a vision for the field ( Miller, 1985 ). However, for this vision to impact practice, it must be shared. Aspiring T&I teachers must construct their own conceptual framework within which to develop curriculum and instruction.

Teaching High Skills for a High Quality Work Life

The relationship between high wages and high skills has become stronger since the U.S. has shifted from an industrial (or manufacturing) to a postindustrial (or a service-information) economy (Mishel & Bernstein, 1994). Consequently, T&I education now must assist our nation's youth in attaining meaningful work that provides the opportunities for a reasonable quality of life. To accomplish this, T&I programs must be configured to ensure that graduates possess the general thinking, communication, mathematical, scientific, and technical skills necessary to cooperatively solve problems and make informed and complex decisions. By teaching these skills within the context of T&I education, students will benefit regardless of their future occupation directions. They will also be equipped to adjust to rapid changes in technology. Progressive business leaders fear that unless their workers are equipped with these types of skills, productivity will erode and U.S. industry will be at a competitive disadvantage internationally ( Carnevale, Gainer, & Meltzer, 1988 ; Koffel, 1994 ).

Actively Engaging Students or Making Teaching/Learning More Meaningful

T&I teacher education programs must design experiences to help aspiring teachers learn how to make instructional content meaningful by connecting it to their students' everyday lives. Recent scholarship in cognitive science has demonstrated that effective teaching extends beyond segmenting and transmitting content to students in an efficient fashion. Rather, to make learning more meaningful, curriculum and instruction must enable students to connect their own experiences with the learning process. They then become aware of the relevance of trade and industrial knowledge and understand how to prepare for and contend with the demands of the changing work world ( Berryman 1992 ; Lave & Wenger, 1991 ; Raizen, 1989 ).

Trade and industrial knowledge is still valued and should provide a framework for planning instruction. However, differences within communities and cultures also need to be recognized. Hence, biographical, structural, sociocultural, and historical contexts are considered, along with trade and industrial contexts, so that students in our diverse society can find learning experiences to be meaningful. Such an approach provides opportunities to celebrate and study the multicultural aspects of our democratic society ( Cornbleth, 1990 ; Kincheloe, 1995 ; Simon, Dippo & Schenke, 1991).

While the field of T&I education still needs to recruit individuals who have considerable technical expertise, there is evidence that teacher preparation programs should place more emphasis on the "teacher as facilitator function" rather than on teacher as expert ( Goodlad, 1990 ). To accomplish this goal, it is imperative that aspiring teachers develop techniques that promote student-centered, rather than teacher-centered, classrooms. Cooperative learning, problem-solving, role-playing, experimentation and choice are just some of the techniques that can assist classroom teachers in prompting passive students to become active learners. However, T&I teachers still need to provide a directive role and have a general destination for the direction of their classes. Facilitating learning experiences, as opposed to depositing knowledge into students' heads, promotes active learning and encourages critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving ( Kincheloe, 1995 ; Shor, 1988 ; Simon & Dippo, 1987 ). Though the standards do not exclude less student-centered approaches such as mentoring and coaching, they do reflect a constructivist orientation.

To begin this cycle, T&I teacher educators need to focus not only on "how" to teach, but also on questions concerned with "why" and "what" to teach ( Gregson, 1993 ; Samper & Lakes, 1994 ; Simon, Dippo, & Schenke, 1991 ). Searching for responses to these questions should encourage teachers to gain more control over their "craft" and to become more experimental in their teaching.

Integrating Academic and T&I Education

The concept and practice of integrating academic with T&I education for making learning more meaningful is well over a century old ( Wirth, 1980 ). However, the reality is that this holistic approach has never been as extensive or comprehensive as research on learning now indicates it needs to be ( Grubb, 1995 ). To help more students learn that academic skills are relevant and essential, vocational and academic teachers must move away from the historical separation between them and move toward a more integrated curriculum ( Schmidt, Finch, & Faulkner, 1995 ). T&I teachers must learn how to coordinate instruction with academic teachers along with teaching and reinforcing important academic concepts by demonstrating their practical application in workplace contexts.

Integrating work-site with school-site learning is one approach to integrating academic and vocational education that shows considerable promise. Several scholars (e.g., Berryman, 1992 ; Raizen, 1989 ; Resnick ) contend that forms of work-site learning, when connected to school-site learning, serve as excellent vehicles for integrating academic and vocational education. These two types of learning effectively challenge distinctions between "head and hand, academic and vocational education, knowing and doing, abstract and applied, education and training, and school-based and work-based learning" ( Berryman, 1992, pp. 25-26 ). Forms of work-site learning, such as apprenticeship, shadowing, internships, and on-the-job-training, also can help to broaden T&I programs by allowing them to become organized around career clusters rather than by specific jobs.

Promoting Classroom Technology and Exposing Students to Workplace Technology

Work-site learning also offers promise for providing students with learning experiences about workplace technology. While technological advancements are occurring at an exponential rate, many of our nation's youth still spend their days in classrooms virtually devoid of current instructional technology. Scarce resources have prevented many teachers from attaining access to computers, videos, CD-ROMs, simulation software, virtual reality, and electronic communication. The future preparation of teachers must allow participants to experience the possibilities technology has to offer. Although technology can be used to de-skill work, it can, thoughtfully employed, transform the role of the teacher from a "chalker and talker" to a facilitator of individualized and cooperative learning ( Bell & Elmquist, 1992 ).

Because of the nature of T&I education, teachers must learn how best to expose students to technology in the workplace. Historically, T&I education programs have simulated industry by attempting to replicate its tools and machinery. However, vocational schools are finding it increasingly difficult to replicate industrial environments due to increasing costs, scarcity of resources, and rapidity of technological change. Further, in some instances, community members have cautioned against purchasing high-cost equipment that is quickly outdated and that contributes little to students' learning generalizable skills. As a result, T&I teachers must learn to evaluate, select, design, and use a wide range of educational and other technologies. Teacher education programs then must equip prospective T&I teachers with the skills necessary to use technology for instructional purposes as well as the skills required to use work-site learning to expose students to technology in the workplace.

Teaching Lifelong Learning for a Postindustrial Context

Evidence suggests that it has become increasingly difficult to adequately prepare secondary students to be successful in the world of work immediately upon graduation ( Bragg, 1995 ). The majority of "hot careers" require two-year technical degrees or some form of postsecondary learning (e.g., apprenticeship). Consequently, secondary T&I programs have begun to develop articulation agreements with postsecondary technical programs in order to encourage students to obtain two-year associate's degrees.

A lifelong learning approach to education has several implications for preparing T&I teachers. First, because Tech Prep and apprenticeships increase the participation of students in occupational-specific technical training at the postsecondary level, secondary T&I teachers should be encouraged to employ a broader, more holistic occupational cluster approach. This means that vocational teachers must maintain a broad understanding of all aspects of a career rather than concentrating on specific aspects of selected jobs. Second, if secondary level T&I teachers are to be successful in either postsecondary technical or work-site learning programs, they must develop the skills necessary to pursue advanced technical training. This is another reason why it is critical that teacher education programs prepare T&I teachers to teach their students these broad, generalizable skills.

Teaching Special Populations of Students

The U.S. population is multicultural, multilingual, and includes numerous students who have disabilities, disadvantages, or other situations, including being gifted and talented. These students require special assistance to enable them to succeed and reach their full potential in the regular T&I classrooms. The consequences of not serving special populations of students include higher dropout rates, unemployment and underemployment, higher crime rates, and increased dependence on public assistance. T&I instructors who are ill-prepared to teach special student populations simply are not prepared to teach in this country.

Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students

Friedenberg (1995) reports that about 16.5 million students are documented as Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons in the U.S. This is in addition to an estimated several million undocumented LEP persons. These numbers are estimated to continue to grow by at least 600,000 per year ( Friedenberg, 1995 ). About two-thirds of the LEP population is 18 and over. LEP adults have attained lower than average levels of education and tend, as a group, to be unskilled or semiskilled persons with higher than average rates of unemployment and lower than average earnings. Over one-half of all LEP persons and 75% of LEP students are Hispanic ( Friedenberg, 1995 ). Fifty percent of Hispanics over 25 years of age are high school dropouts and LEP Hispanics are three times more likely to drop out than English-dominant Hispanics ( National Council of La Raza, 1990 ). The dropout rate for most LEP persons in most large cities is at least 50% ( Azcoitia & Viso, 1987 ; L. Rodriguez, personal communication, 1987).

LEP students need assistance with learning English and other academic and vocational skills as well as learning how to cope with cultural differences. T&I teachers must be aware of these problems and issues as well as the legal rights of LEP students. These teachers must also have the specific skills necessary to (a) interpret and even administer language proficiency tests; (b) provide multilingual and multicultural instruction, including appropriately adapted safety instruction; (c) make appropriate community contacts (e.g., for appropriate bilingual social service, immigration and other legal assistance, and to identify helpful resources); (d) help develop students' English language ability; and (e) provide cross-cultural vocational and employment counseling.

Students with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education (1990) indicates that nearly 5 million young people meeting the definition of "disabled" were being served in the public schools (K-12) during the 1988-1989 school year. This number does not account for the millions of out-of-school youth and adults with disabilities who were not being served but who clearly needed to be. Like LEP students, students with disabilities perform relatively poorly in school. For example, over 30% of students enrolled in secondary-level special education programs end up dropping out of high school ( Wagner, 1989 ). Fewer than one-half of youth with disabilities who have exited high school are competitively employed one to two years later. Interestingly, 75% of special education students who took vocational education classes were employed while only 27% of those who had not participated in any of these classes were employed ( Gill, 1984 ; Wagner, 1991 ; Wehman, Kregal, & Seyfarth, 1985 ). For students classified as mentally retarded, almost 70% were unemployed one to two years after high school ( Wagner, 1989 ). Sixty percent of students classified as emotionally disturbed dropped out of school (United States Department of Education, 1990) and 43% of students classified as emotionally disturbed had been arrested within two years of leaving high school ( Wagner, 1991 ).

Students with disabilities have a variety of special needs, including needing help with their basic, vocational, and social skill development. Some also require physical assistance. T&I teachers of students with disabilities must know the legal rights of these students and their families. These teachers must be prepared to participate in developing Individual Education Plans (IEPs) in order to prepare statements of annual and short-term vocational goals. T&I teachers must be able to (a) recognize potential disabilities; (b) adapt and individualize their instructional techniques and materials; (c) use appropriate technological aids; (d) provide effective social skill development; and (e) make appropriate referrals for other services, such as counseling/guidance, interpreter or reader services, residential living, transportation, placement, vocational rehabilitation, or transitional employment ( Friedenberg, Izzo, & Cartledge, 1992 ).

Other Special Populations Of Students

Students who are either academically or economically disadvantaged also tend to perform poorly in school. While disadvantaged students are commonly believed to be overrepresented in vocational education, they are severely underrepresented in high-quality vocational education programs. At the same time, they are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, with nearly 90% of prison inmates being illiterate. Other special populations of students include individuals who are incarcerated, gifted, displaced homemakers and other displaced workers (e.g., coal miners), and in pursuit of careers that are nontraditional for their gender. Each group has its own special needs, legal issues, and appropriate instructional adaptations.

Vocational Education's Response to Special Student Populations

Despite the fact that vocational education has been associated with decreasing dropout and increasing employment opportunities, research indicates that vocational educators have not responded adequately to diversity. For example, a random sampling of secondary school IEPs revealed that fewer than one-half contained a single vocational-oriented goal ( Cobb & Phelps, 1983 ; Wagner, 1991 ). Furthermore, the results of a nationwide survey indicated that the majority of school districts did not include vocational educators as members of IEP teams ( Spencer-Dobson & Schultz, 1987 ). Numerous studies have shown that vocational educators are ill-prepared to address the needs of special populations ( Sarkees & Scott, 1985 ; Pratzner, 1987 ). In an extensive nationwide study, Weber (1988) found that vocational teachers had completed less than one college course focused on special populations, and that they had received little, if any, related inservice. The same study concluded that vocational teachers spend scant time collaborating with special education, bilingual education, or English as a Second Language (ESL) staff, reviewing IEPs, or modifying their instruction for special populations of students. Even in situations where vocational teachers do participate in coursework related to special populations of students, they often find the information to be unrelated to or disconnected from vocational contexts (in favor of elementary schooling). Also, these courses typically focus on students with disabilities to the exclusion of other special populations.

T&I teachers must become better prepared to meet the needs of special populations of students. They must be oriented to historical and legal perspectives and should be exposed to model programs. These models should include programs that mainstream students from special populations as well as special school-within-a-school programs, or combinations of both.

T&I teachers also must be alerted to a variety of services, including remedial classes (e.g. literacy), English as a Second Language (ESL), translation services (for deaf and LEP students), individualized instruction, and accelerated classes. Teachers must be aware of how to interpret formal assessment results, as well as how to implement informal assessment procedures through observations, interviews, and cloze exercises (i.e., tests or exercises in which every fifth word of a passage is deleted and replaced with a blank line for students to write in any word that makes sense). They must be taught how to adapt instruction appropriately, including using multilingual and multicultural approaches, simplifying English and using sheltered-language techniques, employing individualized instruction and instructional materials, and increasing use of audiovisual and hands-on approaches. Also, T&I teachers must work with others (e.g., special educators, bilingual and ESL teachers, remedial and basic skills teachers, community agencies, employers, and parents) to design and deliver effective instruction. They must plan and implement an effective school-to-adult-life transition process. This includes (a) establishing appropriate and effective interagency collaboration, (b) foreseeing and counseling for potential employment problems resulting from cultural differences, (c) preparing employers for "different" employees, and (d) arranging for job coaching or postsecondary tutoring.

Safety and Laboratory Organization and Management

The rationale for including a section on safety instruction and laboratory organization and management in the Standards of Quality is easily understood. Because of the attempt by educators to simulate particular occupational environments, T&I education laboratories are potentially dangerous places. Machinery, power tools, toxic chemicals, and fumes are just a few examples of what vocational students and teachers come into contact with on a frequent basis. As a result, T&I educators must not only be concerned with the safety and health of their students and themselves, but they also must increasingly be concerned with their own protection against liability ( Gathercoal & Stern, 1987 ; Storm, 1993 ).

School-Site Learning

Because of the nature of their role, T&I educators must be concerned with the health and safety of their students. T&I educators should incorporate safety instruction into every laboratory demonstration and into most technical information lessons because (a) students who are learning to use potentially dangerous equipment and materials present special problems, (b) the responsibility for the physical welfare of students rests with the instructor, and (c) occupational education cannot separate safety education from skill preparation. The role of T&I teachers extends beyond teaching to also include managing and organizing of the laboratory environment (e.g., guarding of machinery and equipment), preparing and using educational technologies (e.g., posters and videos), and engaging in appropriate classroom management (e.g., monitoring student behavior).

Work-Site Learning

While T&I instructors must be concerned with the health and safety of students in their classrooms and laboratories, recent school-to-work transition efforts have recognized the necessity of examining issues related to safety and health in the workplace as well. As a result, contemporary T&I teachers must be equipped to address "All Aspects of Industry" (AAI) which includes an examination of how forms of wage-labor exchange are related to the safety and health of workers ( Fraser, 1989 ; Grandjean, 1988 ; Konz, 1990 ; Simon, Dippo, & Schenke, 1991 ; Viscusi, 1983 ). Similarly, T&I teachers and students must acquire a fundamental understanding of how workplace designs can impact health and safety. Knowing this will help these teachers make better informed decisions about the industries in which partnerships can be developed and graduates can be employed. Finally, several studies have provided evidence that work cultures also can contribute to high-risk practices ( McDermott, 1990 ; Peters, 1987 ; Viscusi, 1983 ). If T&I educators are to promote positive health and safety practices in the workplace as well as in school laboratories, they must encourage students to grapple with this critical issue as a component of their schooling.

Because the nature of work is changing and because it has become increasingly difficult to make definitive causal connections between illness and work ( Goetsch, 1993 ; Thompson, 1983 ; Zuboff, 1988 ), high-quality safety instruction and laboratory organization have become even more critical ( Gregson, 1995 ). While efforts have been made historically to prepare T&I teachers to teach health and safety, contemporary research suggests that this content has become increasingly complex because contemporary health problems resulting from workplace hazards frequently (a) can escape detection, (b) can easily be misdiagnosed by a physician, (c) are gradual in development (i.e., months and years), and (d) do not affect every individual who is exposed ( American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1985 ). Another factor that has contributed to the increasing importance of high-quality safety instruction and laboratory organization is the fact that the risk of injury to adolescents is proportionately higher than for adults. The National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health (1995) reported that work-related injuries suffered by those under age 18 resulted in 68 deaths and an estimated 64,000 emergency room treatments during 1993, this despite the fact that adolescents were less frequently employed in hazardous jobs than their adult counterparts. Thus, T&I teachers must be able to erect a safety net for the protection of themselves and their students. Teacher preparation programs must equip T&I teachers with the skills needed to implement comprehensive accident prevention plans and manage effectively their occupational laboratories.

Implement a Comprehensive Plan for Accident Prevention

If for no other reason than the principle of "in loco parentis," and its accompanying theory of liability, T&I teachers must be prepared to demonstrate their commitment to providing for the welfare of their students through the implementation of a comprehensive plan for accident prevention. The critical elements of an accident prevention plan should include the following components.

Analyzing the laboratory for potential hazards. This is a primary component of the foreseeability test applied during the determination of liability based upon alleged negligence. Kigin (1983) points out that, "the question then becomes: What should a reasonably prudent shop teacher foresee as unsafe conditions in the school shop and what are the possible consequences that might result from unsafe conditions?" (p. 20).

Designing and implementing strategies to eliminate or control identified hazards. It is not sufficient to simply identify potential hazards. "Negligence also consists of the failure to act as a reasonably prudent and careful person would under the circumstances involved" ( Kigin, 1983, p. 20 ).

Integrating safety instruction throughout the curriculum. Devoting the first week of the new school year to safety instruction is insufficient to provide for the safety and welfare of T&I students. Both general and specific safety rules and procedures must be infused throughout the entire course of instruction. The infusion of safety instruction became the deciding factor in a California negligence trial in which the court ruled in favor of the auto shop teacher because safety rules were repeated frequently ( Kigin, 1983 ).

Developing, practicing, and enforcing appropriate safety rules. Safety rules must be taught, posted, reinforced frequently, and followed by the instructor. These four actions were clearly the deciding factors in a liability case involving a student injured as a result of operating a table saw without a guard. The instructor was held liable because evidence substantiated the student's claim that the teacher had operated the saw without the guard. However, rules must be enforced, as demonstrated by a case heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In finding the instructor liable for injuries suffered by a student struck in the eye by a broken drill bit the court indicated that, although appropriate safety rules were established and glasses had been issued to each student, the rule to wear eye protection was not consistently enforced ( Connors, 1981 ).

Developing and practicing accident and emergency procedures. In compliance with school policies, T&I teachers must understand thoroughly and follow expected rules of behavior in regard to accidents and emergency situations, as well as provide their students with instruction and practice exercises. As Kigin (1983) points out, teachers "… are not expected to possess an expert knowledge of medicine, but are expected to act as a reasonable and prudent person untrained in the practice of medicine would act under the same or similar circumstances" (p. 121).

Providing, demonstrating, and requiring the use of appropriate personal safety equipment. The duty of teachers to provide students with appropriate personal safety equipment was clearly demonstrated in a liability case involving injury to a student as a result of his clothing becoming entangled in a lathe. The court ruled that wearing loose clothing while operating the lathe was a foreseeable hazard. Thus, the student should have been provided with, and required to wear, an apron ( Connors, 1981 ).

Effectively Manage the Occupational Laboratory

Effective management of the occupational laboratory (a) facilitates instruction, (b) enhances student learning, (c) provides a safe learning environment, (d) assures the community that funds are being invested wisely, (e) increases the likelihood that students will learn acceptable work habits and procedures, and (f) assists with attracting new students. To capitalize on these benefits the T&I teacher must be able to successfully fulfill the requirements of effective laboratory management. The following elements should be incorporated.

Critiquing the laboratory's physical layout and planning changes to facilitate instruction. As technology produces changes in equipment, processes, and instructional procedures, the occupational laboratory must be evaluated and modified to keep pace. As Storm (1993) stresses, "Key considerations in designing laboratory floor plans are traffic control, adequate space for both work and equipment service at each lab station, supply and equipment storage, auxiliary areas, multipurpose resource centers, and a proper physical environment for learning" (p. 52).

Identifying and securing appropriate instructional supplies and equipment. Considerations for accomplishing this task include (a) adequate space in the lab, (b) adequate utilities, (c) availability and cost of maintenance service, (d) heavy-duty construction, (e) suitability for fundamental and advanced level instruction, (f) similarity to on-the-job conditions, and (g) recommendations and approvals of the program's advisory committee ( Storm, 1993 ).

Implementing systems for safe storage and distribution of supplies, tools, etc. "Whatever system is used must be designed to hold losses to a minimum, keep tools and instruments in working order, teach students to assume responsibility, keep the laboratory neat and orderly, and promote safety" ( Storm, 1993, p. 61 ).

Involving students in the management and operation of the laboratory. As Storm (1993) points out, "Well planned student personnel procedures, which resemble those of commercial, industrial, or public service laboratories, have considerable educational value" (p. 121).

Designing and implementing appropriate record keeping systems. The three primary areas of record keeping for T&I teachers are (a) providing adequate supervision, (b) delivering appropriate instruction, and (c) insuring the proper maintenance of tools, equipment, and facilities. The outcome of liability suits that allege negligence in one or more of these areas is frequently determined by the presence or absence of evidence that the teacher had fulfilled these responsibilities. Unfortunately, the teacher's recollection of the events is seldom viewed as proof by the courts. Therefore, Connors (1981) advises, "There are three ways that educators can protect themselves in these circumstances: documentation, documentation, and documentation!" (p. 14).

Professionalism and Public Image

In order to promote a positive and professional image of T&I education, T&I teacher preparation programs must not only equip their graduates with the skills needed to design and manage relevant instructional programs but also to communicate the value of their program.

Design and Manage a Relevant Instructional Program

Secondary level vocational education is evolving and, as a result, the definition of what constitutes a relevant instructional program is expanding. No longer is the mission of vocational education narrowly defined as preparing entry-level workers for jobs immediately after high school graduation. This mission is being expanded to include short-term courses that provide applied learning experiences for those whose plans include postsecondary study. Gray and Herr (1995) point out that

Such a program does three important things. First, it provides a relevant program of study for those who are work-bound. Second, it provides an important source of technical skill training that is a prerequisite to successful two-year technical education programs and that provides a fallback for those in the academic middle who take college prep but go directly to work after graduation. Third, many vocational technical programs provide important opportunities to learn specialized skills needed by the 2 and 4-year college-bound. (p. 145)

This expansion of mission demands that T&I teachers be able to (a) establish learning outcomes that are congruent with the needs of business and industry, b) effectively use program advisory committees, (c) implement articulation agreements with postsecondary institutions, and (d) participate in securing related mentoring, shadowing, and employment opportunities for both current students and graduates.

Communicate the Value of the Program

Since T&I programs are typically comprised of elective courses rather than core subject requirements, program survival depends heavily upon teachers' ability to communicate the value-added nature of their programs. Strategies to achieve this goal dictate that instructors attend to the following activities.

Identify stakeholders and methods for involving them in the program's operation. The development of a plan that identifies the audiences to be addressed, the strategies to be used, and the resources available is a crucial first step. Smith and Edmunds (1995) specify that

A well-conceived and carefully written school and community relations plan for a vocational program should: 1) provide each interested individual and organization within the school or community the information needed to form a sound judgment about the vocational program; and 2) describe all the activities that will be part of the plan and indicate when each activity will be completed. (p. 64)

Pursue consulting opportunities. An effective means of keeping the community informed about the value of the program is for the instructor to serve as a consulting resource. Smith and Edmunds (1995) suggest "offering to be a guest speaker in classes or on sponsored career days" and "invite teachers and students to use your vocational program as a field trip source" (p. 65). Other opportunities might include paid or unpaid consulting services to local community groups, as well as to business and industry.

Provide training/upgrading opportunities for adults. Whether as part of the regular daytime programming, or in the traditional evening hours, one of the most effective ways to insure that the community views a vocational program as a resource is to provide entry-level or specialized training for adults.

Model the necessity of lifelong learning. Smith and Edmunds (1995) suggest that vocational instructors construct a personal professional development plan that includes

Educational goals, such as certification or recertification requirements and attainment of an advanced degree; Professional organizational involvement including attendance at professional meetings or conferences, joining key committees or assuming a greater leadership role; Career goals in terms of professional advancement, such as increasing your teaching responsibilities or moving into a management position at your institution. (p. 93)


The preparation and certification of T&I education teachers should reflect the contemporary needs and issues of a modern society. The rationale in support of the Standards of Quality as presented in this paper addresses these issues. It provides substantive underlying reasons for the purpose and role of standards in the teacher preparation and certification process. This conceptual base will be an important attribute of the standards as they are incorporated into the policy and practice of the profession.


Frantz is Professor, Division of Vocational and Technical Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.

Friedenberg is Professor, Department of Linguistics, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.

Gregson is Assistant Professor, School of Occupational and Adult Education, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK.

Walter is Assistant Director, Vocational-Technical Education Professional Personnel Development Center, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.


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Reference Citation: Frantz, Nevin R., Jr., Friedenberg, Joan E., Gregson, James A., & Walter, Richard A (1996). The rationale in support of the standards. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education , 34(1), 41-66.