JITE v35n3 - At Issue - Concerns About Technology Education Laboratories

Volume 35, Number 3
Spring 1998

FROM THE EDITOR: This "At Issue" by George Rogers raises concerns and discusses issues about the extensive use of modular laboratories and a perceived misalignment between what is being taught in teacher education programs and what is being called for in the local schools. Rogers cautions teacher education programs to avoid misalignment between what new teachers are being taught about laboratories and the industrially-based equipment needs that continue to exist in many schools.

Concerns About Technology Education Laboratories

by George Rogers
University of Nebraska

Recent literature in industrial/technology education has been focused on the use of modular technology education systems in schools ( deGraw & Smallwood, 1997 ; Pullias, 1997 ). Since 1985, increasing numbers of industrial teacher education programs have been preparing educators for modular technology education laboratories. At this juncture, the question must be asked, in the movement to emphasize modular technology education, have industrial teacher educators been preparing graduates for the realities they find in today’s classrooms? Or have industrial teacher educators been preparing graduates with their own philosophy of industrial/technology education, placing philosophy ahead of school district needs? I fear the latter.

National standards typically call for coordination with local constituents to identify the competencies required by industrial teacher education graduates. The NCATE-Approved Curriculum Guides: Basic Programs in Technology Education indicate that "the level and scope of skills in the safe and efficient use of contemporary technological tools, instruments, and machines to be acquired have been identified and incorporated into the program" ( International Technology Education Association/Council on Technology Teacher Education, 1992, p. 6 ). Have industrial teacher educators identified this equipment through input from local school district personnel?

A survey of industrial/technology education equipment used in today’s classrooms would indicate to industrial teacher educators what competencies related to tools, instruments, and machines their graduates should possess. A review of research however indicated that little inquiry has been conducted as to what laboratory equipment is actually being used in secondary schools today. Historically, the selection of laboratory equipment for industrial/technology education curricula has reflected the objectives of the educational program, its development of student attitudes, and its application of basic knowledge ( Scherer, 1959 ). Gemmill (1979) later concurred that the selection of laboratory equipment should be based on the program’s philosophy and goals, including the developmental, emotional, psychological, sociological, and physical needs of all students. Hence, a local school district’s philosophy of industrial/technology education determines, to a great extent, the type of equipment utilized in the classroom ( Burke, 1995 ).

I conducted a survey of 287 Nebraska industrial/technology education teachers to determine what equipment-related competencies industrial teacher educators should provide their graduates ( Rogers, 1995 ). The survey included teachers from various grade levels, school sizes, and school structures. Of the 170 responding teachers of grades 7-12, 20.6% were from middle/junior high schools, 15.9% from senior high schools, and 63.5% from junior-senior high schools. The survey’s results are worth noting.

The findings indicated that "equipment such as the drill press, band saw, table saw, grinder, jointer, radial arm saw, disc sander, wood lathe, arc welder, and oxygen-acetylene welder are still used" by industrial/technology education students ( Rogers, 1995, p. 7 ). "The findings of this research suggest that industrial/technology teacher education programs must continue to prepare teachers with competence in the operation of industrial equipment" (p. 7). The data further suggested that "the ability to properly operate industrial equipment is still an essential element of industrial/technology teacher education" (p. 8).

These findings are in direct conflict with what teacher education programs are requiring, according to a survey of the 133 industrial teacher education programs. Only 6.1% of the responding technology education programs required a welding course, 12.1% required work in machine tool technology, 21.2% required metalworking coursework, and 33% required technical classes in woodworking ( Rogers, 1996 ). A troubling inconsistency exists when over 82% of the high school industrial/technology education programs require students to perform welding operations and only 6.1% of the technology teacher education programs require teachers to complete a course in welding ( Rogers, 1995 ). Industrial teacher educators are not listening to their constituents, the local public schools.

It appears to the writer that industrial teacher educators have been preparing graduates with their vision of industrial/technology education and have not been equipping graduates for the industry-related classrooms they will be entering. This lack of coordination with what is taught in the local K-12 schools and what is taught in industrial teacher education is certain to have a detrimental impact on the field. Student teachers and graduates are entering classrooms inadequately prepared to teach the industrial processes of the school’s curriculum.

Industrial teacher educators must not yield to the non-skill oriented technology education modules in place of skill development in industrial processes. Industrial teacher educators must coordinate teacher competencies with the local school districts and prepare educators for the classroom realities they will encounter. Industrial teacher educators must blend industrial processes with new industry-related modular technology education systems. If industrial teacher educators continue to operate in a modular vacuum, without developing and retaining strong links to the local public school districts, the few graduates they do produce may not have the competencies required to teach.


Rogers is Assistant Professor, the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.


Burke, B. (1995). Designing the technology facility of the future. The Technology Teacher , 55 (3), 3-8.

deGraw, B. C., & Smallwood, J. (1997). Modular TE instruction: What Kentucky teachers think. Tech Directions, 56 (9), 19-20.

Gemmill, P. R. (1979). Industrial arts laboratory facilities: Past, present, and future. In G. E. Martin (Ed.) Industrial Arts Education: Retrospect, Prospect . 28th Yearbook American Council of Industrial Arts teacher Education. Bloomington, IL: McKnight.

International Technology Education Association/Council on Technology Teacher Education. (1995). NCATE-approved curriculum guides: Basic programs in technology education . Reston, VA: Author.

Pullias, D. (1997). The future is…beyond modular. The Technology Teacher , 56 (7), 28-29.

Rogers, G. E. (1996). The technical content of industrial/technology teacher education. Journal of Technology Education , 8 (1), 40-49.

Rogers, G. E. (1995). Nebraska industrial technology education teachers identify the equipment their students use . Paper presented at the meeting of the American Vocational Association, Denver, CO (ERIC Document Reproduction Service: ED 389 920).

Scherer, P. L. (1959). Equipment selection. In R. K. Nair (Ed.) Planning Industrial Arts Facilities . 8th Yearbook American Council of Industrial Arts Teacher Education. Bloomington, IL: McKnight.

Reference Citation: Rogers, G. Concerns about technology education laboratories. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 35 (3), 93-96.