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Sandra Filion Foster and James Jacobs
Phoenix College is celebrating its 75th anniversary as a junior college. It was the first college in the Maricopa Community College District which formed in 1962, then enrolling 8,000 students. Today, the multicampus district of Maricopa Community Colleges serves over 1.9 million residents of the 9,200 square-mile Maricopa County. The district's current enrollment is 83,000 students representing nine colleges, one community college center, and the Maricopa Skill Center, making it one of the nation's largest higher education entities. By the year 2000, the district is projected to expand to 180,000 students. An 18-member Board of Directors for the Community Colleges of Arizona provides statewide oversight. The Maricopa Community Colleges are governed locally by a five-member elected board. District administration is comprised of a chancellor, four vice chancellors, and nine college presidents. Phoenix College is led by a President, and three Deans for Instruction, Student Development Services, and Administrative Services (Phoenix College Catalog, 1994). Phoenix College employed 154 full-time faculty during fiscal year 1993 and 450 part-time faculty in Fall 1992.
Phoenix College's total enrollment for Fall 1993 was 19,800 students (6,500 FTE students) (see Table A-4). White students represented the largest group by race (69%); however, a relatively large minority student enrollment was apparent, and evidence presented by the college suggested it was growing rapidly (from 31% to 40% between Fall 1993 and Fall 1994). The largest minority group was Hispanic, representing 19% of all students. Although an average age for the student body was not available, other data showed Phoenix College students are fairly young: 17% are under age 19; 31% are between ages 20-25; and another 26% are between ages 26 and 35, leaving the remaining 26% over age 35. Like many community colleges, most students enroll part-time (over one-half of the students enroll for fewer than 7 credits). The majority of students enroll in transfer or college parallel education (61%). Another 39% enroll in occupational programs and only 15% are reported to be enrolled in adult, continuing, or basic education.
|Enrollment and Student Demographics||Incidence|
|Institution's total head count enrollment||19,800|
|Institution's FTE enrollment||6,500|
|Percent of total student population receiving Pell grants||UK|
|Average age of the institution's entire student population||UK|
Phoenix College serves both a downtown office market and a large urban school system, the Phoenix Union District. According to college figures, over 3,000 young people drop out of the Phoenix public school system per year and do not graduate from high school. Thirteen percent of all 17-year-olds enrolled in the district are functionally illiterate; 44% are only marginally literate. About 55% of the students are minority youth, and 40% of students qualify for free lunch programs. To address these very real and serious issues, the Phoenix College catalogue specifies the following goals:
In 1993, Phoenix College chose a new President who confronts significant challenges: (1) declining enrollment, (2) a growing minority student body, and (3) changing student preferences for day and evening courses. Phoenix has experienced an economic downturn with the failure of savings and loan and related financial institutions. The region is coming back economically, but retrenchment in urban employment has had a negative impact on enrollments of evening students. This trend and changing demographics within the urban center combine to create an increasingly minority, younger, and day-time student body. Less than 10% of the students enrolled in degree programs have employer-sponsored tuition. Most students do not receive financial aid either from government-sponsored programs or parents; the majority are independent and many are financially needy. Due, in part, to these factors, day enrollment has increased an average of 4% per year between 1985 and 1989, while evening enrollment has declined an average of 1.4% per year.
Therefore, confronted with a projected 15% enrollment decline in Fall 1993, the President instituted several important changes designed to build awareness that student needs are changing and arranged to accommodate those changes by (1) providing more tailored and supportive programs for underprepared students and (2) delivering more focused and flexible programs to business. The President motivated college faculty and staff to respond to these challenges with new modularized and intensive programming. In addition, she participates in city- and state-level groups forming new policy agendas. Based on these efforts, within one year the anticipated enrollment decline was cut in half according to figures provided by the Phoenix College Research Office.
Program Overview and Goals
The Phoenix College Management/Marketing Internship Program is really a cluster of seven Applied Business Department AAS degree and certificate programs. The following graphic shows how these programs are related to the two courses required for graduation: a three-credit internship in a company and a concurrent one-credit seminar of classroom instruction with other students participating in an internship.
The entire Management Internship System, of which the Management/Marketing Internship Program is a part, enrolled 144 students in Fall 1993 in a cluster of five different AAS degree/certificate patterns:
In Fall 1994, two new degree/certificate patterns were added: (1) quality process leadership and (2) quality customer service. Enrollments were not available for students in these programs.
Of the total of 144 students enrolled in the Management Internship System in the Fall of 1993, 70% were white, 15% were Hispanic, 8% were African-American, 6% were Native American, and 1% was Asian (see Table A-5). These figures indicate student demographics are similar to the college as a whole. An estimated 33 students were enrolled in the Management/Marketing Internship Program in the Fall of 1994. Of those, 18 were evening and 15 were day students.
|Enrollment and Student Demographics||Incidence|
|Total number of students enrolled in the program||144|
|Average age of students||UK|
|Percent of students receiving Pell grants||UK|
|Graduation rate for students||UK|
|Job placement rate for students||80%|
|Transfer rate for students||UK|
The Management/Marketing Internship Program was launched by Phoenix College in 1968 as part of a districtwide cooperative education program. The program has had an interesting and somewhat tumultuous history. The decision to require a work-based learning component as a graduation requirement for management and marketing was made by a former administrator for occupational education. Other colleges within the district adopted the Management/Marketing Internship Program curriculum, but during the past five years all other colleges have deleted the internship component as a requirement. Negotiations with the faculty (non-unionized in this district) have led to agreements that impose high costs on assignments to cooperative education courses. Consequently, cooperative education enrollments are on the decline across the district as instructional departments seek efficiency.
Phoenix College is the only remaining college in the district that requires the management/marketing seminar and internship within related degree/certificate patterns and is under pressure to delete these requirements to be consistent with a districtwide curriculum. Phoenix College is holding out primarily because the Department Chair and one full-time faculty member believe that work-based learning is an important component of the educational experience. They believe it achieves an important goal when it matches working students and their employers in a joint enterprise to make the job a learning experience. This happens most naturally with evening students who generally come to college already holding a job. For day students who represent a mix of employed and unemployed students, it is sometimes a greater challenge to link students with employers.
In some respects, the Management/Marketing Internship Program existing today is consistent with a cooperative education model that exists in other community colleges. A definition of cooperative education appearing in the Student Handbook: Cooperative Education distributed to all students says, "Cooperative Education makes it possible for a student to earn college credit for planned growth in a college major related job. Cooperative Education consists of a joint agreement between an employer, a college, and a student. Cooperative Education makes it possible for a student to put classroom learned knowledge and skills into practice on-the-job. On-the-job experience increases a student's employability." A sample syllabus for the related classroom seminar illustrates its relationship to the internship: "[The] course will involve the development of work-related objectives. The objectives will be jointly developed; agreed upon; and approved by the student, employer, and instructor. The seminar will cover varied business topics as student needs dictate." Sample topics include the following:
Interestingly, we observed that the model differs from some community college cooperative education programs where work-based learning is an elective course administered by a separate office within the college. At Phoenix, it is a graduation requirement for the seven feeder degree/certificate patterns and is administered by the Applied Business Department itself. In addition, the program is supported entirely through the college's general operating budget. It receives no special funding support from grants or other external sources.
Data regarding outcomes (i.e., transfer, degree, or certificate completion; job placement; career advancement) for students enrolled in the Management/Marketing Internship Program are not available. A part-time college research officer indicated that resources are not available for persistence studies on individual programs of the college. However, according to one faculty member, student retention in the seminar/internship courses is good, although corporate downsizing is impacting some students' retention. If students lose positions during the internship period, they can complete the seminar, but receive incompletes for the internship until other positions are obtained. According to the Applied Business Department Chair, about 80% of the students with internships are retained in employment after the internship.
One major issue the college faces regarding program completion and articulation is identifying a cohort of students coming from all related degree/certificate components who may benefit from transfer to the University of Phoenix in an articulated program. Currently, a sort of tracking system is occurring among evening and day students. Evening students are more likely to be employed and interested in learning TQM techniques. (New courses and degrees in these areas are recognized by major employers such as the Arizona Department of Transportation and are being offered on-site at such employers as the Automobile Association of America.) Evening students are viewed as part of a work-oriented, "terminal" education and may not be given the same level of encouragement to continue at the four-year college level as day students, creating different levels of expectations and opportunities for upward mobility for the two groups.
The Applied Business Department Chair plays a key role in the program. She has been involved with the program for many years and believes in it strongly. She is an advocate for student internship placements, permanent job placements, and counseling. She is a strong advocate for the program among her colleagues at the college.
For Fall 1994, one full-time faculty member and one part-time faculty member were assigned to the management seminar and internship courses. The full-time faculty member has experience in secondary distributive education and is responsible for the evening seminar and employer contacts. A part-time faculty member holds a master's degree in human resource development. She described her own internship experience as a university student as follows: "No goals. No structure. No pay. This program is entirely different. It offers a team relationship between the instructor and the supervisor on behalf of the student, someone who `might be a person who can move up.'" She is responsible for conducting the day seminar and a portion of the employer visits.
Counselors at Phoenix College are assigned to particular program concentrations or target populations. One counselor sees all students interested in management and related programs. This counselor does not recruit students into the management/marketing Programs or any other specific program. Instead, she focuses on student recruitment for the college as a whole. She also reviews the requirements of the management and related programs with students, and arranges for diagnostic tests to assure appropriate placement.
Academic faculty are not involved directly in the Phoenix College Management Internship System, although one English teacher is developing an applied course as part of the developmental/basic English sequence. She is surveying students to identify non-course writing assignments from the workplace or other aspects of their lives, and she is developing a new focus for her research course on students' community service activities.
School-Based Learning Component
The school-based learning component is strong and supportive of the work-based learning component. Students enroll in one of the seven related degree certificate patterns and hear orientations from internship-assigned faculty during regular course visits. All must enroll in the school-based seminar concurrently with the internship course, generally during the second semester. Each student writes objectives for the internship assignment, and the student and teacher meet with the employer to finalize them. Students share internship experiences in the seminar and learn about current business issues and trends across industries. Several themes are chosen each semester such as ethics, growth and self-awareness, and performance evaluation.
Work-Based Learning Component
The work-based learning component is best described by the students and teachers who participate in it. For one employed student, the program is a shared experience leading to visibility and possible promotion within her company. Here is an excerpt from our field notes:
When one student in her early forties made the decision to return to school a year and one-half ago, she chose Phoenix College because it is convenient to her workplace, and Phoenix College has "a better reputation than the other schools--better curriculum, faculty, and students." She went to the Applied Business Department Chair for advice in selecting a program of study. She enrolled in the management program and selected the internship component this term after hearing it explained by a faculty member who spoke to the students in one of her courses. Her long-term goal is to open a retail shop as an entrepreneur.
Employed by a major telecommunications company, the student described her supervisor's reaction to the internship: "Boy! Is my boss impressed. He didn't know about the program before, and he's working on a degree too. He's really pleased about having input in setting objectives and timelines and meeting to talk about the project." The student presented her Cooperative Education Learning Objectives Agreement with pride. The learning objectives focused on statistical analyses of unit productivity. This project is one that her supervisor needed, but its scope went beyond the normal demands of her job description. Excited about the expected importance of her results, he arranged for her to present her project to the company's vice presidents. In preparation, he met with her every two weeks to discuss progress.
The student takes this assignment very seriously and suggests that the program could be strengthened by focusing more strictly on measuring progress toward objectives. General discussions about developing management skills and self-awareness are important for students to share experiences, but she would like to see a stronger connection to specific student objectives. This student is an employed student who atypically attends the day seminar. According to the Department Chair and faculty member, the day seminar generally contains more students who are marginally attached to the labor market.
The Management/Marketing Internship Program has had a beneficial effect on another employed student. Here again is an excerpt from our field notes:
One young male student is employed at an automobile association. His female supervisor in senior management spoke of the internship process with high regard, recalling that she participated in it some years ago through another college in the Maricopa District. When informed that only Phoenix College continues to require the internship, she was at first incredulous and then incensed. She commented, "Community colleges will have to do more programs like this, not less, if they're going to survive." She believes that many employers have stopped working with the College because few programs relate to the working world. The University of Phoenix, a private four-year institution, offers more practical and relevant courses and has articulated the management, marketing, and fashion merchandising degree programs offered by the Phoenix College Applied Business Department. This student chose Phoenix College because of its strong Applied Business programs, and he will transfer to the University of Phoenix when he completes the associate degree. The manager would choose the University of Phoenix herself if she were returning to school.
The supervisor underscored how mutually beneficial a partnership between Phoenix College and companies can be by describing the company's tuition reimbursement policy. It pays for the student's education, and provides opportunities for customized training for the company's employees. Phoenix College is conducting total quality management (TQM) training on-site at the company. The supervisor attends a TQM course on the Phoenix College campus to obtain a broader perspective. She also works with the local technical high school and offers three-week internships for high school students focusing on industry and career exploration.
She speaks at schools all over the state about the changes occurring in the nature of work, the new skills required, and why the company invests in human resource development. The company cannot find enough qualified people to hire, and investment in education makes sense. For this company, a qualified employee understands geography, business writing, and problem-solving. These academic skills should be integrated into applied learning courses. TQM courses do this in a rare example. The linkage with the work setting provides a context, and shared experiences among working students extend this knowledge. Day students who are less likely to be working are at a disadvantage. One participant commented, "Day students don't have a reality context. Coursework becomes an extension of high school."
The supervisor and student provided a written and signed copy of his internship agreement, specifying clear, measurable objectives, and recorded results. He expressed satisfaction with the evening seminar where he shared experiences and business issues such as motivating employees and TQM techniques with his peers who work in several different industries. Both the manager and the student complimented the collaborative/peer-based learning in the Applied Business courses at Phoenix College. The manager indicated that this student/employee is a problem-solver and the internship/seminar components enhanced his capabilities. Such skills are very important to this company which is incorporating management and technological advances to improve its productivity. The peer-based and multiple industry nature of the seminar means that the company benefits from the knowledge of a student who advanced in other industries. According to a supervisor, the employee learns that "change is happening everywhere, not just in one company."
A brief visit to the day seminar highlighted differences between day seminar students who are less likely to be firmly attached to the labor market and evening students who are more likely to be employed. The class comprised about 12 students, all female, but in ethnic composition roughly comparable to reported enrollment data. The students spoke at first shyly and then more eagerly about the program. Their comments centered on their positive view about this practical course relating learning to work. Several students talked about the difficulty of juggling work, family, and school. One student mentioned that she is self-employed, representing what we perceived to be a weak form of internship where she is both supervisor and student.
Strong connecting activities exist between the school-based seminar and the work-based learning component. All students receive a copy of the District's Cooperative Education Handbook and use a standard written and signed agreement documenting learning objectives and evaluation criteria among the teacher, supervisor, and student. The faculty member meets with the employer and the student twice to finalize objectives for the internship and to assess progress; students arrange the meetings. Although they receive letter grades for the seminar, the internship is pass/fail. Students and supervisors are encouraged to set learning objectives that are an integral part of the work day. Both the teacher and supervisor are responsible for reviewing progress and guiding the student. College staff intervene if the student needs more assistance from the supervisor. And finally, students prepare a written report describing their experiences.
The Applied Business Department Chair conducts advisory committee meetings that focus on accomplishments and future plans. The Associate Dean of Instruction generally attends the meetings. The advisory committee meets quarterly and has eight members. One of the members of the program's advisory committee is a manager of the new home-based business division of a major telecommunications company. He is a member of the adjunct faculty of the college teaching TQM. He saw the target population for the Management Internship System as employed urban people. He believes that Phoenix College has a strong advantage over its suburban sister colleges. He stated, "People like what Phoenix College does, and they'd rather go there than to the suburban colleges."
A current issue being discussed by the advisory committee is how to infuse more curricula with TQM techniques. One advisory committee member predicts that college teachers will become consultants/advisors to the workplace rather than simply classroom teachers. This member's company is introducing a self-managed work environment, TQM techniques, and an intensive training program for employees. Unfortunately, neither this manager nor anyone from his unit has ever had a Phoenix College management intern. He became interested in education about 14 years ago as changes began to be introduced in management techniques. He has been associated with the college for seven years. He joins students and others in business who comment on Phoenix College's strong reputation. He stated, "Phoenix College has a good reputation. It's not just a junior college; its like a four-year college." He does note that the district's "college without walls" does have a reputation in the business community for more flexibility than Phoenix College which is "rooted in tradition." He echoes the automobile association manager who said, "Students need more than theory. They need to apply what they learn."
The Phoenix College Management/Marketing Internship Program is an example of a long tradition of community college linkages between the classroom and workplace. Administrators who lead the program believe strongly that internships not only provide opportunities for applied learning, but also teach the supervisor "how to work and train." In this sense, the model is a "work-to-school" model rather than the reverse. Clearly, the program borrows from cooperative education; yet, it is not classic co-op. Rather, students use their regular work site for the learning experience. This is feasible because most community college students are adults who work, presumably remaining in the workplace and progressing in careers. To facilitate this perspective, a crucial part of the Management/ Marketing Internship Program is a structured "experiment" undertaken by students on the job. This experiment is a tripartite arrangement among the college instructor, student, and employer, which also provides the backbone of the seminar. Through this and other activities, this program provides a real example of how work-based learning can reshape students' careers (including those employed in marginal, low-paying jobs) as well as reorient companies toward greater human resource investments.
As was stated previously, this program turns the idea of school-to-work around and emphasizes a work-to-school arrangement in which both the supervisor and student learn about how the workplace can be used as an applied-learning setting. In so doing, both the student and employer can benefit. The connecting activities between the seminar and the internship are important for any similar program. Expectations, written agreements, final reports, and meetings among the teacher, student, and supervisor provide a structure for the entire learning process. Staff encouragement for setting workplace-related learning objectives also strengthens the role and investment of the employer and profiles the student's advancement potential. Also, as a required component for graduation, the internship offers an economy of scale by drawing on several related degree/certificate patterns. The seminar provides working students with an opportunity to understand that business issues are not limited to one employer or one industry, preparing them for career decisions and problem-solving in the labor market.
The college does not set a wage for the internship since most students already are employed. Yet, the Applied Business Department Chair does assist students without jobs to find employment. Of course, the challenge of accommodating more day-time students who are marginally attached to the labor market is formidable. The burden is eased by the Department Chair's credibility in the business community. Her referral provides a strong recommendation for students seeking employment and employers recognized this advantage. One business person commented, "The Chair's card becomes a portable credential."
The program is kept alive through the student recruiting strategies of the Department Chair, and we question whether or not it could continue if she were to depart. One source of strength may be the alumni; however, they do not appear to be organized into a constituency that could mobilize support quickly. Consequently, the Management/ Marketing Internship Program works most effectively with students who are already employed. It is not suited for students who are not already in or are only marginally attached to the labor force. Yet, as student demographics shift, the program is being asked to accommodate those who are underprepared and lacking in financial support. Without additional resources, these expectations will be difficult for the program to meet.
The Management/Marketing Internship Program has existed for years without much recognition from the college administration. Most college administrators and faculty do not consider it to be innovative. Instead, the faculty think of themselves as under siege. They are continually challenged to demonstrate the worth of the program, especially in an era of fiscal austerity. The program's unique character as a work-to-school model, its resonance with the federal STWO legislation, and its potential impact on companies beginning to invest in employees are largely unrecognized within the college. We consider it unfortunate that Phoenix College does not recognize that the Management Internship System--a cluster of related degree and certificate patterns around required work-based learning requirements--is a strong and feasible model that could be used by many community colleges to expand co-op. The idea of clustering could be transferred to any occupational area, and work-based learning or internships could be added to create similar programs. Although not yet fully developed at Phoenix College, clustering could be an integral part of the academic portion of the program as well, especially where applied academics or integrated vocational and academic experiences are offered. Altogether, clustering might provide useful options for community colleges to launch work-based learning on a larger scale.
Besides concerns about sustaining the program, still another major challenge was reported. During the 1980s, the faculty in the Business Department became divided between those who advocated more applied learning strategies and those who promoted a more theoretical approach, creating an organizational split resulting in two departments: the Business Department offering an associate of arts (AA) degree in business administration and the Applied Business Department offering AAS degrees. Business administration students receive more theoretical instruction in anticipation of transfer to a university while the applied business students in the Management/Marketing Internship Program receive a terminal degree in preparation for immediate employment. Math plays an important gatekeeping role, evidenced by the following comment: "If students can't do calculus, they go to the Applied Business Department." Depending upon students' abilities to master calculus, their higher education options are either capped or extended. Consequently, students in the Management/Marketing Internship Program who do choose to transfer to a university must repeat courses considered nontransferable. Further, public universities have shown limited flexibility in establishing articulation agreements with the Applied Business Department degree programs. The one exception is the University of Phoenix, a private institution that is accepting AAS credits in transfer as part of an articulated program. According to an Associate Dean, 90 credit hours will be accepted within a 120-credit bachelor's degree program.
Due to the location of the college and focus of the program, a major constituency served by the college is downtown financial and other white-collar firms. Many major employers are literally within a mile of the campus, and the existence of a program in which students can gain college credit for activities on the job site is an attractive stimulus for the college and this program. Phoenix College is positioned, by virtue of its location but also by its long tradition and reputation for excellence, to act as a major partner in economic and educational restructuring. Given these advantages, it is unfortunate that the program is under siege. Instead of being seen as in step with the new federal STWO legislation, the faculty are embattled, protecting an expensive but apparently effective program. Because the program is thought to be excessively costly (low class size and work-based learning are nearly always more expensive than classroom instruction), the Applied Business Department Chair is being encouraged to seek alternative resources through customized training and other partnerships with business and industry. Moreover, she is challenged to illustrate how work-based learning can be more than a peripheral educational program by contributing to the city's economic recovery, an overwhelmingly complex expectation. Rather than eliminate this program, we encourage Phoenix College administrators to recognize its strengths: its long and proud history; its relevant work-based learning experiences, and its strong connecting activities with one of its recognized constituents--urban employers. To save the program, college administrators and faculty need incentives, financial and otherwise, to accommodate work-based learning. Hopefully, the nation's new STWO legislation can be used to help Phoenix College and other community colleges with similar programs to achieve that goal.