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FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

The focus of this study was on identifying exemplary policies and practices related to work-based learning in the two-year college. A summary of the key features of the two-year colleges and work-based learning programs selected for site visitation is presented in this section. Evident in Table 3 is the fact that seven of the eight two-year postsecondary institutions in the study were community colleges. Only one of the institutions was another form of two-year institution, a junior college. The colleges were located in the South, Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest regions of the country. To address one of the four research objectives, four of the colleges were located in rural areas or small towns of less than 150,000 and four were located in urban areas with populations over 350,000. The enrollments were positively related to size of the local population with the larger colleges located in urban areas and the smaller ones in rural vicinities. The exceptions were a rural college in the South with a reported head-count enrollment of over 16,000 and an urban college in the Midwest with a head-count enrollment of 9,000.

Summary Description of the Work-Based Learning Programs

The occupational-technical areas represented in the study were the two health programs of nursing and radiologic technology. The remaining programs were all in the non-health areas of early childhood education, agricultural/horticulture, marketing/ management, restaurant management, culinary arts, and manufacturing technology. The occupational-technical areas of culinary arts and manufacturing technology were represented in two of the programs selected for the study because they were thought to be particularly effective representations of youth and adult apprenticeships. Other models that were studied in relation to these programs were clinical-professional, school-based enterprise, and co-op. Two of the programs also had a Tech Prep component.

Several programs used more than one model to provide students with work-based learning experiences, usually mixing co-op or school-based enterprise with another work-based learning model. In a few sites, the school-based enterprise model was used early to midway through students' educational programs to provide structured learning in a safe but realistic work setting. Later on, as students reached the midpoint or even later in the program, work-based learning occurred in the actual workplace using co-op or clinical-professional experiences. A form of this progression was evident in the two youth apprenticeship programs as well. In one program, the youth apprentices first entered an academy housed in a dedicated area in a local manufacturing firm; in the other program, the apprentices were in a joint vocational school. In either setting, students acquired vocational and academic competencies pertinent to the local manufacturing firms. Later, after students had mastered the competencies designated appropriate for the academy or joint vocational school, they advanced to an apprenticeship arrangement in a firm.

Table 3
Key Characteristics of Two-Year Colleges
and the Selected Work-Based Learning Programs

Two-Year
College
LocationLocal
Population
College
Enrollment
Work-
Based
Learning
(WBL)
Model
Program
Area(s)
Program
Enrollment
Rowan-Cabarrus Community CollegeSalisbury, NC22,670
(Rural)
16,873-
Undup, Head
Count
Clinical and School-Based EnterpriseEarly Childhood Education339
Wenatchee Valley Community CollegeWenatchee, WA17,257 (Rural)4,000-Head Count; 2,000-FTECo-op and School-Based Enterprise/Tech PrepHorticulture/Tree Fruit Production 55
Phoenix CollegePhoenix, AZ923,750 (Urban)19,800-Head Count; 6,500-FTECo-opManagement/Marketing144
Northwestern Michigan CollegeTraverse City, MI15,156 (Rural)5,747-Head Count; 2,483-FTECo-op and School-Based EnterpriseResort Management92
Delgado Community CollegeNew Orleans, LA531,700 (Urban)29,546-Head Count; 23,640-FTEFormal Apprentice/ClinicalCulinary Arts/Radiologic Technology187/110
Columbus State Community CollegeColumbus, OH569,570 (Urban)17,042-Head Count; 9,851-FTEFormal Apprentice/ClinicalCulinary Arts/Nursing Technology87/344
Rock Valley CollegeRockford, IL134,500 (Rural-Small Town)9,113-Head Count; 4,320-FTEYouth Apprentice and Tech PrepMfg. Technology10
Tulsa Junior CollegeTulsa, OK368,330 (Urban)30,481-Head Count; 19,422-FTE Youth ApprenticeMfg. Technology16

The progression of work-based learning experiences evident in the programs studied has several potential benefits. For students, it provides a logical sequence of learning experiences to assist in the transition into the workplace. For colleges, there is an enhanced level of control over the early stages of the program, ensuring that all students experience a range of workplace experiences in a relatively risk-free environment. Finally, for employers, there is an assurance students have mastered basic academic, technical, and workplace competencies before they take positions in local firms.

The programs ranged in size from only ten to over 300 students. The two largest programs, one in Nursing Technology and another in Early Childhood Education, had over 300 students. Several programs had moderate enrollments of between 80 and 200 students; these programs included management/marketing, restaurant management, and culinary arts. The two programs with the smallest enrollments of less than 25 students were the Youth Apprenticeship Programs. Besides these two programs, the size of the program was not related to a particular occupational-technical area or work-based learning model. However, a factor that did seem to be related to program enrollment was the availability of adequate resources of all types from the colleges and local employers, especially human and financial resources.

Students who participated in the programs were primarily adult students ranging in average age from 25 to 35 years. This was true for all the programs except the Youth Apprenticeship Programs where most students were 18 to 19 years old. Typically, the adult students had returned to the colleges on a part-time or, less frequently, a full-time basis to make career changes. Most if not all had prior work experience, and some already had completed college. A small percentage of students had obtained associate, baccalaureate, or even graduate degrees prior to enrolling in the work-based learning program.

In addition to age, there was a propensity for enrollments in certain occupational-technical programs to be gender related. For example, nearly all the students in early childhood education, management/marketing, and the health occupations were female. In contrast, the vast majority of students in tree fruit production (agriculture) and manufacturing technologies were male. Minority students were enrolled in all of the programs, but not to the extent one might expect in some urban or geographic locations. For example, in one region where a large minority population is evident in the labor force, only 4% of the students were minority, raising concerns about access and selection into the work-based learning program. Finally, although the percentage of Pell grant recipients was known for only a few of the programs, in all of these approximately 20% of the students received the Pell grant.

Work-Based Learning Program Outcomes

Table 4 presents selected outcomes attributed to each of the programs. In addition, the table shows how the major components of the STWO Act--the school-based learning component, the work-based learning component, and the connecting activities component--were implemented. (An in-depth discussion of the findings from each field study appears in Appendix A.) Program staff provided qualitative observations; however, quantitative evidence of the outcomes of the programs was scarce. Most of the program staff were able to report job placement rates. Four programs gave 100% job placement rates, and two others provided rates of 95% and 80%. A health program indicated a 100% licensure passage rate. These outcomes are positive, but they do not present the whole story. Graduation rates were substantially lower, ranging from 4% to 67%. In fact, most programs reported graduation rates below 15%. The matriculation rate from secondary to postsecondary education was available for one youth apprenticeship program, and it was 67% from high school to the two-year college. (Although a matriculation rate was not available for the other youth apprenticeship program, the rate was probably lower since the two-year college component of the program was optional.) Finally, only two programs reported a transfer rate to the four-year college level. The Nursing Technology Program showed a 21% transfer rate and the Restaurant Management Program reported 35% of their students transferred, often without obtaining the two-year degree.

Considering the outcomes as a whole, we have a spotty picture of the results of the work-based learning programs. With regard to job placement--transitioning students from college into regular work--results are positive. Nearly all of the programs provided very high rates of job placement, and other information obtained from the field visits support the fact that many of these placements were with employers where work-based learning was provided. With respect to another outcome--program completion or graduation--the programs did not appear as successful. In nearly all of the programs, the vast majority of students were not completing with a formal degree or certificate. The impact this phenomenon has on students is unknown, and a longitudinal investigation is needed to determine what ramifications occur for students who fail to complete programs with an "official" credential. Little or no data was provided regarding other educational outcomes such as academic, occupational-technical, or workplace skill attainment.

Table 4
Selected Features of Work-Based Learning Programs

Selected Features of Work-Based Learning Programs
College--Brief Program Description and Selected OutcomesSchool-Based Learning ComponentWork-Based Learning ComponentConnecting Activities
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, NC (RCCC)
Early Childhood Education Program

Program Description:
Career ladder of early childhood education programs culminating in three credentials: (1) 33-quarter hour certificate; (2) 68-quarter hour one-year diploma; and (3) two-year AAS degree, qualifying students for CDA and NC child care credentials

Students and Outcomes:

339 students (95% female, 16% minority, average age 35, 11% Pell grant recipients

33% graduation rate

100% job placement rate

Coursework focusing on the preschool environment, school-age environment, and special needs

Student-initiated research projects to facilitate vocational and academic integration

Formal career awareness, orientation, and guidance

Developmental education, testing, follow-up, and Student Success program

Three practicums: (1) with preschool age in variety of settings, (2) with school-aged children in public school setting, and (3) advanced work experience in area chosen by students

Internship--10 hours per week in chosen area

On-site Early Childhood Center (school-based enterprise)

Workplace mentors who provide periodic evaluation of student progress

Formal governing/advisory board

Curriculum advisory committee which meets twice per year

Written articulation agreements with (1) public schools, (2) other two-year colleges, (3) four-year universities

Practicum notebook kept by students to link school-based and work-based learning

Wenatchee Valley College, WA (WVC)
Tree Fruit Production Program (TFP)

Program Description:
Two-year AAS-degree program combining horticulture science and related agriculture/plant science with hands-on production experience

Students and Outcomes:

55 students (majority male, 4% minority, average age 28, 55% Pell grant recipients)

50% graduation rate

100% job placement rate

Of the 120-quarter hours required, 40-quarter hours are in general studies with remainder of program in agriculture/horticulture

Emphasis on team decision-making and real-world TFP practices

First-year students work (unpaid) in a commercial-grade, college-owned orchard (school-based enterprise); first-year students supervised by second-year students

Second-year students arrange for on-site internships (co-op)--8 credits; 400-clock hours

Advisory committee comprised of representatives of local TFP businesses

Articulation agreements with (1) local Tech Prep program(s) and (2) four-year university (concurrent enrollment for part of program)

Phoenix College, AZ
Management/Marketing Internship Program

Program Description:

Cluster of seven applied business department AAS-degree and certificate programs requiring internship and seminar.

Students and Outcomes:

144 students (mostly female, 30% minority)

80% job placement rate

1-credit hour classroom seminar is a requirement for students participating in internship. The seminar covers topics such as management styles, motivation, goal-setting, marketing, and stress management.

Counselor provides information about program requirements and arranges diagnostic testing for all students.

Applied English course is part of remedial sequence.

3-credit hour internship (co-op) administered by the Management/Marketing Program.

Most students come to the college already holding jobs, so they customize the work-based learning experience around their own career needs.

The model focused more on work-to-school transition than school-to-work.

Supervisor and student create a written and signed internship agreement with clear, measurable objectives--the agreement is endorsed by a college faculty member.

Advisory committee meetings are held on a quarterly basis.

Articulation agreement is in place with local private four-year college.

Northwestern Michigan College (NMC)
Resort and Restaurant Management Program

Program Description:

66-hour AAS-degree program in Resort and Restaurant Management, utilizing the local Rotary Club's Park Place Hotel

Students and Outcomes:

92 students (about 50% female, 9% minority, average age 28, 22% Pell grant recipients

14% graduation rate

100% job placement rate

35% transfer rate

First-year students take classes on campus in primarily the liberal arts with one related course taught at the work site.

Second-year students take classes at the Park Place Hotel primarily in business and hospitality areas.

Integration of vocational and academic education is linked to restaurant management.

Second-year students are required to have 30 hours per week work experience in the Park Place Hotel and Oleson Conference Center (co-op-type WBL model)

Job rotation through different jobs (pay contingent upon jobs)

Off-site internship required (e.g., Disney, Opryland)

Faculty work across college and work sites.

Worksite mentors provide coaching of students regarding career choices.

Adjunct faculty (hotel staff) compensation is made according to student-contact hours.

Delgado Community College, LA (DCC)
Radiologic Technology Program

Program Description:

Two-year (AAS), 60-65 credit hour program preparing certified radiologic technicians.

Students and Outcomes:

Of 1,000 applicants, 55 students admitted per year (36% minority, 29% Pell grant recipients; average age 25)

100% licensure passage rate

4% graduation rate

Large waiting list for about 55 slots per year.

Admission requirement of 2.0 of 4.0 cumulative grade point average.

Most students are admitted to DCC and taking course requirements prior to admission to program.

This program is a typical health-care clinical model: five semesters plus two summer sessions, including general education and occupational course

Counselors and other support staff monitor students in the program.

2,400 hours of clinical experience in one hospital (approx. 40 hours per week, unpaid for two years)

Log required to document mastery of competencies. Hospital staff and college faculty certify accomplishment of competencies.

13-affiliated hospitals contribute approx. $200,000 of services and supplies annually to program

Formal written agreements between college and hospitals

Frequent communication between college faculty and hospital personnel

Informal network of graduates supports the program

Delgado Community College, LA (DCC)
Culinary Arts Program

Program Description:

Formally accredited, three-year (AAS) Culinary Arts Program approved by the American Culinary Federation and the Bureau of Apprenticeship Training/U.S. Department of Labor

Students and Outcomes:

187 students (28% minority, average age 28, 19% Pell grant recipients)

100% job placement rate(p> None eligible to graduates from the new program yet

Students take 8-10 hours of class one day per week.

On-site classes to address the general core of general education are lecture and laboratory oriented.

Formal program of career awareness and orientation, relies heavily on first 500 hours of instruction on campus.

Requirement of 6,000 hours of on-the-job training (2,000 per year) in approved site under the supervision of executive chef (plus 900 hours of classroom instruction)

Paid work experience in site formally contracted with college

Job rotation

Daily log kept to document activities; the log is required for ACFEI certification.

Formal contracts between restaurants and college

ACFEI guidelines encourage lifelong learning through recertification and job promotion.

Columbus State Community College (CSCC)
Chef Apprenticeship Program

Program Description:

Formally accredited, three-year (AAS) Culinary Arts Program approved by the American Culinary Federation and the Bureau of Apprenticeship Training/U.S. Department of Labor

Students and Outcomes:

30 students admitted per year of approximately 100 applicants

87 students (7% minority, average age of 26)

10 graduates for '92-'93 academic year

Retention rate for the Restaurant Management Department where the Chef Apprenticeship Program is housed is 32%

22 credit (quarter) hours in general education; 22 credit hours of basic related coursework; and 66 credit hours of coursework in the major, including work-based instruction

Five-step applicant screening process

Requirement of 6,000 hours of on-the-job training (2,000 per year) in approved site under the supervision of executive chef (plus 900 hours of classroom instruction)

Paid work experience in site formally contracted with college

Training log documenting skills performed in each work station; needs to be reviewed periodically; job rotation necessary

Strong, formal partnership between the American Culinary Federation and CSCC through the local apprenticeship committee

ACFEI guidelines encourage lifelong learning through recertification and job promotion

Columbus State Community College (CSCC)
Nursing Technology Program

Program Description:

Associate degree registered nursing program approved by the National League of Nursing and the Ohio Board of Nursing

Students and Outcomes:

344 students (20% minority, average age of 31)

67% graduation rate

95% placement rate

21% transfer rate(p)

Seven quarter program with courses equally divided among technical and academic subjects

Three-phase pedagogical approach, combining lecture, laboratory/ simulation, and clinical experience

Computer laboratory with simulated problems

5-18 hours of clinical experiences per week

Rotation through a variety of health-care facilities and cross-training

Strategic selection of clinical placements to enhance the match between students and employers

Advisory committee actively involved in curriculum decisions

Focus groups with employers of graduates to identify needed program changes

Rock Valley College, IL (RVC)
Tech Prep/Youth Apprenticeship Program

Program Description:

Tech Prep/Youth Apprenticeship models combined to provide manufacturing technology training for students in grades 11-12. Students continue to RVC and may elect to continue with formal apprenticeship under employer sponsorship.

Students and Outcomes:

Of the 30 applicants, 15 admitted in first year of the program. By the third year, 31 students admitted for 31 industry-sponsored slots

10 of 15 first-year students matriculated directly to RVC (average age of 18-19)

Integration of vocational and academic education across the curriculum, not an applied academics approach.

Infusion integration model utilized

Use of an employer facility and a consortium-sponsored "Academy"

9-week summer session to introduce manufacturing occupations

2,000 hours of on-the-job training toward the machinist journeyman card

Job rotation ensures students see all aspects of the industry

Nurturing relationship between youth apprentices and workplace meisters

Formal governing structure involving many local manufacturing firms (primarily small shops)

Formal contracts and letters of agreement

Individualized counseling and support services

Temporary agency recognized as a partner to pay student wages

Tulsa Junior College, OK(TJC)
Craftmanship 2000

Program Description:

Youth apprenticeship in manufacturing technology field extending from grades 11-14, involving local high schools, area vocational center, TJC, the Chamber of Commerce, and local manufacturers

Students and Outcomes:

16 students matriculating to TJC (average age of 18-19 years old)

Integration of vocational and academic education utilizing applied academics

Extensive use of area vocational center for occupational/technical training and simulated work experience during grades 11-12

Intensive summer work experience utilizing the youth apprenticeship model with local manufacturing firms and workplaces mentors called meisters (after the German apprenticeship model) Formal governing board to oversee major program decisions

Private corporation/foundation used to provide youth apprentices with compensation

Formal articulation agreements--secondary to 2-year to 4-year postsecondary education

Mentor training and regular consultation between work-place meisters and college faculty

Selected Features of the Programs Compared to the STWO Act

Selected features of each of the work-based learning programs was examined in relation to the STWO Act components of school-based learning, work-based learning, and connecting activities.

The School-Based Learning Component

The school-based learning component requires the integration of vocational and academic education, career exploration and counseling, instruction in a particular career area, selection of a career major by grade 11, and periodic evaluations. An extension of the secondary program to the postsecondary level is encouraged, similarly to Tech Prep. Besides the Youth Apprenticeship Programs, only one of the work-based learning programs studied established a formal secondary component that approximated the secondary-to-postsecondary curriculum structure advocated by the STWO Act. Three other program leaders were enthusiastic about adding Tech Prep, but none had formal plans at the time of our visits in the fall of 1994.

Several of the programs indicated the availability of career awareness, orientation, and guidance services, as well as individualized assessments to ensure proper placement in the academic subjects of math and English. These support services were valued highly by students. In regards to vocational and academic curriculum integration, many of the programs used a traditional approach of offering occupational-technical coursework along with selected general education courses. A few of the programs identified applied academics courses to meet the general education requirements. This approach was used by one of the Youth Apprenticeship Programs. The other Youth Apprenticeship Program was using a combination of an academy and an infusion model of curriculum integration at the secondary level. At the college level, vocational and academic integration was just beginning with the support of a demonstration grant to develop Tech Prep curriculum at the postsecondary level.

These findings indicate that some elements of the school-based learning component presented by STWO legislation are addressed by the work-based learning programs. For example, career awareness and guidance, assessments, and other support services were implemented in the majority of programs. In contrast, a secondary curriculum component was not evident in most programs. Also, few programs implemented vocational and academic integration consistent with the advanced models described by Grubb (1995a). These deficiencies need to be remedied if the programs intend to be consistent with the STWO Act. However, given that the majority of the students of these programs are adults and not likely to transition directly from the secondary level, modifications for the legislation may not be desirable to local programs. Rather, changes to enhance the quality of the programs for older students might be more appealing, including formalizing articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities to ensure students have greater upward educational and career mobility.

The Work-Based Learning Component

The work-based learning component involves paid or unpaid work experiences, workplace mentoring, and instruction in workplace skills in all aspects of an industry. Students should be able to progress to higher-level skills, and they should be prepared to advance in a particular career field. Except for the health occupations which traditionally do not pay student interns, all of the programs offered work-based learning experiences to students that were paid. Several of the programs offered graduated pay scales so that student wages increased as they acquired more work experience and more advanced occupational and academic performance. When this feature was present, it was described positively by program staff, employers, and students.

In addition to compensation, the programs were providing students with a broad array of work experiences, sometimes across numerous firms and other times within one firm. These experiences were progressive in nature, often beginning with exposure to a broad career field (within a school-based enterprise operated by a college, for instance) and continuing to an in-depth and focused experience in a particular occupational-technical area. Particularly in the beginning, students' work experiences did not tend to be confined to one job. As students advanced, their work experiences did become more focused, sometimes requiring the selection of a particular specialization such as day care within the early childhood profession. When this occurred, students did not complain of their work being too narrow or confining; they understood the logic in preparing for a particular job within a broader career field. Some students did attribute their work-based learning experience to helping them decide against entering a particular occupation. Even then, students indicated the decision was based on a better understanding of the career field, not on a particularly negative circumstance. In fact, no issues of exploitation or discrimination were identified in any of our interviews with students. Although the need for mentor training was identified as a way to improve several of the work-based learning programs, this recommendation came from various sources, including students, the faculty, and workplace mentors themselves.

With regard to the activities associated with the work-based learning component, the programs showed numerous strengths. They provided extensive work-based learning activities for students that moved from being very comprehensive to highly focused. The experiences gave students the opportunity to learn and experience a broad career field as well as a particular occupation within that field. All of the non-health work experiences were paid, including the youth apprentices; health experiences were not. Finally, most of the programs designated a formal mentor or supervisor in addition to the college personnel who provided on-site oversight. However, concerns about adequate mentor training were raised in several of the sites. Apparently, the programs could be improved, and student worksite learning enhanced, if mentor training was offered in a more relevant, focused, and consistent manner.

The Connecting Activities Component

School-to-work connecting activities are supposed to facilitate the student's transition from learning in school (college) to learning at work. These activities are carried out by various stakeholders, including employers, college administrators, workplace mentors, faculty, counselors, and even students. Examples of connecting activities are career counseling, professional development, technical assistance, job placement, and program evaluation and follow-up.

Many connecting activities were implemented in support of student work-based learning experiences. Often, the activities were provided as a part of the regular support services available to the entire student population of the college. Career counseling, job placement, and program evaluation were offered in this manner. However, in some cases, support services were customized for students participating in a work-based learning program. This was evident when a counselor or job placement officer was assigned to a work-based learning program to provide special services to students (i.e., providing counseling after regular hours or in accessible places). When this was accomplished, students and others viewed the services as more central to program operations and outcomes.

Finally, although a few of the sites did provide exceptional connecting activities, especially in student support services, we observed deficiencies in this area relative to the expectations established by the STWO Act. In some colleges, few faculty (particularly academic) seemed aware that work-based learning existed at their institution, except possibly in the health fields. Many had little or no detailed knowledge of specific programs. In addition, none of the colleges provided institution-wide professional development regarding work-based learning opportunities for students. Sometimes, professional development in how to supervise students in work sites or to assist workplace mentors was extended to faculty in the programs. Usually they were expected to rely on their past work experiences and to develop an approach that would work best for them. Because many of the faculty associated with these programs were highly experienced, concerns did not surface regarding the adequacy of college supervision. However, in another situation where personnel are less experienced, issues could arise. This finding suggests that a program of professional development should be offered to prepare all college personnel about work-based learning, especially those supervising students. To ascertain the benefits of these programs to potential stakeholders, a formal program evaluation and follow-up process needs to be developed to ensure outcomes are assessed.


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