NCRVE Home | Site Search | Product Search

NCRVE Home | Full-Text Documents | Contents | Previous Section | Next Section

THE STUDY

Two-year colleges in the United States have a long history of providing work-based learning, especially in association with occupational-technical education. Recently, the nation has placed greater priority on strengthening school-to-work transition programs involving work-based learning by linking secondary and postsecondary curriculum. Given these trends, it is important to examine existing work-based learning in the context of two-year postsecondary education. It is particularly important to understand the features of highly effective work-based learning programs. Research describing the goals, elements, and outcomes of exemplary work-based learning programs is needed to better understand how to facilitate the role of two-year colleges in newer school-to-work systems.

By conducting research in this area, the following questions can be addressed: Who are the students, faculty, mentors, and others who contribute to work-based learning in two-year colleges? In what curricular areas does work-based learning exist at the two-year postsecondary level and what models are associated with those occupational areas? What do students experience and learn when involved in them? What factors contribute to the creation of highly effective work-based learning programs in two-year colleges? Answers to these questions are needed to assist policymakers and practitioners engaged in creating new school-to-work programs involving work-based learning or in furthering existing work-based learning programs of all types in the two-year college environment.

The purpose of this two-year study was to document the status of work-based learning in community, junior, and technical colleges. Phase One of the study, conducted in 1993, was a survey census of the nation's 1,200 two-year colleges to describe the scope, scale, and character of work-based learning programs already in existence at the two-year postsecondary level. Readers interested in the results of Phase One of the study are referred to the complete report entitled Work-Based Learning in Two-Year Colleges in the United States (Bragg et al., 1995). The purpose of Phase Two of the study, conducted in 1994, was to gain a more in-depth understanding of all aspects of selected exemplary work-based learning programs. The Phase Two research involved field-based case studies designed to provide qualitative observations and in-depth analysis of ten two-year college work-based learning programs.

To focus the entire study (Phases One and Two), a definition of work-based learning was provided along with a list of the most frequently used models such as clinical-professional and cooperative education. In our Phase One study and throughout this report, work-based learning is defined as

instructional programs that deliberately use the workplace as a site for student learning. Work-based learning programs are formal, structured, and strategically organized by instructional staff, employers, and sometimes other groups to link learning in the workplace to students' college-based learning experiences. Work-based learning programs have formal instructional plans that directly relate students' work-based learning activities to their career goals. These work-based learning experiences are usually but not always college-credit generating. Instructional programs that involve youth apprenticeships, clinical experiences, school-based enterprises, and formal registered apprenticeships are examples of work-based learning programs.

The Research Objectives

The primary goal of the study was to understand all aspects of successful work-based learning programs operating at the two-year college level. All programs studied were thought to be either mature and exemplary or young and showing promise. Because more is known about health programs than non-health, priority was given to studying non-health work-based learning programs, although two health programs were selected to provide a basis for comparison. Relative to all programs, the study attempted to examine a range of work-based learning models and to document the perceived quality of the programs according to different stakeholders, especially students, faculty, and employers.

The objectives of Phase Two of the study were to


NCRVE Home | Full-Text Documents | Contents | Previous Section | Next Section
NCRVE Home | Site Search | Product Search