New Products

The following new reports are available from the NCRVE Materials Distribution Service. You may order these documents by phone (800) 637-7652, by e-mail,, or by sending your request and/or purchase order to: NCRVE Materials Distribution Service, Western Illinois University, Horrabin Hall 46, Macomb, IL 61455.

Executive summaries and/or full text of recent NCRVE publications are available electronically on NCRVE's various online services. See the Cyberspace Update in this issue for instructions on how to access them.


Indigenous School-to-Work Programs: Lessons from Cincinnati's Co-op Education--J. C. Villeneuve, W. N. Grubb

Employers' attitudes towards education tend to range from indifference to hostility. Yet co-op programs, where students spend either alternate semesters or partial days throughout the school year at various job placements, have flourished in Cincinnati for decades. Villeneuve and Grubb explore in anecdotal style the special conditions that have contributed to Cincinnati's enduring and widespread cooperative education, and examine the implications for other communities developing school-to-work programs. They speculate that a peculiarly American form of work-based learning has developed in Cincinnati. This form is not dependent upon formal regulations, such as skill standards, but instead depends on (1) the employers' belief that co-op education is worthwhile, (2) frequent face-to-face discussions between employers and school placement coordinators, and (3) the commitment of both schools and employers to provide each other with high-quality students and placements. Under these conditions, a unique form of school-to-work program has evolved in Cincinnati--and can develop elsewhere.

MDS-702                    June 1996                    $7.00

Lessons from Life's First Teacher: The Role of the Family in Adolescent and Adult Readiness for School-to-Work Transition--W. L. Way, M. M. Rossmann

The role of parents in children's academic achievement has featured prominently in recent national debates. However, the contribution of the family to children's preparation for work is not well understood. This national study of 1,266 high school seniors and 879 two-year college students explores the family's role in developing readiness for school-to-work transition, as well as whether the family's role differs for adolescent and adult learners. The findings show that both parent participation in school and the family's style of relating strongly influence work readiness for both children and adults. The authors conclude that it makes good sense to include parents as partners in initiatives designed to improve the transition from school to work. Future school-to-work transition initiatives should incorporate a richer understanding of family involvement.

MDS-725                    June 1996                    $8.50

Workplace Skills in Practice: Case Studies of Technical Work--C. Stasz, K. Ramsey, R. Eden, E. Melamid, T. Kaganoff

Many believe that a "skills gap" threatens American productivity because students are not taught the generic skills of problem-solving, decision-making, communication and teamwork required in the new competitive business environment. The authors of this study test this belief by examining four diverse firms to see what skills and work attitudes are actually required. The study confirmed the importance of these skills, but also found that they vary considerably with work context in ways ignored by public policy. The authors noted that firms lack effective strategies for acquiring needed skills in their workforce, and that they do little to foster skill development among nonmanagerial workers. These instructive case studies will interest employers, industry groups, and policymakers, as well as educators involved with school-to-work transition issues.

MDS-773                    May 1996                    $12.50

Problem-Solving at a Circuit-Board Assembly Machine: A Microanalysis--J. Kleifgen, P. Frenz-Belken

The aim of this study was to describe workers' activities in a company that uses high-tech machines. In addition, researchers observed work in a small business setting since it represents the work situation for great numbers of people employed in the U.S. The firm selected was a small circuit board manufacturing plant located on the West Coast. Researchers determined what workers in this firm needed to know in order to operate new technologies, and how they performed this kind of work.

MDS-1043                    June 1996                    $5.50

Human Resource Directory

This resource directory lists contact information and the areas of expertise of NCRVE staff.

MDS-1052                    June 1996                    $3.25

The 1996 Agenda for the National Center for Research in Vocational Education

This report contains summaries of NCRVE's 1996 Research and Development projects, as well as Dissemination and Training activities. Also included is NCRVE's mission statement.

MDS-1053                    June 1996                    $7.00


Implications of Cognitive Science for Instructional Design in Technology Education--S. Johnson, R. G. Thomas

Educators today are faced with the problem of how to train students for a workplace where technology is changing so fast that most skills are outdated by the time students graduate. This study, a synthesis of recent cognitive research, suggests that one answer is to instruct in broad cognitive and metacognitive knowledge. Technical education can make good use of strategies which emphasize active learning and understanding over memorization. These authors describe the processes that underlie sound thinking and problem solving, such as metacognitive thinking, situated or contextualized learning, and near and far transfer of skills. A range of classroom techniques which encourage this kind of learning is outlined.

MDS-898                    Reprint Series                    $5.00

Education Through Occupations --W. N. Grubb

This brief article introduces the idea of education through occupations, outlining some emerging practices which use occupations to teach both theory and applications of conventional subjects. The most promising of these efforts, such as career academies, career majors, and focus schools, reshape entire schools. Other reforms, based on the integration of academic and vocational education, are linked with efforts to keep schools small; treat teachers as professionals; develop choice mechanisms for students; and promote constructivist, meaning-centered teaching. Norton Grubb, NCRVE's Berkeley site director, points out that education through occupations can eliminate the unproductive distinction between academic and vocational education, and invest the "shopping mall high school" with greater focus and purpose.

MDS-1048                    Reprint Series                    $2.00

School Climate in Emerging Career-Oriented Programs: Students' Perspectives--V. M. Hernández-Gantes, L. A. Phelps, J. Jones, T. Holub

Dozens of educational reform theories and curricular models contend for prominence, but so far little attention has so far been paid to the clients of all this activity: students. These researchers did something new: they asked students themselves how the "new vocationalism" is doing. Students from five career-oriented programs pointed to a range of factors that they considered key to their learning. Characterized as "school climate" by the authors, these factors include a supportive atmosphere; a variety of curricular options; high expectations; and an environment that provides both safety and diversity. The authors outline the challenges new career-oriented programs face in meeting all students' needs in increasingly diverse populations. The many quotations in this article bring to life students' excitement about education and work opportunities they might have otherwise missed.

MDS-1068                    Reprint Series                    $3.25

The Impact of Career Magnet High Schools: Experimental and Qualitative Evidence--A. L. Heebner

Heebner looked at New York City's career magnet schools to see if they give students better education and career guidance than comprehensive high schools. While students in career magnet schools showed some improvement in skills like math and reading, the greatest change was in attitude: their interest in learning, their planning for the future, and their awareness of the variety of careers available in broad fields like medicine or business. Heebner noted, however, that under-prepared and disadvantaged students are often not sufficiently supported by already overburdened school personnel. She concludes that New York City's magnet schools offer a promising blend of college and vocational preparation that helps diverse students.

MDS-1069                    Reprint Series                    $3.75

Factors That Influence the Career Development of African-American and Latino Youth--T. A. Fisher, M. B. Griggs

What helps minority students succeed in the job world? Subjective factors like self-confidence count most heavily for these students, whereas in the dominant culture objective factors (such as intelligence and family's occupational standing) control career success. These interviews with 20 African-American and Latino students indicate that parental support and personal and academic confidence are key to their achievements in work. Role models are another motivation for these students: both the desire to be a role model for others in their community, and the presence of role models in home, school, community, and personal life. Critical events such as death or illness in the family, or a friend's drug addiction, can exert a strong influence on students' career plans (as when a family's health problems led one student to choose medicine as her career). The quotations from students in this paper bring to life their experiences, desires and expectations about their future in the world of work.

MDS-1070                    Reprint Series                    $3.25

Students' Indicators of Quality in Emerging School-to-Work Programs--L. A. Phelps, V. M. Hernández-Gantes, J. Jones, D. Sanchez, A. H. Nieri

What do students think of the new school-to-work programs? Research has focused on program-level issues like curriculum and staff development, overlooking the views of the consumers--students. The many quotations in this paper show how a career orientation in schools inspires students, as they speak enthusiastically about opportunities to connect school and work, and to translate theories into practical applications. (As a student puts it, "I didn't want to get caught up in the book stuff.") The work-based component is clearly central to program success. As one student says, "the internship is better than the classroom experience because you are actually doing instead of seeing." Students also mention connecting learning and career development between secondary and postsecondary education as a program strength. The authors remind us of the continuing challenge to engage all students. They encourage the use of teaching methods such as journals that reflect students' voices more clearly, and suggest including students on governing boards and advisory panels so that their perspectives can influence professional development and curriculum building.

MDS-1071                    Reprint Series                    $3.75

Student Perspectives on Career-Oriented Programs: A Commentary on the Research--Frank T. Hammons

Evaluation of tech prep, school-to-work, career magnet schools and authentic learning has so far neglected students' perspectives. Their viewpoints are explored in the Voices of Diversity issue of Journal of Vocational Education Research (reprints available as MDS-1068 through 1071). Hammons uses the four articles in this issue to elucidate the aspects of career-oriented programs that affect students most strongly. One of the best things about their schools, students say, is the rigorous and varied curriculum. Other themes identified by students are: a strong support network for all students in and out of school; exposure to career opportunities through counseling and worksite experience; and opportunities for both higher education and work. Hammons encourages continuing research on students' perspectives, stressing the need for bigger sample sizes and careful selection methods. This article, as well as MDS-1068 through 1071, will interest everyone curious about what students think of the new vocationalism.

MDS-1072                    Reprint Series                    $2.50

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