A case study of a return-to-industry program, an inservice approach for vocational instructors at a two-year postsecondary institution

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This study was designed to examine a return-to-industry program, an inservice approach for vocational instructors at a two-year postsecondary institution. Specifically, the study (a) examined the process of collaboration with business and industry, and (b) assessed the impact of the return-to-industry program on the vocational instructors and the participating businesses and industries.

A naturalistic inquiry paradigm using the case study approach was the research design used for this study. This design was useful in identifying and describing the various patterns that emerged. with regard to the process of collaboration with business/industry and education. The design was chosen because there exists a need to document the dynamics of linkage between business/industry and education

Hagerstown Junior College was purposefully selected for this study. This site was chose because it provided the researcher an opportunity to study a maximum variety of individuals from different vocational programs as well as participating businesses and industries in the Hagerstown area.

The data was in the form of field notes obtained during observation, semi-structured, open-ended interviews, and an examination of the institutional records and documents associated with the return-to-industry inservice program.

An inductive comparative analysis of the data resulted in patterns, categories and themes which reflected the purpose of the resea:c·ch.. A portrayal of the process of collaboration and the impact of the return-to-industry program is provided through a thematic narrative.

The results of this study provide a process model for establishing a return-to-industry program for vocational instructors who wish to reinforce, update, and expand their technical skills. In addition, the results demonstrate the benefits to be derived by business, industry, and education through collaboration.

Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended that a follow up of the present study be conducted at the conclusion of the funding period to determine if results other than those reported have occurred, if the process of collaboration has been altered over time, and if collaboration has continued at a level that is of benefit to all the participants.