Trade and Industrial Education: A Climate For Reform

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to assess the climate for the adoption of a proposed reform model for secondary trade and industrial (T&I) education in Virginia. Vocational administrators and T&I instructors beliefs about the extent to which the adoption of the proposed model would precipitate selected outcomes were measured by using an instrument developed specifically for this study.

The population of this study included two sub-groups: secondary vocational administrators and secondary T&I instructors. Equal representation from the groups could not be guaranteed as a result of the sampling procedures employed for this study. Questionnaires were mailed to 145 vocational administrators identified from the list provided by the Virginia Department of Education. Responses were received from 120 administrators 83%). Two-hundred-ninety-five questionnaires were distributed to T&I instructors. Responses were received from 129 instructors (43.7%).

The study examined the climate for change in secondary T&I education programs in Virginia. It examined whether vocational administrators and T&I instructors believe that implementation of the proposed model would be likely to increase access to, the flexibility of, or the cost effectiveness of T&I programs. The extent to which administrators and instructors believed that increasing access, flexibility, and cost effectiveness would affect selected outcomes was also investigated. Finally, the study examined the degree of personal importance administrators and instructors placed on selected outcomes.

There was a similar belief between both groups that implementation of the proposed T&I reform model would result in increased access, flexibility, and cost effectiveness. Both groups were optimistic that access and flexibility would be increased with slightly less optimism being shown for increased cost effectiveness. Also, both groups were optimistic that outcomes dealing with "quality" issues (improve quality of programs and increase student quality) would be affected positively as a result of model implementation and that the image of T&I programs would also be improved by implementation of the proposed T&I reform model.

In general, administrators believed some reform outcomes less likely to be affected by increased access, flexibility, or cost effectiveness than others. Specifically, they believed it less likely that resources will increase or that the number of qualified instructors will increase merely as a result of implementation of the proposed model.

Instructors' responses were optimistic for all outcomes except the extent that increased cost effectiveness would achieve selected outcomes. Instructors, like administrators, did not show strong support concerning the likelihood of model implementation increasing cost effectiveness.

As a whole, both sub-groups appeared to be receptive to change. Although the proposed trade and industrial reform model may not in its current form accomplish the needed changes, administrators and instructors would seem to be accepting of attempts to reform secondary trade and industrial education in Virginia.

vocational education, trade and industrial education, education reform