The National Career and Technical Education Research Agenda

Article excerpt

ESTABLISHING A CURRENT RESEARCH AGENDA WITH KEY RESEARCH ACTIVITIES IS CRUCIAL for the continuous development of career and technical education (CTE) programs that meet the needs of students, industry and society. Research frameworks for CTE were developed over the past decade from studies completed by Lewis (2001) and Pearson and Champlin (2003). Lewis (2001) conducted a needs-sensing study in 2000 in collaboration with the National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education (NDCCTE) and the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE). Pearson and Champlin (2003) completed a follow-up of the Lewis study with the NDCCTE and NRCCTE. Most recently, the National Assessment of Career and Technical Education (NACTE) proposed a research agenda for CTE in response to the Congressional mandate outlined in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV). Rojewski (2002) noted that few descriptive research frameworks existed for CTE. He suggested that a conceptual framework for a research agenda should be based on the existing literature, the current state of education reform, and projections of future direction for the economy, work-family-community demands, and CTE.

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The conceptual framework that provided the primary foundation for this study was based on investigations and reports produced by Buriak and Shinn (1989, 1991, 1993), Radhakrishna and Xu (1997), Silva-Guerrero and Sutphin (1990), and Rojewski (2002). Each of these researchers concluded there was, indeed, a need for focused, relevant and rigorous research in CTE. The following graphic illustrates the conceptual framework that was used in this Delphi investigation to arrive at the elements of a new research agenda for CTE. In addition to research problem areas from the aforementioned researchers, input was secured from CTE stakeholders using a modified Delphi design, and members of the research committee of the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

The primary purpose of this study conducted during 2007-2008 was to identify consensus among nationally dispersed CTE experts using a Delphi technique regarding problems, objectives and activities that comprised a research agenda for CTE. The study panel was composed of experts from the United States and the District of Columbia who represented 57 affiliations and organizations with direct ties to CTE. The Delphi process for this study was conducted in three rounds. Data were collected using the online survey collector, Survey Monkey. The qualitative data were analyzed using the Affinity Diagram method of data analysis.

The basic structure for the National CTE Research Agenda was developed at the conclusion of the data analysis from the Delphi rounds. Rounds four and five served as validation rounds for the findings from earlier in the Delphi process. Data collection methods included online instruments using an Internet-based survey tool. Data analysis revealed five research problem areas, 15 research objectives and 53 research activities which were organized into the agenda structure. Findings from this study were placed into a CTE Research Agenda Logic Model which clearly illustrates a systematic approach to addressing the research questions identified in this study. The National CTE Re search Agenda Logic Model and the National CTE Research Agenda structure were accepted by 97 percent of the expert panel members (Lambeth, 2008). This summer at ACTE's board meeting, held in Alexandria, Virginia, the National CTE Research Agenda was accepted as the model for future program and professional development. Currently, discussion is in progress by ACTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education Research (ACTER) regarding the dissemination and implementation process for the agenda.

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The agenda is presented using a color model which includes the five research problem areas (RPA) and 15 CTE research objectives (RO) identified in this study. …