Professional Development Courses: A Descriptive Study of Their Prevalence and Content in Collegiate Aviation

By Ruiz, Jose' R.; Worrells, D. Scott | ATEA Journal, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Professional Development Courses: A Descriptive Study of Their Prevalence and Content in Collegiate Aviation


Ruiz, Jose' R., Worrells, D. Scott, ATEA Journal


Introduction

As aviation educators, we strive to equip our students with the technical and managerial skills needed to succeed in the aviation industry. But are we doing enough to prepare students for the challenges inherent with pursuing employment in the aviation industry? Toward the end of an undergraduate student's academic career a forbidding sense of uncertainty begins to take shape, "I'm almost done - NOW WHAT??"

Experiential learning activities (e.g., externships, internships and cooperative programs) represent outstanding learning opportunities, allowing students to gain valuable employment experience in a professional environment. But how do students gain an awareness of the value potential employers place in such activities? How do students gain insight to aviation industry employment trends and issues? How are students being introduced to the mechanics of cover letter and resume construction? How are students being prepared for the protocol of a job interview? One method involves the inclusion of an aviation specific professional development course in a program's curriculum.

Background

What is an aviation professional development course? The following are sample course descriptions from three UAA member institutions with an aviation management or an airway science degree component (retrieved from online undergraduate catalogs):

Aviation professional issues. "A study of professional issues related to employment in the aviation industry. Topics discussed include attributes of aviation professionals, certification, and career planning. A review of the information and tools necessary for the student's job search is included" (Purdue, 2008, para. 1).

Aviation industry career development. Provides an overall description and forecast of the employment possibilities in the aviation industry, as well as, specific information regarding how to apply for such employment. Also covered is the preparation of the future aviation professional for the search for employment including such items as personal assessment, resume construction, interviewing skills, writing letters of appreciation, the use of references, networking, employment referral agencies/services and continuing education. (Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 2008, p. 186)

Aviation professional. "Career focus for management and flight students, including internships, writing, interviews, and employment search in aviation industry" (Arizona State University, 2008, para. 1).

Course titles and descriptions vary among institutions, but the focus of an aviation professional development course appears to be on employment issues in aviation, career planning, and developing the skills required to engage in the employment process.

Purpose of the Study

This research study seeks to identify how UAA member institutions, with an aviation management or airway science degree component, communicate aviation professional development topics to their students. Should an aviation specific professional development course be a required component of a collegiate aviation program?

Research Questions

1. How many UAA member institutions, with an aviation management or airway science degree component, offer an aviation specific professional development course in their aviation curriculum?

2. What topics should be addressed in an aviation specific professional development course?

3. What means are used to communicate aviation specific professional development topics to students?

4. Should an aviation specific professional development course be required in a collegiate aviation program?

Methodology

Research Design

When selecting a research design, several issues should be considered, including the purpose of the study, the nature of the problem, and the alternatives appropriate for its investigation (Isaac & Michael, 1995).

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Professional Development Courses: A Descriptive Study of Their Prevalence and Content in Collegiate Aviation
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