Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Upgrading Knowledge of Vocational Evaluators: A Report of One State's Efforts

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Upgrading Knowledge of Vocational Evaluators: A Report of One State's Efforts

Article excerpt

The need for practitioners in rehabilitation services to stay current in knowledge and skills of their respective crafts fields has been and continues to be advocated by researchers and educators. In a special issue of Rehabilitation Education focusing on continuing education for rehabilitation personnel, McFarlane (1999) wrote that since 1974, there has been an increased demand and expectation for continuing education from many sectors of the rehabilitation community who realize how closely the quality of services are tied to current knowledge and skills (p. 1). Closely allied with acquisition of essential attitudes, knowledge and skills is the task of improving and implementing collaborative efforts among public rehabilitation agencies and universities to impact research and public policy (1999).

Writing in the same issue, Amick and Wesly (1999) addressed the need for collaborative efforts among agency and universities. The authors outlined strategies and approaches for implementing a continuing education program for the adult learner or non-traditional student. If rehabilitation agency personnel are to remain effective, the authors argued, these same individuals must continually acquire new skills, techniques and methodologies for job performance (p. 25). Yet, barriers may exist that prevent effective delivery of continuing education which, for purposes of this article, is meant to include the broader array of traditional instructor-student format of in-service trainings, workshops, distance learning, and classroom lectures.

Amick and Wesley identified four obstacles to learning that should be addressed when designing continuing education for the adult learner. First, university-agency partnerships need to be reexamined and reworked to be effective in the face of limited resources. Second, is to understand that adult learner differ from traditional university learners in motivation and experience. Third, it is important that faculty use a variety of learning strategies including class discussions, collaborative learning and group projects, peer teaching, independent learning, role playing and case studies to "customize" the learning experience. Finally, technology is critical to reaching individual learners and delivering continuing education programs. Distance learning, teleconferencing and videoconferencing, can outreach continuing education as well as in-service training and workshops to individuals and areas that may not otherwise have access to it.

In responding to the question of what is to be learned, it may be seen that much has been written in the literature about the role, competencies and knowledge domains of vocational evaluation for pre-service education programs and as practiced in public and private sectors (Berven & Wright, 1987; Dew, Garcia, & Forrester, 1999; Elkredge Fried & Grissom, 1991; Hamilton, 2003; Leahy & Wright, 1988; Newman, Waechter, Nolte, & Boyer-Stephens, 1998; Rubin & Porter, 1979; Taylor, Bordieri, Crimando & Janikowski, 1993; Taylor, Bordieri, & Lee, 1993; Wesolek & McFarlane, 1992). However, as Taylor et al (1993) conclude from their survey results of job functions of vocational evaluators, many of the respondents they surveyed claimed to have little formal training in vocational evaluation. The question then is, how to upgrade knowledge of vocational evaluation for practitioners. The work of Malcolm Knowles (1980, 1984) offers one method for addressing ongoing learning over the span of one's career.

Knowles' model for teaching adults that adapts traditional instructor-centered (pedagogy) methods to the learner no longer in the academic setting. Knowles's concept is referred to as learner-centered or andragogy and assumes that adult learners are self learners, come to the learning environment with a diversity of experiences, generally attach a more practical aspect to learning (e.g., problem solving), and are motivated for learning by internal or intrinsic factors rather than external extrinsic factors (Imel, 1989). …

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