Academic journal article Education

Tech Prep and the Development of Personal Qualities: Defining the Affective Domain

Academic journal article Education

Tech Prep and the Development of Personal Qualities: Defining the Affective Domain

Article excerpt


A recent and important trend in public school education concerns helping students develop the essential technological skills for them to become a part of a "world-class work-force,, (U.S. Government Report, 1991). Indeed, public school education has been under considerable criticism by parents, professionals, and the business/industrial community for the past several decades for failing to prepare students for the workplace. Several states have already developed tech prep programs in response to the problem and the United States Department of Labor (1991) published a series of reports on this topic known as The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) under the title, What Work Requires of Schools: A SCANS Report for America 2000. Among other things, this latter work suggested that public schools be reformed to help make the development of a world class workforce possible.

Significantly, recommendations for reforming secondary education have in part focused on acquiring skills that meet the categorized definitions listed in the SCANS report. An important supposition of the SCANS listing of competency areas is that they could serve as the basis for curriculum development meeting job performance criteria. Identified in the SCANS report is a three part foundation skills section which includes 1) basic skills, 2) thinking skills , and 3) personal qualities. Ideally then, teachers in the secondary school will integrate these foundation skills into the teaching and curriculum design process. However, an essential problem arises when attempts are made to implement the third area mentioned in SCANS: teaching personal qualities. This problem concerns the failure of the SCANS report to define in a functional manner the nature of personal qualities. Specifically, a workable definition of the affective domain was not included in the report. However, included in the personal qualities section of the SCANS report were the affective constructs of responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, and integrity/honesty. The commission arrived at the constructs by asking several business and industry leaders what personal qualities they considered essential for their workers. The list was then validated by conducting interviews with fifty random sampled workers to see if they concur that the list was complete. The sample was intended to represent the nation's diverse workforce.

The problem of a lack of a clearly articulated idea in SCANS regarding developing personal qualities can be seen in the struggle by several states to implement the SCANS model. For example, several Indiana teachers assigned to teach Teach Prep classes have developed lesson plans by using a model designed to list activities for acquiring each of the SCANS competencies in order to accomplish a task or project. Of significance in their plans is the absence of strategies for including personal quality skills (Ricklin, 1993). Similar problems have been noted in other states implementing tech prep programs (New York State Education Department, 1990; and Michigan Governor's Commission on Jobs and Economic Development, 1987).

These attempts by several states to flesh out or more clearly articulate the task of teaching personal qualities, suggest the need to define more precisely the affective goals mentioned in the SCANS model. Consequently, it may be helpful to look at recent research regarding defining the affective domain as a first step in this endeavor.

Defining the Affective Domain

Defining the affective domain can he as simple as the notion that thinking is cognitive; therefore. feelings and emotions are affective. However., most attempt to define the affective domain have introduced elements of uncertainty as to the cause and effect of certain behaviors. For example, Byrne (1984) reported that a student's self-esteem was related to that student's achievement level; however, she could not determine which was the cause and which was the effect. …

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