Academic journal article The Journal of Research in Business Education

Instructional Strategy Preferences in the Career and Technical Education Classroom

Academic journal article The Journal of Research in Business Education

Instructional Strategy Preferences in the Career and Technical Education Classroom

Article excerpt

Introduction

Both career and technical education (CTE) and academic teachers face considerable challenges in the contemporary classroom environment. Prior research has indicated the most critical predictor of students' achievement is the effectiveness of the classroom teacher (Auguste, Kihn, & Miller, 2010; Banks, Cochran-Smith, Moll, Richert, Zeichner, LePage, et al., 2005). However, high poverty urban schools, which oftentimes house large numbers of ethnic and racial minority students, are most likely to struggle in terms of attracting quality and effective teachers (Auguste et al., 2010; Smith & Smith, 2006). CTE teachers such as trade and industry and health ccupations rely heavily on alternative pathways to teacher certification/licensure, which frequently include credit for work experience (Fletcher & Zirkle, 2010; Zirkle, Fletcher, Sander, & Briggs, 2010; Zirkle, Martin, & McCaslin, 2007). However, agricultural, business and marketing, and family and consumer sciences teachers usually require a traditional pathway leading to licensure/certification, including graduating from a formal teacher preparation program and earning a baccalaureate degree in their content areas. Further, contemporary classrooms are comprised of students from a wide array of learning orientations as well as ethnic, racial, and linguistic backgrounds which lead to culturally diverse CTE programs (Rehm, 2008; Rayfield, Croom, Stair, & Murray, 2011). Based on a study using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Schools and Staffing Survey, in terms of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds of U.S. students for the 2007-08 school year, 41% of students were of color, while only 16.5% of their teachers were from similar racial and ethnic backgrounds (Ingersoll & May, 2011). African American students are significantly more likely to participate in CTE and dual tracks compared with their White counterparts (Fletcher & Zirkle, 2009).

Beyond working with an increasingly diverse student population and having many trade and industry as well as health occupations teachers with less teacher training compared with academic teachers, CTE teachers are faced with expanded roles and responsibilities to ensure their students are equipped with a much broader range of skills-including those which make their students college and career ready (Bottoms, Egelson, Sass, & Uhn, 2013; Cannon, Kitchel, & Duncan, 2013). Among the varied roles and responsibilities of current CTE teachers are (a) fostering career development-equipping students with an understanding of a variety of employment opportunities that are available post high school; (b) preparing students to meet higher academic achievement standards through curricular integration, with subjects such as math and science, as well as equipping students with 21st Century workforce skills; and (c) updating curricula to reflect changing workforce demands (Bottoms, Egelson, Sass, & Uhn, 2013).

Because CTE teachers must prepare an increasingly diverse group of students in terms of ethnic and racial backgrounds, linguistic backgrounds, and learning needs, as well as assist students to meet higher levels of academic performance, it is important to understand what pedagogical approaches CTE teachers are implementing in their classrooms to accommodate their ever diverse student body and to make the content comprehensible and meaningful to an array of student learning needs. To that end, Rehm (2008) noted:

Existing trends and studies have indicated that CTE teachers in the twenty-first century must approach their teaching with sensitivity to students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, build cooperative and dialogical skills, teach essential knowledge to students with various levels of proficiency with English, and maintain industry and educational standards. Although these challenges can seem daunting, individuals and the nation will benefit if teachers assume them with awareness and understanding. …

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