Magazine article Techniques

Seed Money Gives Integration a Toehold in Wisconsin Technical Colleges

Magazine article Techniques

Seed Money Gives Integration a Toehold in Wisconsin Technical Colleges

Article excerpt

Nothing will kick-start a new idea better than a big, fat grant.

Jerrilyn Brewer, instructional design specialist for Western Wisconsin Technical College in La Crosse, found this was true when she received $44,000 from the state's Center on Education and Work to launch an integration project a few years ago. "This kind of thing won't happen on its own," Brewer says. "There needs to be a facilitator who's working from a holistic viewpoint. You can't just look at individual courses. You need to determine what you want students to know and work from there."

Now working on three curriculum integration projects at the college, Brewer started with the mechanical design program. The technical and academic instructors barely knew each other existed before the grant gave her an impetus to bring them together-and gave the instructors release time to meet. Now the two sides are working on aligning their curricula and assigning joint lab projects. The writing teacher, for example, called each occupational department head and asked them to show her what their students would be working on so she could incorporate the material in her classes. Now when she asks her students to write the required "process paper," she directs them to write about a process related to their career field instead of something generic.

Mechanical design instructors now require oral presentations in almost every class because they recognize the importance of communication skills.

"At first the general education deans are worried about sacrificing the integrity of their curriculum by making their subjects too occupationally specific," Brewer says. …

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