Magazine article Techniques

Another Positive for Career and Technical Education: A Good Work Ethic

Magazine article Techniques

Another Positive for Career and Technical Education: A Good Work Ethic

Article excerpt

A positive work ethic is just one more way career and technical educators are preparing students for the workforce.

Preparing CTE students for success in today's workforce means more than just teaching them the technical know-how. They need to be equipped to function in a work environment; they need to learn to be dependable and reliable, to take the initiative, and work well with their fellow employees. In other words, preparing students for success also means teaching them about the importance of having a positive work ethic. ;

But how exactly do you teach students about initiative, for instance?

Work ethic has been a challenging area to address, admits Roger Hill, an associate professor of occupational ; studies at the University of Georgia. One main reason, he suggests, "is that teachers don't necessarily know how to do it or don't feel equipped."

"Teachers feel their efforts at teaching work ethic are not effective because they cannot measure or see direct results," adds Gregory Petty, a professor at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He points out that, "A positive work ethic is acquired over a long period of time and is often predicated on a student's readiness to exhibit positive work ethic attributes."

Unfortunately, this may not occur until maturity kicks in-after the student has left the training program.

Through their research on work ethic, Hill and Petty are helping teachers to understand the topic and better educate their students in it. Hill has developed a curriculum devoted to work ethic that he has been sharing with fellow educators and professionals.

"I get, on average, three to four emails a week from people looking for guidance and assistance-a lot of it is from CTE, but also it comes from those in business and industry, human resource development in particular," he says.

Hill has made it even easier to access some of these materials, including online lessons, by setting up "The Work Ethic Site" at http://www.coe.uga.edu/ workethic/. He also offers his more .; extensive Work Ethic and Employability Skills: A Unit of Instruction in a PDF format upon request (see http:// www.coe.uga.edu/workethic/ mp.htm for more information).

It is a curriculum that emphasizes student involvement over lecture. For a successful lesson, a teacher needs "to take enough time to have the students engage in some type of discussion or problem solving, or something to help them develop a deeper awareness," argues Hill.

Teachers need to be patient with the process because the fruits of their labor may take longer than the short period teachers have with students, suggests Petty.

Through the lessons, students are encouraged not only to examine why work ethic is important, but also to carefully gauge their own habits. To this end, Hill provides an electronic version of the Occupational Work Ethic Inventory (OWEI), which was developed by Petty. It is a valuable tool that Petty has also made available to many graduate students and researchers seeking to improve work ethic training and evaluation.

Hill and Petty, along with Ernest Brewer, who is also a professor at UTKnoxville, presented some of their valuable work ethic research at ACTE's 2004 Convention.

Petty, who grew up on a farm in Missouri, developed his interest in the work ethic while serving in the Navy during the Vietnam era. While in service, he observed that many young men who had avoided induction into the Army by joining the Navy had a terrible work ethic, which begged the question: why?

A person's attitude toward work is forged by the impressions they receive from their environment, Petty ascertained. Peer pressure, esprit de corps and other attributes affect attendance, character, teamwork, appearance, attitude, productivity, organizational skills, communication, cooperation and respect. Therefore, poor (or no) experiences, he determined, lead to a poor work ethic. …

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