TSA and Standards-Based Learning through TECH-Know

By Taylor, Jerianne S.; Peterson, Richard E. et al. | Techniques, April 2005 | Go to article overview

TSA and Standards-Based Learning through TECH-Know


Taylor, Jerianne S., Peterson, Richard E., Ernst, Jeremy, Techniques


Career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) serve as an integral part of many career and technical education (CTE) programs across the country. Their activities and competitions make up many of the strongest CTE programs due to their co-curricular nature. With memberships ranging from tens of thousands to almost a half million, it is hard not to acknowledge their benefit to our society and the educational system.

A career and technical student organization is a powerful instructional tool that works best when integrated into the career and technical education curriculum and classroom by an instructor who is committed to the total development of the student. Data from a study related to the Technology Student Association (TSA), one of the 10 CTSOs, suggests that involvement in CTSO activities allows students to develop skills such as problem solving, creativity and teamwork as well as increase their understandings related to the Standards for Technological Literacy. Even given the CTSOs' benefits, many teachers still find it hard to merge both the CTSO and the curriculum with the many demands and time constraints of the school day. Yet through the support of the National Science Foundation, it is now easier. The TECH-know project has completed its first set of integrated instructional materials based on 20 of the TSA activities. Through these units of instruction, teachers will be able to bring the competitive event as well as the standards-based concepts into the classroom in a timely and effective way.

What is the TECH-know Project?

The TECH-know Project is an instructional materials grant (NSF # 0095726) funded by the National Science Foundation. In August 2001, North Carolina State University received a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop standards-based instructional materials for 20 Technology Student Association (TSA) activities. The TECH-know project represents a significant collaboration between selected state departments, universities, businesses and TSA.

During the past three years, 144 technology education teachers, technology teacher educators, TSA Curriculum Resource Committee members and business representatives from across the country have worked together to develop high-quality standards-based units of instruction that reflect the Standards for Technological Literacy, National Science Education Standards, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and TSA activities.

During the first three years, technology education teachers from North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma and Florida developed, piloted and field tested the units of instruction each fall. The TECH-know Project has developed 20 units of instruction based on TSA activities. These TSA activities include:

Middle School Units

--Agriculture and Biotechnology Challenge

--Cyberspace Pursuit

--Digital Photography

--Dragster Design Challenge

--Environmental Challenge

--Flight Challenge

--Mechanical Challenge

--Medical Technology Challenge

--Structural Challenge

--Transportation Challenge

High School Units

--Agriculture and Biotechnology Design

--Desktop Publishing

--Film Technology

--Manufacturing Prototype

--Medical Technology Design

--Radio Controlled Transportation

--Scientific Visualization

--Structural Engineering

--System Control

--Technology Challenge

Since the TECH-know instructional units are standards based, they have the potential to encourage broader integration of TSA activities in the classroom. As TECH-know enters the publication phase, it is important that the technology education community understand its value to the field. Through TECH-know, technology education unites theory and application. The project combines the activities that technology education teachers value with the standards that define the field. …

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