Centered on Teacher Training: At the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Innovative Center for Technical Education Has Established a Successful Formula for Teacher Training

By Rotman, Sumner; Messelaar, Thijs | Techniques, September 2005 | Go to article overview

Centered on Teacher Training: At the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Innovative Center for Technical Education Has Established a Successful Formula for Teacher Training


Rotman, Sumner, Messelaar, Thijs, Techniques


If you want to develop an outstanding career/technical teacher preparation program, consider the simple formula that has worked for the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston: provide a comprehensive course of study. But don't stop there--offer your students a wide array of services and resources to help them earn the credentials and make the connections that will lead to successful careers.

According to Sumner Rotman, the director of UMass Boston's innovative Center for Technical Education (CTE), nearly 20,000 men and women have made their way through his program since the Center's inception in 1983. These workers decide to make mid-career moves for various reasons ranging from lack of work to injury on the job, or for those who are already teaching, to help bolster the possibility of promotion. They have taught their trades at a total of 78 career/vocational technical and comprehensive schools throughout Massachusetts.

In this demanding economy, training skilled workers--and those who educate them--is imperative to anyone interested in investing in economic development.

"Our focus has been on achieving the public mission of cultivating skilled workers," says Rotman. "It only makes sense to have technical skills taught by those who have made a career using them."

Preparation with a Focus

The UMass Boston CTE offers a 24-credit program designed to prepare workers with at least three to five years' experience in their occupational fields to teach others their skills. The course of study encompasses 12 undergraduate level courses:

* Supervised Internship

* Management of Vocational Technical Environment

* Teaching Methods: Instructional Strategies in Vocational Technical Education

* Teaching Methods: Educating the Vocational Technical Learner

* Fundamentals of Vocational Technical Education

* Competency-Based Vocational Education Curriculum Development

* Implementing Competency-Based Vocational Education

* Brain Compatibility: Teaching and Learning

* Students with Special Needs in Vocational Technical Education

* Computerized Vocational Technical Curriculum Management

* Integrated Education

* Assessment Standards and Evaluation

Graduating students earn the credits toward professional vocational technical teacher licensure to teach in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts schools.

"Just because someone is an expert at some particular vocation, this doesn't mean they're great at teaching it," says Rotman. "The modern student is quite complex and, therefore, much more of a challenge in the classroom. The UMass Boston CTE prepares technical educators for the student of today."

Administered by UMass Boston's Division of Corporate, Continuing and Distance Education, the CTE operates under the auspices of the University's Graduate College of Education, which provides expertise in research, curriculum design and the development of pedagogical competencies. Prospective students must pass both a written and a practical exam in order to be accepted into the program.

Matriculated UMass Boston CTE students then have many options for completing the 24-credit program. While all of the classes are offered at convenient satellite sites in eastern Massachusetts, some are also available online, which makes attending class easier for those who work full time. This recent advance has proven to be extremely positive. Most students appreciate this opportunity to engage in learning through technology because it allows them to better manage their time.

The UMass Boston CTE provides more than just coursework, however. Through lectures, statewide conferences and job fairs, the Center serves as an occupational matchmaker, helping many of its students find positions, sometimes even prior to graduation. Also, because of an articulation agreement, UMass Boston CTE graduates can opt to put the majority of the credits earned toward an associate's degree program at one of seven local community colleges: Massasoit, North Shore, Mass Bay, Quinsigamond, Cape Cod, Bristol and Northern Essex. …

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