Perceived Life Satisfaction of Workplace Specialist I Faculty and Mentors Participating in a First-Year STEM Teacher Training Project

By Nickolich, David; Feldhaus, Charles et al. | Journal of Technology Studies, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Perceived Life Satisfaction of Workplace Specialist I Faculty and Mentors Participating in a First-Year STEM Teacher Training Project


Nickolich, David, Feldhaus, Charles, Cotton, Sam, Barrett, Andrew, Smallwood, Jim, Journal of Technology Studies


Abstract

The purpose of this study was to measure perceived professional and personal life satisfaction of Indiana Workplace Specialist I (WS I) faculty and their mentors. Workplace Specialist I teachers are all first-year career and technical education (CTE) faculty who must complete the WS I training program to be eligible for the Workplace Specialist II teaching license. These new teachers bring significant professional skills and experience to the secondary classroom; however, none had completed traditional teachers college training before they were licensed. WS I faculty are assigned mentors during the first year of training. Mentors must have at least five years of kindergarten-12 (K-12) teaching experience, and typically they are CTE faculty members.

During a WS I / Mentor training workshop, 84 first-year WS I faculty and 68 mentors were asked to take the Life Satisfaction Index for the Third Age (LSITA) in an effort to determine perceived overall life satisfaction; 105 total people participated in the study. Of these 105, 45 mentors perceived life satisfaction as higher than did the 60 first-year WS I CTE teachers. The results of the statistical analyses revealed statistical significance at the 0.1 level (0.068).

When analyzing only participants (both mentors and WS I teachers who were 50 years of age or older, the results of the statistical analyses revealed a statistical significance at the 0.05 level (0.023) between the perceived life satisfaction results of the 10 first-year WS I faculty and the 28 mentors. Mentors who were 50 years of age or older had a higher level of perceived life satisfaction than did the first-year WS I faculty members of the same age group.

Introduction

Since the seminal report on K-12 education "A Nation at Risk" was published in 1985, the call for education reform has increased dramatically over the last 25 years. During the last nine years, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) has ensured that educators at every level focus on accountability and use scientifically based research. K-12 education policymakers have demanded that education researchers create rigorous study designs in which participants are randomly assigned to either control or experimental groups, with the aim of generating new, more credible knowledge on what works to improve student achievement.

According to Kimmelmen (2006): After nearly four years of observing schools working under NCLB, I am convinced the path to school improvement is through the process of building organizational capacity. There needs to be greater focus placed on acquiring, managing, and implementing research-based knowledge in improvement initiatives. (p. 1)

The current focus on evidence-based decision making that is based on scientific research has also brought a renewed focus on student achievement as the only outcome that matters in K-12 education. All 50 states require high-stakes tests at various grade levels, and to receive federal funds, states must develop a report card to detail student achievement in specific schools using disaggregated data that reflect various demographic variables of standardized test takers, including gender, race, and special needs status. However, the accountability movement is not the panacea that educational policymakers and researchers hoped it would be.

Rothstein, Jacobson, and Wilder (2008) stated:

We have wound up, however, adopting accountability policies based almost exclusively on standardized test scores for reading and mathematics. To hold schools and other institutions of youth development accountable, information from tests of basic skills must be combined with a wide array of information from other sources, including tests of reasoning and critical thinking and evaluations by experienced and qualified experts who observe schools, child care centers, health clinics, and after-school and summer programs, to determine if they are performing satisfactorily. …

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