SRI Blog

Continuing the Conversation: Engaging Industry and Students in STEM Middle Skill Jobs

Discussion Thread 2: How Can We Encourage Greater Engagement of Students in Middle-skill STEM fields?

Our research has found that workforce educators face students who are diverse in preparation, background, and goals, and so engaging such a diverse group poses a constant challenge. In our work, we have found:

  • Students crave opportunities to try out their technical skills in “real world” ways

  • Much course time is devoted to the basics, and about half the time in advanced classes gives students practice in more complex troubleshooting skills

  • Relatively little time is devoted to letting students reflect on how they solve problems and weave together all the technical knowledge they are absorbing

What Do You Think?

What innovations are out there? What changes need to happen to improve the future of technician instruction? Please share your comments below.


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Michael Hacker

Is there any research about how to integrate classroom instruction (lecture and lab) with material presented on an LMS including content and simulations?

David Gunn

A study I recently read (not currently in hand) stated that at graduation students are several months behind the needed skills and attributes by industry. With this in mind how does this program address this gap?

Kate Alder

Did any of the sites include multiple entry points or assessments for prior learning, particularly for returning adults?

David Gunn

As an educational psychologist did you find that 1% reflection time was adequate to develop the connection between practical use and learning material?

Shirley Penn

My problem is getting the community college to move past the pure academic model. Any recommendations?

Lorrie Toni

Have you found the OSU DACUM process to be useful for curriculum?

Tom Navickas

To what extent is industry requiring certifications? Are certifications viewed by industry as more critical in predicting job success. alignment to industry needs?

Jan Bray

Following up to Tom's comment/question, how do we convince industry to speak up to call for the change in the objectives for education. Right now, it is about transitioning students to more education (at all levels) rather than the workplace.

Kate Alder

Recent feedback from some of our industry advisory board members is that they are more interested in portfolios of work and the certificates do not have much value for those employers.

Ron Harrison

Why do they say that is the case?

Kate Alder

It seemed to be based on a desire to see actual completed work and not necessarily a work evaluation that had been conducted by someone other than themselves - even if that someone is a group of academic/technical experts in the classroom.

Ron Harrison

Interesting! Do these board members provide expectations for what those portfolios should contain? Are those expectations written?

Kate Alder

Yes, these are regional meetings which are rich in curriculum/outcomes discussions. Our faculty members are beginning to incorporate portfolios as part of the project-based work already being conducted.

Ron Harrison

So the faculty has been willing to accommodate these requirements.... Very good. This probably should be the way it is done--industry driven.

Kate Alder

Yes, absolutely. Some are embracing it while others are complying but they are moving in the direction of being more responsive to industry

Louise Yarnall

Really interesting discussion about certificates and the desire for portfolios...

Lorrie Toni

Teachers fear they will not cover all standards if they take more time for problem-based learning, discussions, reflection, etc. How can we assure the standards will be subsumed in solving real world problems?

Cheryl Cruz

This sounds a lot like project-based learning that involves hands-on learning through problem solving, critical thinking within the group and applying the knowledge learned. I used this approach with students to integrate and improve their English language skills who were transitioning to degree programs, university and/or workforce in S. Florida.

Bob Witchger

How does this model help our students become autonomous decision makers and problems solvers who can reflect on their learning and self correct?

David Gunn

An educational system that is focused on standards vic on student learning beyond classroom knowledge being addressed?

Louise Yarnall

Here is a link to a video about an advanced manufacturing program from Marilyn Barger from Florida Advanced Technological Education program (FLATE): Lots of job opportunities--just not enough folks to fill the jobs! Thanks Marilyn!