Attributes and Characteristics of Exemplary, Leading, and Innovative Career And Technical Education Teacher Preparation Programs

Publication December 2002

Methods for achieving high quality teacher preparation have been one of the most contentious topics among all sectors of higher education in career and technical education (CTE). The goals of the present study were to determine the critical attributes of the nation’s exemplary, leading, and/or innovative (ELI) career-technical teacher preparation programs. Using a 3-round Delphi process (Lee, 1988), a national panel of experts identified 117 attributes of an ELI career-technical teacher preparation program. Thirteen of these attributes had means greater than 3.75 on a 4-point scale.

Site directors and the directors of the Research and Dissemination Centers for CTE supplied the nominees for this panel. These individuals were selected because of their decades of knowledge of CTE teacher preparation programs and, most importantly, they had an excellent knowledge of those individuals across the country who could effectively contribute to the expertise needed in the Delphi. The expert Delphi panel also nominated the five following institutions as having distinguished ELI programs: University of Minnesota (11), University of Georgia (10), The Ohio State University (10), The Pennsylvania State University (9), and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (7). Researchers conducted a site visit to each institution using the 13 critical attributes as the basis for structured interview protocols. A case study approach suggested by Yin (1994) and Mulenga (2001) was used. To triangulate data, three different protocols were developed: faculty, elite (administrative), and focus group.

Site visits were conducted so the researchers could collect the data personally. The site visits allowed the researchers to see the facilities, meet the educators, and discuss the attributes in-depth. These site visits revealed the common areas among the five top-rated institutions. The ELI institutions were often among those mentioned as the “most wired colleges” (regarding technology). Not only do institutional policies regarding computer support play a critical role in technology integration, the faculty’s willingness to adopt technology was also an important factor. Both students and faculty mentioned the rigor of their field experiences and its important role in professional development. At ELI institutions, teacher preparation was connected to classroom practice, and the coursework had a congruent, well-planned sequence. Faculty members were active, high profile local and national researchers and authors. Exemplary faculty had a holistic view of their students, and were concerned about the students’ family lives, in addition to their academic lives. Faculty members at ELI institutions shared a vision and purpose for their programs. Academic standards were integrated into the methods courses, and students were familiar with the standards of their own state before they entered the classroom. The ELI programs were responsive to standards of their professional organizations. Successful graduates who are knowledgeable about the standards may be the program’s best recruiting tool. Finally, as a point of reference, the top five ELI institutions nominated for this study were also larger public land-grant institutions.

Bruening, T. H., Scanlon, D. C., Hoover, T. S., Hodes, C., Shao, X., & Dhital, P., et al. (2002, December). Attributes and characteristics of exemplary, leading, and innovative career and technical education teacher preparation programs. St. Paul, MN: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Minnesota.

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