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Assessing Vocational Eclucation Research and Development COMMITTEE ON VOCATIONAL EDUCA'i ION RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Assembly of Behavioral and Social Sciences National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Washington, D.C. 1976
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the Councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Insti- tute of Medicine. The members of the Committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to proce- dures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medi- cine. International Standard Book Number 0-309-02526-5 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 76461-96 Available from Printing and Publishing Once National Academy of Sciences 2101 Constitution Avenue Washington, D.C. 20418 Printed in the United States of America 80 79 78 77 76 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
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COMMITTEE ON VOCATIONAL EDUCATION RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT RUPERT N. EVANS (ChairmanJ, Professor of Vocational and Technical Education, University of Illinois CLAUDE BROWN, Director of Research and Education, Teamsters Local Union No. 688, St. Louis, Missouri GLORIA S. COOPER, (formerly Director, Research Coordinating Unit, New Hampshire State Department of Education), Project Director, The Ohio State University, The Center for Vocational Education JOHN R. G~MPLE, Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Administrative Services, Texas Education Agency MARY ALLEN JOLLEY, Director of Public ~fairs, American Home Economics Association, Washington, D.C. JOHN D. KRUMBOLTZ, Professor of Education and Psychology, School of Education, Stanford University DUANE R. LUND, Superintendent of Schools, Staples, Minnesota PAMELA A. ROBY, Director, The Extended University and Chairperson of Community Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, California DAVID STERN, Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University GORDON I. SWANSON, Professor, Vocational Education, University of Minnesota ROBERT E. TAYLOR, Director, The Center for Vocational Education, The Ohio State University iii
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Preface Almost all public policy decisions in fact, almost all decisions-must be made on the basis of incomplete information. In the past decade, federal policy makers working in education who have tried to base deci- sions on program evaluations have been hindered by the insufficient quality and quantity of information. Since many of the programs being evaluated are planned and carried out by local school districts with only minimal supervision by state and federal officials, the evaluator needs, but seldom can secure, data from almost every school district in the nation. The evaluation of vocational education research and develop- ment (R&D) has similar problems. Vocational education R&D is conduct- ed in literally hundreds of different places: in all states, in many large school districts, and at most major universities. Its evaluation is further complicated by the need to assess the utility of each of the R&D products in a setting appropriate for its intended use. Complete data to allow such an evaluation are not and probably never will be available. The Commit- tee on Vocational Education Research and Development was concerned with these problems of evaluation as it sought to recommend changes for the future. The Committee was formed in 1974 to perform two major tasks for the U.S. Office of Education: to review and assess the research and develop- ment activities sponsored by the Office of Education under the authority of the Vocational Education Act of 1963 as amended in 1968; and to recommend changes in R&D policies and programs for the coming de- cade. The Committee, which directed the writing of this report, was com v
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V1 Preface posed of professionals from diverse parts of the vocational education community universities, R&D institutions, national organizations, and state and local education agencies- as well as behavioral and social sci- entists and a labor union official. Although we were asked to study only the R&D component of voca- tional education, we would have liked to review vocational education as a whole. How, after all, can one evaluate applied R&D in terms of im- proving programs without considering the goals of the programs it is designed to serve? The objectives of some programs are clearly defined, but their appropriateness has not been thoroughly investigated: some programs emphasize meeting the needs of employers, while others stress the sometimes antagonistic goal of increasing students' employment op- tions. Most programs are designed to increase student adaptability to the existing world of work, but an increasing number attempt to provide students with skills and attitudes that can change the work place. After much soul-searching and after rereading our terms of reference, we de- cided to call for research on program objectives and for the convening of a panel of consultants similar to the panels that brought about major changes in vocational education in 1963 and 1968. Research on objec- tives should include the development of clear definitions, an examination of the suitability of objectives, and suggestions as to how to evaluate the success of programs in meeting their stated objectives. The Committee and its staff gathered information from a wide variety of sources: we read many reports and talked to people involved in voca- tional education and its R&D, other education, business, and labor. This widespread search yielded disappointing results: many people believe that vocational education R&D has been beneficial, but there have been few efforts to measure its impact objectively. Although we had difficulty arriving at conclusions regarding the impact of R&D, it was relatively easy for us to reach conclusions about the administration of the R&D program. The need for important changes in the management and structure of the program was agreed upon unanimously and we were able to recommend strategies for change. However, we were not able to recommend a solu- tion for every important problem. The Committee wanted to include in this report a recommendation on the coordination of various federal R&D programs of relevance to voca- tional education, but we were unable to find a satisfactory solution to the widespread problem of lack of coordination. We believe that the work of three particular programs should be coordinated: the vocational educa- tion R&D program in the Bureau of Occupational and Adult Education of the U.S. Office of Education, the education and work program at the National Institute of Education, and the manpower R&D program in the
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Preface . . V11 Department of Labor. The Committee on the Department of Labor Manpower R&D of the National Research Council recommended the formation of a National Center for Manpower Study, and a similar sug- gestion for a National Institute of Vocational Education has been pro- posed to Congress. Neither of these suggestions proposes the necessary linkages with the substantial R&D programs on technical education being conducted by the armed forces, the Agency for International Develop- ment, the Department of Agriculture, and many other public and private agencies. Although the Committee agreed that the directors of relevant R&D programs should share findings and products to minimize unneces- sary duplication of effort, we were not able to agree on a mechanism for accomplishing the needed coordination in planning. Perhaps the Committee's greatest difficulties came in assigning relative priorities to different research topics. So much needs to be done. Only the area of counseling and guidance has received sustained support for the past ten years, and even in this area all agree on the vast amount of work still to be accomplished. It is inevitable that a group as diverse as this Committee will not agree on every point. Most of our disagreements, however, were on matters of emphasis. For example, some Committee members, emphasizing the enormous gaps that remain in the education of minorities and women, would have recommended extensive additional work; others, emphasizing the progress that has been made, would have stressed the need to work on other topics. While we agreed to disagree on research priorities, we had no difficulty at all in decrying the past prac- tice of emphasizing an area of research for a year and then ignoring it for two or three years. Despite our differences, we have agreed that this report can lead to improvement in vocational education R&D an important means to the end of offering improved vocational education services to individuals and society. RUPERT N. EVANS, Chairman Committee on Vocational Education Research and Development
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Acknowledgments The Committee wishes to acknowledge the valuable assistance of the staff provided by the National Academy of Sciences; without their help, the report could not have been completed. In the early months of the project, Monica K. Sinding, Associate Executive Secretary, performed the critical tasks of organizing the Committee's work and beginning to gather information. Unfortunately, she left midway in the project, but two able social scientists, Susan W. Sheen, Research Associate, and Deborah R. Malone, Research Assistant, quickly acquired a working knowledge of vocational education and of the work done previously by the Committee. They both made major contributions to the data analysis and to the writing; Dr. Sherman was also responsible for planning and structuring this report. Barbara L. Arenson handled the administrative details of the project accurately and efficiently. Melvin L. Barlow, con- sultant to the Committee and staff, served as a valuable resource, draw- ing on his extensive professional experience as a vocational educator and historian. Throughout the course of the project, Sherman Ross served as Executive Secretary. David A. Goslin, Executive Director, and Lester P. Silverman, Associ- ate Executive Director of the Assembly of Behavioral and Social Sci- ences, helped to guide and motivate the Committee and staff, especially when they faced difficulties in writing the report. This report has benefit- ed from the work of the Assembly editors, Eugenia Grohman and Chris- tine Lintz McShane. Ms. Grohman worked closely with the Committee and staff to revise the report at critical points in its development. 1X
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x Acknowledgments The Committee wishes to thank the staff at the U.S. Office of Educa- tion who provided much information essential to this report. Finally, we acknowledge the contributions of the many people interviewed during the project and those who wrote papers for us. The names of these people are listed in Appendix B.