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Integrating Career-Connected Learning and Academics in K-12: Starting the Conversation

Watkins, Jason (2020) Integrating Career-Connected Learning and Academics in K-12: Starting the Conversation. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This improvement science inquiry uses a Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle (PDSA) to study the knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral change of academic leaders regarding integrating career connected learning (Langley, 2014). This model utilizes continuous improvement as a process to implement small changes with the goal of making long-term improvement (Shakman, et. al, 2017). This study includes educational leaders from nine school districts that are part of a consortium of schools whose students attend the career and technical school.
The literature indicates that integrated career and academic curricula for workforce and post-secondary education can better prepare students to compete in a 21st century economy (Gentry, Peters, Rizza, 2008). Students, however, often exhibit a lack of technical skills needed for future careers (Capelli, 2015). Currently, modern educational models strongly emphasize traditional disciplines instead of connecting skills and academics to modern careers (Gammil, 2015).
A professional development meeting held at the career and technical school in early October 2019 gathered educational leaders from the nine sending school districts. The participants included principals, assistant principals, directors of special populations, and school counselors. Participants of the professional development session completed an “entry ticket” survey several weeks prior to attending the meeting. The responses from the survey helped develop a portion of the professional development meeting. Participants then completed an “exit ticket” survey at the conclusion of the meeting. These two surveys were compared to the interviews conducted later in January to analyze the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of the participants. The professional development meeting provided the opportunity to address the knowledge and attitudes of the participants and for participants to identify actions they were willing to take to integrate career-connected learning at their school or district.
The PDSA cycle helped to build greater capacity in the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about career-connected learning among the districts and career center in this study (Langley, 2014). After the surveys and interviews were matched and analyzed, it revealed growth among the participants in knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. These participants were then able to increase capacity of knowledge, attitudes and behavior in their schools and districts.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Watkins, Jasonjrw147@pitt.edujrw147
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorTananis,
Committee MemberAkiva,
Date: 7 July 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 April 2020
Approval Date: 7 July 2020
Submission Date: 1 June 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 97
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Career and technical education Career connected learning Career readiness CTE Professional development Technology education
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2020 19:35
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2020 19:35


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