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Shaping A Curriculum From Workplace Research

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.490.1 - 3.490.8

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Paper Authors

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Thomas V. Mecca

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Sara Cushing Smith

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Lynn G. Mack

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1547

Shaping a Curriculum from Workplace Research

Lynn G. Mack, Thomas V. Mecca, Sara Cushing Smith Piedmont Technical College Greenwood, SC 29648

Abstract: The sixteen South Carolina Technical Colleges, through a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant (DUE # 9553740), utilizing interdisciplinary faculty teams (communications, mathematics, science, and engineering technology), conducted workplace research as a strategy for designing a new integrated "workplace-focused," first-year core curriculum for engineering technology graduates. The SC ATE Workplace Research Model includes administrative and industry guidelines, research directions, and common reporting forms for gathering data and information on the roles and responsibilities of technicians in the workplace. Information gathered and the knowledge gained during the industry visits give interdisciplinary teams and college administrators invaluable insight as they author and adopt a new engineering technology curriculum for technicians entering the 21st century workplace.


In 1993, the Gaining the Competitive Edge1 report disclosed a new picture of what "educational preparation" was required of technicians in order to succeed in today's workplace. This picture presented a challenge for educators. The undergraduate curriculum for technicians needs to reflect the workplace environment by emphasizing interdisciplinary studies, collaborative activities, and problem-solving skills. The need for faculty to stay in touch with the fast, ever changing, workplace was also brought out by the report. A major goal of the SC ATE Exemplary Faculty Project (DUE# 9553740) is to train a cadre of interdisciplinary faculty teams (mathematics, science, engineering technology, communications) to be the designers and authors of a new, integrated first-year engineering technology core curriculum for South Carolina’s Technical Colleges. The SC ATE Workplace Research Model was designed to allow interdisciplinary faculty teams to conduct workplace research to gain a better understanding of the technician's role in the workplace and to investigate the demands placed on technicians by employers. As a result of the on-site industrial exploration, faculty teams are better able to focus on creating an integrated, relevant curriculum for tomorrow’s technicians. The SC ATE Faculty Workplace Research Model, including summarized faculty experiences, data-gathering results, and lessons learned, follows.

Preparation, Visitation Guidelines, and Common Reporting Forms: (All guidelines and reporting forms can be found on the SC ATE Web site:

Guidelines and reporting forms were researched and developed by an ad-hoc faculty team. This team customized the workplace research process to meet the needs of the SC ATE project and the SC Technical College System. The guidelines outlined project expectations, preliminary administrative steps, resources, project-proposal procedures and general guidelines for industry visits. Faculty found these guidelines very useful and stated that they helped them avoid


Mecca, T. V., & Smith, S. C., & Mack, L. G. (1998, June), Shaping A Curriculum From Workplace Research Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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