Educational freedom of choice : origins of vocational selection among community college students



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Purpose of the Study. This study was, in part, a search for those "trigger mechanisms" which caused or motivated students who are enrolled at the Houston Community College System in vocational/technical courses to make such a choice in the first place. Students enroll in vocational/technical courses for particular and personal reasons. This study sought to identify determing factors which influenced students in following a vocational/technical path, considering that they emerged from a public school system, kindergarten through grade 12, which is often designed for college bound youth. One of the aims of this study was to learn what perceptions community college students had of their own freedom to select curriculum in a secondary school environment, and of the availability of vocational/technical training in high school. Procedures. Two thousand students enrolled in vocational/technical courses at the Houston Community College were chosen randomly from particular vocational areas. The areas selected correspond to similar vocational course offerings in public high schools. Data was collected and summarized by frequencies of responses. Data was further summarized by a crosstabulation of responses. Data was tabulated and reported in frequency tables according to number and percentages. Major Findings. Major findings of this study are based on an 86.5 percent return of questionnaires numbering 1,731 students surveyed at Houston Community College System in April, 1982. 1. Students enrolled in vocational/technical courses mostly to develop a new career or for career promotion. 2. Most students enrolled in high school vocational courses to either "plan a career" or to "learn a skill for its own sake." 3. When in high school, students did not enroll in vocational/technical courses either because they were required to take academic courses, or to a lesser degree, they had not developed an occupational interest. 4. Most students would welcome an opportunity to take a vocational aptitude test if the opportunity were offered. 5. Most American born students did not approve of state authorities being empowered to make assignments of schools to students; however most of those born out of America approved of authorities being empowered to make school assignments. 6. Students reported that they would have welcomed an opportunity to enroll in a "magnet vocational high school," had it been available. 7. Most students had no previous knowledge of educational vouchers, but, given an opportunity, they would have liked to have been able "to bid" on a high school of their choice. Recommendations for Further Study. 1. Are future consumers of education likely to remain passive regarding delivery of education from a compulsory state run system? 2. Can the private sector deliver vocational/technical education as well as or better than public educational delivery system? 3. Can vocational/technical education be made more cost effective and motivating with competition from private skill centers? 4. Will taxpayers continue to support their public school system via ad valorem taxation and general support? 5. Can an unrestricted system of educational vouchers provide a path to a more effective alternative vocational/ technical education delivery system? 6. This study will provide data for community college planning and articulation projects with independent school districts. It is intended to assist in curriculum planning and future forecasting of enrollment in vocational areas in community colleges whose main thrust is vocational rather than academic.



Vocational interests, College students--United States