- The purpose of the investigation was to develop a profile of characteristics,
perceptions and expectations of high school students involved in the Washington Tech
Prep in Agriculture Statewide Articulation Program (TPAG). The investigation
involved nine individual interviews, the responses of 165 students to a forced response
survey instrument, and a concluding group interview of a group of students who had
previously responded to the survey instrument. The criterion for inclusion in the study
was involvement with the Tech Prep in Agriculture Articulation program. Thus,
participation was purposeful.
The subject students, who were involved in a career cluster-specific program,
displayed a rich range of career aspirations and educational characteristics. Career
aspirations were not limited to the agricultural career cluster and ranged from
accountant to x-ray technician. The subject students came from all four quartiles of
the high school population and their future educational aspirations included
apprenticeship, community/technical college, four year college, and post-graduate
programs. Most students aspired to post-secondary education at a community,
technical, or four year college. Of those aspiring to a post-secondary education, most
aspired to a community/technical college education.
Surveyed students rated the importance of 24 skills. Workplace skills such as
working with others, communications, and the ability to learn rated highest.
Foundation skills such as basic mathematics, creativity, and computer usage rated
well. Skills related to specific careers fell lower on the composite ratings. Rated
lowest were the appreciation of art, music, literature, plays, movies, and TV.
Students rated parents, high school teachers, and young people working in the
student's area of career interest the highest as providers of information on education
and careers. Individuals such as media journalists and politicians whom society might
consider good advisors were not trusted by nearly one of three studied students.
The investigation led to almost immediate improvements in the TPAG
Program, including modification of a core course to better reflect student career
interests, publication of program literature in Spanish, and gender balancing of images
used in brochures. Recommendations for further research into student characteristics,
the dynamics of student career selection, and high school career cluster educational
models were presented.