|Abstract or Summary
- Under the auspices of a United Stated Department of Education National
Workplace Literacy Program grant, the Columbia-Willamette Skill Builders, a community
college consortium, developed a prototype workplace educator training program in 1994.
The Skill Builders workplace educator training program was 9 months long and offered 90
hours of instruction, including a 20 to 40 hour workplace field experience. Twenty-six
people completed the prototype program.
This investigative study posed two research questions:
1. What can we learn by identifying and evaluating the critical elements in a
prototype workplace educator training program?
2. What can be gleaned through this investigation that can be utilized to design
a workplace educator training program?
Workplace educator is a new term emerging from the field of workplace literacy.
A workplace educator facilitates basic learning involving language and computation, as well
as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and decision-making.
An examination of the pertinent literature identified five fields that impact on
workplace education: workplace basics; training and development; workplace literacy and
the contextual teaching approaches; current management theory with an emphasis on the
high performance work organization; and workplace learning.
The critical elements involved in the prototype program were identified through
extensive inquiry using questionnaires, survey evaluation instruments, personal interviews,
reports, journal review of the participants, and a focus group of Portland, Oregon, area
employer representatives managing workplace education. The identified critical elements
include an understanding of: (a) education in the workplace; (b) the characteristics of
workplace educators; (c) workplace culture and organizational practices; (d) business/
education relationships; (e) the educational environment; (f) needs assessment/evaluation
and assessment procedures; (g) workplace program design; (h) how to facilitate learning;
(i) the development of communication skills for the workplace educator; (j) culture, class,
and gender diversity in the workplace; and (k) appropriate uses of instructional technology.
In addition, the data were examined through an evaluation research framework using
the Stufflebeam (1983) CIPP (context, input, process, and products) model. The analysis
showed that the program was highly satisfactory to the participants. The most important
finding in this study is the need for workplace educators to fully understand the workplace.