Coordination practices and employer preferences for secondary cooperative distributive education programs in Montana during the 1975-1976 school term
Darsow, Richard Edward
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How closely do Montana's distributive education teacher-coordinators follow commonly accepted practices for cooperative vocational education, and what are the participating employers' opinions on the operation of the distributive education programs? To address this question and to keep information as current as possible, the school -term of 1975-1976 was selected since it was the basis of the most current information on the programs currently in operation. Of the eighteen distributive education programs in operation at the time of the study, sixteen were classified as cooperative programs under Part G funding. Of these sixteen programs, fifteen submitted reports listing the training stations that were utilized at the time of this study, to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. From this information, 243 employers were identified as being participating employers in the Part G programs in operation. A questionnaire was mass mailed to all the identified employers, after being verified by Mr. Norman L. Millikin and Dr. Daniel G. Hertz of the School of Business staff at Montana State University. The questionnaire was mailed on May 28, 1976, a follow-up was forwarded on June 28, 1976, and the survey was terminated on July 12, 1976. The initial sample of 243 was revised down to 220 upon survey termination because 23 employers had experienced management changes, went out of business, or claimed no connection with the programs. This resulted in the revised base of 220, of which 170 responses were received and were usable, yielding a 77.27 percent return. Findings were presented that showed the teacher-coordinators were not in strict compliance with the commonly accepted coordination practices revealed in the review of literature. However, it must be also kept in mind that only those coordination practices visible to the participating employer were included in the survey instrument, and that the survey was limited in scope to only the employer---neither the teacher-coordinator nor the student were included in the survey to seek their opinions. Findings indicated that the participating employers tended to prefer that the teacher-coordinator make visitations on a monthly basis, rather than more often as is suggested by commonly accepted practices. Based upon the survey findings and the conclusions drawn from the data, recommendations were made, of which two are of high importance: (1) Training plans should be in a written form constructed by the employer, the teacher-coordinator, and the student, for every placement made; and (2) Effort should be made by the teacher-coordinator to have more control over student placement by selecting a number of students for interviews for each training station opening, rather than allowing students to seek their own training stations, as is often the case.