Edison College and Habitat for Humanity Research Paper

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¶ … Edison College and Habitat for Humanity

Edison State College opened for business in the fall of 1962. Since that time, the college has been providing southwest Florida with quality educational programs. Associate degrees in Arts and Science as well as Baccalaureate degrees along with various certificate programs are offered at Edison. One of the main things that Edison College is interested in is the concept o workforce education (Edison State College, 2009). A major goal of the college is to provide the best possible education to those who desire to be productive members of the community. In order to do this, the college must assess the needs of the community and its students in order to properly supply those who attend as well as their surrounding community with the necessary resources for development. These resources are supplied by means of their outstanding program for workforce development.

For purposes of this paper, a working definition of workforce education must first be identified. What does the program require as a measure of success? What are specific goals of the program, both long and short-term? These aspects must be identified and all those involved in the program in any manner should be aware of these requirements. It must be made certain that each action is made up of quantifiable and controllable features. If the development or procedures cannot be measured there will be a significant amount of difficulty in identifying the programs strengths and weaknesses. Workforce education, therefore, consists of learned skills that are work-related and that are taught in a hands-on capacity as well as in a traditional classroom.

These educational experiences are designed to ensure that the student learns everything that he or she needs to know when it comes to a particular field of study, so that the student is already well-prepared to enter the workforce from the first day after graduation. Since the first junior college was founded, the stated mission has extended from a specific focal point on college transfer to include practical and occupational education. Basic skills training and workforce development are at the core of this education. According to Kenneth P. Walker, District President of Edison Community College: "At each stage, we have adapted, added, or merged our programs and services to meet the changing needs of our communities. As our institutions go about identifying community needs today, our surveys and focus groups show that in addition to the increasing need for basic skills and short-cycle training and certification, many of our constituents are interested in earning baccalaureate degrees" (2001).

A community college mission that comprises openness to the stress and challenges of the economy helps to assist in reshaping that college's identity both in the present and in the future, and this has long been the focus of Edison College. For those people who are interested in getting into the workforce, it is important that they focus on a particular career. One of the best of these careers is to give back to others, and this is where workforce education (often also known as vocational training) comes in. Since Edison College is not that large it sometimes gets overlooked in favor of nearby universities, but more people are turning to community colleges today because of the affordability that they offer and because of the workforce education programs that they can go through. They want and need to get into (or in some cases back into) the workforce quickly, and workforce education is generally a good way to go about doing that for many people.

For Edison College, the workforce development issue is vocational training with regard to the construction trade and specifically with regard to Habitat for Humanity. This is the way that the college reaches out to the community, because many people can be helped by the Habitat for Humanity organization and therefore by the college's workforce education program. The need for this type of program was determined through the use of strategic planning, and working with other, similar organizations in the future is in the master plan of the college, as well. The strategic plan for the workforce education program entailed going out into the community to determine what the needs were as well as looking at other areas of concern that have been seen in research and in community commentary.

Other schools and what they were offering were also examined, because Edison College desired to fill a community need that had not yet been fully addressed by any other school or company. This is why the school decided that partnering up with Habitat for Humanity would be a good option for the individuals who were in the school's construction program. Another reason that this was found to be so valuable was that it fit in very well with the economic development planning initiatives that belonged to the community as a whole. The community was already planning to look for ways to build new homes and partner with Habitat for Humanity and other companies so that they would be able to improve the community. That provided a wonderful opportunity for Habitat for Humanity, for Edison College's workforce education program, and for the community as a whole.

The community plans were reviewed, what other colleges were doing was reviewed, the needs of the people in the community were reviewed, and it was determined that Edison College could best help move the community and all of its citizens forward by focusing on a construction program. While the building market might be a bit low in some areas of the country there is always a need where Habitat for Humanity is concerned. There is also a need for people who can build homes and repair damaged ones. Especially in Florida, a state that is often hit by hurricanes, rebuilding and replacing damaged homes is common. Edison College can capitalize on what is needed by the community and what is needed by Habitat for Humanity and similar organizations with its workforce education program in construction, while also providing a lot of help for citizens who need education and jobs.

The school also determined that it would be advisable to address cooperative instructional techniques for this particular workforce program. In order to see why, it is important to understand cooperative instructional techniques and also to understand how the college arrived at its decision to design its workforce programs. Cooperative instructional techniques have been around for some time and they have been used more widely in recent years as certain topics lend themselves to this type of learning more so than basic and traditional classroom instruction (Johnson, Maruyama, Johnson, Nelson, & Skon, 1981).

Many studies have been done on this issue in order to determine whether cooperative instruction is better for all types of courses and learning or whether it only works well on some occasions (Johnson, Maruyama, Johnson, Nelson, & Skon, 1981). Other studies have indicated that students who worked together in small groups and actively involved themselves in the knowledge of construction tended to learn better than those who simply remained in standard classroom instruction where a teacher explained to them what it is that they need to be doing and then they go and practice it (Dietz, 1993).

Even though cooperative learning has been studied for more than 100 years there is little known about group examinations as a subset of that (Courtney, Courtney, & Nicholson, 1994). Naturally, one of the main controversies about this issue is the fairness (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 1991). When all members receive the same reward for the work that they have done it is possible that some in the group will feel they were treated unfairly because others in the group failed to do as much work as they needed to (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 1991). One study that looked at teachers also compared various components about staff development to determine whether this had any effect on cooperative learning (Jones, 1991).

The 300 plus studies that have been conducted since 1960 may sound very significant, but that is actually a relatively small number, and when one takes into consideration that fact that almost all of those studies dealt with a specific aspect of cooperative learning instead of a generalization, the idea of studying cooperative learning in general seems to be very remote (Allsopp, Santos, & Linn, 2000; Biondich, 2002). Part of this is the difficulty of such a study, since studies are often conducted based on the size of the group, the geographical location, and other convenience factors.

The feasibility of this is naturally a concern, but it appears that this issue is one that deserves further study (Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992). This opinion is based on the number of studies that have already been done, the way that they have been broken down to deal with specific groups in the past, and the fact that the previous decade saw an interest in this type of issue where college students are concerned strongly rekindled. Because this kind of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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