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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Kymberli Cotton-Flanagan
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: A Study on Becoming an Alternatively Certified Career and Technical Educator
Dr. Louann Bierlein-Palmer, Chair
Dr. Linda Dannison
Dr. Katherine Manley
Date: Friday, March 18, 2011 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Grand Rapids Beltline Campus, Room 3008
This mixed methods study examined the perspectives of twelve practicing high school CTE teachers engaged in a newly approved university model for alternative certification.
Using Creswells’ (2008) Sequential Exploratory Design and the lens of adult learning theory as established in Knowles’ (1970) Theory of Andragogy, this study examines how participants in this CTE alternative certification program describe their experiences related to the assumptions of adult learning. Relationships between participants’ learning preferences and how they experienced the program were also examined.
While literature on alternative certification theories and implications is available, specific research on program design and the use of alternative certification in CTE is lacking. Using work recognized by the National Center for Alternative Certification, study participants described their experiences as related to known best practices in alternative certification: the roles of advising and mentorship, the use of a cohort model, and the training received in quality pedagogical and classroom management practices.
Analysis of the data revealed that: 1) the majority of the participants would not have become certified teachers if this program had not been available; 2) participants in this program did not prefer projects to lectures contrary to adult learning theory; 3) participants subscribe to all assumptions of adult learning theory, wavering in only a few areas; 4) use of a cohort model contributed to the success of the participants; 5) program structure and format was key to attracting the participants to the program; 6) these adult learners were less inclined to need the same preparation in classroom management as traditionally trained teachers; and 7) flexibility and communication within the courses were of importance to the participants.
Overall this study supports research on the learning preferences of adults, and that various components of program design are critical to the adult learner. The findings further add to the literature by providing practice-based examples in support of how adults learn, and that alternative certification programs can help moderate teacher shortages in CTE. Additionally, the study offers a snapshot of what practices are desirable in alternative certification programs and includes insight on those practices for those involved in the design and administration of such programs for adult learners.