DOCUMENT RESUME CE C07 611
ED 128 580 AUTHOR TTTLE
Backstrom, Lars G.; Pedersen, Odd Evaluation of University Vocationally-Oriented Courses. Completed Project. Office of the Chancellor of the Swedish Universities, Stockholm. Dept. of Educational Research and Development.
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MF-$0.83 HC-$1.67 Plus Postage. *College Curriculum; College Students; Course Evaluation; *Curriculum Evaluation; Foreign Countries; Post Secondary Education; Student Attitudes; Student Characteristics; Universities; *Vocational Education Linkoping University; Sweden
Educational Development; n8 Oct 1975
A study of those students taking vocationally-oriented courses in the arts and sciences faculties of Swedish universities examined background variables among the students as well as questions concerning the design and effectiveness of the courses. These courses are one term in length and organized to ease the transition from university studies to professional work, providing a comprehensive picture of the field in question. The survey sample consisted of 1,326 of the 2,625 students who enrolled in the fall term of 1971 and spring term of 1972 in a vocationally-oriented course, completed it, and passed the examination. The mean age of students was 28.1 years, 44% uf them female, and 25% part-time students. Forty-four percent took the vocationally-oriented course as a part of full-time general university studies and represented lower middle class (47%) and upper middle class (3%) social status. Adult students tended to be employed to a greater extent than regular students and their employment was more often within the course area. The results were favorable in terms of the types of students utilizing the vocationally-oriented courses and in terms of course effectiveness. There were considerable differences between the courses in other areas, e.g., background variables such as sex, employment situation, and purpose of studies as well as the ratings concerning the effectiveness/usefulness of the course. (HD)
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JUL ISSN (1:3464;1 71
Completed Project Title of Project:
111.1:01Hii ,,f i
Carried out at:
Voeationall v-Oriented Courses 1.1111:1-1611
,./F- HE 4, EH
Background it I, WCyr \\Iithor )1' rod
40) )1:1 Vt.
si ronger vocational
orwreHtm,11 iii .1 ;Ind sci,./ic(, courses offered at dies 11,Is II r:!ther long history in .-4W1.de11 Both at
administrative levels .1111 from the students themselves, suggestions :Ind demands hav eiiii Ii for ;01 edueat ion which, to a PX1 rot , reflects more of ;in eulphasis on future vocation:el ;tell vetv lie ltuH,
:he Office of the Chalwellor of the ."+ll (qui:.h Uni estahlished Ii t,0110 attoe, The .-VIvisory Cotc OIL It ci
Voe:etWy-OrNtue,1 Courses imRE, wh,,se 1:1';,-;t10:: ;is
in tho arts and sewnee C:culties CII :-;wetlish
The Committoe stated that no courses shoull Ii!templ to hridge the gap hel-Aeell Inorc theoretic:el studies .ind vocational a oIl Vity g. providing the opportunity for learning more h 0 cuith technical skills of a !'eneral nature, orientation to different johs within the fields covered hy the eouttses. and guidancy ;is to how the theoretical knowledge ;login red in ihe courses could lie applied in more prectical settings. The courses according to the C'ommittec's aims, should he of one term 's length (20 p(ints) and organized with the main purpose of eosing the transition from university studies to professional '(k rk . 1-t,ey should also offer the opportunity for continued and further education for those
of the Swe_dish Unigrsities
EdutiatuDnal Re!io.ircih and Development
3-10326 StockhoUti Swaden
already employed in various fields. In this connection, the courses should not emphasize one particular direction or position, but rather, the goal for every course should be to present as comprehensive a picture of the field in question as possible. In 1969, only 2 such courses were organized: Labour Market Technology (arbetsmarknacisteknik) and Environment Conservation (miljövard), but the number and types of courses available has subsequently expanded and included, in 1971, 10 courses and in 1975 more than 20 courses. At present, students can choose among a variety of different courses at Swedish universities, the probability being that more courses will be offered as new fields of study are developed. 2
Due to the special nature and goals of ;.he vocationally-oriented courses, their evaluation has been a:1 important concern. In the fall term of 1972 such an evaluation Lroject was initiated at the Department of Education, Linköping University. Due to different reasons which will not be elucidated here, the purpose ot the evaluatim was changed to encompass a descriptive study of those students taking vocationally-oriented courses, originally, in terms of different background variaHes among the students, but, subsequently, including questions concerning the design and effectiveness of the courses as well.
Courses included in the survey: 1. Administration Technology
2. Labour Market Technology including Personnel Administration (Arbetsmarknadsteknik med personaladministration) 3. Educational Technology (Undervisningstcknologi)
4. Information Technology (Informationsteknik)
5. Problems of Developing Nations and Assistance Technology (11-landsftigor med bistrindsteknik)
6. Drama (Dramatik) 7. Museum Technology (Museiteknik) 8. Forest Technology (Skoglig produktionsNra) 9. Environmerl- Conservation (Miljövrird), short cor
10. Environment Conservation, extended course 3
(10 points) ,$)
3.1 Subjects The population was defined as those students who were enrolled in a vocationally-oriented course, completed it, and passed the examination. Because of the vast number of students falling into
this category, further limitations were necessary. The primary population was thus defined as those students who were enrolled
in such courses in the fall term of 1971 or he spring term of 1972 There were 2,625 such students who had passed their examinations, and 1,326 of them were selected to take part in the survey. Because one of the original purposes of the survey involved a more long-tcrm coniparison of specific courses over a number of consecutive terms, it was also necessary to include subjects who, for a limited number of courses, had enrolled in a term earlier than the fall, 1971 and later than the spring, 1972. Although this particular comparison was not carried out, there were certain other analyses in which this group was added to the primary population (the number of students falling into this category being 418 of which 298 were selected to participate i the survey). Thus the term secondary population will refer to these additional students plus the primary population and consists of 3,043 (2,626 + 418) students of which 1,624 (1,326 + 2 98) were selected to participate in the survey. 3.2 Questionnaires Questionnaires were mailed to the subjects and approximately 80 % were returned. The dropout group did not differ from the respondent group in term, of sex, but the mean age of the dropout group was lower than that of the respondent group (primary population, M = 27.0 and 28.1 respectively). 4
Limitations have had to be made concerning the processing and evaluatior of the data collected and, therefore, only answers to a limited number of questions have been attempted.
Summaries of the results are presented below under vai:ious headings. Also indicated is whether the results pertain to the primary or secondary population. In certain cases, data from other sources have also been used as a means of comparison with the data from the main populatdons. 4.1
Results concerning subjects' general bdckground before taking the vocationally-criented courses and their situation while taking and after having completed the courses (Primary population)
Age: The mean age of the students was 28.1 years. 42 % were under 25 years of age and 31 % were 29 years of age or more. The women were younger than thi. men (M = 24.4 and 28.6 respectively). The mean age of students in arts and science faculties for the fall term of 1971 was 24.4 years, the corresponding figure for students taking vocationally-oriented courses was 27.1 years. Sex: The proportion of women was 44 %, which did not deviate from the proportion-of women in arts and science faculties. Sex distribution in the various courses generally followed the usual pattern whereby women were underrepresented in courses falling
within the science faculties and overrepresented in courses falling within the arts faculties.
Employment situation: Oyer half of the students had been employed for a continuous period of at least one year before beginning the course. Of this number, just over half (i.e., 29 % of the entire population) had been employed, to a lesser or greater extent, within the area covered by the course which they were taking.
Previous studies: 79 % of the subjects had completed at least one term's study in arts and science faculties over and above the vocationally-oriented course(s) and of these, 70 % had acquired at least SO points (out of the 120 points required fo: the first university degree) before beginning the course. Of.those who had only taken the vocationally-oriented course, in arts and science faculties, 74 % were men, the mean age was high (M 30.3 years), 86 % had been employed for a continuous period of at least one year, and 73 (7 had been employed for at least four years.
4.1.2 Results concerning subjects" situation while taking the vocationallv-oriented course Study intensity: On the basis of criteria of study intensity (see UKA report, 1974, p. 11) we have found that approximately 25 % of the students can be classified as part-time students. Of the full-time students, 23 % were employed to a lesser or greater extent during their term of study. Thus, study intensity was not 100 % for all full-time students. Of the entire group of students, 55 % stated that they had not been employed at all while taking the course and that they had mainly been occupied with their studies during this time.
4.1.3 Results concerning subiects" situation after having completed the vocationally-oriented course During a designated week, from March 18 24, 1974: 76 7, of the former students were employed 2 % were unemployed
2 %were at home and were not, at the time, seeking employment 16 %were studying
4 % tell into other categories 73 % of the women and 78 % of the men were employed. Of those who were employed, 88 % were employed full-time and 82 % had permanent jobs. 64 % (77 % of the women and 58 % of the men) had taken degrees
11 % had taken two or thrae vocationally-oriented courses in different fields. 4.2
Classification of subjects (Secondary population)
The subjects were divided into two main groups: adult students and regular students. Adult students were defined as those who have the normal qualifications (or special permission) to study and have been employed for a continuous period of at least one year. Another more specific group of adult students were those admitted under special admission (in Sweden there is a law allowing adults who
are at least 25 years of age, who have worked for at toast five years, and who fill ('ertain special requirements for the courses in question to study). This group is here called "students with non-academic qualifications". Regular 1. tudents are those who have the normal qualifications (or in some cases special permission) to study and who usually go directly to university from secondary school but who m have worked for a continuous period of less than one year.
Thus, the following four groups were distinguished among the subjects: 1. Students with "non-academic qualifications" 14.1 (70 2. Students with normal qualifications (or special permission) and at least four .\'ears' working experience
19. 9 (-7
.,. Students with normal qualifiations (or special permisSion) :,.nd between one and
four years' working experience
4. Regular students
5() 0 r7n
The results show that there were generally rather considerable differences, not only between the adult and regular students. but also among the groups of adult students alone with respect to the variables studied, depending on in what sequence regular university studies, employment, and the vocationally-oriented course occurred. We have therefore, in order to better explain these differences, classified the majority of adult students (excluding the adult students of group 11) as fitting into one of the following patterns: took the vocationally-oriented course (part or lull-time) as a) a part of full-time general university studies which had followed a period of employment. Employment secondary school
diploma or equivalent
b) 17 rr() took the vocationally-oriented course (part or full-time) after a period of employment following univerity studies which had culminated in a degree VOC
Full-time university secondary school
(part or full-time)
diploma or equivalent
At the time of the study, adult stu .ents in this category were limited to 60 points of study \IOC = vocationally-oriented
c) Approximately 22 had, after completing secondary school educa:ion or less, been employed and then had either taken only the vocationally-oriented course or taken it as part of part-time university studies
Part-time university studies including VOC2 course
diploma or equivalent
or VOC 2 course alone 1
The remaining 17
could not be classified in these terms, some of them, for example, because during one or more of the terms covered in the :-:urvey they had had sonic other occupation than studies or employment. For many reasons, the percentages given above are uncertain, in part due to the fact that the figures are based on no more than three consecutive terms and refer only to students enrolled in the spring term of 1972. 4.3
Social class distribution of subjects (Secondary population)
The subjects fell into the following social classes: 17pper and upper middle class 2. Lower middle class 3. a. Skilled workers h. Unskilled workers
(30 (17 (13 (10
These students differed from other students in arts and science faculties in 'e,n-ms of social class distribution in that they included smaller pl.oportion of members from social class 1 (30 % vs. .10 % in arts -.nd science faculties). In addition, a larger proportion of students were from social class 2 compared to ordinary students (47 % and 35 % respectively). Although these comparisons were based on nev enrollments in arts and sci-mce faculties for the a,:.ndemie year 1008/69, the writer does not believe that the social c:ass distribution for a r ts and science students differed during subsequent years. The social class distribution of the women (Effered from that of the men. Women from social classes 3.a. and b. were especially underrep..esented (1(1% vs. 29 % for meu).
The various groups of students (i.e. adult and regular students) also differed with regard to social -I ss background. For example, 44 % of those entering university witl, "non-academie qualifications" (group 1) came from social classes 3.a. and b., while only 18 of the regthar students came from these classes. 2
There were also differences in social class distribution between the various courses. For example, :35 of those taking the Labour Market Technology Course (arbetsmarknadsteknik) came from social classes 3.a. and 1). while only 5 or those taking the 1\iuseurn Technology Course came from these groups. Results concerning the integration of the vocationallyoriented courses in university studies, the carrying out of instruction, and the effectiveness of the courses (Primary population) The Advisory Committee on University Vocationall, -Oriented Courses (DYRN.) expressed in its report (UKA, 1968) certain aims 4.4
for these courses concerning their integration in unive.-sity studies, the carrying out of instruction and the effectiveness of the courses. A brief description of the results in each of these areas will follow: .1.4.1 Integration of the vocationally-oriented courses in university
The Committee's intention that the courses should be taken after two years study (i.e. after SO points) was to a great extent achieved.
4.4.2 Carrying out of instruction The aim here was that the vocationally-oriented courses should be taught to a great extent hy those haying practical experience in the particular fields in question. The subjects were asked to mark (..n a scale from "0" to "seven or more" the number of vocational "experts" who had participated as teachers in their courses. Practically all of the students stated that they were attending courses in which at least one expert was participating, but barely one-fifth reported the participation of more than seven specialists. There were, however, great differences between the courses in this respect. 4.4.3 Effectiveness of vocationally-oriented courses who were employed in March, 197.1 57 % were employed in the fields covered by their courses. Adult students tznIded to he employed to a greater extent than regular students (83 and 69 (7) respectively) and their employment tended to more often be Gf the 7(3
within the field covered by the course (GI % and 47 (-70 respectively). Of the adult students who, before the studies, had been employed
at least somewhat inside the fields covered by their courses, 83 % were employed inside these fields following the studies. Of those who had not been e.mployed in fields covered by their studies, only 35 were employed in those fields following the studies. All groups of students rated the courses rather lowly as being a source of knowledge and skill making it easier for them to learn a new occupation. This suggests that the courses have done litCx in the way of helping students to enter a new profession. Ratings of the extent to which the knowledge and skills acquired in the course were applied in the job situation were fairly high for the
students who were employed in the fields col ered by their courses. Adult students, more often than regular students, round that these courses made it easier for them to adjust to their wo rk, and they :I Is o gave higher ratings concerning the application of the kt,owledge and skill from the.courses and the usefult:ess of their courses to them in their work. This applied even ir allowance was made for whether employment fell within the field covered by the course or not. 5
The results give a rather favourable picture of the vocationallyoriented courses in terms of the types of students (i.e. adult and regular\ utilizing these courses as well as the effectiveness of the courses, especially in the ease of - large number of the students whose area oi employment fell within the fields covered by their courses. It should be remembered, however, that only 57 % of those employed after the studies (in March, 1974) fell into this category. It seems to have been relatively difficult for students without prior experience of employment within the field covered by their courses to obtain employment in these fields after having completed the cources. Only a limited study was made of the content and organization of the various courses. Some of the Advisory Committee's aims appear to have been met while others have not, and this has varied considerably among the differentcourses. There \yenc also rather considerable differe:.ces between the courses in other areas, e.g., background variables such as sex, employment situation, and purpose or studies as well as the ratings concerning the effectiveness/usefulness of the courses.
As has al7.eady been observed, the results and conclusions must be treated with some degree of caution, at least with regard to the assumptions concerning the effectiveness of th- courses. The survey does not permit any definitive conclusions, but must be regarded as explorative, an attempt to evaluate and structure the problems connected with research in this a ren .
(The following reports are available in Swedish only) LIKA, 1968 Yrkesinriktade studiekurser vid universiteten Delegationen for viss yrkesutbildning vid universiteten (DYRK)
Universitetskanslersiimbetet 190 (University courses directed to particular professions. The Advisory Committee on University Courses Directed to Particular Professions (the DYRK Committee). The Office of the Chancellor of the Swedish 7. rversities
Uppf6ljning och uh..rdering. EilosoLsk 111,1.11let 19(19
1971 LEX-rapport. nr Universitetshanslers'amhekt 'Unk.er itets1or n4H,
(Follow-up and evaluation. Vacuities (d scierwcs 1969 1973,
UNA rep.,-,:". No. 5, 1971.
The Office of the Chancellor of the Swedish 1 nivel.sities niversitetsfiirlag 2t, Stockholm 1971.
Pedersen, YRK-studerande 1971/72 Beskrivni ig iv förhallanden fiire, under °eh efter studierna
(DeE.cription of the students' circumstances hefore, during and after the vocationally-oriented studies. Department of Education, Link6ping University, Linki3ping 1975.)
Lars C Blickstm Odd Pederser.