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High School Internships: Challenges to the Common Wisdom. David Thornton Moore New York University December 10, 2010. The Problem. Original mandate : How experiential learning in the school (and related interventions) might have an impact on workforce readiness

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high school internships challenges to the common wisdom

High School Internships:Challenges to the Common Wisdom

David Thornton Moore

New York University

December 10, 2010

the problem
The Problem
  • Original mandate: How experiential learning in the school (and related interventions) might have an impact on workforce readiness
  • Revised: How and under what conditions does experiential education contribute to students’ building what the conference is calling ‘cognitive’ skills, especially as those have a bearing on both college and career readiness?
forms of experiential learning
Forms of Experiential Learning
  • Internships
  • Service-learning
  • Cooperative education
  • Others:
    • Community-based research
    • Job shadowing
    • Career academies
    • Experience-based career education
the common wisdom claims
The Common Wisdom: Claims
  • Academic reinforcement:
    • Reading, writing, problem-solving
  • Skill and career development:
    • SCANS-like skills
    • Knowledge of careers, industries, professions
  • Youth development
    • Psychosocial maturation, responsibility, teamwork
  • New modes of thought
    • Problem-formation, flexible solutions, higher-order thinking
sources of the approach
Sources of the Approach
  • Pragmatism:
    • CS Peirce, William James, John Dewey
  • Interactionism
    • GH Mead, Herbert Blumer, Howard Becker
  • Constructivism
    • Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner
  • Activity theory
    • LS Vygotsky, A. Luria, James Wertsch
  • Situated cognition, situated learning
    • Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger, JS Brown, Lauren Resnick
the basic position
The Basic Position
  • People ‘learn’ by participating in communities of practice in which certain kinds of knowledge and skill are deployed in the service of accomplishing certain kinds of collective, meaningful purposes
  • The nature of thought, knowing, and learning varies according to the features of situations in which they occur
  • Thinking and learning processes are mediated by history, culture, and tools
  • Thinking and learning are socialas well as psychologicalprocesses; that is, knowledge-use is stretched across participants in situated activities, not just located inside heads
the radical challenge
The Radical Challenge
  • Activity systems think and learn: the construction and use of knowledge happens not just inside brains, but in systems of people, activities and tools
  • The objective is not to ‘build better students,’ but to create opportunities for students to participate fully in contexts where knowledge is being constructed, distributed and used
the studies
The Studies
  • School for External Learning
    • Big-city high school granting academic credit for work experience
    • Observed and interviewed 35 students in field placements
  • Working Knowledge: IEE/Teachers College
    • Variety of career academies, experience-based high schools, and cooperative education colleges around Northeast
    • Observed and interviewed 25 students in field placements
    • Observed school classes where experiences were part of the curriculum
  • Teaching from Experience
    • Seven higher-education institutions in New York metro area
    • Observed and interviewed 12 students doing internships with related classes, both on site and in class, and interviewed six interns not doing related classes
task analysis framework
Task Analysis Framework
  • How tasks were
    • Established
    • Accomplished
    • Processed
  • Features of the work
    • Socio-cognitive task demands: ‘content’
    • Pragmatics:
      • Centrality and demandedness
      • Error cost
      • Prestige or status
environmental analysis
Environmental Analysis
  • Features of the activity system
    • Production process: division of labor (cognitive, physical, social)
    • Distribution of and access to knowledge
      • Bernstein: classification and frame
    • Workplace culture
  • Features of the larger environment
    • Market conditions: competition, demand
    • Regulation: government, labor unions
    • Technology: pace and nature of change
school based elements
School-Based Elements
  • What does the school do to
    • prepare the student for the placement?
    • process the experience during and after?
    • connect it to other learning?
  • Examples of school-based strategies
    • Pre-field seminars
    • Matching process
    • Learning contracts
    • Journals and writing assignments
    • Concurrent seminars
case one history museum
Case One: History Museum
  • Student: Heather
    • Upper-middle class, white, strong grades
  • Setting: the education department
    • Flat structure, mostly volunteers (docents)
    • Culture of learning, fascination with history
  • Task activity: the class tour
    • Regular sequence of interactions, each with embedded knowledge and skill, participation structures
    • Specific incident: ‘doing the artifacts cart’
  • Key aspects of learning experience
    • Access to full participation, authentic role
    • Scaffolding: gradual removal of supports
case two veterinary clinic
Case Two: Veterinary Clinic
  • Student: Fred
    • Working class, white, small-town
    • Interested in animals, but a mediocre student
  • Setting: two-vet animal hospital
    • Hierarchy: vets, technicians, clerks, intern
  • Tasks:
    • For vets and techs: operations, spaying, diagnosis
    • For Fred: cleaning cages, walking animals, setting up equipment for operations
  • Factors shaping learning
    • Strong classification: professional work by vets, support work by staff, marginal (‘pick-up’) work by intern
    • Framing: culture of deference; error cost; legal regulations, licensing
assessing the claims 1
Assessing the Claims: 1
  • Academic reinforcement:
    • Not much school-like knowledge-use
    • Not much interaction between work-knowledge and school-knowledge
  • Skills and career development
    • Some limited skill acquisition, but in specialized form; raises transfer of learning issue
    • Narrow vision of career and profession
assessing the claims 2
Assessing the Claims: 2
  • Youth development
    • Interns did experience responsibility, being ‘treated like an adult’
  • New modes of thought
    • They were often thinking in ways not done in school: more practical, more technical, more team-oriented and collaborative
    • They did not do much planning, complex problem-solving, problem formulation, higher-order thinking
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Current practices
    • Not much better than vocational education or part-time jobs
    • Not designed to enhance academic learning, prepare students for college
  • Reasons
    • Student roles tend to be peripheral, low-level, rarely working toward full participation
    • Teachers are not trained to process experience, and tend to focus on career preparation
    • Epistemological gap: knowledge used at work is not easily mapped onto knowledge in school
suggestions
Suggestions
  • Deep processing: lead students to analyze experiences in more rigorous terms
    • Organizational behavior, workplace culture
    • Psychological issues: motivation, satisfaction
    • Ethics, history, literature
  • Critical pedagogy: give students opportunity to interrogate their experiences critically
    • Ask why things are as they are and how things might change
    • Resist tendency to reproduce class structure
    • Cf. Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux, Ira Shor, Roger Simon