Developing the SCANS Competencies in applied learning environments: An investigation of the programmatic and procedural characteristics of exemplary programs

Date of Completion

January 1998


Education, Secondary|Education, Technology of|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Recent research discusses the need to close the widening gap in the generic employability skills of all students, regardless of their chosen career path. The majority of youth do not possess the skills to get and hold a full-time job in the primary labor market until their mid to late twenties, and 50 percent of four-year college bound students drop out or stop out.^ This qualitative research study was an exploratory, multiple-site case study of a rural, suburban, and inner city school identified by experts as having exemplary technology education programs. Using the SCANS Competencies (1991) as a framework, the attitudes, practices and polices of administrators, technology teachers, community members and students with respect to development of employability skills were examined. The triangulation of data collection techniques consisted of: (1) interviews with various stakeholders to learn their views; (2) observations to document the full range of activities, strategies, and techniques, (3) and collection of documents related to this skill development.^ The findings from this study support the hypotheses that the system-wide development of generic employability skills will require systemic changes to the American school system, business, government, and institutions of higher learning. The findings revealed that developing these skills will require a systematic approach that addresses the complex interrelatedness of: (1) the organizational structure of schools; (2) curriculum delivery models, instructional strategies, methods of assessment; and (3) the needs, expectations and misconceptions of students, parents, teachers, government, businesses and institutions of higher learning.^ An analysis of the findings suggested the following policies and procedures that might support the development of these skills: training and education on generic employability skill development, changing course requirements/sequences, reorganizing schools and time, career guidance, and redesigning the current curricula to include rigor and relevance. Money, time, non-integrated theoretical curricula, isolation, tracking, and misperceptions of the general public were identified as hindering the development of generic employability skills. Innovative teaching strategies, flexibility afforded to elective teachers, knowledge of the skills young adults need, community support, and applied learning opportunities appeared to support generic employability skill development. ^