Understanding the student experience of the tech prep electronics program
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The purpose for the work of this study was to understand students’ experiences in tech-prep electronics courses and students’ opinions about transferring earned credits-inescrow from high school to college. Tech Prep is a federally funded program that partners high schools and community and/or technical colleges for the purposes of workforce education. The study of Tech Prep is important because of the programs ability to provide alternative, non traditional, technical career paths for the middle majority, as defined by Parnell, of high school students (Beebe and Walleri, 2005). High school electronics classes that had college articulated agreements via the Capital Area Tech Prep Consortium (CATC) of Texas were selected as the research sites for this study. The researcher selected electronics courses because of his direct experience teaching electronics at the community college and working with high school electronics teachers which are members of the CATC. The research participants for this study were students, specifically juniors and seniors, who actively participated in high school tech-prep electronics courses that had been articulated to Austin Community College’s (ACC’s) Electronics program. This study was derived from the researcher’s interest in understanding why more electronics Tech Prep students were not taking advantage of college credits-in-escrow earned in high school. Theoretically, high school students who have taken at least four articulated courses in electronics could potentially transfer up to sixteen credit hours toward a certificate or Associates of Applied Science degree in Electronics Technology at the local community college. However, less t han two percent of all ACC students that enrolled in electronics between the Spring 2000 and Spring 2006 semesters were Tech Prep students (Vidal Almanza, personal communication, May 22, 2006). The CATC 2004 – 2005 annual report also indicated that 4.6% of the forty six Tech Prep students that enrolled in ACC during the 2004-2005 school year, or approximately two students, were electronics students (CATC Annual Report, 2005). The findings of this study presented students’ perceptions about the students experience in high school electronics Tech Prep courses and revealed factors that influenced the students’ decisions about pursuing the Tech Prep plan beyond high school.