Teachers College, Columbia University

Curriculum and Pedagogy to Integrate Occupational and Academic Instruction in the Community College: Implications for Faculty Development

By Dolores Perin

This is a case study of curriculum and pedagogy used to integrate academic and occupational education in the community college. The study investigated classroom practices, staff and student views of integrated instruction, and professional development approaches.

Thirty-three integrated classrooms in seven community colleges in four states were studied. Instruction was integrated by linking courses or by infusing academic or occupational instruction in single courses. Two thirds of the instructors applied a strong form of integration, and the majority of instructors combined teacher- and student-centered methods, contrary to the expectation that integrated instruction would be primarily student-centered.

College faculty and administrators were concerned about students' need for improved academic skills, suggesting an overlap with the purposes of remedial education. At the same time, little explicit instruction in literacy or critical thinking skills was observed in occupational classrooms. A strong program of professional development combined with the support of senior administrators promoted sustainability.

Several approaches to staff development had the potential to overcome faculty resistance to integrated instruction. Finally, despite much enthusiasm for academic–occupational integration, the study sites had almost no empirical evidence to offer. If integrated instruction is to be evaluated, it will be necessary to disentangle its effects from those of other good practices that tend to accompany it.

A brief of this report is available for download.