INDUSTRIAL EMPLOYER’S PERCEPTIONS ABOUT TECHNOLOGICAL LITERACY AS EMPLOYER’S PERCEPTIONS ABOUT TECHNOLOGICAL LITERACY AS AN EMPLOYABILITY SKILL FOR NEW EMPLOYEES IN MARATHON COUNTY WISCONSIN. By John M. Glynn ... INDUSTRIAL EMPLOYER’S PERCEPTIONS ABOUT TECHNOLOGICAL LITERACY AS AN EMPLOYABILITY SKILL FOR NEW

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  • INDUSTRIAL EMPLOYERS PERCEPTIONS ABOUT TECHNOLOGICAL LITERACY AS AN EMPLOYABILITY SKILL FOR NEW EMPLOYEES

    IN MARATHON COUNTY WISCONSIN.

    By

    John M. Glynn

    A Research Paper

    Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the

    Masters of Science Degree With Major in

    Industrial/Technology Education

    Approved: 2 Semester Credits

    ________________________

    Dr. Steve Schlough, Investigation Advisor

    The Graduate College University Of Wisconsin-Stout

    May, 2003

  • The Graduate School University of Wisconsin-Stout

    Menomonie, WI 54751

    ABSTRACT

    Glynn John M. (Writer)(Last Name) (First) (Initial)

    INDUSTRIAL EMPLOYERS PERCEPTIONS ABOUT TECHNOLOGICAL

    LITERACY AS AN EMPLOYABILITY SKILL FOR NEW EMPLOYEES

    IN MARATHON COUNTY WISCONSIN.

    (Title)

    Industrial/Technology Education Dr. Steve Schlough December 2002 52 (Graduate Major) (Research Advisor) (Month/Year) (No. of Pages) American Psychological Association A.P.A. Publication Manual (Style Manual) The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent selected industrial

    employers of Marathon County value technological literacy and to what extent

    technological literacy is valued in entry-level employees. With the focus of technology

    education being directed toward producing graduates who are technologically literate

    this study was conducted to determine if industrial employers found these same traits as

    valuable to them in regard to hiring new employees, the success of new employees, and

    the ability of these employees to advance within the company.

    With the goal of measuring the perceived value of technological literacy for entry-

    level employees in mind a thirty-four question survey was conducted with Marathon

    Countys thirty largest industrial employers. The survey asked the respondents to rate

    ii

  • selected standards and benchmarks of the Wisconsin State Standards for Technology

    Education with a Likert scale type of survey. The survey concluded with some questions

    regarding the perceived value of technological literacy for the success and advancement

    of new employees.

    The survey was well received and a response rate of 46.7% provided a statistically

    adequate sample with which to suggest that the results are representative of the sample

    group. The respondents, as a group, placed a high value on overall technological literacy

    and their responses indicated that employers perceived the greatest value to be for new

    employees ability to advance in their career.

    iii

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    I would like to take this opportunity to extend some words of thanks to some very special people without whos help and support I could have never succeeded at this endeavor. First, I would like to thank my children, Blaine and Brittiany, for supporting me with their words of encouragement, their push to help me see what is truly important in life, and their never ending confidence in my abilities. The time, money, and resources dedicated to daddys education Im sure cost you two more then money could account for. Remember that with hard work and determination, you can accomplish your goals and nothing takes the place of a quality education. My hope is that I may be able to set an example by demonstrating that goals that are worthwhile never come easily. I hope you both can come to realize that the self-satisfaction of attaining these goals and the gaining of knowledge is priceless and can never be taken from you. I would also like to thank my mother and father, the example of how they lived their lives and reached for and attained their goals in life, now and always will inspire me. My wife, Kathy Abt-Glynn, for her confidence in me, her words of encouragement, the many days and nights of being patient with a man who seemed never to know when to stop working on something relating to graduate work, when Im sure she would have rather have been spending time together. Also for showing me more about how to live life and keeping focused on what is really important. Dr. Schlough for advising my research. Dr. Sterry, Dr. Welty, Dr. Hendricks, and Dr. McAlister for their dedication and commitment to technology education that is driving a generation in the right direction and for their unyielding commitment to excellence and unwillingness to allow mediocrity. My colleagues at D.C. Everest High School, the most dedicated and skilled group of educators I have ever had the privilege of working with. Finally, I would like to thank all the students and parents that I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. The reason we teachers answer this calling is rewarded over and over with the confidence and trust you give us when you allow us to influence your lives.

    iv

  • Table of Contents

    ABSTRACT....ii

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ...iv

    TABLE OF CONTENTS.v

    Chapter I, Introduction...1

    Statement of the problem.4

    The purpose of the study..4

    Objectives of the study.4

    Significance of the study..5

    Scope and delimitations of the study...5

    Chapter II, Review of Literature....7

    The Need for Technological Literacy..7

    The Definition of Technological Literacy.....10

    The Components of Technological Literacy..11

    Conclusion for the Review of Literature14

    Chapter III, Methods and Procedures...16

    Methodology...16

    Research Population17

    Instrumentation17

    Procedures Followed18

    Treatment of Data18

    Chapter IV, Analysis of Results.19

    v

  • Return Percentage...19

    Results of the Study

    Part One: Technological Literacy Components.21

    Nature of Technology.....21

    Systems..23

    Human Ingenuity...26

    Impact of Technology28

    Part Two: Over all Technological Literacy....31

    Chapter V, Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations32

    Methods and Procedures.32

    Major Findings33

    Conclusions.34

    Recommendations...35

    Recommendations for further study...36

    References.37

    APPENDIX A: SURVEY...40

    APPENDIX B: Cover Letter......43

    APPENDIX C: Consent Form...44

    APPENDIX D: Follow-up Letter...45

    vi

  • Chapter I

    Introduction

    Background of the Problem

    The competitiveness of industry in the United States is dependent upon a skilled

    workforce. Mr. Thomas Beard states: Theres hardly a company in business that hasnt

    suffered from a woeful lack of skilled operators and technicians. But if more equipment

    builders, schools and users make comparable commitments to developing Americas

    most precious resource, its people, we will be well on the way to eradicating the most

    worrisome threat to our long term competitiveness(Beard, T.L. 1989, p.36).

    As educators and employers consider the changes in technology, what are their

    concerns?

    Employers face enormous changes in a highly competitive global

    marketplace. The new economy demanded new ways of thinking, new

    ways of managing, and new ways of working. As the nature and look of

    jobs changed, the level of education and skills required also changed.

    Many educators faced the challenge of preparing young people to

    participate in the increasingly complex and changing world of work by

    calling on employers to articulate and communicate their needs better

    (McLaughlin, 1992, p.1).

    Recent journal articles and industry reports indicate that, nation wide,

    employers are dissatisfied with the readiness of high school graduates to enter the

    workforce. Brown contends, education in this country continues to fall behind

    1

  • what is required to sustain high-technology based industries (Brown, S.F.,1992,

    p. 25). Even if the U.S. is able to continue developing new technologies and

    makes the capital expenditures necessary to utilize those developments, great

    improvements in productivity will be unlikely unless workers have the level of

    education and skill needed to handle the advanced technologies (Berger, 1987).

    Johnson concludes, It is true that technology is having a definite effect on the

    nature and characteristics of the workforce. New occupations are being created

    while traditional occupations are being changed or eliminated. The workers that

    fill these changing occupations must update their knowledge and skills to remain

    employable. A wider variety of skills are now needed by the workforce

    (Johnson, S.D., 1991, p. 4). Plant Engineering magazine reports that It is not

    uncommon to see 14 out of 15 job applicants refused employment because of a

    lack of basic skills (Seveska, R., 1992, p. 136). Employers, policy makers, and

    educational leaders are starting to agree that all citizens need to be technologically

    literate in order to succeed in todays world (Satchwell & Dugger, 1996, p. 5).

    Reports indicate that employment is being lost to overseas companies because

    U.S. companies cannot put together adequately capable workforces. The National

    Association of Manufacturers has estimated that forty percent of companies have

    had trouble upgrading production techniques because of inadequately skilled

    workers (Marshal, 1995).

    With this being the rhetoric of the nation as a whole, one might easily be

    concerned that the businesses in a local area are also affected with similar

    problems. With the unemployment rate below 4% employers in Marathon

    2

  • County are continually on the lookout for workers to use for replacement and

    expansion in their businesses (Shaver, 1997, p. A1). In May of 2001 in a

    conversation with John Kreager, human resources manager of Marathon Countys

    seventh largest employer, Greenheck Fan, I was told of the difficulties that

    company has with hiring qualified workers. They typically hire under qualified

    workers and train them on the job, because they have such a desperate need. John

    also expressed that even the current workforce is sent for training to upgrade their

    skills as new technology is implemented.

    Marathon County, Wisconsins largest county, is located in north central

    Wisconsin and is accessed principally by highways I-35 and 51 going north and

    south, and highway 29 going east and west. It has an area of 1,545 square miles,

    contains 988,848 acres of real estate. Marathon County has over 3,300 employers,

    populations of about 126,393 persons of which over 73,000 are in the workforce

    and a county unemployment rate of 3.5 percent (Wisconsin Department of

    Workforce Development, 2000) (U.S. Census, 2000).

    School districts, the state, and the nation have also recognized the need to

    improve the curriculum to meet the challenges of our technological society. The

    State of Wisconsin has published standards for education in technology education

    that outline the need for technological literacy of graduates. In the Wisconsins

    Model for Academic Standards for Technology Education it states that course

    offerings must include elements to ensure all students will graduate

    technologically literate (Wisconsin DPI Bulletin No. 9006, 1998, p. XV). In the

    national spotlight the Technology for All Americans Project has published that

    3

  • the first priority of technology education is to provide technological literacy to

    all students (International Technology Education Association, 1996, p. 35). The

    D.C. Everest Area School system, located in Marathon County, has also put

    together standards for their technology education program with the goal of

    technological literacy for students.

    This research is intended to provide an insight to the extent to which selected

    industries in Marathon County value technological literacy and to what extent

    technological literacy is valued in entry-level employees. It is also a good way to

    give ownership to the industrial community in the efforts of the education system

    to promote technological literacy for graduates.

    Statement of the problem

    The problem is that it is unknown to what extent selected industrial employers

    of Marathon County value technological literacy and to what extent technological

    literacy is valued in entry-level employees.

    The purpose of the study

    The purpose of this study is to determine to what extent selected industrial employers

    of Marathon County value technological literacy and to what extent technological literacy

    is valued in entry-level employees.

    Objectives of the study

    This study will focus on the following objectives:

    4

  • 1. Identify to what extent technological literacy components are valued by

    selected industrial employers of Marathon County in entry-level employees.

    2. Analyze to what extent selected industrial employers of Marathon County

    value technological literacy in entry-level employees.

    Significance of the study

    1. The results of this study will be used to validate the efforts of the local school

    districts efforts in aligning of the goals of the technology education

    department with the Wisconsin Standards for Technology Education.

    2. The results of this study will also be shared with the administrators, staff, and

    school board, participating businesses, and the chamber of commerce.

    Scope and delimitations of the study

    This study will be limited to select employers in Marathon County, Wisconsin and

    will not be able to be generalized to any area out side of that location. This study does not

    include all standards from the Wisconsin State Standards for Technology Education and

    therefore may not determine conclusively that all state standards would be embraced or

    rejected by all employers. This study has been limited to only the largest thirty industrial

    employers of Marathon County, Wisconsin and therefore may not be generalized to all

    employers, businesses or persons.

    On the following pages the term technological literacy will be defined and

    explained by some the leaders in education and industry. The components that make up

    technological literacy will be identified and explained in a way that is intended to justify

    5

  • their use in the school system and their value for industry. Much will be made of the link

    between what is being taught and the needs of graduates to acquire and advance in

    careers that have a technical nature.

    6

  • Chapter II

    Review of Literature

    The review of literature for this study will focus on the perceived need for and

    definition of technological literacy and the components of technological literacy that

    comprise its make up.

    The Need for Technological Literacy Most of our population is not being educated properly to function in the everyday

    world today, this is a time in which technologically literate citizens must make critical

    decisions affecting the global community (Kozak, 1992). Educational leaders are in

    agreement that the status quo is no longer sufficient today. the core subjects in our

    schools will be amended. The core subjects of one hundred years ago are no longer

    enough to adequately produce technologically prepared citizens (Satchwell &

    Dugger, 1996, p. 11). Because high tech will have an ever-increasing impact on all

    aspects of society, it is more important than ever for educational planners...

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