Recognizing the significant role of industry in the education and training of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) technician workforce, the "Working Partners: Documenting the Impact of Industry Collaboration within the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Community" project investigates and identifies indicators and features of effective models of industry/community college partnerships and collaborations. Research findings and the Working Partners Toolkit will enhance and provide know-how on creating and sustaining effective industry partnerships and collaborations with STEM technician oriented programs at two-year institutions and with secondary education programs in Career and Technical Education. The participatory nature of the research and user oriented dissemination activities are designed to meet the information needs of a diverse body of constituents. Project deliverables will engage policy makers and practitioners in strengthening existing partnership and collaborations and developing new types of industry/higher education partnerships and collaborations to further the global competitiveness of the STEM technician workforce.
The scope and goals of the project are to (1) identify, investigate, and document the models of partnerships and collaboration that exist between the ATE community and industry; (2) investigate and articulate implementations, challenges, and impact of the partnership models; (3) explore and document conditions that sustain and support productive industry relationships; and (4) chronicle meaningful experiences and student academic and career pathways that arise from ATE community partnerships with industry. The systems-based theoretical approach seeks to understand and articulate the various interdependencies and connections between people and objects in a system composed of tools, rules, overarching community expectations, and divisions of labor. The mixed methods research design aligns the theoretical approach of the research project to the ATE program theory; couples the research questions to the research methods; structures data collection (surveys, interviews, document analysis, focus groups) and data analyses (descriptive analyses comparing emergent themes and correlations to expected patterns and correlations); and provides a conceptual framework for validating ATE/industry partnership models.
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