Scenario: ARC'S Inc. redesigns its
Electronics training program to integrate technical and basic skills
At the Gibson Paper Company, Carmen Lopez met
Helen Jones. M. Jones worked in the copy center. There she made
copies and occasionally performed maintenance and minor repairs on
the photocopy equipment. She liked this kind of repair work. She
talked with Cannen Lopez and told her about how she would like to
get into electronics technician's training someday. M. Lopez told M.
Jones about ABC'S Inc. and how it offered training in electronics
So one Monday that she had off, M. Jones went to
ABC'S Inc. and talked with them about possibly getting into their
Electronics training program. The in-take advisor asked M. Jones to
take some basic skills tests. The Electronics program required 9th
grade reading and mathematics skills for enrollment.
However, M. Jones scored at the 7th grade level
in basic skills. She was given the option of entering the basic
skills program, where she could study the GOALS materials for
preparing people to enter Electronics technician's training. But M.
Jones did not want to spend the extra lime in the basic skills
program. She told the ABC'S Inc. counselors that she would brush-up
her basic skills on her own and come back someday.
Their experience with M. Jones lead the ABC'S
Inc. staff to wonder why the Electronics program required 9th grade
basic skills. After studying the program, they found that it was
highly theoretical and abstract The text for the course was written
at the 11th grade level, and there was little emphasis upon learning
in a developmental sequence from enactive, to iconic, to symbolic
modes of learning.
The ABC'S Inc. staff decided to find out if there
were other approaches to Electronics training that did not require
such a high entry level of basic skills. Their search led them to a
prototype Electronics course that had been developed in research
sponsored by the Ford Foundation. The prototype course followed
similar concepts and principles as used in the GOALS program. The
difference was that the GOALS redesigned basic skills training and
incorporated aspects of technical training into the basic skills
course. What the Functional Context Education/ Electronics
Technician's (FCE/ET) prototype course did was redesign technical
training so learners with basic skills at the 5th grade or above
could enter directly into technical training. In the context of the
technical training, then, their basic reading and mathematics skills
This chapter describes the prototype Electronics
Technician's course studied by ABC'S Inc. that was developed based on
concepts from functional context theory.1, 2 The
Functional Context Training/Electronics Technician's (FCT/ET) course
was designed to help marginally prepared students to succeed in a
full-scale Electronics Technology training program, one in which they
might otherwise fail. The FCT/ET course attempts to facilitate
learning in three ways.
First, it builds new knowledge on old knowledge by
using familiar electrical devices to teach basic electronics
principles and equipment analysis procedures.