How to Increase Student Enrollment in CTE Blog Feature
Sarah Layton

By: Sarah Layton on November 6th, 2014

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How to Increase Student Enrollment in CTE

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

If you came into teaching after spending some time in the (let's just say) "real world" work force, you may find yourself at a slight disadvantage when it comes to the unique challenges of classroom management. You may know your way around a sphygmomanometer or a spreadsheet, but navigating teaching strategies and keeping students engaged might feel more like a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey exercise. And if you don't figure out a way to connect with your students, you could be looking at a short-lived teaching career. On the other hand, with engaging teaching strategies, career and technical education (CTE) teachers that are often industry experts, but not education experts, can figure out how to increase student enrollment in CTE courses.

How a novice teacher with solid industry experience conquered the classroom

In a guest post, computer applications teacher (and novice no more), Kevin Schachter shared these thoughts about his transition from industry to teaching:

"For me specifically, having spent 20 years in the hotel and restaurant industry, I had a great deal of experience in working with high school and college age students, and thought that developing a rapport with my students would be simple; which it was. I also knew, having spent so much of my previous career involved in training and development, that the teaching part of teaching would eventually come easily as well; which it also did."

But it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns, either, as Schachter explains:

"Classroom management was an issue I struggled with at first. I used to be able to enforce discipline upon a habitually tardy or potentially unruly employee with threats of suspension or termination, but there is no real equivalent in high school. Also, the hospitality field is naturally chaotic, and one expects to spend an excessive amount of time putting out fires, but that model does not lend itself well to a learning conducive classroom. So I worked on classroom management and it is no longer an issue. Grading was an area in which I had to learn from scratch."

So how did he power through these challenges?

"Two things have become indispensable to me when it comes to assessment. The first is the variety of online learning systems and the internal assessments that are available through them which I use to support my curriculum. I’m no longer creating everything from scratch, and constantly reinventing the wheel, when there are so many reasonably priced, often even free wheels there for the taking. The variety and versatility of these tools saves me countless hours that would be spent on planning and grading. The other concept that has become indispensable to me, is what I refer to as “Brown M&Ms.” Brown M&Ms comes from a story about the rock band Van Halen, and their apparent debauchery and diva like ways."

To learn about the Brown M&Ms, be sure to read Schachter's post.

Quality tools help health professionals new to teaching master teaching strategies

I recently had the opportunity to talk to one such teacher and how she’s managed that transition. The teacher I interviewed said, “I’ve been a nurse for a long time, but I struggled a bit when I became a teacher with how to deliver a lesson. HealthCenter21 provides a good outline for me to deliver a lesson.”

These teachers, particularly, need tools that help them manage the classroom and to wrap their heads around things like “What is a reasonable amount of content to cover in a class period?”

And that’s why I was so interested to talk to this teacher. She shared that her online health science curriculum resource cuts down on her prep time with PowerPoints, tests, and test questions that she doesn’t have to create. So, she’s not just getting online curriculum to blend into her other classroom tools. She’s also getting lesson plans. Lesson plans are new to those that choose teaching as a second career.

In addition, teachers can acquire tools that generate quizzes and tests and exams, and grades them all automatically. The development of quiz and test questions for someone that is new to teaching takes a great deal of time. Imagine not only having all the questions designed for you, but also having them graded for you automatically!

Online curriculum tools are attractive to students and a huge help for teachers new to the field

New teachers have some typical concerns, such as the fear of not having enough material and students staring blankly at you with nothing to do. As if that is not stressful enough, there are many other hurdles for teachers, new and experienced. Joni Brand faced just about every one of those hurdles her first year. Although a 30-year veteran R.N., Joni Brand is a self-described “novice” in regards to teaching. But Brand hit the ground running last fall with online curriculum tools for health science. She used HealthCenter21 online to teach and prepare her students for their Nursing Assistant Certification Exam for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program. In looking back at her first year, and looking at her students’ exam scores, Brand and her students had a stellar year with a little help from online curriculum for health science!

How do you increase student enrollment in CTE?

Well, it may seem that I've taken a round-about way of getting to the point...how to increase student enrollment in CTE. But the path was necessary because getting and keeping students is a lot more than flashy brochures and a great cafeteria. It takes investment in both teachers and their tools. It takes providing new teachers with tools that help them in the areas that they aren't as strong. And ultimately, getting and keeping students enrolled in your CTE courses means getting a response like this one from students that take your courses:

“I have just finished the Healthcare Careers Core Curriculum course and I wanted to share my experience with this course. I could not believe how much I learned about so many different aspects of the medical field. The course was so user friendly and allowed you to cover different modules at your own pace and at times that work into your schedule. After taking this course I realized what really interested me and what I was really not interested in doing. Because I really focused on taking this course, I learned so much needed information that I will use in my future medical classes.

I couldn’t believe how much I knew when I started taking my classes. This course was a foundation for me to build on while in my classes. The exposure to the medical information put me ahead when starting my schooling. I just can’t tell you how much I enjoyed and learned from this class of modules. I am so glad that I took this class and I would highly recommend that anyone going into the medical field should take this. I would love to see courses like this for all career options.

It is a Win-Win situation, either you build on the information you learned in that career or you may find out this is not the career for you! I also have to tell you how wonderful Terry Rives is; she is a real asset to making this course work so well. Terry was there for me anytime I needed help with something and to make sure that everything was going well. My whole experience with this course was truly amazing and so informational. Thank You!”

-Student Michele Arnenz-Venetz, Northampton Community College.

THAT, my friend, is how to increase student enrollment in CTE!

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About Sarah Layton

Sarah has been with AES since 1998, first serving as a curriculum developer, and now as a customer support analyst and content creator. She is committed to helping instructors gain experience and confidence using our solutions and to providing excellent customer care.