Determining Curriculum Content

A Comparison of Analysis Techniques

Over the past 40 years, professional vocational education has been inundated with systems for analyzing occupations. Most of these have been promoted with catchy titles and led themselves readily to identification by acronym. Some of these systems are product-oriented: that is, the system produces a product which may have some universal application across the profession, and may be purchased or accessed by any who are interested. Other systems are process-oriented; that is, the system describes a procedure which may be followed in the formulation of a document. Whether by deliberate or innocent action, many of these systems have confused the concept of occupational analysis with the concept of planned program (course-curriculum) develop.

Occupational analysis is a resource for planning program development. It is a resource in the sense that it lists all the behaviors, including skills, knowledge, and attitudes that represent potential learning experience is required of one who would function at an optimal level, the journeyman level, within a given occupational classification. No educational venture, except for a completely organized and certified apprentice program, is designed to deliver this total experience. Most if not all, public school efforts with this regard are related to achievement of less than optimal levels of performance of participants within the occupational specializations.

A normal apprenticeship program for machine shop practices consists of 8000 hours of formal and informal instruction(). This time line breaks down into four years of full-time experience of 50 weeks per year, 5 days per week, 8 hours per day in order to produce a journeyman in machine shop practice. The comparison of a maximum of 1440 hours of in-school instruction against 8000 hours of apprenticeship instruction demonstrates obvious differences between the two delivery systems. Apprenticeship system develops a trade person who can be expected to function in an industry without supervision, a journeyman. The in- school system develops a worker who functions at some level below that of a journeyman because of time constraints and other restrictions.

The behaviors required of an apprentice program, and the behavior listed in an occupational analysis are synonymous. The behaviors required of an in-school instructional delivery system are apparently less than those listed in an occupational analysis. The question about what portion of the occupational analysis should be included in the in-school instructional delivery system needs to be answered on the basis of time constraints, level of instruction, characteristics of clients, availability of facilities, material acquisitions, and expected outcomes. In the latter case the occupational analysis becomes a resource which a planner accesses for the purpose of determining which learning experience will be incorporated into the in-school instructional program.

The occupational analysis, then, is more than a means to an end. The analysis lists all of the behaviors required by a journeyman in a given occupation. The educational planters select from this complete list those behaviors which, by their very nature are designed to prepare workers at some level of performance below that of a journeyman. It is not until the educational planner makes the selection of learning experiences from the analysis that decisions need to be made regarding how and/or why they are to be delivered.

A technical education teacher needs to distinguish between available analysis systems in order to decide which, if any, will be used as the basis for their planned program development, whether they will conduct a separate analysis, or whether they will incorporate information from existing analysis with separately developed documents. Following is a brief description of several more common analysis systems that are available to the technical education teacher.


The Vocational Technical Education Consortium of States was formed in July 1973 for the purpose of promoting the systematic development and implementation of the concept of Competency Based Vocational Technical Education by securing the active participation of state and educational agencies in the development of( but not limited to):

A recommended procedure for analyzing an occupation

In making an occupational analysis it is necessary to establish a definite organization or hierarchy for completing the process. This is best accomplished by focusing one's attention upon an order of item classification each subordinate to the one above it. The following procedure for analyzing an occupation is based upon this philosophy: