Research/Conceptual Framework: The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the positive and negative aspects of an alternative learning school. By an alternative learning school, I am referring to what was formerly known as a vocational training school. This report begins with a literature review where I establish a background for the study. This includes material from such well known educators as Dale Parnell, who has been a strong advocate of vocational education over the years. From there, I define how I plan to determine the effectiveness of the school that I am observing. My research leads me to several interview questions that I plan to use extensively in informal interviews with students and their future employers. Research Questions: 'How well does The Learning Place prepare students for their chosen job fields? What do the students particularly like or dislike about The Learning Place? How well do employers of Learning Place graduates rate them against other new employees? Discoveries: From my observations, I learned that the environments in the classrooms at The Learning Place were very relaxed and conducive to learning. Students seemed to be highly motivated to achieve goals established by the instructors as well. From my interviews, I learned that students enjoyed more personal interaction with the teachers than in a traditional high school environment. Overall, students simply enjoyed going to class at The Learning Place than they did in high school! The true indication of the success of The Learning Place was evident when I interviewed two employers of Learning Place graduates. In both cases, the Learning Place graduates rated above other new employees in traits such as work ethic, timeliness, and adaptability to new work environments. As educators, we should all be aware that alternative learning environments exist and are being used successfully to help students. In many cases, they may even help to keep students in school. Alternative Education programs no longer simply involve wood and metal shop! They are being used to provide a practical environment to train serious students in a variety of professional fields. Without a doubt, Alternative Education programs will playa large part in the future of education in the state of Oregon, and the entire country as well.
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