Re: [xmca] Request for selection activity

From: Dale Cyphert <Dale.Cyphert who-is-at>
Date: Tue Jun 26 2007 - 11:12:21 PDT


You pose a practical question that is so interesting on so many levels!

a) I read the problem as one of readiness to "fit" into the community of
construction workers because that was the central issue in a narrative
that I'm still trying to get published. It's the only chapter from my
dissertation that never found a home, and much of the reason is that
I've never been able to satisfactorily explain why "fit" is more than a
skill set OR a set of appropriate communication practices. I have tried
to describe it as an ability to give signals to the group that one is
READY to learn, but I'm not successful, so far, and making sense to
anyone else. I'm attaching the latest version so you'll have a clue
what I'm talking about, but I'm thinking it will still only be a
glimmer. Not that this is helpful in terms of an "instrument" to
measure said fit, but I would try to measure some basics like a
willingness to take on a realm of responsibility, and an ability to pay
attention to the goals of a job site. It's really hard to capture any
better then my subjects put it: "does the wheelbarrow get in the way?"

b) When you ask specifically about an ability to "learn in a group" I
wonder if you are fishing at something else that is an ongoing concern
of mine...the degree to which learning is a socially supported activity.
  In my current position, I've noticed that I'm really not teaching
individuals a set of (communication) skills; I'm teaching the whole
tribe to adopt and then socialize each other into a particular set of
communication assumptions, norms, and practices. I hadn't thought so
much about that as an ability to learn from the group on the students'
part, but maybe this does relate to the Kid's situation. Socialization
can't happen until the individual is BOTH ready/willing to learn AND
gives the "ready to learn" signals to the potential
mentors/coaches/adults who will do the socializing. I'm riffing now,
but this is a direction I'm preparing papers on right now (on the
ostensible topic of "change management") so this has been helpful!
thanks! Still....not much help toward locating an instrument.

c) I see that most others read this in terms of motivational issues;
readiness to put in some effort toward learning, or at least toward
attaining employment. I would agree that there is a need for effort,
but at the same time the effort can't be in a counterproductive
direction. The poor Kid put in a great deal of effort on that job site,
and actually exhibited behaviors that his teachers probably found very
encouraging. He watched his job mentors closely for directions, asked
for and followed their directions to the letter, and was at the job site
"ready to work" every day. Unfortunately, each of these behaviors was
interpreted as a signal that he was not cut out for success on a
construction job site and thus not "worth" mentoring through the
apprenticeship period that he had been promised.

Maybe more riffing than is helpful, but it's good to see you are still
out there working in construction!

Dale Cyphert, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Interim Head
Department of Management
University of Northern Iowa
1227 W.27th Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0125
(319) 273-6150

Helena Harlow Worthen wrote:
> Hello, xmca --
> I suspect that someone on this list might be able to answer this
> question.
> I am working with a group of people here in Chicago that has to select
> 36 students to enter a high-powered pre-apprenticeship training program.
> The 36 students have to come from targeted disadvantaged groups:
> minority, women, low-income, etc. They will probably be mostly African
> American, mostly men.
> The pre-apprenticeship program is grant-funded from the State of
> Illinois, the outcome of some serious politicking. It is a full-day 5
> days a week 11-week program where the students will get paid $300 a
> week, get bus passes, childcare, tools and safety equipment, and when
> they graduate they'll get a union card and a very minor hoop to jump
> through (a math test, for which they will get preparation assistance)
> before getting into the full four-year Carpenters' Apprenticeship
> Program. This is an expensive program: it costs about $1,000 per week
> per student. The idea is that it is designed to address ALL the barriers
> to minority entry into the building trades. It's got a lot of math and
> hands-on carpentry and physical training in it.
> Since the first class starts in September, we have a very short time to
> recruit and select the students. We need an effective way to distinguish
> between the ones that are going to make it and the ones that are going
> to drop out or get dropped. Drug testing is a given; we have to do drug
> testing at the beginning and randomly throughout the program. We figure
> that drug testing will eliminate half the applicants. So it's the other
> things I have to focus on. It's not academics, either -- the teachers
> in this program take the attitude that as long as someone is showing
> progress, no matter how slow, they stay in the program. What we're
> looking for is people who can show commitment, act responsibly, and
> build trust with the people they're working with.
> So here is my question: Does anyone know an activity that measures how
> well someone learns in a group? I imagine that it would be some kind of
> group activity with a slowly rising challenge built into it.
> Any ideas or references?
> Thank you --
> Helena Worthen
> 312-996-8733
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list

xmca mailing list

Received on Tue Jun 26 11:17 PDT 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Jul 01 2007 - 00:30:04 PDT