Finding Aid for American Industry Project Records, 1963-1978
American Industry Project
MetadataShow full item record
This collection includes correspondence, instructor guides, student booklets, data entry materials, student papers, statistics, speeches, publications, proposals, and the curriculum development papers that were part of the American Industry Project.
American Industry Project.
The American Industry Project began in the academic year of 1962-1963 when a small group of faculty and administrators at Stout decided to investigate changes that ought to be made in the traditional program of industrial arts education. A grant of $7,900 dollars from the U.S. Office of Education was used to carry the program through its initial stages. A subsequent grant of $65,000 was received from the Ford Foundation to train ten selected industrial arts teachers to field test the program. In 1965, a five-year grant was received from the U.S. Office of Education for the study of American Industry. The original staff of the project included Wesley Face and Eugene Flug as co-directors; Orville Nelson, research specialist; William Daehling, instructional media specialist; Harlyn Misfeldt, supervisor of participating teachers; Lorry Sedgwick, director of pilot teacher education; and Richard Gebhart and Dwight Davis, curriculum specialists. The staff chose to take a conceptual approach towards the study of industrial arts. It was decided that concentrating upon concepts, rather than specifics, would enhance subject retention and help in applying knowledge to new and different situations. After the conceptual structure had been refined, four regional meetings were scheduled throughout the United States with labor and business leaders. At these meetings, the participants were given a detailed presentation on the structure and its components. After the presentations and discussion that ensued, the participants were asked to react to the structure. In addition to the meetings, 1,600 industries were contacted to provide information helpful in preparing curriculum materials for the participating teachers. Participating teachers and students provided much of the feedback that was used in the evolution of the program. Teachers were given worksheets and asked to evaluate the course work on a lesson-by-lesson basis. The work sheets were subsequently collated, and the program was adapted. In addition, follow-up interviews were conducted with participating teachers and students. Besides the Coursework developed for the students, there were also educational materials and seminars developed for teachers. For example, in 1968 and NDEA Institute was held which trained eight teams of teachers and supervisors from eight different school districts from across the country. In 1969, an EPDA Institute involved educators from many of the leading industrial arts colleges and universities. In addition to workshops, Stout offered undergraduate programs and later developed a degree in Master of Science in Industrial Education with a concentration in American Industry. Following the end of the U.S. Office of Education grant in 1970, the American Industry Project became part of the School of Applied Science and Technology (currently the School of Industry and Technology). The program faced two immediate problems: loss of staff and secretarial services, and low undergraduate enrollment. Many freshmen had never heard of American Industry and many juniors and seniors were reluctant to turn away from the traditional approach of teaching industrial education. Even so, for many years, American Industry was to play an important role in the School of Industry and Technology. However, the role diminished as the school began to place more emphasis on preparing its students for placement in industry rather than as teachers. Although the major in American Industry was eventually put on a hold status, the impact of the work of the American Industry Project will long be felt in the School of Industry and Technology. It is notable in many of the courses presently taught, as well as in some of the department titles that exist. Courses in communication, energy, transportation, manufacturing, etc. were natural extensions from some of the conceptual framework that was developed with the American Industry Project. This is also true in the United States that although the major itself is not American Industry, much of the content that was evolved during the experimental project has served to give direction to industrial arts, as well as to the technical coursework on the UW-Stout campus.