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Latest News from the Career and Technical Center

Hands-on learning is a draw for CTE students

Jaida TruesdellStudents find it easier, more interesting to learn with their hands

Ask almost any of the students at Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School (CTE) why they are attending CTE and among their top three reasons will be they like working with their hands.

Whether in the diesel technology, cosmetology, electrical trades or construction programs, a student engaged in learning with his or her hands is a happy student.

"CTE helped me stay in school and find my interests," Vincent Degni, a senior in AYES Program from Shenendehowa. "I tend to learn a lot better when I work with my hands."

"I am a hands-on person and I get to come here half a day and work and enjoy school and then I get to go back to Middleburgh and learn what I need to," added Samantha Petrosino, senior from Middleburgh that found her passion this year in the welding program.

Education advocates have long noted that hands-on learning is a draw for students who may find themselves lost in a cacophony of words in traditional academic environments. Leading scholars say there are a number of benefits to students learning by doing. Sam Petroseno

According to Everest Colleges, Institutes and Universities, students who learn with their hands:

  • Have a greater retention of program material. Students who practice what they're learning in a hands-on environment can often retain more than three times the material compared with students who just sit in a lecture room and listening intently.
  • Have a better feel for the training material at hand. If the student is working with equipment or software, this method can be especially effective.
  • Simulate real life. A hands-on learning environment can quite often simulate what students must do in their real-life careers, giving them a competitive edge over their peers.
  • Develop critical thinking skills. A goal of hands-on learning is the expectation that students will learn to make the on-the-spot decisions that can affect a desired outcome.

It's a message that is not lost on elected officials.

"BOCES fills a gap by providing visual and hands-on learning opportunities," Sen. Neil Breslin said recently. "Employers want students who are shovel-ready; they don't want to spend months and months training new hires."

Vincent DegniMany CTE students say they not only learn better because they are working with their hands, but they are also fully engaged in the process when they are learning with their hands.

"Hands-on learning is a lot easier for me," said Jaida Truesdell, a Schalmont construction student at the Schoharie CTE.

A fellow senior in that program, Gene Broadwell, from the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District, concurred.

"I learn more when I learn with my hands," he said.

According to Teachnology (a website resource for educators), "hands-on learning allows students to directly observe and understand what is happening. This is a particularly successful way to teach kinesthetic learners, who learn best by example. It is often hard to properly understand something you have never directly seen or experienced. This is why lately hands-on learning has become more popular in education."

Teachnology also stated that hands-on learning "encourages young pupils to do things for themselves, which will help them with learning independently later on in life."

Crowther and Thorne SperryThat is a point not lost on CTE senior John Crowther, who attends the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) program from the Mohonasen Central School District.

"I'm more of a hands-on learner. I can't just sit there and learn, I have to do it," said Crowther.

In the top photo, Jaida Truesdell of Schalmont cuts wood at the Schoharie CTE construction lab.

In the second photo, Samantha Petrosino of Middleburgh welds.

The third photo shows Vincent Degni of Shenendehowa working on a car.

The bottom photo shows Thorne Sperry on the left and John Crowther in the HVAC/R
program on the right.




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