It is a truth educators universally acknowledge
that high school students with online access to I-CAR®
courses are no more likely to do homework. They are definitely logging on after school, but it’s to download music from Spotify or to check out Facebook postings. They’re not launching “Intro to Vehicle Parts Terminology,” that is, unless they are in David Weaver’s collision repair class at Applied Technology Education Campus in Camden, South Carolina.
Weaver’s students aren’t any different from other 15- to 18-year-olds in high school collision repair classes. There are always a few who excel, working ahead without prompting. Weaver has three such students this fall semester, but “the rest do only as needed, just enough to make a grade or get by.” But getting by in Weaver’s class means homework if coursework isn’t completed during the tight time slot allotted.
“I use the PDP-EE™ as homework,” explains Weaver. “I still have to give time, usually the first 30 minutes of class, for students to do PDP-EE work, because not all students have internet at home.” Weaver usually assigns one I-CAR online class per week in his one-year program. Spending minimal computer time on these classes “frees up extra class time for shop activities.”
The hard line Weaver takes on homework is softened by an incentive he started this year. By completing homework, students add knowledge and hand tools to their “toolbox.” After passing the first five Intro Series classes, students are awarded a screwdriver set. After 10 courses, they earn a wrench set. The first in each class to complete the entire Intro Series receives a paint gun. For some students, these will be the first tools they’ve ever owned.
“It’s become a bit of a competition. I make a big deal of the awards and ask the director to present the tools and certificates,” says Weaver. He even prints course certificates in color, which students then add to their school portfolio.
Weaver budgeted $300 for the tool incentive this year and is asking his advisory council and local jobbers for help so better-quality tools and supplies can be offered.
Another strategy Weaver uses in his classroom is to invite paint reps, glass installers, paintless dent removal technicians and other working professionals to give presentations and demos. Weaver asks these visiting pros to reinforce information he already presented in class and also to highlight soft skills required for the job. “Sometimes, students respond better if they hear it again from a different source.
A 33-year teaching veteran who keeps his skills sharp by working summers in industry, Weaver also has been an I-CAR instructor for the past seven years. He credits an I-CAR educator workshop he attended in 2006 with enhancing his teaching method to incorporate theory. He says many collision repair educators are primarily “hands-on.” While this is an essential part of teaching collision repair, explaining “the how and why” of repairs is just as important, says Weaver.
“My expectations on students are high,” emphasizes Weaver. “I want them to be able to communicate what they are doing and to perform at an entry-level standard.” Last year, 38 percent of his students completed the entire PDP-EE base program. In his fall semester class of 29 students, 10 are considering collision repair as a possible career.