THE EFFECTS OF STANDARDS ON LEARNING
IN AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR PROGRAMS
A Third-Party Summative Evaluation of the Standards
Established by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence
Morgan V. Lewis
National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, Inc.
101 Blue Seal Drive, Suite 101
Leesburg, Virginia 20175
Center on Education and Training for Employment
The Ohio State University
1900 Kenny Road
Columbus Ohio 43210-1090
Discussion and Conclusion
This evaluation provided a rigorous test of the effect of program
standards on learning. The noncertified programs were selected
to be very similar to the certified programs. The outcome measure
of learning used items from a newly developed standardized test.
And differences in the intelligence of the students that were
associated with performance on the outcome measure were statistically
The comparison, noncertified programs were so similar to the
certified ones that one of them - the Florida, noncertified post-secondary
program - changed categories shortly after participating in the
evaluation. This program caused the only difference between certified
and noncertified program that was not in the expected direction.
Even with this discrepancy, however, the statistical tests of
the effect of certification were still significant at the .05
The results of this analysis make a strong case that certification
improves the learning that takes place in an automotive repair
program. To provide a rigorous test of the effects of the standards,
the noncertified programs were selected to be as similar to the
certified programs as possible. It is very likely that if the
comparison group had been selected from a more representative
population of all noncertified programs, the differences between
the certified and noncertified programs would have been larger
than those found in this study.
Since this was a summative, not formative, evaluation, it did
not attempt to identify the ways in which certification enhances
learning, but the results of the site visits give some clues.
The most obvious way that standards can influence learning is
by ensuring that facilities, equipment, tools, and instruction
are relevant to the real needs of the work place. Automotive technicians
serve as members of NATEF certification teams to add their knowledge
of local practices to the review of programs. Noncertified programs
may not have the same level of linkage with the labor market.
The ASE standards also set forth clear objectives for the knowledge
and skills students should acquire. These objectives focus instruction
and may motivate students by communicating clearly the expectations
for satisfactory performance. There is a large body of research
that has established that expectations can influence learning
either positively or negatively (Rosenthal and Jacobson 1968,
Swann and Snyder 1980). It seems unlikely that noncertified programs
would have the same degree of clarity in their objectives.
The goal of achieving ASE technician certification may also provide
motivation. Students in certified programs know that the instruction
they are receiving meets national standards. They can reasonably
assume that if they satisfactorily master the skills they are
studying, they will qualify for ASE certification after they have
acquired the necessary on - the - job experience.
The overall conclusion of this third - party evaluation is that
ASE standards have a positive effect on the learning that takes
place in automotive repair programs. Students from programs certified
by ASE scored significantly higher on a standardized test of knowledge
of automotive repair than students from similar noncertified programs.
It is highly likely that if the comparison programs were selected
to be more representative of all noncertified programs, the differences
between certified and noncertified programs would be larger than
those found in this study.