Social capital and the expanded core curriculum

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McIsaac, Timothy
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A model of education known as the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) (Lohmeier 2005) proposes that, for blind students, the inability to learn visually severely curtails learning opportunities. A program of instruction must teach skills and knowledge traditionally learned by visual observation. The purpose of this research was to investigate the relationship between the ECC and social capital (Lareau and Weininger 2003) and to discover whether visually impaired individuals who have received an education based on the majority of the elements from the ECC demonstrate greater ability to acquire social capital than visually impaired individuals who have received a more traditional education based on the core curriculum. The data collected established the subjects’ level of social capital; the nature of their education (Core vs. ECC); the link if any between social capital and their educational experience; and the degree of social integration including upward career mobility. Findings included: • Those subjects who reported involvement in non-work related activities perceived a positive employment relationship, indicating high social capital. • Education based on the ECC was limited, as demonstrated by subjects’ limited career development. • Subjects made good use of tacit knowledge, even though the education received was not based on the ECC. • All subjects described their social relationships at work in functional rather than sociological terms. Subjects who described limited social activities with co-workers away from the workplace appeared to have limited social lives generally. The study’s conclusions are that formal instruction in soft skills and knowledge of the organization’s culture, as well as orientation to workplace culture, are critical to the development of a high-quality employment relationship. Initiatives to compensate for the inability of visually impaired persons to acquire this information coincidentally would help others who experience challenges in their efforts to acquire social capital  
sociology, education, employment, blindness, disability