College, technical and vocation instructors teach adult students of all ages and academic backgrounds. Some students may have very little formal education; others may be experienced individuals seeking vocational upgrading or retraining.
Duties vary depending on the type and size of the post-secondary school, the subject area and the level of instruction. In general, however, instructors:
- develop curriculum
- research and prepare lessons
- use instructional techniques such as lectures, demonstrations, laboratory work, hands-on training, case studies, independent or group projects, field assignments, field placements and multimedia technologies (including on-line learning)
- provide individualized instruction and tutorial or remedial instruction
- prepare, administer and mark student exams
- evaluate student performance and assignments
- consult with students regarding specific academic or vocational concerns
- maintain and submit program or student records.
Instructors also must keep abreast of current developments and changes in their fields by maintaining contact with industrial or business sectors. Attending workshops, seminars and refresher courses is a necessary part of the job.
Some instructors have assistants who help prepare materials, set up laboratory and audiovisual equipment, gather research data, mark assignments and examinations, and perform other non-instructional duties.
College instructors may teach a broad range of courses, ranging from academic upgrading to applied degree programs, in fields such as:
- communications studies
- community and health services
- business and computers
- technical, vocational and trades training
- general interest programs.
Instructional responsibilities and required qualifications vary with the programs taught. For example, instructors who teach university transfer programs generally have instructional responsibilities similar to those of lecturers who teach undergraduate programs at universities. Career certificate programs usually are taught by instructors who have industry experience in specific fields.
Technical institute instructors provide technically-oriented instruction to adult students involved in studies relating to:
- business (accounting management)
- commercial and service occupations
- engineering technologies
- medical and health sciences
- life resources
- media and information technologies
- mechanical, manufacturing and building sciences
- industrial and commercial trades (including apprenticeship courses).
Technical schools provide technical in-school training for over 90% of Alberta's apprentices as well as academic upgrading for students lacking the entrance requirements for further technical studies.
Vocational college instructors provide instruction in programs such as:
- basic literacy
- academic upgrading
- short, intensive vocational training programs relating to business, health, trades and service fields.
These programs are designed to give unemployed or under-employed adults the academic and employment skills they need to enter or re-enter the work force. Instructors may be teaching students who:
- come from culturally, socially or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds
- have decided to upgrade or retrain
- are new Canadians and require English proficiency (for more information, see the English as a Second Language Instructor - Adults occupational profile).