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A Century of Professional Organization Influence: Findings from Content Analyses of MVTTEC Annual Meetings


John Wells

Virginia Tech, US
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Investigating the content presented at annual national conferences is regarded by many as a valid means for revealing patterns within a given professional organization concerning their interests, issues, concerns, priorities, and research foci, which collectively present an opportunity to provide future direction for the organization. As a result, scholars across many different disciplines have conducted such investigations in an attempt to gain insights into their professional organizations (e.g., Berryman, 1982; Conger, 1997; Fetro & Droplet, 1991; Kiehn & Kimball, 2008; Price & Orman, 2001) and provide guidance based on the resultant patterns. Findings from such analyses of conference content are instrumental in documenting patterns relative to past trends within the field, organizational alignment with larger national trends, and using them to suggest future directions for professional organizations. This is particularly effective for investigating those professional organizations that have preserved conference content throughout a long history of annual meetings.

In the field of technology and engineering education, the Mississippi Valley Technology Teacher Education Conference, today referred to simply as the Mississippi Valley Conference (MVC) is the oldest continuous conference with an entire century of content available for analysis. From its inception, the intent of this conference was to engage in discussion and debate in order to “help in the solution of problems of great importance” by providing “an opportunity for the teachers and organizers of manual training to get together in close conference where they might exchange their views on questions of vital importance” to the profession (Bennett, 1937, pp. 502–503). The MVC marked its 100th meeting in the fall of 2013, presenting not only a significant historical milestone but also a unique opportunity for investigating the extent to which this individual conference may have influenced the profession as a whole. 1 Specifically, the 2013 meeting afforded the opportunity to analyze 100 years discussion topics as a means for understanding the significance of the past century of meetings and for the profession to utilize those findings in envisioning a worthy path as they enter into their second century of existence. Such an analysis can reveal whether the conference played a significant leadership role in the midst of educational reform or was just an entity reacting to emerging professional issues with discussions simply reflecting the eclectic interests of its membership. Insight might also result from the unique conference venue whereby discussion topics are drawn from suggestions submitted by attending members, which in theory would reflect the majors concerns of the profession. Regardless of outcome, the intent for analyzing the past century of MVC discussion topics is to offer organizational insights that may prove valuable in guiding future directions for both the conference and profession writ large.

How to Cite: Wells, J. (2015). A Century of Professional Organization Influence: Findings from Content Analyses of MVTTEC Annual Meetings. Journal of Technology Education, 26(3), 3–37. DOI:
Published on 20 Jun 2015.
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