Date of Conferral
While simulators can be used in place of hands-on hardware, there was not a significant body of quantitative research supporting the use of simulators for college and career success at the secondary level in information technology (IT). The purpose of this quantitative, nonexperimental study was to determine if there was a significant difference in college and career readiness of New York state high school students in approved IT content cluster high school programs, between those who use simulations and those who use hands-on hardware. Kolb's theory of experiential learning was the theoretical foundation for this research. The research questions examined whether there was a significant difference in the written exam grades, the hands-on exam grades, and the certification pass rates of students, based on the percentage of simulation used in their coursework. A survey was used to collect data on 60 students. A one-way Welch ANOVA indicated no significant difference in written grades between groups. A Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA showed statistical significance between groups using all simulated labs and less than 50% simulated labs, as well as between all simulated labs and 50% or greater simulated labs for hands-on grades. Fisher's Exact Test indicated that the proportion of students in the less than 50% simulated labs group who earned industry-level certifications was statistically significantly higher than the 50% or greater simulated labs group or the all simulated labs group. Implications for social change are that workers with entry-level IT skills can fill jobs in the growing IT field that offers well-paying jobs with more promising futures.