An analysis of Oregon community college students' and educators' perceptions of opportunities to earn academic credit for prior off-campus learning Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/c247dw833

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  • Introduction. The study was conducted in response to a need for systematic analysis of the practice of granting academic credits for prior off-campus learning. It was stimulated by a commitment to the goal of facilitating student development and an interest in the theory that such development can be enhanced through recognition of individual differences. Problems. The study sought to resolve the following methodological problem: How can the perceptions of students and educators be assessed and analyzed to determine if current practices are fulfilling students' aspirations for opportunities to qualify for academic credits for prior off-campus learning? Resolution of this problem allowed consideration of three research problems. Methodology. The study was conducted in four phases. First, a model was developed for the assessment of student needs for opportunities to qualify for advanced credits. Second, two instruments were developed to measure the perceptions of the subjects of the study. Third, the instruments were utilized to collect data from educators associated with eleven Oregon community colleges and students enrolled in ten of those institutions. Educators were selected through the process of simple random sampling and were surveyed by mail. One hundred and eight educators (72% of those contacted) responded to the questionnaires sent to them. The student sample was obtained by selecting a stratified sample of thirty classes. A total of 417 students completed questionnaires in their classrooms. Finally, the data were analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the model and instruments developed for the study and to draw tentative interpretations from the data. Descriptive statistics were utilized to evaluate the assessment model and to make interpretations. In addition, the chi-square distribution statistic was used to test three hypotheses designed to investigate the proposition that existing practices are not currently fulfilling demand. In testing the hypotheses, the .05 level of confidence was accepted as indicating significance. Findings. The following findings were observed: 1. The instruments and model developed for the study yielded measures of demand ("what should be"), current fulfillment ("what is"), and need ("what is lacking") for each of seven curriculum areas and for the curriculum taken as a whole. 2. Students tended to qualify the strength of felt demand; some indicated strong demand, some weak demand, and some no demand. 3. Each subject group tended to perceive consistently different levels of demand. Returning students tended to perceive greater demand than either entering students or educators. 4. Entering students reported receipt of advanced credits less frequently than returning students. 5. A range of need estimates was obtained for each of seven curriculum areas and the curriculum considered as a whole. Need estimates were found to vary depending upon the subjects perceiving demand and the strength of demand considered to legitimately indicate "what should be." (When considering the curriculum as a whole, one need estimate indicated that as many as 55. 1% of all entering students are in need of advanced credit opportunities, while another predicted that no more than 17. 7% of such students are missing desired advanced standing opportunities.) 6. When weak demand was assumed to be a legitimate indicator of desire, then significant differences were observed between desired conditions and current fulfillment in all seven curriculum areas and in general. 7. When strong demand was considered to be the only legitimate indicator of desire, significant differences between desired conditions and current fulfillment were observed less frequently. Returning students and educators were more likely to perceive greater demand than fulfillment than were entering students. 8. Older students, female students, married students, and vocational technical students tended to indicate greater demand for advanced standing opportunities than their counterparts. 9. Most students were found to be unaware of the advanced standing opportunities available on their respective campuses.
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