- The purpose of the study was to compare perceptions by faculty,
students and administrators of the campus environments of eight small,
independent liberal arts colleges in Oregon and to determine if similar
or like perceptions of the environment lead to greater vitality in each
of the colleges studied. In the context of the study, vitality refers
to the ability of the institution to function effectively or optimally.
A random sample of 50 junior and senior resident students, 20
full-time teaching faculty and 7 administrators were selected for
testing on each of the campuses using the Institutional Functioning
Inventory to measure perceptions. Following are the eleven scales:
1. Intellectual-Aesthetic Extracurricular
3. Human Diversity
4. Concern for Improvement of Society
5. Concern for Undergraduate Learning
6. Democratic Governance
7. Meeting Local Needs
8. Self-study and Planning
9. Concern for Advanced Knowledge
10. Concern for Innovation
11. Institutional Esprit
The following null hypotheses were tested: 1. There are no significant differences between faculty,
students, and administrators at each college in the
study in their perception of the campus environment.
2. There are no significant differences in the nine
colleges studied in the manner in which their environments
are perceived by faculty, students and administrators
on all scales totaled.
3. There is no demonstrable relationship between divergent
perceptions of the campus environment by faculty,
students and administrators and institutional vitality.
4. There is no demonstrable relationship between divergent
perceptions in areas of the campus environment that are
of concern to student personnel services and institutional
Statistical analysis of the data resulted in the rejection of
null hypotheses one and two. Significant differences were found
among the three groups, faculty, student, and administrators, in 28
out of 88 comparisons at the colleges studied. The groups differed
most often on the scales that measured perceptions in the dimensions
of personal and academic freedom, diversity in faculty and student
backgrounds, concern for undergraduate education and campus decision-making.
The data suggested that students as a group did not share the
perceptions of their faculty and administrators at four of the eight
colleges studied when responses to all eleven scales of the inventory
were totaled for faculty and administrators and on six scales for
students. Students tended to perceive the campus environment less
positively than either faculty or administrators. The most positive perceptions were noted among administrators.
A major conclusion of the study was that in the population
samples, the presence of shared or congruent perceptions of the
campus environment by faculty, students and administrators did not
have a demonstrable relationship with the vitality of the college
and its ability to function effectively. Null hypotheses three and
four were retained.
Further results of the study indicated that, at the colleges
studied, significant differences exist between students and administrators
in their perceptions of the campus environments in areas
of special concern to student services personnel. Differences,
statistically significant at the .05 level of confidence (in five
instances at the .01 level) were noted at seven of the eight colleges
in areas including campus governance, personal freedom (life style,
values) and diversity in student backgrounds.
Colleges in the study which described themselves as conservative
and church-related had lower overall college mean scores, suggesting
lower vitality, than did non-sectarian colleges. The church-related
colleges, however, had fewer significantly different perceptions
between faculty, students and administrators, scale-by-scale, than
did the non-sectarian colleges suggesting a greater sense of community
and singleness of purpose.