The utilization of multiple dimensions in quality judgments of master's degree programs Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/nv935665n

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  • The purpose of this study was to explore the use of a multidimensional approach to quality assessment of master's programs in the context of the human judgment process. Specific steps included: (1) selecting general dimensions of quality; (2) selecting specific measures to define dimensions; (3) use of a research model to examine the importance of dimensions in judgment patterns of four subject groups; and (4) consideration of the implications of such a study for quality assessment at the master's level, traditional and non-traditional programs and students, student services, and further research. The literature review considered the history and development of the master's degree, duality assessment techniques, and the iudgment research model employed in this study. It was concluded that the master's degree is assuming an increasingly important role in higher education, and that a corresponding need for improved methods of quality assessment is indicated. In addition to the multidimensional approach adapted to the purposes of this study, the lens model was chosen as the experimental paradigm for examining the human judgment process in quality assessment. Seven general quality dimensions were selected including faculty, students, resources, environment, offerings, alumni, and overall program. A panel of experts assisted in the selection of specific measures to define each dimension. The final instrument included a set of instructions followed by 35 program profiles. Profiles consisted of a bar graph with each bar representing one of the seven quality dimensions. Subjects reviewed each program profile and rendered a judgment of the program's quality on a separate response sheet. Subjects included 15 master's candidates completing degrees through external programs, 15 master's candidates completing degrees through resident programs, 15 faculty members serving on university councils responsible for reviewing master's programs, and 13 academic administrators. Subjects were tested individually over the 35 judgment tasks. Profiles included in the tasks were developed with the following considerations in mind: to test for averaging and consistency tendencies; to examine influences of major variations in certain dimensions on the judgment patterns of subjects; and to present profiles that reflected random settings for each of the dimensions. The separate response sheet contained 35 criterion scales ranging from one to nine with nine representing the highest level of quality. The subject's use of quality dimensions was determined by computing individual product-moment correlations. These correlations measured the extent to which judgments of quality varied systematically with the level of each of the dimensions in the profiles. Correlations were converted to z values and subjected to a four by seven (groups by dimensions) repeated measurements ANOVA. A judgment analysis procedure was employed to identify natural clusters of subjects sharing similar dimension utilization patterns in their judgments. Results revealed no significant interaction effects between groups and dimensions, nor significant differences between the four subject groups. The judgment analysis procedure did, however, reveal two natural groups with dissimilar dimension utilization patterns. The first group utilized all dimensions in a more balanced fashion than did the second group. Finally, significant differences were observed in comparing the extent to which each dimension was used by all groups. Dimensions concerned with the quality of faculty, alumni, resources and overall program were used significantly more than those concerned with quality of students, environments, and offerings.
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