- The goal of this research was to identify those program elements
and their levels of fulfillment in community college cooperative
education programs which are essential if the success of an employer's
contribution to a student's training is to be reasonably assured.
The primary purpose was to determine if statistically significant differences
in the perceptions of employers' concerns and expectations
existed between the employers and the coordinators who have participated
in community college work experience programs. Specifically,
the objectives of this study were to: (1) determine, using the Delphi
technique, a consensus by experts from business and industry on the
identification and delineation of the concerns and expectations an
employer might have about continuing company participation; (2)
develop a survey questionnaire based on the consensus of the Delphi
panel; and (3) determine by the analysis of the questionnaire's recorded
data if there were differences among the perceptions of the
training sponsors and coordinators regarding their expectation, concern,
expectation fulfillment, and concern alleviation.
The study's instrument was developed by a review of the literature,
a consensus of 10 Delphi panelists from business and industry,
a pilot test, and a California employer mini-profile and information
base. Divided into five categories, the instrument consisted of 51
statements of which each was accompanied by two six-point Likert
type scales, ranging from 5.0, very high, to 0.0, none: one, for
expectation, and the other, for its level of fulfillment.
The sample for the study consisted of 54 randomly selected,
participating employers and 59 percent of the post-secondary coordinator
population. The respondents were selected from lists supplied
by the program directors of eight of 13 community colleges which
offered their students 15 or more separate cooperative work experience
The t statistic was used to determine contrasts among the mean
scores of the two groups of respondents for each program element at
the .05 level. Boole's inequality was also utilized to provide a refined
estimate of the significance probability for each of the study's
four null hypothesis tests. Thus, these probabilities evolved from
not just the degrees of freedom but also the questionnaire's number
of statements. In each category, the Spearman rho rank-difference
coefficient was used to identify relationships between the ranking of
the program elements by both groups. The hypothesis tests for zero
correlation were conducted at the .05 level.
Selected Findings and Conclusions
The results of the t tests indicated that substantial differences
existed among Oregon's training sponsors and coordinators regarding
their perceptions of concern, expectation, and expectation fulfillment.
Furthermore, each of the program elements evidenced significant
concern. In concern alleviation, however, the responses of both
groups were generally alike. Only three elements were found which
indicated a significant difference between the groups in the effort required
to eliminate concern.
A ranking of the program elements in each of the five categories
by their highest and lowest mean expectation scores showed that the
training sponsors and coordinators scored 17 elements above 4.0 and
27 elements between 3.5 and 4.0. The hypothesis tests for zero correlation
indicated a significant relationship for the elements of
program planning. However, no other relationships were found in the
four remaining categories of elements.
The program element which was judged highest in expectation
by both groups of respondents stated that both suitable academic experience
and practical work experience are necessary to develop a
well-rounded student who is prepared for employment. The element
which was scored as least beneficial by the training sponsors stated
that training sponsors and their companies should receive recognition
for their participation in work experience programs.