University extension program quality: Program directors and faculty perceptions of quality when considering the factors of reduced funding, competition, and distance education technology
Mark Allan Aderman, University of Northern Colorado, United States
University of Northern Colorado . Awarded
The purpose of the study was to examine perceptions of university extension program quality. In this investigation, reduced funding, external competition, and distance education technology were factors that potentially influenced program quality. Extension program directors and faculty were the respondents and a questionnaire and interviews were the methods used to gather data. Mixed methods allowed for a more in-depth data collection. The interviews allowed faculty members to talk, in greater detail, about their perceptions of program quality than would have been the case if they completed surveys. Three major research questions guided the study: (a) What is the current perceived quality of university extension programs? (b) How is the quality of extension programs being affected by reduced funding, distance education technology, competition, and other external factors? and (c) How are universities attempting to deal with the external factors affecting extension program quality? Minor questions addressed demographic information.
Program directors and faculty had similar perceptions of how universities dealt with the three factors. Respondents agreed alternative funding methods were needed. Faculty also expressed a need to redefine extension's role.
Directors and faculty agreed distance education technology was not being used as much as possible. Lastly, directors and faculty held similar viewpoints about how to deal with competition.
Conclusions. (1) University extension programs should be continued because of the contributions they make to the community and society, and particular attention should be directed to upholding program quality. (2) Despite univiersites changing their funding methods from state-funded to alternative methods, program directors did not perceive a substantial change in program quality. (3) Program directors and faculty perceive a need to market their programs aggressively in order to maintain adequate enrollment and program quality. (4) Program directors did not perceive distance education technology to influence program quality. (5) Faculty, far more than program directors, perceived a lack of internal recognition for their participation in extension, resulting in reduced effort and negatively impacted program quality. (6) Although program directors and faculty tended to agree about the level of extension program quality and issues that threaten program quality, faculty were more skeptical than program directors that their universities were dealing with these threats to program quality.
Aderman, M.A. University extension program quality: Program directors and faculty perceptions of quality when considering the factors of reduced funding, competition, and distance education technology. Ph.D. thesis, University of Northern Colorado.
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