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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Continuing professional education : a study of geoscientists' participation, attitudes and felt CPE needs in one professional organization Yong, Karen Elizabeth


Little data exist on continuing professional education (CPE) participation among geoscientists. This study sought to establish an understanding of CPE participation amongst geoscientists through their behaviour, attitudes toward CPE and felt need of CPE. Members in the Mineral Deposits Division (MDD), an affiliate of the Geological Association of Canada (GAC), were used as the population for the survey. A mail survey questionnaire of the 819 members of MDD produced a response rate of 72%. The findings revealed the majority of geoscientists held positive attitudes toward voluntary participation in CPE. The respondents participated in both instructional and informal activities such as, attending field trips and reading professional journals. Eighty percent of the respondents indicated having participated in instructional CPE activities during the previous 12 months, with a mean of 6 activities. In addition, 100% reported participating in the informal activity of reading professional journals for an average of 0.5 hours per week. Contrary to findings in the literature, no significant relationships were found between educational level, attitude, occupational positions, barriers to participation and the extent of CPE participation. These findings reflect the homogeneity of the sample's socio-economic status: high education levels (39% B.A's/B.Sc's, 32% M.A's/M.Sc's and 27% PhD's), with a mean income of $44K. The general character of a MDD member is one who specializes in geology (68%), works for industry (60%), holds an occupational position of either project geoscientist or middle management (57%). Few barriers to participation were identified: scheduling difficulties and lack of time. The anticipated future of the geoscience profession was reflected in the perceived CPE needs of the group. Geostatistics (59%), oral presentations (49%), mining laws (50%), and geochemistry (49%), were items most frequently cited. Sixty five percent reported that sponsors of CPE other than their own institution were better providers of CPE activities. Although the lecture format was the most frequented CPE format during the previous year, field trips were the preferred format. T.V and video as CPE delivery systems were not favoured by geoscientists which contrasts trends amongst other professionals, particularly engineers in the United States (Greenburg & Beidenburg, 1987). These findings are of importance to those in geoscience who sponsor, plan, provide, or evaluate CPE activities, but particularly the MDD in developing its CPE policy, and to those in the field of adult education conducting participation research because data has been gathered specifically pertaining to mineral deposit geoscientists in Canada. Recommendations were proposed for the national umbrella organization, the Canadian Geoscience Council, which has the structure and influence to establish CPE as a priority within geoscience in the areas of programme planning, CPE policy development and resource management.

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