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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Faculty and administration perception of ideal teaching department role Robertson, William Donovan

Abstract

There are few studies of how teaching department attitudes influence learning in post-secondary education institutions. The dynamic interplay of groups in educational institutions has been poorly documented. If the members of a department display a collective point of view toward their role as a teaching unit, then an understanding of what elements contribute to the creation of that view would be useful both in the prevention and resolution of institutional conflict and in the provision of high quality instruction. Role perception strongly influences the departmental operating style. If a department believes it is operating in a specific and acceptable fashion and others disagree, misunderstandings and conflict eventually result. It therefore seems essential that any departmental appraisal should include an examination of how well a department's observable activities correlate with its perceived ideal role. However, the evaluation processes and instruments commonly used in institutional analysis are seldom able to provide any quantitative data on perceptions and attitudes. This study examines one possible process for measuring group attitudes and perceptions. 0-methodology has had increasing application in measuring perceptions of individuals and was used to measure group perceptions in this study. An 80 item Q-sort was constructed from selected statements of teaching department activities. Items were selected in accordance with a three-independent-variable theoretical construct — departmental attittide, departmental motivation, and instructional activities. The first two variables each had two levels and the third had five. A 2x2x5 design was used. The Q-sort was administered to a stratified sample of 79 subjects drawn from all levels of the academic community of the British Columbia Institute of Technology. The data were subjected to cluster analysis and other computational methods to isolate and describe group characteristics. Two strongly dichotomous Types, labelled as Liberal and as Conservative, were identified. Both Types accepted to varying degrees the concept of Student-centred activities over Department-centred. Most deans, Continuing Education staff, Engineering and Nursing faculty, and librarians were associated with the Liberal Type, and department heads, Business and Health faculty, and Student Services staff were associated with the Conservative Type. Those who had most direct contact with students, except those who had further studies in education, were more Conservative in attitude than those who were somewhat removed from the classroom. There were no correlations between Type and subject age, length of service, or gender. Q-methodology was found to be useful in identifying differences in attitude among both individuals and groups and, therefore, to have potential as an institutional analysis tool.

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