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The influence of evaluative conditions and pre-conference contact on paricipants' evaluation of a conference Peterson, Kenneth Paul

Abstract

In evaluating the International Conference on Foreign Student Affairs at the University of British Columbia, an attempt was made to develop instruments for assessing the achievement of objectives, to determine if differences existed in individual and group methods of evaluation, and to determine if there were differences in evaluative responses between those who took part in a pre-conference survey on personal objectives and those who did not. Pre-conference data consisted of participants' personal objectives in attending. Data collected at the end of the conference included personal and socio-economic characteristics of participants; Kropp-Verner Attitude Scale measures; and evaluative measures of components of the conference. The twelve factors extracted from the attitudinal measures by factor analysis confirmed the original partitioning of the evaluation instrument. The occurrence of two factors within the Kropp-Verner Attitude Scale indicated that it was not unidimensional when applied to the population studied. To determine the effects of individual and group methods of evaluation, participants were assigned to one of three experimental conditions. Those in the Individual Non-Cooperative Condition filled out the evaluation form by themselves; those in the Individual Cooperative Condition were permitted to converse with others; and those in the Group Cooperative Condition publicly stated their evaluation. Significant differences were found between the Individual Non-Cooperative and Individual Cooperative Conditions and between the Individual Non-Cooperative and Group Cooperative Conditions. The Group Cooperative Condition produced the greatest consensus of opinion and the Individual Cooperative Condition had the highest response means. Two discriminating variables, "communications" and "controls and influences" were extracted by stepwise discriminant analysis for the first administration of group process questions. The variables "communications" and "process" were discriminators in the second administration. In comparing the evaluative responses of participants who received and returned the pre-conference survey on objectives, those who received but did not return the survey, and those who did not receive it, the only statistically significant difference was found between those who received but did not return the questionnaire and those who did not receive it. The objectives pertaining to "Intra-NAFSA Affairs" and "Government Policies" were extracted in stepwise discriminant analysis. The 3 x 3 x 10 factorial analysis was carried out to test the combined influence of the group process questions, the experimental conditions, and the pre-conference survey conditions on the amount of change in responses. Significant F ratios were obtained on the pre-conference survey conditions and on the interaction of the survey conditions with the group process questions. Linear hypothesis testing showed a significant difference between those who received and returned the pre-conference questionnaire and those who received but did not return or did not receive the questionnaire.

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