Perceived effectiveness of an office administration curriculum



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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the two-year Office Administration curriculum at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Procedures: The 98 graduates of 1980-82, all female, and their employers were surveyed via researcher-made questionnaires to determine perceptions regarding a list of office-related competencies. The list included both academic/technical and personal/social competencies. A pilot study preceded the actual study to validate instruments. A graduate response rate of 72.2 percent was achieved: employer response totaled Z0 percent of graduate response. Graduates responded to each competency in three ways: (1) importance in their office-related job, (2) degree of emphasis given in the Office Administration curriculum, and (3) self evaluation of competence. A five-point scale was used. Graduates also provided job and education-related information so that a graduate profile could be developed. Employers responded to the list of competencies in two ways: (1) importance in graduate's job, and (2) evaluation of graduate's level of competence. Hypotheses: Three hypotheses were tested at the .05 level of significance. HO1: There will be no significant difference between importance of a job competency and degree of emphasis placed on that competency in the Office Administration curriculum, as perceived by the graduate. Graduate responses to the two categories were matched to produce mean discrepancy scores. Significant differences resulted for 47 of 86 competencies; the null hypothesis was rejected in these cases. However, 34 of the 47 were negatively discrepant, indicating curricular emphasis greater than job importance. Positive discrepancies occurred in three academic competencies: Telephone Usage, Handling Mail, and Document Retrieval; and in ten affective areas: Ability to Follow Directions, Adaptability to Change, Ambition, Attitude/Outlook, Concern for Productivity, Emotional Maturity, Human Relation Skills, Manners/ Mannerisms, Priority Setting, and Punctuality/Attendance. Ho2: There will be no significant difference between importance of a job competency as perceived by graduate and by employer. Analysis occurred between graduate and employer responses to Importance in Job. Significant differences occurred for 12 of 86 competencies; the null hypothesis was rejected in these cases. In 10 cases. graduates gave higher ratings than did employers: Dictation to Others, Management Organizing, Telephone Usage, Alphabetic Filing, Grammar Punctuation, Spelling, Ambition, Manners/Mannerisms, and Priority Setting. Employers rated higher for Mathematics Fractions and Mathematics Equations. Ho3: There will be no significant difference between graduate's perception of her competence in an area and employer's perception of graduate's competence. Analysis consisted of comparison of graduate's self evaluation and employer's evaluation of the graduate's competence. Significant discrepancies occurred for 9 of 86 competencies; the null hypothesis was rejected in these cases. For seven discrepancies, employers rated higher than did graduates: Posting/Accounts Management, Interpretation of Legal Materials, Insurance, Mathematics Decimals, Mathematics Fractions, Mathematics Percentages, and Priority Setting. Graduates rated higher in two Typewriting competencies: Letters and Memos, and Reports and Manuscripts. Conclusions: 1. Curricular emphasis generally meets or exceeds job requirements for academic competencies. Affective areas tend to show deficient curricular emphasis. 2. Responses of graduates and employers as to job importance and to degree of graduate competency in selected areas generally agree. Where differences occur, graduates tend to give higher job ratings and lower self ratings than do their employers. Recommendations: 1. Academic areas of inadequate curricular emphasis should be addressed. Areas showing significant emphasis beyond job requirements should be further examined, as over-preparation in these areas may lead to neglect of other needful areas. 2. The affective competencies should be evaluated in terms of their place in the curriculum. 3. On going follow-up is recommended as a regular part of curricular evaluation. As perceptions of graduates and employers have been established to be fairly consistent, efforts can be concentrated on graduates who, as a group, are more accessible. Employers should not, however, be removed from the evaluation effort.



Office management--Study and teaching (Higher)