A Study of the Board of Governors BA Degree Program

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Baars, Judith, Ann
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Western Illinois University
The traditional college student population--recent high school graduates--is rapidly being displaced by a more non-traditional population--older students, especially women, in need of vocational preparation to enter or move upward in the occupational marketplace (Patterson and Blank, 1985). In order to appropriately respond to this shift in student populations, post-secondary institutions must begin to explore and consider rudimentary student characteristics--demographic information, learner motivation/interest, learner needs, and institutional needs. Current information indicates Western Illinois University's (WIU) current male population accounts for 59 % of the total Board of Governors population (BGU Semi-Annual Report 6/91). This finding is contrary to the findings of Patterson and Blank (1985). This enrollment anomaly is of particular interest to WIU Board of Governors BA degree staffers, in that it may potentially impact in a number of policy areas: affirmative action, rules, regulations, resource allocations, recruitment and programming. By examining both (a) the demographic characteristics of Board of Governors BA degree students, as well as (b) their objectives and/or rationales for enrolling in the program, it may be possible to both explain the enrollment anomaly as well as identify self-reported needs of the non-traditional student. This study attempted to develop a student profile of non-traditional students enrolled in the Board of Governors BA degree program at both Western Illinois University and the other four BGU institutions (Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Northeastern Illinois University). A questionnaire developed by the researcher was administered to a random stratified sample of 308 Board of Governors BA degree students enrolled at Western Illinois University. In addition to requesting demographic information, questions were constructed to assess what attracted the students to the program, what made them decide to go to school at this time, whether they were full-time or part-time students and their occupational status. Objectives and influences in their decision to enter the degree program were rated on a 'likert-scaled' instrument. This information was compared to anecdotal data for the other four Board of Governors BA degree programs. Questions addressed were: In terms of the issue of gender, does the student population attending the WIU Board of Governors BA degree program significantly differ from the student population attending the other four Board of Governors BA degree programs? Are there significant differences between the demographic characteristics of students in the WIU Board of Governors BA degree program and those students enrolled in the other four Board of Governors degree programs? Do self-reported rationales for males in the WIU Board of Governors BA degree program significantly differ from the rationales reported by females in the WIU Board of Governors BA degree program? It was determined that, overall, the five institutions displayed remarkably similar male-female ratios. In almost all cases males outnumbered females. It was determined that demographic characteristics in general resembled each other across institutions even though certain specific subtleties did emerge. However, these delete primarily with locale-related issues. The female and male responses for Board of Governors BA degree students at WIU were very similar on all factors, i.e., location, learning, social, personal, and work, with females placing slightly more importance on all areas except work. The issue of work did yield a significant difference on the Univariate F-test and indicated that males were more likely than females to rate issues related to work as being important. One conclusion that can be reached on the basis of this study is that occupation is the driving factor behind male enrollment in the Board of Governors BA degree program at WIU. A possible explanation for this may be that men are more likely than women to be employed in middle management positions, and if they do not have a bachelors degree, they may be encouraged to obtain one. They need this type of program, which is not campus-based, to finish this degree. Being employed in fulltime careers may make taking on-campus courses impossible. This degree, unlike many non-traditional degrees, allows for flexibility in the manner in which credit is earned.
Call Number: LB2343 .B26 1992