Development and validation of an instrument to measure credit curricular comprehensiveness in small/rural community colleges

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Based on the conviction that curricular comprehensiveness, the commitment to offer a broad spectrum of programs and courses for all members of the community, is an essential ingredient necessary for community colleges to carry out their mission, this study focused on the development and validation of an instrument to measure credit curricular comprehensiveness in small/rural community colleges. To accomplish this measurement, an index of comprehensiveness was devised based on occupational/technical program data from the 1980-1981 Higher Education General. Information Survey (HEGIS) tapes and transfer and developmental/remedial program data from responses to a nationwide questionnaire. This index successfully enabled all 160 members of the study's population to be ranked with respect to comprehensiveness.

To validate this index, a jury of experts was employed comprised of 10 members of the American Association of Community Junior Colleges (AACJC) Small/Rural College Commission. Each juror, individually, was requested, via the use of Q sorts, to place in rank order, according to their degree of credit curricular comprehensiveness, 11 institutions in a sample drawn from the study's population. Two statistical analyses were conducted on their responses, namely, the Spearman rank correlation coefficient (rs) and the Kendall coefficient of concordance. Basically, the analyses revealed that on the average, the jurors (collectively and individually) used essentially the same or similar criteria to those employed by the researcher when developing the index.

Two major conclusions were drawn. First, it is possible to measure credit curricular comprehensiveness using the index of comprehensiveness. Second, the index is a valid instrument to measure credit curricular comprehensiveness as attested to by the statistical analyses performed on the data received from juridic responses via the use of Q sorts.

Recommendations for further research were suggested and implications for potential application of the index for educational practice and policy were presented.