The effects of student outcome assessment on long term change in Viirginia's community colleges: an examination of the applicability of Newcombe and Conrad's theory of mandated academic change

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Virginia Tech


Three-fourths of educational change in recent years has been mandated by external groups such as legislative bodies, executive agencies, and accrediting organizations. Much of this mandated change affected the academic realm of the colleges and universities. Newcombe and Conrad's development of their 1981 mandated academic change (MAC) model, which identified four stages of progression of implementation and four variable categories that affected this implementation, was the only research which addressed this important topic. More research was needed to add to the knowledge base regarding mandated academic change as a strand of planned organizational change.

The purpose of this study was to examine the applicability of Newcombe and Conrad's theory of mandated academic change to two-year public institutions in Virginia in the context of the state mandate for all public colleges to adopt student outcome assessment plans. This research employed the qualitative case study method at two community colleges in Virginia which provided real-life examples of the extent of the MAC model's applicability to the implementation of student outcome assessment plans. One-on-one interviews with the college personnel most closely associated with the implementation were utilized.

The principal finding was that the stage theory of the MAC model was unsubstantiated. It was also determined that the four variable categories described by the authors were appropriate in a community college setting, but further refinement of these categories using Creamer and Creamer Probability of Adoption of Change model of planned change might be helpful. It was also found that communication and vision, particularly determining the lines of authority, dissemination of information, and the early involvement of those affected by the change, should be given consideration as separate variables in studying mandated academic change.