A descriptive study of curriculum advisory committees in local North Carolina community colleges: their organization, practices, and functions

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this study was (1) to identify those operational factors which contributed to the utilization and satisfaction of curriculum advisory committees; (2) to identify criteria used in the selection of curriculum advisory committees; (3) to identify the organizational structure used for the curriculum advisory committees; {4) to identify the major functional practices of curriculum advisory committees; (5) to provide some insight into the perceived effectiveness of the curriculum advisory committees; and (6) to identify relationship of functional practices to committee utilization criteria, committee selection criteria, and certain organizational criteria.

The three groups selected for participation in the study were persons who were directly responsible for the organization and operation of curriculum advisory committees, division or department chairpersons who were directly responsible for vocational curriculum programs, and faculty members who worked directly with a curriculum advisory committee from each of the fifty-eight North Carolina community colleges, technical institutes and/or technical colleges.

There were 173 questionnaires mailed, of which 141 were returned. The questionnaire was based on the review of literature, developed by this writer, and.reaffirmed by a panel of judges.

The six research questions of this study were as follows:

  1. To what extent did institutions utilize curriculum advisory committees?

  2. What criteria were used in the selection of curriculum advisory members?

  3. What were the organizational characteristics of curriculum advisory committees?

  4. What were the major functions of the curriculum advisory committees?

  5. What was the perceived effectiveness of curriculum advisory committees?

  6. What was the relationship between perceived effectiveness of assigned functions to committee utilization criteria, committee selection criteria and certain organizational characteristics?

Analysis of the data yielded the following key findings in the organization, practices, and functions of curriculum advisory committees:

  1. Institutions did utilize advisory committees within the range of"very satisfied" and"somewhat satisfied".

  2. The institutions had a policy statement on selection of committee members. Most committee members were selected before the curriculum was established, but trustee approval of committee members was not required. There was very little difference in the selection criteria used by the respondents.

  3. The organizational characteristics of curriculum advisory committees were thus:

    a. Orientation sessions were conducted by the institutions.

    b. The average size of committees was in the range of 5-9 members.

    c. A chairperson was generally elected but very few respondents reported the election of a secretary.

    d. Meetings were generally scheduled on a semi-annual schedule.

    e. An agenda was prepared for meetings by the institutional representative.

    f. Minutes for the meetings were written and distributed to committee members and institutional representatives.

    g. The written constitution and the bylaws were nonexistent for the majority of the committees.

    h. Recognition was not provided for the majority of committee members.

    i. Critical problems of committees included attendance to meetings, clarity of objectives, and orientation of members.

    j. Most committees did not evaluate the work and effectiveness of committee activities.

    k. The written guidelines for organizing committees were available in most institutions.

    l. Funds were not budgeted for the operation of most committees.

  4. Functions represented broad areas of involvement by advisory committees.

  5. Effectiveness of advisory committees was perceived to be within the range of"very effective" and"somewhat effective".

  6. The relationship between functions and utilization criteria was found to show little relationship toward producing effective advisory committees. A high degree of relationship was found between functions and selection criteria; however, only little relationship existed between functions and organizational criteria.