Sport Management Graduate Programs: Characteristics of Effectiveness

By Li, Ming; Cobb, Patrick et al. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, May-June 1994 | Go to article overview

Sport Management Graduate Programs: Characteristics of Effectiveness


Li, Ming, Cobb, Patrick, Sawyer, Laura, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


Sport management educators agree on 11 characteristics that indicate a sport management program's effectiveness.

Increased demands for accountability have forced American institutions of higher education to provide evidence of their educational quality and effectiveness (Jennings, 1989; Kirkwood, 1985). Since the late 1970s when sport management began to gain recognition, sport management educators have also sought to enhance program quality and effectiveness. Their endeavors have included curriculum design and accreditation standards (Brassie, 1989; DeSensi et al., 1990; Hardy, 1987; Parkhouse, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1987; van der Smissen, 1987).

The increased concern for quality and effectiveness in sport management led to a joint effort of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) in developing curriculum guidelines and standards for accreditation (NASPE-NASSM Joint Task Force on Sport Management Curriculum and Accreditation, 1993). The curriculum standards should help institutions that have sport management programs adjust their curricula and help to ensure program quality and effectiveness.

However, because there is not a universal definition (Kirkwood, 1985), diverse perceptions of educational excellence and achievements have caused problems in defining program quality and effectiveness. As a result, program evaluation has become a discipline-oriented issue. Thus, defining what characterizes and portrays program quality and effectiveness deserves special attention in the program evaluation process.

According to Baldwin (1988), effective graduate programs are those which are able to achieve their stated program goals or objectives. Therefore, the major purpose of our study is to examine what characteristics enable graduate sport management programs to achieve their objectives. The study results should provide individuals involved in evaluating the quality and effectiveness of graduate sport management programs with focal points of evaluation.

The Study

Seventy-seven survey instruments were sent to selected sport management educators who were either graduate program coordinators or department chairpersons. Sixty-one were returned (79% of the sample). The majority of respondents were male (73.1%), and most of them had more than five years of experience as graduate faculty members in sport management programs (69.3%). Approximately 81 percent of the respondents were either associate or full professors.

The survey instrument was designed to solicit the perceptions and opinions of sport management educators on 17 specific characteristics of graduate program effectiveness. The characteristics were derived through reviewing literature regarding the purpose/objectives of graduate education, and assessment and evaluation of program quality and effectiveness. In addition, at the 1992 International Conference on Sport Business, experts in sport management education were consulted to specify the objectives of graduate programs in sport management and indicators of program quality and effectiveness. Graduate sport management majors at Georgia Southern University also provided input. Four graduate faculty members in the Department of Sport Science and Physical Education at Georgia Southern University formed a panel to review all statements.

Respondents used a "5 = strongly agree" to "1 = strongly disagree" scale to rate each characteristic. Table 1 shows how they rated all 17 characteristics. The respondents strongly agreed on 11 characteristics as indicators of graduate program effectiveness in sport management.

Characteristics 2 and 3. Almost all respondents agreed that a well-developed mutual relationship between the program and sport organizations indicated an effective sport management graduate program. Ninety-two percent of sport management educators surveyed agreed that a strongly supported internship program was vital for an effective graduate program. …

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