Academic journal article College Student Journal

Evaluation of Skills Needed in College Education by Colleges of Agriculture Alumni from 1862 and 1890 Land Grant Universities in Alabama and Tennessee

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Evaluation of Skills Needed in College Education by Colleges of Agriculture Alumni from 1862 and 1890 Land Grant Universities in Alabama and Tennessee

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study is to examine college skills Alumni from 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant universities in Alabama and Tennessee rated as essential to acquire in their college education. The data are from a survey of colleges of agriculture alumni who graduated from six land-grant universities in Alabama and Tennessee. IBM SPSS Statistical Package for Windows Version 20 was used to analyze the data. In rank-order, results indicated that student rated skill in oral communication, skill in problem solving, skill in written communication, skill in motivating and managing others, skills in personal time management, skill in setting personal goal as the most essential in their college education. Other skills rated as essential are, quantitative analyses skill, computer use and basic statistical techniques.

INTRODUCTION

As an extension of previous research (Zekeri 2004), the purpose of this study is to examine college skills former students rated essential to acquire in their college education. While in college, students are expected to learn skills that will earn them a spot on the labor market and also prepare them to engage with the world around them. Since the 21st century labor market is fast changing, increasingly global, and technology-driven, this study is undertaken with the assumption that college skills former students found essential in their college education would provide valuable information to university administrators responsible for curriculum design and educational reform in general. The more that is known about college skills needed to acquire while in college and the more they are taken into account in curriculum development and design, the more competitive future graduates could be in the 21st century labor market that is increasingly diverse and global.

METHOD

Data for this analysis are from a longitudinal study of former students from colleges of agriculture in six land-grant universities in Alabama and Tennessee. As part of the S-200 Regional Research Project (Occupational Career Path Paths of Former Students in Southern Land-Grant Universities), this study examined the background characteristics and factors underlying career choices of students enrolled in colleges of agriculture and closely related curricula. The major focus was on the actual labor market experiences of former students after graduation. The questionnaires, with explanatory cover letters and return self-addressed envelopes were sent to former agricultural students who graduated from the 1890 Land-Grant Universities (two in Alabama and one in Tennessee) and two 1862 Land-Grant Universities (one in Alabama and one in Tennessee). Of the 402 respondents, 109 were from 1890 universities while 293 were from 1862 universities.

In the questionnaire, alumni were asked "how would you rate the extent to which you needed or did not need to acquire the following skills in your college education?" A five-point scale was used as follows: (1) not needed, (2) somewhat needed, (3) much needed, (4) essential, and (5) Not sure. IBM Statistical Packages for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 was used to calculate descriptive statistics (means) and factor analysis of the skills alumni rated to be most essential to acquire in their college education.

RESULTS

Results are presented in Table 1. Mean scores for all alumni range from a low of 2.56 for "skill in basic statistical techniques" to a high of 3.52 for "skill in oral communication." Skill in problem solving (3.44); skill in written communication (3.33); skill in motivating and managing others (3.33); skill in personal time management (3.29); skill in setting organizational goals and objectives (3.23); skill in effective group leadership (3.13) were scored higher as the most needed than other skills. These graduates also found quantitative analyses skill, computer use and statistical techniques essential in their college education.

1890 and 1862 Differences: Need scores for 1890 and 1862 land-grant alumni were highly correlated (r =. …

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