Continuing education emerges as a growing need for the adult learner (Irby, 2000); however, there exists little research that identifies the coupling between the continuing education units and their parent institutions. This study's research statements were based on a continuum of tight and loose coupling between the two entities. The results may assist interested educators in understanding of the structure of a continuing education unit within a higher education institution. The continuing education unit may be identified as a standalone unit or as integrated within academic departments.
The first purpose of this study was to determine continuing education unit administrators' perceptions of the nature of coupling between their continuing education unit and their parent institution. Weick's (1976) concept of loose coupling served as the guiding framework for this research. The second purpose of this study was to determine continuing education unit administrators' perceptions of the specific coupling relationships regarding instructors, finances, personnel, and curriculum. The final purpose of this study was to determine if there were perceived differences in the nature of coupling between continuing education unit administrators and their parent institutions based on institutional characteristics. To determine coupling relationships, this study used a researcher-designed survey based upon a review of literature and Roiger's (2009) dissertation survey instrument.
Conclusions drawn within the limitations of the study and based on the data obtained from the findings indicate that continuing education units are tightly coupled with their parent institutions. Continuing education unit administrators perceived their unit is tightly coupled to their parent institutions. Continuing education units are loosely coupled to their parent institution in making decisions regarding instructors, except for salary and regarding financial decisions.
Personnel and curriculum issues were perceived as loosely coupled by the continuing education unit administrators except in selling intellectual property of faculty members. Continuing education units that operate as profit centers are more loosely coupled to their parent institution than units that operate as nonprofit centers. Whereas continuing education units integrated into academic departments within the parent institution are more tightly coupled to the larger parent institutions than standalone continuing education units.
|Advisor:||Card, Karen A.|
|Commitee:||Baron, Mark A., Bright, Larry K., Prentice, Carolyn M.|
|School:||University of South Dakota|
|School Location:||United States -- South Dakota|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Management, School administration, Continuing education|
|Keywords:||Continuing education, Coupling, Distance education, Higher education institutions|
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