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A Cross Cultural Investigation of Student and FaCULTY Perceptions of General Education: Why perception matters


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Title: A Cross Cultural Investigation of Student and FaCULTY Perceptions of General Education: Why perception matters

A Cross Cultural Investigation of Student and
FaCULTY Perceptions of General Education Why
perception matters
  • Susan Gano-Phillips and Xiaoyan Wang
  • AACU General Education and Assessment Conference
  • February 28-March 2, 2013
  • Boston, MA

Objectives of the Project
  • To examine student and faculty perceptions of
    General Education using quantitative and
    qualitative methods
  • To compare perceptions in a University in Hong
    Kong that was piloting GE for the first time, to
    a US University with a long tradition of GE

  • Why perceptions matter?
  • Scale Development and Reliability
  • Quantitative Analyses
  • Compare Student and Faculty perceptions within
    each institution
  • Conduct cross institutional (cultural)
  • Qualitative Analyses
  • Conduct cross institutional (cultural) comparison
    of student and faculty perceptions of the goals
    of GE

Why Perceptions of GE matter?
  • Since Dressel Mayhews 1954 ACE publication,
    Johnston et al. (1991) note, Little has been
    done to identify and understand student
    perceptions regarding general education, much
    less reshape and harness them on its behalf. (p.
  • Despite concerns with career preparation, many
    studies show that undergraduates do value general
  • What students mean by general education is

Why Perceptions of GE matter?
  • When developing new programs or significantly
    revising existing ones, perceptions are a useful
    first-step in examining how well institutional
    values (goals/outcomes) are penetrating the
    institutions culture
  • Student and faculty views of GE are often
  • Identifying and understanding student perceptions
    may allow us to reshape and harness those
    perceptions in service of greater learning

Survey Design
  • Invite students enrolled in initial GE courses at
    their respective universities to complete a GE
  • Invite faculty teaching in GE courses to respond
    to a parallel survey
  • Survey collected demographic data, responses to a
    27 item scale related intended learning outcomes
    and pedagogies related to GE, and open-ended
    responses regarding the learning that occurs in
    GE courses/programs

Scale Development
  • A 20 item 5-point Likert scale was developed
    using a sample of more than 1200 respondents
  • 1 3 5
  • Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree
  • Sample items administered
  • This course developed my ethical decision making
  • This course emphasized applying theories or

Scale Development 20 items, 4 subscales
  • Learning Skills 6 items alpha 0.81
  • GE develops my oral communication skills
  • GE develops my numeric and information literacy
  • Teamwork 3 items alpha 0.81
  • GE requires students to work together on projects
    outside of class
  • GE develops my teamwork skills
  • Higher order thinking 4 items alpha 0.82
  • GE emphasized making judments about the value of
  • GE emphasized synthesizing information and
    organizing ideas
  • Personal development 7 items alpha 0.81
  • GE helped me to understand my social
  • GE encouraged me to learn something about myself

Research Questions Data Analysis
How do students and facultys views on GE compare within a given institution? Independent Samples t-test (compare means of students and faculty within each institution)
How do students and facultys views on GE compare across the two institutions/cultures? Independent Samples t-test (compare means of HK and US faculty and students)
What is the relative importance of knowledge, skills, and values in GE outcomes for students and faculty? Chi-square tests (compare expected proportions of responses across HK and US samples)
Student and Faculty Perceptions of GE at a
University in Hong Kong
Student and Faculty Perceptions of GEat a
University in the US
US vs. HK Faculty Perceptions of GE
US vs. HK Student Perceptions of GE
Summary of Quantitative Findings
  • In general, faculty in both the US and HK
    universities perceive GE courses as achieving
    greater outcomes than students do.
  • Across institutions, HK faculty perceive a
    significantly greater achievement of SKILL
    DEVELOPMENT than do US faculty.
  • Across institutions, HK students perceive greater
    achievement in 3 of the 4 major GE outcomes
    SKILL DEVELOPMENT than do their US counterparts.
    There was no significant difference across
    universities in perceptions of TEAMWORK.

Qualitative Responses
  • Faculty and students responded to the open ended
  • List a maximum of 5 things you believe every
    student should learn at college/university as a
    result of their general education program.
  • Responses were coded as
  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Values
  • Interrater reliability was established at kappa

  • Definition generalized knowledge unrelated to a
    practical skill or task (uses verbs like
    understanding or knowing)
  • To know more about HK and China development
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Political awareness
  • To know psychology
  • Acquire updated information about the world
  • General concepts of the subject taken
  • Science development
  • Basic law or policy knowledge

  • Definition a specific tool used in a practical
    manner to accomplish a task (includes critical
    thinking, integrating and applying knowledge into
    everyday life, reflection)
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • How to maintain good relationships with
    co-workers in the future
  • Improved writing skills
  • How to manage ones money
  • Transferable skills learning
  • Study habits or skills

  • Definition efforts to imbue or develop certain
    ways of thinking (includes looking differently
    at a situation, taking a new perspective,
    valuing independence, and is related to ethics)
  • What it means to be a good citizen
  • Be hardworking
  • Respect diverse people in society
  • The concept of value in life
  • The way to think and act positively in life
  • To be open-minded in accepting different opinions
  • Understanding myself and develop my own
    principles or values
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Broaden horizons
  • Have a good learning attitude

Students Beliefs about GE Outcomes
Proportion of Total Responses
Category HK Students US Students
Knowledge 28.3 32.0
Skills 56.2 57.3
Values 15.5 gt 10.7
X2 7.69, p .021
Facultys Beliefs about GE outcomes
Proportion of Total Responses
Category HK Faculty US Faculty
Knowledge 30.0 gt 13.6
Skills 53.2 lt 71.6
Values 16.8 14.8
X2 8.67, p .013
Summary of Qualitative Responses
  • HK students report significantly greater emphasis
    on VALUES DEVELOPMENT as a result of GE than do
    US students
  • HK faculty report significantly greater emphasis
    of KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT than US faculty, while
    US faculty report significantly greater emphasis
    on SKILL DEVELOPMENT than do HK faculty

Implications for Future Research
  • Do attitudes about GE change over students
    course of study? How might we positively impact
    early attitudes regarding GE?
  • Why might a gap between faculty and student
    perceptions exist? Can or should it be reduced?
  • Are students perceptions related to authentic
    assessments of students learning (e.g., CLA,

Questions and Discussion
  • Please feel free to contact either author
  • with additional questions
  • Susan Gano-Phillips (sganop_at_umflint.edu)
  • Xiaoyan Wang (xiao6yan8_at_yahoo.com)
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