Diffusion of photovoltaic occupational skills training : awareness and adoption in the North Carolina community colleges

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Deborah Ruth Porto (Creator)
Institution
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://www.wcu.edu/404.asp
Advisor
Meagan Karvonen

Abstract: Educational administrators in the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) play a key role in the decisions to adopt or reject educational innovations and as a result are the gatekeepers of technology innovations reaching students. In this study the innovation-decision process and other aspects of the diffusion of innovation model are used to consider how the educational innovation of photovoltaic (PV) skills training is diffusing through the NCCCS. The research questions asked how widespread is awareness, how do administrators become aware, how widespread is adoption, and what are the reasons cited for adoption decisions. Subquestions investigated the relationship between awareness and administrator background and college enrollment, adoption and college enrollment, and the relationship between credit and noncredit administrators in the same college. The study collected and analyzed data from two surveys of NCCCS college credit and noncredit (continuing education) administrators and enrollment data. Over 90% of respondents were generally aware of PV skills training. The awareness rates were lower for more specific knowledge of PV skills training organizations, certifications, and accreditations. News reports, the NCCCS Code Green initiative and Curriculum Improvement Project were most frequently cited as sources of learning about PV skills training. Credit administrators at colleges with larger enrollment were somewhat more likely to have been aware of PV skills training for more time than administrators at colleges with smaller enrollments. Enrollment was not associated with awareness for noncredit administrators. The credit and noncredit administrators at the same colleges learned about PV skills training at different times and in different ways. Administrator background and employment history were not related to awareness. Adoption was defined as courses offered with PV skills as the primary subject and as PV skills added into the content of existing courses. The reported adoption rates were 21% for PV as a primary skill in credit courses and 35% for noncredit courses. The reported adoption rates were 36% for PV as an added skill in credit courses and 39% for noncredit courses. Credit and noncredit administrators were consistent in the factors they rated as important in their adoption decisions. The reasons cited as very important in the adoption decisions were internal issues of faculty and resources, and external issues of potential employment and requests by area businesses. Recommendations for future practice include forming a statewide organization of credit and noncredit technology deans to increase the awareness and reduce the time of adoption of new technology training topics, coordinating the credit and noncredit programs introducing new technology topics within individual community colleges, and including credit and noncredit faculty and administrators in future NCCCS technology curriculum improvement projects. Recommendations for future research include a longitudinal study of the implementation and confirmation stages of PV skills training in the NCCCS, examining the relationship between future NCCCS curriculum improvement project activities and awareness and adoption of the curriculum under study, examining the impact of statewide associations of faculty in similar fields and adoption of new technology training, and investigating the interaction of credit and noncredit administrators within individual colleges and across the NCCCS and how the interactions relate to becoming aware of and adopting new technology training programs.

Additional Information

Publication
Dissertation
Language: English
Date: 2012
Keywords
community college, continuing education, curriculum, diffusion of innovation, educational administrator, photovoltaic
Subjects
Educational innovations -- North Carolina
Diffusion of innovations -- North Carolina
Photovoltaic power systems -- North Carolina
Occupational training -- North Carolina
Community colleges -- North Carolina