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The adoption of innovations as a measure of participation in adult education

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Title: The adoption of innovations as a measure of participation in adult education
Author: McKinnon, Donald Peter
Degree Doctor of Education - EdD
Program Adult Education
Copyright Date: 1977
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to apply the procedures developed in studying the adoption of innovations to participation in adult education in order to test the utility of the concept of adoption as a way of studying and explaining the phenomenon of participation in adult education. It was assumed that adult education is an innovation which may be diffused in a process analogous to new agricultural practices. The study was conducted in a census tract located in Surrey, British Columbia. An analytical survey and interview schedule was used to collect data from 100 housewives chosen at random for the sample. Two adoption models were used. Each represents the decision process with a series of steps or stages. To develop an adoption score based on the five-stage model, four questions assessed each stage. The adoption score for the four-stage model was obtained with five questions assessing each stage. Thus both adoption scores had a range of zero to twenty and for both models sub-scores could be tabulated for each stage. These adoption scores were used as dependent variables. A participation score based on the number of courses taken provided an additional dependent variable. Independent descriptive variables consisting of five personal characteristics and thirty-two motivational factors were used. The motivational factors, called goals and barriers, were rated by magnitude estimation. Fifty-eight per cent of the variance in the number of courses taken by respondents was explained by eight variables. Five of these used to assess adoption explained 48 per cent of the variance, two barriers explained six per cent, while one goal explained four per cent but none of the personal characteristics were selected. The study suggests that the decision to participate in adult education is not a simple one-step process in which an adult matches his needs and interests to a program that may be available. Rather, the four-stage model fits the phenomenon better than the five-stage model and indicates that decisions are achieved in stages. Although such phenomenon as repeated recycling through the process and time sequencing are unclear, the strategy of using an adoption model is promising. The study has practical implications. Knowledge of adult education was extensive and printed advertising was widely read except by those with little formal education. Attitudes toward adult education were generally favourable but could be improved. Although 57 per cent reported participation during the previous 4 years and 75 per cent reported considering activities which they did not attend, those with the least formal education seldom even considered adult education. Although the study indicates that the decision to participate is a process which takes place over time, and that the adoption of innovation strategy explains that process, it is not clear that adoption models are wholly adequate for that purpose. Further research applying decision models from other disciplines may explain participation in adult education with greater accuracy.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/20807
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]

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