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Education and the Latter -day Saints in the year 2000: Toward a systematic pre -assessment of prospective distance education students

Leland B Warnick, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Distance learning is an increasingly common educational alternative as well as a key contributor to the newly competitive landscape in higher education. Contemporary experts and researchers widely contend these endeavors are generally launched without prior research of potential market or student attributes and needs, to the probable detriment of these programs. The Church Educational System (CES) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), which operates a multi-campus university system, is in the early stages of planning its own large-scale distance program. ^ The author, an employee at a CES university, set about to gather detailed information from prospective distance students for internal planning purposes, as well as to provide a possible model that other educational entities could replicate or adapt. A 25-item questionnaire assessing educational background, goals, and needs, as well as experience with and attitudes toward distance education, was mailed to approximately 5,000 randomly selected Latter-day Saint adults in the United States, from which a response rate of 43 percent was obtained. ^ Three distinct approaches to data reporting and analysis were employed: First, results were segregated and analyzed by key demographic variables. Second, “more likely” prospective distance students were identified and studied as a separate group, with subsequent attempts to derive an estimate of market size among the 3 million adult Latter-day Saints in the United States. And third, multivariate profiles representing more common groupings of individuals were developed, using a marketing technique of psychographics as a basic pattern. ^ Market size was estimated to range from around 4 (“most likely”) to 16 percent (“more likely”) of overall respondents. Among more likely students, three broad groupings of significant size were identified: those who would seek additional education to earn a degree, to advance their careers, and for personal enrichment. The attributes and objectives of each group would seem to suggest independent and separate consideration from distance program planners. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Warnick, Leland B, "Education and the Latter -day Saints in the year 2000: Toward a systematic pre -assessment of prospective distance education students" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3004628.