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Quality characteristics in aviation baccalaureate programs: A content analysis of collegiate publications

Anthony Shawn Hankins, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Prospective students in the aviation career field are faced with a wide array of choices in baccalaureate programs. Accordingly, it is important for postsecondary institutions to ensure that their promotional materials showcase the attributes that influence student choice. Purposeful monitoring of the content and language contained in collegiate promotional materials takes on critical significance in maintaining a competitive edge in recruitment. ^ Quality has been identified as a major factor in aviation baccalaureate student choice. Recognizing that quality is an important factor to prospective students, the question of what elements define quality in aviation baccalaureate programs arises. Previous research resulted in the development of a model for quality in aviation programs that enumerates ten quality characteristics as determined by aviation industry experts and educators. ^ The purpose of this study was four-fold: (1) to identify and establish the quality indicators of aviation academic programs; (2) to apply these quality indicators to 72 aviation programs and rank order these programs; (3) to examine the publications and marketing materials disseminated by these programs; and (4) to compare and contrast the nature of these materials in top-ranked and lower-ranked aviation programs. A software program that performs a controlled content analysis on text, DICTION, was used to analyze promotional material associated with 72 aviation programs. ^ The findings of the study were as follows: (a) it is feasible to apply a set of uniform quality indicators to aviation academic programs; (b) a significant variety exists across programs in terms of these indicators; (c) the content analysis demonstrated a significant difference in the verbal tone found in promotional materials for two of the DICTION master variables. ^ Future research is needed that includes additional stakeholders (such as prospective students and their parents) in order to develop other notions of aviation program quality, such as flight safety records or other measurable program outcomes. In addition, the development of custom aviation-specific dictionaries for the DICTION software may improve the usefulness of the program in evaluating promotional materials. ^

Subject Area

Education, Higher|Education, Vocational

Recommended Citation

Hankins, Anthony Shawn, "Quality characteristics in aviation baccalaureate programs: A content analysis of collegiate publications" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3284242.