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The diffusion of the distance Entomology Master's Degree Program at the University of Nebraska Lincoln: A descriptive case study

Jody M Hubbell, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

This study explored three selected phases of Rogers’ (1995) Diffusion of Innovations Theory to examine the diffusion process of the distance Entomology Master’s Degree program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. A qualitative descriptive case study approach incorporated semi-structured interviews with individuals involved in one or more of the three stages: Development, Implementation, and Institutionalization. Documents and archival evidence were used to triangulate findings. ^ This research analyzed descriptions of the program as it moved from the Development, to the Implementation, and finally, the Institutionalization stages of diffusion. Each respective stage was examined through open and axial coding. Process coding identified themes common to two or more diffusion stages, and explored the evolution of themes from one diffusion stage to the next. ^ At a time of significant budget constraints, many departments were faced with the possibility of merger or dissolution. The Entomology Master’s Degree Program evolved from being an entrepreneurial means to prevent departmental dissolution to eventually being viewed as a model for the development of similar programs across this university and other institutions of higher education. During this evolution, the program was reinvented to meet the broader needs of industry and a global student market. One finding not consistent with Rogers’ model was that smaller, rather than larger, departmental size contributed to the success of the program. Within this small department, faculty members were able to share their experiences and knowledge with each other on a regular basis, which promoted greater acceptance of the distance program. How quality and rigor may be defined and measured was a key issue in each respective stage. In this specific case, quality and rigor was initially a comparison of on-campus and distance course content and then moved to program-based assessment and measures of student outcomes such as job placement rates. ^

Subject Area

Biology, Entomology|Education, Higher Education Administration|Education, Leadership|Education, Technology of|Education, Sciences

Recommended Citation

Hubbell, Jody M, "The diffusion of the distance Entomology Master's Degree Program at the University of Nebraska Lincoln: A descriptive case study" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3618763.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3618763

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