CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION
[Editor's note]: For a complete listing of schools that submitted data for this year's report, please click the list of schools.
Forty-four of the 56 schools with ALA-accredited programs in library and information studies submitted data on their 1996-97 continuing education (CE) activities, as opposed to 47 last year. The 12 that did not provide information, or reported no activity for the year were: Alabama, Albany, Arizona, Clark Atlanta, Clarion, Indiana, Montreal, Queens, St. Johns, San Jose, South Florida, and Syracuse.
Instructions for this sections questionnaire state that only those educational offerings designed specifically for practicing information professionals should be included. Enrollments in courses that are part of degree programs are reported in the section on students.
Continuing Education Events
Continuing professional education offered by library and information studies programs exhibits a wide array of formats. Length of offerings reported this year range from one hour to over a thousand hours. Participation may be recorded as simple enrollment counts, or may be recognized though the awarding of Continuing Education Units or academic credit. Below, data on the non-credit events and credit bearing courses are tabulated and discussed separately.
Table V-1 lists the number of continuing education events that were offered during 1996-97, the total number of contact hours of instruction, and the total number of participants. While the number of events is nearly the same as in the previous year (2% less), the contact hours increased by 1682.5 (29%). Participation, on the other hand, decreased by 5%, continuing the decline reported for the preceding two years.
While it is customary to look to the number of offerings and the attendance figures as the chief indicators for level of effort, a case can be made for contact hours as a more meaningful measure. A two-hour briefing may be valuable in updating information or stimulating thinking. It is somewhat more likely, however, that substantial skill and knowledge acquisition requires a longer format. Similarly, smaller "class" size is generally felt to provide a more satisfactory learning experience. In light of these arguments, the rise in contact hours, without a corresponding increase in offerings and attendance, may be a healthy development.
The top six schools in terms of contact hours were: Michigan, Rutgers, Toronto, Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Washington.
Table V-2 summarizes non-credit continuing education by type of activity. As in previous years, workshops were the prevalent mode of delivery. Participation in the Institutes, etc. and Workshops increased substantially. Other changes were not as dramatic. While the number and duration of short courses rose, attendance was somewhat lower. The 42% increase in events held off campus suggests greater attention to outreach, but is balanced by a drop of 28% in alternative delivery methods.
Another decrease to note is the number of events for which Continuing Education Units (CEUs) were offered, from 302 to 276 (9% fewer). CEUs are a standard way of reporting non-credit continuing education, and awarding them constitutes a kind of seal of quality. Each unit represents 10 contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education activity under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction -- elements spelled out in considerable detail by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training, and reiterated in the American Library Associations Guidelines for Quality in Continuing Education for Information, Library and Media Personnel (ALA, 1988). Overall, only 37% of the 1996-97 non-credit activities reported here carried CEUs, slightly less than the 40% in the previous year.
It also should be noted that the overall attendance figure ought to be seen as a somewhat skewed indicator of continuing education participation, in light of the colloquium/lecture data. Relatively few contact hours for the number of events suggest that this mode is not in the same league as the other types of activities. More information about the purpose and intended audience for these events would be helpful.
Table V-5 summarizes credit courses that are specifically designed as continuing education for practitioners. These may or may not also be open to degree students. With the exception of one-credit courses, all the numbers for 1996-97 are lower than for the previous year. There was a 21% drop in the number of offerings (from 219 to 172), although only a 2% decline in enrollment. More significant is the drop in the total number of credit hours, from 405 last year to 300 for the 1996-97 year (26% decrease). A better comparison could be made if credit hour equivalency in contact hours were known.
The 13 schools which offered credit-bearing continuing education courses were Kent State (47 courses), Pittsburgh (33), Washington (23), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (21), Rutgers and Southern Connecticut (12), Emporia (6), Missouri (5), Buffalo and Iowa (3), Catholic (3), Hawaii and Western Ontario (1). In terms of credit hours, the top six were: Washington (67 credit hours), Kent (51), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (41), Southern Connecticut (36), Rutgers (35), and Pittsburgh (34).
Alternative methods of delivery were reported as compressed video and correspondence in one case each, Internet in three cases, and simply as "distance education" in two cases.
Table V-3 - Eight Year Comparison of Number of Continuing Education Enrollments Events By Type and Table V-4 - Eight Year Comparison of Continuing Education Enrollments By type of Event are omitted from this year's report.
The Continuing Education Environment
In past years, data on the geographic origin of participants and the sources of financial support for continuing education programs were tabulated by school. From this year on, these data will be aggregated. Changes from year to year have been relatively slight in the past, and it is easier to discern overall patterns when the information is summarized.
Table V-6 shows that the audience attracted to the schools continuing education events was largely local. The pattern of distribution was very similar to that of last year.
Fifty-four percent (22) of the reporting schools drew about half of their attendees from within one hours travel time, and 29% (12) attracted a largely statewide audience. It is likely, therefore, that 83% of participation came from within the home state of the schools. A notable exception is Illinois, which reported that 100% of participation was national and/or international.
Schools were asked to indicate percentages of funding sources: for salaries for the CE portion of administrators and support staff; for stipends or salaries of instructors; for travel; facility rental; and other direct costs (the use of ones own facilities is excluded). The data are summarized in Table V-7.
Under the "other" category, four schools reported co-sponsorship with other agencies and/or professional associations; three indicated support from their institutions continuing education/extension unit; and one used endowment. Overall, 69% of the schools relied on fees for the bulk of their financing. External sources of funding were, by far, the exception, a pattern consistent with that seen in previous years.
Table V-8 summarizes information on compensation for instructors in both credit and non-credit situations. The pattern is almost exactly the same as last year.
Table V-9 provides a profile of the instructional force used in continuing education offerings, both credit and non-credit. The pattern is almost the same as last year, with the schools own faculty and practitioners providing the majority of instruction.
The last question asks schools to indicate who administers and coordinates continuing education activities. The results for this year, presented in Table V-10, are very similar to last year.
There was a slight rise in the number of schools employing a continuing education coordinator, as well as in the involvement of rotating faculty. Judging by the titles of the individuals who completed the continuing education questionnaire, 12 of the 15 coordinators tabulated under (a) in Table V-10 had primary responsibility for continuing education. The 12 schools were: British Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Toronto, Washington, and Wisconsin-Madison.
The data presented in this section show that most schools do not make a substantial investment in continuing education. It may be that those that eschew outreach or make a minimal effort have determined that the benefits do not outweigh the costs, and that their priorities and resources must be focused on their degree programs. If contact hours for non-credit offerings and credit hours for academic courses are taken as measures of productivity, nine schools fall into the top six in one or both categories: Kent State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Southern Connecticut, Toronto, Washington, Wisconsin-Madison, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Of these nine schools, six have individuals who have titles that show they are specifically responsible for continuing education, and the other three list the dean or assistant dean as the administrator. All report that 60 to 100% of their CE funding derives from fees. All but three award CEUs.