Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


Kansas City is one of the forty-five extended centers operated by Webster University (WU) located in St. Louis, Missouri. The Kansas City center, which has approximately one thousand student enrollments, is the sixth largest provider of higher education programs in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Income generated annually at the center is substantial, and is important to the university as it helps defray operational and administrative costs within the Webster system. The purpose of this major applied research project was to determine what, if any, curriculum and/or program changes should be made in anticipation of a changing workplace, specifically as those changes relate to Webster University-Kansas City business program graduate students. Three research questions were posed: (1) What will be the graduate degree program needs of the 1990's?; (2) What programs will be supported by business, industry, and the military services for tuition-support purposes?; and (3) Will Webster-Kansas City be able to meet those needs in terms of curriculum, faculty expertise, and equipment? To answer the first question, surveys were conducted to determine what competencies would be expected of graduate degree holders in business-related disciplines during the next decade. After those competencies had been identified, both from the literature and from polling current students and past graduates, a Delphi group composed of twenty student and alumni representatives was asked to rank order the competencies according to the highest level of priority. Three iterations of ranking were conducted, and the top ten competencies were selected by the Delphi group. In an effort to answer the second question, twenty-six chief executive officers (CEO's) and chief financial officers (CFO's) from fifteen area businesses and industries that have employees who participate in the Webster-Kansas City programs were contacted. Those executives were asked to describe the courses and programs they felt colleges and universities should be providing for mid-level and above employees pursuing graduate degrees in business-related academic disciplines. It was expected that organizations currently providing tuition-support to employees would continue that practice even if there were some future difficult economic periods, if the programs in which they enrolled contributed positively to the purpose of the organization, i.e., if the programs provided needed competencies. Subsequently, a second, larger-scale survey was conducted with sixty-five representatives from a number of other businesses, industries, and the military services, again focusing on anticipated training programs producing specific outcome objectives (workplace competencies). The purpose of the second survey was to determine which, if any, programs would most likely be supported by business, industry, and the military insofar as tuition-assistance was concerned. The results of the two surveys were then provided to the second Delphi group, composed of twenty representatives from business, industry and the military, and that group was asked to rank order the program requirements according to the highest level of need. To address the third question, six task groups were formed to evaluate the recommendations made by the survey participants, as well as by the two Delphi groups, and to recommend changes to the Kansas City curriculum that would facilitate development of the competencies required. New course offering schemes were designed by each of the six task groups, and then submitted to a Program Review Committee. The role of the Program Review Committee was to determine whether or not the recommendations that had been made could be implemented in Kansas City. Confident that the competency requirements that had been identified were valid, and that the course offering schemes proposed by the task groups were reasonable and appropriate, a planning document for institutional purposes was prepared and submitted to the Associate Dean for Business and Management. That document recommended the new course sequences as designed by the task groups. In each of the six programs, it was recommended that the university begin to place emphasis on the "soft skills" needed by business and industry , and that faculty members provide opportunities for competency development within each class. Further, the document suggested that the university take action to market itself as having the requisite programs to serve the contemporary needs of business and industry. The institutional planning document prepared during this study is to be considered at the next extended campus curriculum planning activity scheduled for later in the academic year.

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