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ERIC Number: ED512864
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 107
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 22
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-4911-8
Comparing Apples to Oranges: An Evaluation of Quarter Calendar Data in the Delaware Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity
Walters, Allison M.
ProQuest LLC, D.Ed. Dissertation, University of Delaware
Four-year colleges and universities submit faculty teaching load and instructional cost data annually to the Delaware Study of Instructional Costs and Productivity. While the Delaware Study currently adjusts the calculation of annual FTE students to account for the difference in annual student credit hours (SCH) earned by students at semester and quarter calendar institutions, quarter calendar participants, who are four percent of the participants in the Study, have shared concerns about whether this single adjustment is enough to provide equivalence in the data between semester and quarter calendar schools. Specifically, do the operational differences such as terms per year and course credit value differences between quarter and semester calendars affect other variables used in the Delaware Study such as fall term student credit hours and organized class sections taught per faculty? And if so, are these "apples to oranges" comparisons, even with the current adjustments, still using nonequivalent data? Because quarter calendar institution students earn approximately 45 and 27 annual SCH for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively, while semester calendar institution students earn approximately 30 and 18 annual SCH for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively, the annual SCH of quarter calendar institutions needs an adjustment to create a comparable annual cost/SCH ratio to semester institutions (or vise versa). Currently the only adjustment used by the Delaware Study is to adjust quarter school data by multiplying the semester full-time course credit load of undergraduate and graduate students of 30 and 18, respectively, by 1.5 to account for the difference in annual SCH earned by quarter calendar students. These new values of 45 and 27 for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively, are used to determine the FTE Student value for use in the annual "cost per FTE Student" ratio. The problem with this current adjustment is that it only adjusts for the one cost metric using annual SCH: cost/FTE Student. No adjustment currently exists for the annual SCH used in the "cost per SCH" variable despite the fact that quarter calendar institution students earn 1.5 times the amount of annual SCH compared to their semester student counterparts, and that this is the same rationale that supports the existing adjustment to the cost/FTE Student variable. In addition, quarter calendar participants have adjusted other variables such as fall term SCH and organized class sections in past years of the Delaware Study. These institutions, therefore, may not agree that the Delaware Study treats their data fairly and accurately. Finally, if appropriate adjustments do not exist to create equivalent data between semester and quarter schools and perceptions of data inaccuracy exist among quarter school participants this problem threatens the reputation of the Delaware Study as an accurate and useful tool in higher education decision-making. To investigate this problem, qualitative and quantitative information was gathered and observed for differences in quarter and semester calendar data. In addition to the annual "cost per SCH" variable, the fall term variables "SCH per FTE Faculty" and "organized class sections (OCS) per FTE Faculty" were also examined for differences. Finally, quantitative analyses examined the change in data for three Delaware Study participating institutions that converted from quarter to semester calendars. Quarter calendar annual SCH are indeed greater than semester calendar annual SCH by a factor of 1.5. This effectively produced significantly lower annual cost/SCH results for quarter calendar participants. Recommendations consist of creating comparable data by adjusting quarter calendar institutions' annual SCH, while leaving the fall term SCH and OCS unadjusted. The implementation plan includes communicating these finding with all Delaware Study participants, incorporating the data adjustment into the Delaware Study's methodology, and correcting past data sets. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Delaware