A survey was conducted of teacher education baccalaureate graduates from the first five years (2004-08) of St. Petersburg College's (SPC) programs in Florida, along with teacher education baccalaureate graduates from 2004-08 of the nearest state university, University of South Florida (USF). The survey focused on graduates who were found to be working in education. It first asked graduates descriptive questions about their coursework, backgrounds, and current teaching positions. The salient questions for this study asked graduates to rate the overall quality of various aspects of their academic programs and of their own competencies as teachers. With 89 SPC and 90 USF survey respondents, five questions returned statistically significant results.
This exploratory study was the first to consider the perspectives of graduates from one vertically-expanded community college in Florida, and the results shed positive light on this new delivery format. When the opinions of graduates of the new baccalaureate model and the traditional state university model were compared, they rated their competencies as teachers with no significant differences reported between the groups. The teaching graduates of the new vertically-expanded community college were significantly older and more place-bound than their university counterparts. Interestingly, graduates of the new baccalaureate delivery model were significantly more satisfied with their decision to pursue a teacher education baccalaureate. Specifically, the teaching graduates of the vertically-expanded community college rated their advisement and early field experiences significantly higher than did their state university counterparts. The results suggest that if the cost of baccalaureate degree delivery is less expensive via the expanded community college model, and if it can reduce local teacher shortages by adding to the pool of qualified working teachers satisfied with their training and careers, then this model is worthy of investment from both taxpayers and students. Moreover, the teaching graduates suggested improvements for the programs they attended which both institutions may explore. Additional research on the cost and effectiveness of teacher education programs and on teacher attrition will help decision-makers further analyze the merits of various approaches to reducing regional teacher shortages.
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