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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the attitudes and perceptions of employers who have recently hired Iowa State University (ISU) Department of Horticulture graduates in regard to the graduates' preparedness when entering the workforce and their abilities to complete job responsibilities. A 70-question survey instrument was distributed electronically to 107 employers who hired ISU Department of Horticulture students who graduated from spring semester 2004 through summer session 2007. A majority of the survey questions was directly related to expected learner outcomes from the undergraduate curriculum. These outcomes related to abilities in professional skills (19 questions) and general horticulture (six questions). Twenty-four questions asked employers to rank the importance of skills in the areas of general horticulture and business, at 12 questions each. A final set of nine questions asked employers to rank the importance of work experience, attitude, and job preparedness. The response rate was 45.8%. Results showed that 52.5% of employers felt graduates were more than adequately to exceptionally well prepared for the position for which they were hired, and another 42.5% felt students were adequately prepared. Overall, employers ranked graduates abilities in general horticulture (4.22) and professional skills (4.24) as good to excellent on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = very poor, 2 = poor, 3 = fair, 4 = good, 5 = excellent). Employers ranked all 12 of the general horticulture skills with an average to above average importance (4.26), and the 12 business skills with a slightly lower average ranking (3.84) on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = not important, 2 = below average importance, 3 = average importance, 4 = above average importance, 5 = very important). In the final group of questions related to work experience, attitude, and job preparedness, employers ranked “good work ethic” as the most important skill, giving it an 4.97 on a 1 to 5 scale (1 = not important, 5 = very important). The remaining eight questions averaged 3.83 on the 1 to 5 scale. Results from this research will be used to modify the existing curriculum and expected learner outcomes to better prepare ISU horticulture graduates entering the workforce.


This is an article from HortTechnology 19 (2009): 647. Posted with permission.

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American Society for Horticultural Science



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