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  • Author or Editor: Christine D. Townsend x
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A sample of individual and institutional recipients of a monthly horticultural job opportunities newsletter and firms/organizations listing positions in the newsletter were surveyed to determine the perceived value of the newsletter as a job search tool and recruitment tool, respectively. Survey information was also used to develop a profile of the individuals and organizations using the newsletter. Original position descriptions on which the briefer newsletter listings were based were used to develop a profile of the industry segment, degree/experience requirements, geographic location, and starting salaries/benefits of positions listed between Jan. 1993 and Dec. 1994. While the newsletter generated contact between prospective employees and employers, only 20% of the prospective employees received job offers by responding to newsletter listings. Individual recipients valued the newsletter as a job search tool more than institutional recipients, or private industry as a recruitment tool. Starting salaries of listed positions were comparable to those previously reported in industry and academic surveys. Foreign language skills and previous work experience were more frequently requested than above minimum grade point averages or completion of government/industry certification programs. Landscape-related disciplines constituted the majority of BS/BA positions listed, where advanced degree positions were more evenly distributed over horticulture-related disciplines.

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Placing the horticulture student on a path of professional development as a society-ready graduate for the 21st century takes more than technical knowledge. New types of team-oriented organizations are being created that were not even imagined a few years ago. To help empower students to survive in these organizations, the course “Leadership Perspectives in Horticulture” was created. This interdisciplinary course serves as a model for leadership skill instruction by incorporating the component of leadership development into a technical horticulture course. The objectives of this course are to provide academic and historical perspectives in technical horticulture issues, develop skills in leadership, problem solving, and team building, complete a theoretical study of specific leadership models, and blend theoretical leadership models with horticulture issues by completing a problem solving experience. An overview of the course in addition to changes in leadership behavior of students will be discussed.

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Recipients of a monthly horticultural job opportunities newsletter and firms or organizations listing positions in the newsletter were surveyed to determine the perceived value of the newsletter as a job search and recruitment tool, respectively. Survey information was used to develop a profile of the individuals and organizations using the newsletter. Original position descriptions on which the briefer newsletter listings were based were used to develop a profile of the industry segment, degree and/or experience requirements, geographic location, and starting salaries and benefits of positions listed from January 1993 to December 1994. While the newsletter generated contact between prospective employees and employers, only 20% of the prospective employees received job offers by responding to newsletter listings. The newsletter was valued more by individual recipients as a job search tool than by institutional recipients or private industry as a recruitment tool. Starting salaries of listed positions were comparable to those previously reported in industry and academic surveys. Foreign language skills and previous work experience were requested more frequently than above-minimum (typically 2.00) grade point averages or completion of government or industry certification programs. Landscape-related disciplines constituted most BS or BA positions listed, whereas advanced degree positions were distributed more evenly over horticulture-related disciplines. Data supported the inclusion of internship programs and foreign language requirements in horticulture curricula.

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Plant identification is a prerequisite to many, if not all, horticulturally related classes. It typically has been taught through the use of live specimens, slides, and text books. Recently, computers have entered the picture as a possible tool to teach plant identification. Increased availability and sophistication of computer systems in the college setting have led to the increased use of computers in instruction.

The objective of this study was to determine if there was a relationship between a student's learning style and academic achievement following computer assisted instruction. Undergraduate students enrolled in a plant identification class were involved in the study. Students learned plant identification either by: 1) viewing live specimens, 2) utilizing a computer instruction database system, or 3) combining live specimens with computer instruction. The students' cognitive knowledge was evaluated with pre and post tests. Learning style and attitude toward computer assisted instruction were also obtained.

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A survey instrument developed to assess service quality in non-horticultural industries (SERVQUAL) was modified and administered to customers of eight florists and 22 supermarket floral departments in Texas. Sixty-six percent of 722 florist and 409 supermarket floral department responding customers had made a floral purchase within 12 weeks of the survey. Their responses were used in the service quality evaluation. Florists met consumer expectations better than supermarket floral departments each of five issues: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance, and empathy (p=0.0001). Florist customers perceived their retailer gave higher quality service than supermarket floral customers.

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After a survey describing the range of products and services offered by Texas florists and supermarket floral departments, a modified SERVQUAL instrument measured customer perceptions and expectations of floral service quality. Florist customers were 3.2 years older, had a slightly higher household income, bought floral products twice as often from a florist, spent $14.53 more on each florist purchase than supermarket customers; they also made four fewer floral purchases from supermarkets during the previous 6 months. Supermarket customers spent $14.40 more on each supermarket floral purchase than did florist customers. Reliability was the most important and tangibles were the least important of the five service quality dimensions. Although expectations for both groups were similar on 18 of 22 service quality items, florists' customers perceived higher service quality than did supermarket customers. Although customers of both retail outlets had expectations higher than perceptions, florist customers had smaller, less negative gap scores. This result showed that florists better met customer expectations than did supermarket floral departments, a potential competitive advantage.

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