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Quality indicators for collegiate professional pilot training programs: A Delphi study

Dissertation
Author: Dovie M. (Dee) Brown
Abstract:
Scope and method of study. The purpose of this study was to identify the quality indicators that comprise an exceptional collegiate professional pilot program as identified by a national panel of experts in aviation higher education. A Delphi panel of 13 experts participated in a 3-round Delphi to identify quality indicators in 9 categories. This was accomplished through generation of qualitative comments in the first Delphi round, following by rating and ranking of categories and items within categories in 2 subsequent rounds. Findings and conclusions. The Delphi panel of experts provided their perceptions of quality indicators within 9 categories and were in clear agreement concerning the relative importance of categories and items within categories. The categories in descending order of importance were: Faculty; Equipment and Technology; Curriculum and Instructional Delivery; Government (FAA) Compliance; Facilities; Assessment/Evaluation; Flight/Administrative/Staff Support Services; Completion Rates; and Student Organizations. Analyses of panelists' overall comments were based on ΣRank scores, mean ratings for importance, and tier analysis. In the top-rated category, the issue of faculty pay was identified as the most important quality indicator for collegiate flight training programs. Other important issues included the need for programs to utilize technologically advanced aircraft (TAA) and/or flight simulators for flight training; use of real-world scenarios or activity-based learning; fully comply with FAA regulations; provide adequate space for all types of training and maintenance; formally assess higher order thinking and learning skills; provide administrative support staff; monitor completion rates; and involve faculty and students in various collegiate aviation organizations. Overall, panelists identified quality indicators that represented best practices but did not provide benchmarks for measuring program quality. The findings of this study could be used as a starting point from which to further identify benchmarks for determining flight training program quality.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter

Page

I. INTRODUCTION

................................ ................................ ..........................

1

Background

................................ ................................ ................................

1

Theoretical and Conceptual Framework ................................ .....................

2

Standards

................................ ................................ .............................

3

Best Practices

................................ ................................ .......................

4

Statement of the Pr oblem ................................ ................................ ...........

6

Purpose of the Study

................................ ................................ ..................

7

Research Question

................................ ................................ ....................

7

Population and Sample

................................ ................................ ..............

8

Assumptions and Limitations

................................ ................................ ......

9

Delimitations

................................ ................................ ...............................

9

Definition of Terms

................................ ................................ ...................

10

Significance of the Study

................................ ................................ ..........

12

II. REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Quality Standards and Best Practices in Busi ness and Industry

..............

14

Historical Perspective

................................ ................................ ..........

14

Best Practices: What Does It Mean?

................................ .................

16

Best Practices: How Are They Useful?

................................ ..............

18

Best Practices: What Issues Surround Their Application?

.................

20

Accreditation of Instit utions and Programs in Higher Education

.............

22

Historical Perspective

................................ ................................ .........

22

Accreditation as a Guarantee of Quality

................................ .............

25

Accreditation and Accountability

................................ ........................

29

Rating and Ranking of Institutions in Higher Education

...........................

31

History of Profes sional Pilot Programs in Higher Education

.....................

36

Past Attempts to Rate Aviation Programs with Quality Indicators

............

40

Reasons for Interest in Identifying Exceptional Programs

........................

42

Summary and Conceptual Link to This Study

................................ ..........

45

III. METHODLOGY

Research Model

................................ ................................ .......................

47

iv

General Research Approach

................................ ...............................

47

Specific Research Model: Delphi Method

................................ ..........

47

Mixed - Method Delphi Design

................................ ..............................

49

Methodology

................................ ................................ .............................

52

Population and Sample: The Delphi Panel

................................ ........

52

Procedures

................................ ................................ .........................

53

Instrumentation and D ata Collection

................................ ...................

56

Data Analysis Techniques

................................ ................................ ..

57

IV. FINDINGS

................................ ................................ ................................

60

Summary of the Study

................................ ................................ ..............

60

Research Question

................................ ................................ ..................

60

Summary and Integration of Findings

................................ ....................

103

V. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS

.................

110

Introduction

................................ ................................ ............................

110

Summary of Purpose and

Research Methodology

................................ .

112

Summary of Findings

................................ ................................ .............

114

General Conclusions

................................ ................................ ..............

115

Summary of Categorized Conclusions

................................ ...................

116

Discussion

................................ ................................ ..............................

145

Implications and Recommendations for Future Research

......................

148

REFERENCES

................................ ................................ ............................

150

APPENDICES

................................ ................................ .............................

167

APPENDIX A –

SOLICITATION LETT ER FOR NOMINEES AND NOMINATION FORM

................................ ................................ .............

168

APPENDIX B –

LIST OF NOMINEES

................................ ....................

171

APPENDIX C –

REQUEST FOR PARTICIPATION LETTER

.................

174

APPENDIX D –

PARTICIPANT CONSENT FORM

................................

176

APPENDIX E –

ROUND ONE QUESTIONNAIRE

................................ .

178

APPENDIX F –

ROUND TWO QUESTIONNAIRE

................................ .

18 1

v

APPENDIX G –

ROUND THREE QUESTIONNAIRE

............................

185

APPENDIX H –

IRB APPROVAL FORM

................................ ................

187

APPENDIX I –

COPYRIGHT PERMISSION

................................ ..........

189

vi

LIST OF TABLES

Tables

Page

I.

Final Analysis of All Categories……………………………………64

II.

Final Analysis –

Faculty Category……………………… …………65

III.

Final Analysis –

Equipment and Technology Category…………68

IV.

Final Analysis –

Curriculum and Instructional Delivery

Category……………………………………………………………...72

V.

Final Analysis –

Government (FAA) Compliance Category…….78

VI.

Final Analysis –

Facilities Categor y……………………………….82

VII.

Final Analysis –

Assessment/Evaluation Category………………86

VIII.

Final Analysis –

Flight/Administrative/Staff Support

Category………………………………………………………………90

IX.

Final Analysis –

Completion Rates Category……………………..95

X.

Final Analysis –

Student Organizat ions Category………………..99

XI.

Categories in Descending Order of Perceived Importance

by Delphi Panel………………………………………………….….103

XII.

Categories by Tier Level in Order of Importance………………..114

vii

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure

Page

1.

Intellectual Ca pital as Best Practice……………………………………… 16

2.

Sequential Exploratory Research Model………………………………….50

3.

Location of Delphi Panel of Experts by State…………………………….54

4.

Brown‘s Best Practices Model……………………………………………149

vi ii

NOMENCLATURE

99s

Ninety - Nines –

an international organization of women pilots

founded in 1929 by 99 licensed women pilots for mutual

support and advancement of aviation

AAAE

American Association of Airport Executives

Advisory Circular

Publications intended to p rovide advice and guidance to

illustrate a means, but not necessarily the only means, of

complying with the regulations, or to explain certain

regulatory requirements by providing informative,

interpretative and explanatory material

AFD

Airport Facility Directory –

a publication listing information of

operational importance about airports including

communications data, navigation aids and special notices

and procedures

AHP

Alpha Eta Rho –

international collegiate profes sional

aviation fraternity established in 1929

AIAA

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

AOPA

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Avionics

The electronic instrumentation and control equipment used

in airplanes and space v ehicles

CRM

Crew Resource Management –

aviation training that

encompasses a wide range of knowledge, skills, and

attitudes including communications, situational awareness,

problem solving, decision making and teamwork; CRM is

primarily

concerned with making optimum use of all available

resources both technical and non - technical

DME

Distance Measuring Equipment –

provides accurate and

continuous monitoring of correct progress on the ILS to the

pilot

ix

DUATS

Direct User Acc ess Terminal Services –

a weather

information and flight plan processing service contracted by

the FAA for use by U.S. civil pilots

EAA

Experimental Aircraft Association

FAR Part 61

Federal Aviation Regulation that prescribes the requirements

for issuing pilot, flight instructor, and ground instructor

certificates and ratings

FAR Part 141

Federal Aviation Regulation that prescribes the requirements

for issuing pilot school certificates, provisional pilot school

certificates, and

associated ratings

FAR Part 142

Federal Aviation Regulation that prescribes the requirements

governing the certification and operation of aviation training

centers

FBO

Fixed Base Operator –

a service center at an airport offering

a variety of services such as refueling, aircraft rental,

deicing, aircraft towing, etc., and which may include flight

training as a service

FITS

FAA - Industry Training Standards –

a program partnership

between FAA, Industry, and Academia designed to enhance

general aviation safety by developing flight training programs

that are more convenient, more accessible, less expensive,

and more relevant to today‘s users of the National Airspace

System

GPS

Global Positioning System –

a satelli te navigation system

transmitting signals to a receiver to determine the receiver‘s

location, speed, and direction

ILS

Instrument Landing System –

an instrument approach

system which provides precise guidance to an aircraft

approaching a

runway

MAAP

Multicultural Association of Aviation Professionals

NAFI

National Association of Flight Instructors

NDB

Non - Directional Beacon –

a radio broadcast station used as

an aviation or marine navigation aid (less sophisticated than

VO R)

NIFA

National Intercollegiate Flying Association

x

NOTAM(s)

Notice to Airmen –

an announcement issued by aviation

authorities to alert aircraft pilots of any hazards en route or at

a specific location

PAMA

Professional Aviation Maintenance

Association

POI

Principal Operations Inspector –

an FAA designated Aviation

Safety Inspector experienced in piloting and management in

FAA Part 121, Part 135, and/or Part 141 operations

TSA

Transportation Security Administration –

a component

of the

Department of Homeland Security, formed following 9/11

and responsible for security of all the nation‘s transportation

systems

UAA

University Aviation Association –

the voice of collegiate

aviation education educators, industry, government, and the

public in advancing degree - granting aviation programs for all

segments of the aviation industry; originated the movement

for curricula accreditation of aviation training programs that

eventually resulted in the formation of the CAA (1992), now

the AABI.

VOR

VHF Omni - directional Range –

a type of radio signal

navigation system for aircraft

WIA

Women in Aviation International

1

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

Background

According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots

Association (AOPA), there are more than 200 institutions that offer aviation majors: 93 offer bachelor‘s degrees and 112 offer associate (two - year) degrees (Kitely, n.d.). In the United States and Canada, there are approximately 114 educational institut ions at the two - year and four - year level that offer professional pilot training as an area of specialization (University Aviation Association, 2004). However, within the field of aviation in the United States there are no commonly agreed - upon characteris tics that are identified with exceptional professional pilot training programs. A cursory review of the literature revealed that standards exist for institutional accreditation, such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) a nd the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Within the field of aviation education, the Council on Aviation Accreditation (CAA) is a nonprofit organization that sets standards for aerospace programs taught in colleges and schools aroun d the United States and Canada. The CAA adopted as one of its goals for collegiate aviation accreditation the

2

establishment of uniform minimum educational quality standards (CAA Form 101, p.6). Although the CAA standards afford certification of professi onal pilot programs under its Flight Education option, the minimum standards are below what some programs at four - year institutions aspire to reach and maintain. For example, this position has been voiced by several aviation educators at Oklahoma State U niversity (OSU). Specific programs within a subject area, such as professional pilot training, do not necessarily address the specific characteristics that actually define a top - rated program, particularly within the aviation field. Further, in light of the occurrence of September 11, 2001 and the averted British terrorist plot of August 2006, public concern for air safety has caused a greater awareness of the need for accountability. These factors provided the researcher with the impetus to conduct this

study.

This study was specifically designed to determine the quality indicators of an exceptional professional pilot flight training program in higher education as perceived by professional aviation educators. Establishment of such a set of quality indi cators could prove useful for future development of a rating and/or ranking system for professional pilot training programs in colleges and universities and for raising the overall quality of these training programs.

Theoretical and Conceptual Framework

The theoretical support for this study was derived from the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM) principles. TQM was the quality business strategy put forward by W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Duran as a philosophy for the successful development, use, and maintenance of all aspects of an

3

operation in order to achieve excellence. TQM was the precursor to many quality initiatives and helped lay the foundation for other concepts such as best practices and benchmarking.

Standards

In a contemporary world setting, standards exist which are unique in many realms such as business, industry, education, health care, environmental, and others. According to one dictionary definition of ―standard,‖ a standard is ―something considered by an authority or by genera l consent as a basis of comparison; a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment‖ ( Webster’s College Dictionary , 1995, p. 1303). For example, in education, standards make it possible for the public to see what schools are trying to teach and what students are being required to learn. Regardless of the domain, standards exist for a variety of reasons: to provide focus, promote consistency, improve performance, increase credibility, and ensure success (Schray, 2006).

The use of standards h as a clear history in business and industry to guarantee the consumers of products and services that certain levels of reliability, safety, efficiency and interchangeability are present. As far back as medieval Europe, craftsmen and merchants organized i nto unions called guilds, for the purposes of ensuring that guild members maintained standards for product and service quality. The common practice of placing a special mark or symbol on the items produced attested to the guild member‘s responsibility to satisfy the consumer and uphold the standards of the guild. This approach to sustaining manufacturing quality through applied standards remained essentially

4

the same until the early nineteenth century and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (Americ an Society for Quality, 2004).

With the onset of rapidly changing technology during the 1980s came the realization that improvement in internal business processes was necessary to assure long - term survival and growth in a global market (Camp, 1995). In o rder to identify the best practices of their competitors, businesses began to use standards or benchmarking as a way ―to determine who else does a particular activity the best and emulating what they do to improve performance‖ (Blakeman, 2002, ¶ 1). It is

a premise of this study that standards or benchmarks exist within the field of professional pilot training, that these standards can be identified by professionals in the field, and that identification of these standards can be beneficial to the field.

B est Practices

Using benchmarking to identify best practices, businesses were able to systematically arrange or codify standards in a given area and to identify effective professional practices frequently referred to as ―best practices.‖

Common through out the literature is the notion that there is no universally accepted definition of best practice (Agur, 2006; Maire, Bronet, & Pillet, 2005). However, according to Sacket, Rosenberg, Gray, Haynes and Richardson (1996), there are several themes that run

through all of the definitions: ―The practice must demonstrate success or have an impact, and the practice must be able to be replicated‖ (¶ 9).

5

Buyukozkan and Maire (1998) offered one definition of best practices as ―those techniques the best companies

have adopted to achieve superior results‖ (p. 101). Ultimately, best practices are primarily designed and implemented to assure operational and organization success (Agur, 2006). In the field of education, Krueger (1993) identified best practice as ans wering the question of how to improve teaching and learning in higher education. The federal government also publishes best practices for use in health delivery, highway construction, welfare reform and education initiatives (Patton, 2001).

Benchmarkin g was the first process that involved looking outside the organization to identify best practices by comparing performance measures with other organizations that perform the same duties or processes. Recently, quality indicators of best practices have bee n useful to help benchmark best practices in Web - based nursing courses (Billings, Connors & Skiba, 2001), in programs for students with handicaps (Kleinert, Smith & Hudson, 1990), in healthcare performance (Czarnecki, 1996; Higgins, 1997), and in assessmen t of educational improvement (Highett, 1994). Similar efforts have not been made in professional pilot training programs. Therefore, this study proposes that identification of a set of quality indicators for professional pilot training programs could ass ist in the development of benchmarks for best practices in aviation education. Further, identifying quality indicators could be useful for future development of a ranking system for professional pilot training programs in colleges and universities. This study assumed the existence, identifiability, and efficacy of best practices or quality indicators for collegiate professional pilot training programs. It sought to

6

identify quality indicators as perceived by professionals in the field and present these p erceptions in a best practices model.

Statement of the Problem

Aviation education programs that offer professional pilot training vary from institution to institution, and the cost associated with this training is high. Hourly costs for flight traini ng range from $70 to $160 per flight hour depending on the type of aircraft being used. It is not uncommon for professional pilot students to invest up to $30,000 over and above regular college tuition in order to meet the degree requirements of a profess ional pilot program at a four - year university. Students as consumers seek to obtain the best value for their money and must choose between programs offered at various institutions. Without a common understanding of what constitutes an exceptional profess ional pilot training program, students have no basis for justifying comparison among institutions. In addition, aviation educators are faced with the task of convincing prospective students that their programs are good and meet the needs of the aviation i ndustry. This is difficult without identified quality indicators to serve as benchmarks and bases for comparison. Therefore, the problem for this study is lack of available information to answer the question: ―What do aviation educators at four - year ins titutions perceive to be quality indicators for an exceptional professional pilot program in higher education?‖ The findings of the study could be useful in eventually developing criteria for rating professional pilot programs and could assist in the deve lopment of standards for those programs.

7

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to describe the quality indicators that identify an exceptional collegiate professional pilot program as identified by a panel of experts in aviation education.

Research Question

The following question guided this research:

What are the perceived quality indicators that identify an exceptional professional pilot program in higher education in the following areas:

1. Facilities

2.

Equipment and technology

3.

Fa culty

4.

Flight/Administrative/Staff Support

5.

Government (FAA) compliance

6.

Student organizations

7.

Completion rates

8.

Assessment/Evaluation

9.

Curriculum and instructional delivery

10.

Miscellaneous

These areas were derived from aviation - related literature, CAA accredita tion guidelines, and FAA regulations.

The research question was addressed by using the Delphi technique to collect and converge the opinions of experts regarding quality indicators for collegiate professional training programs. Comments were solicited from a panel

8

of experts consisting of aviation educators from 4 - year institutions who had been nominated by their peers and had met the criteria for participation. The typical Delphi technique involves three rounds of surveys. The first round input asked

panelists to state their perceptions of quality indicators in nine specific categories and one miscellaneous category. Responses to the first round of input were analyzed and synthesized using the constant comparison method. The constant comparison meth od was used within and between the categories. The resulting statements were provided as feedback to the panelists. In round two, panelists were asked to rate and rank both the categories and the comments within the categories. The top eight to ten comm ents within each of the categories were provided as feedback in round three and panelists were asked to complete a final rating and ranking to identify perceived importance of both criterion categories and items within each category.

Population and Sample

The Delphi technique utilizes a non - random sample of expert panelists. In the Delphi, the expertise of the panel is more important than its representativeness (Ausburn, 2002). For the purposes of this study, heads of aviation departments with professio nal pilot training programs at 58 institutions of higher education across the United States were identified as the population and were requested to nominate potential participants as panel experts based on specific criteria provided by the researcher. The

potential participant pool included 37unique nominations. To maintain both expertise and representativeness of the panel, all 37 nominees were requested to participate in

9

this study. The volunteer sample agreeing to participate totaled 13 panelists repr esenting 11 states within the continental United States.

Assumptions and Limitations

For purposes of this study, the following assumptions and limitations were accepted:

1. It was assumed the panelists who participated in the Delphi responded honest ly.

2. It was assumed the panelists, who were recommended by their professional peers, had expertise to identify quality indicators accurately.

3. The time restrictions imposed on the panelists to respond may have resulted in some panelists dropping ou t before completing all three rounds of the Delphi, which may have biased the data.

4. There was a possibility that the qualitative, open - ended input provided by the panelists was misinterpreted by the researcher.

Delimitations

Delimitations of the st udy included:

1. This study did not develop or propose a formal set of standards for assessing professional pilot training programs. It was limited to identifying the quality indicators that were perceived by peer - identified aviation experts to characte rize an exceptional professional pilot training program. These indicators might or might not be adopted by individual institutions, but they might be used by the profession in the future to develop formal program standards.

10

2. This study did not include

panelists from non - educational organizations. Thus, findings are not generalizable or applicable to other sectors.

Definition of Terms

The following definitions were applied in this study to provide, as nearly as possible, clear and concise meanings o f terms:

Conceptual Definitions

Aviation education

a program designed to prepare students for careers in the aerospace industry in commercial aviation and related businesses as FAA - certified pilots, fixed - base operations managers, airport managers , airline management personnel and other positions in the aviation industry (adapted from Oklahoma State University Catalog, p. 118 and Ohio State University, Assessment Report, p.1).

Professional pilot program

an option that includes all flight requir ements for private pilot, commercial pilot with instrument rating, may include multi - engine, and certified flight instructor ratings, and is specifically designed to lead to a bachelor‘s degree at a four - year institution of higher learning (adapted from Ok lahoma State University Catalog, p. 118).

Delphi study

a technique for eliciting and refining the perspectives of a homogeneous panel of experts through several rounds of questioning with controlled feedback (Lindstone & Turoff, 1975; Turoff & Hiltz, 19 95).

Constant comparison method

an analytical strategy that involves taking one piece of data (one statement, one theme, etc.) and comparing it with all

11

others that may be similar or different in order to develop conceptualizations of the possible rel ations between various pieces of data (Thorne, 2000).

Operational Definitions

Delphi panel –

a purposively selected panel of 13 aviation experts consisting of aviation educators at four - year institutions who have a minimum of five years of university exp erience in a professional pilot training program, and who were identified by their professional peers as having expertise to represent the aviation field.

Delphi instruments

the three iterative questionnaires administered to the panel of aviation exper ts.

Quality indicators

the characteristics of exceptional collegiate professional pilot programs as identified by the Delphi panel in 10 categories:

1.

Facilities

2.

Equipment and technology

3.

Faculty

4.

Flight/Administrative/Staff Support

5.

Government (FAA) compli ance

6.

Student organizations

7.

Completion rates

8.

Assessment/Evaluation

9.

Curriculum and instructional delivery

10.

Miscellaneous

12

Sigma rank score (  Rank)

the total of a Delphi item‘s raw rankings.

Sigma rank point score (  RankPoint)

the point values as signed to

summed rankings of Delphi items by reversing ranks and point values (e.g., rank

1 = 10 points, rank 10 = 1 point) so that higher ranked items have more points.

Tier analysis –

the identification by major break points in the  RankPoint scor es of Delphi items and the point ranges within and between each tier level.

Rating

a numerical indication of perceived importance for Delphi items from 1 to 5 with rating 1 as ―not important; 2 as ―somewhat important; 3 as ―moderately important; 4 as ― important‖; and 5 as ―very important.‖

Ranking –

a numerical score of Delphi items for relative importance among items, with rank 1 being the most important to rank n being least important.

Significance of the Study

Within the field of aviation there

are no agreed upon or recognized qualities and elements that are identified with exceptional aviation programs. The researcher has served on the Aviation Advisory Council for the past five years, and during this time board members from various institutio ns and private industry have expressed concern about the curriculum at Oklahoma State University, the quality of the students being trained, and whether the students are meeting the needs of 21 st

century aviation. This concern has been specifically geared

toward the preparation of students in the professional pilot degree program. This research provided a description of quality indicators that knowledgeable aviation educators believe characterize an exceptional

13

professional pilot program at four - year inst itutions. The results of this study could serve as the basis for development of standards, strengthening of training programs, and eventual development of an assessment tool for professional pilot training programs in four - year institutions.

14

CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Quality Standards and Best Practices in Business and Industry

Historical Perspective

The early twentieth century gave birth to the idea that quality was relevant for the manufacturing process es that create consumer products. Business and industry needed quality standards in order to create a common understanding or meaning and to enhance levels of competence as a way to promulgate best practice or accreditation (Skyrme, 2002). Kujala and Lil lrank (2004) stated that the quality movement originated with the statistical quality control (SQC) of manufacturing processes, commonly known as quality control. According to the American Society for Quality (2004), statistician Walter Shewhart for Bell Laboratories originated the concept of controlling all the activities or ―processes‖ that are essential to the quality of the final product.

After World War II, the Japanese aggressively adapted the Total Quality Management (TQM) principles developed from

the quality management model advocated by American experts W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Duran. The Japanese took TQM a step farther and developed a quality business strategy called ―kaizen‖ which literally means ―change‖ and ―good or for the better.‖

15

Fo r the first time, all levels of the organization and not just management emphasized quality.

In response to the success of the Japanese in the global marketplace, the United States government created the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1987 t o help revitalize the economy. The award established criteria for excellence in business performance based on Japanese quality management practices and provided applicants with self - assessment and improvement tools. The award process also set up criteria

to help improve performance practices and to facilitate communication and sharing of best practices among U.S. organizations of all types (Baldrige National Quality Program, 2006).

Beginning in 1981, in an effort to improve organizational performance, Motorola Incorporated combined the concepts of TQM and SQC to develop target performance measures called Six Sigma  . By combining quality management principles with statistical analysis, Motorola succeeded in improving the company‘s operational performanc e and in identifying and preventing defects in manufacturing and service - related processes (Vitalo, 2005). Motorola received the first Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1987 for its quality efforts.

During the 1980s, the methods used in TQM to analyze internal business processes proved too slow to keep up with external business competitors (Blakeman, 2002). As a result, benchmarking became the first process that involved looking outside the organization to identify best practices by comparing p erformance measures with other organizations that perform the same duties or

16

processes. Buyukozkan and Maire (1998) referred to benchmarking as a comparative analysis conducted to measure the gap between an organization‘s current performance level and wha t other organizations do better. Weller (1996) described benchmarking as ―competitive intelligence gathering‖ that allowed one organization to understand how another organization‘s best practices contributed to exemplary performance (p. 24).

Best Pract ices: What Does It Mean?

With the emergence of a global economy, business and industry have come to value ―intellectual capital‖ as that knowledge which can provide an organization with a competitive edge in the marketplace (Patton, 2001). To further s how how the application of best practices becomes an integral part of intellectual capital, Patton outlined a chronology of capitalist economic evolution (Figure 1).

Age

Commodity

Asset

Agricultural age

Land Tenure

Wealth

Ind ustrial age

Financial Capital

Wealth

Knowledge age

Intellectual Capital

Wealth

Best Practices

Figure

1. Intellectual Capital as Best Practice

Based on Evaluation, Knowledge Management, Best Practices, and High Quality by Mi chael Q. Patton, 2001.

17

As businesses focused on intellectual capital to increase productivity and spur innovation, they looked to best practices as a form of knowledge having the potential to impact success. By looking at other winning organizations and

adapting their proven practices, businesses hoped to improve their own performance. In other words, identifying best practices can make process improvement possible without having to ―reinvent the wheel‖ (Elmuti & Kathawala, 1997). Camp (1989) further defined best practices as those ―that will lead to the superior performance of a company‖ (p. xi). Davies and Kochhar (2002) described best practices as ―Those that lead to improvement in performance. That is, they help a low performing company become a m edium performer, a medium performer become a high performing company, and a high performer stay successful‖ (p. 302). Thus, best practice is most often associated with higher levels of performance.

Pursuing best practices by looking outside an organizat ion for process and performance improvements can also show a company different ways of thinking that shed new light on old processes. Hiebeler, Kelly and Ketteman (1998) stated the purpose of best practices is to ―disturb you with new ideas and insights.

We mean ‗disturb‘ in a positive way‖ (p.28). For example, a similar or familiar process viewed without bias to the past may have a unique application other than its current use. Therefore, a different perspective has the potential to be a catalyst for g rowth, in terms of both customers and profitability. Higgins (1997) described best practices as representing ―innovative practices that contribute improved performance through leadership and shared vision,

18

customer focus, knowledge of best practices, reso urces and support systems, innovative human resource management, work organization, and effective and strategic external relationships‖ (p.61).

Businesses may increase opportunities for identifying and implementing successful best practices by maintaining

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Abstract: Scope and method of study. The purpose of this study was to identify the quality indicators that comprise an exceptional collegiate professional pilot program as identified by a national panel of experts in aviation higher education. A Delphi panel of 13 experts participated in a 3-round Delphi to identify quality indicators in 9 categories. This was accomplished through generation of qualitative comments in the first Delphi round, following by rating and ranking of categories and items within categories in 2 subsequent rounds. Findings and conclusions. The Delphi panel of experts provided their perceptions of quality indicators within 9 categories and were in clear agreement concerning the relative importance of categories and items within categories. The categories in descending order of importance were: Faculty; Equipment and Technology; Curriculum and Instructional Delivery; Government (FAA) Compliance; Facilities; Assessment/Evaluation; Flight/Administrative/Staff Support Services; Completion Rates; and Student Organizations. Analyses of panelists' overall comments were based on ΣRank scores, mean ratings for importance, and tier analysis. In the top-rated category, the issue of faculty pay was identified as the most important quality indicator for collegiate flight training programs. Other important issues included the need for programs to utilize technologically advanced aircraft (TAA) and/or flight simulators for flight training; use of real-world scenarios or activity-based learning; fully comply with FAA regulations; provide adequate space for all types of training and maintenance; formally assess higher order thinking and learning skills; provide administrative support staff; monitor completion rates; and involve faculty and students in various collegiate aviation organizations. Overall, panelists identified quality indicators that represented best practices but did not provide benchmarks for measuring program quality. The findings of this study could be used as a starting point from which to further identify benchmarks for determining flight training program quality.