Elaine Adams
University of Georgia

Myra N. Womble
University of Georgia


For more than a decade, reform in vocational education has been a major topic in national reports calling for educational change. A majority of these documents identify the teacher as the major change agent. The instrument used in this study is designed to assess attitudes of vocational education students regarding the vocational course in which they are enrolled. Responses from 354 secondary marketing education students are analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics. The five core propositions of exemplary teaching developed by The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards provide a philosophical framework for further examination of study findings. Findings suggest that students are generally positive about their marketing course and form perceptions toward marketing courses based on three factors-Personal Relevance, Educational Value, and Life Skills.

Marketing related occupations are expected to experience a continual growth pattern beyond the first decade of this new century. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (1998 ) predicts there will be approximately two and a half million new jobs and four million replacement jobs in marketing occupations by 2006. Careers in marketing stretch across a wide array of industries and businesses and are found in both private and public sectors. Marketing positions are available to persons holding advanced degrees as well as those with high school diplomas.


According to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards ( NBPTS, 1997 ), there are five core propositions that serve as a foundation for recognizing exemplary teachers: "(1) Teachers are committed to students and their learning, (2) Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students, (3) Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning, (4) Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience, and (5) Teachers are members of learning communities" (pp. 1-3). Standards presented by the NBPTS provide a foundation for the development and growth of vocational education teachers. Vocational educators who successfully apply these propositions strengthen their teaching and improve student learning ( NBPTS ).

The first proposition calls for vocational teachers to make knowledge available to all students. Exemplary teachers willingly change their teaching strategies through observation and knowledge of their students' needs ( NBPTS, 1997 ). The second proposition directs vocational teachers to develop a powerful understanding of the subject(s) they teach. This proposition requires an in-depth understanding of their subject, its development, organization, linkage to other subjects, and real-world applications ( NBPTS ). The third proposition instructs vocational teachers to take control of their courses and programs. Exceptional teachers are able to engage their students in learning through a variety of educational enrichment strategies. They are able to effectively and appropriately teach, motivate, discipline, and assess student performance ( NBPTS ). The fourth proposition charges vocational teachers to act as role models for their students. They reinforc e their teaching through examination and use new findings, ideas, and theories to enhance their instructional practices ( NBPTS ). The last proposition encourages vocational teachers to become involved in their school and local communities. Exemplary teachers can evaluate and select appropriate school and community resources so that students benefit from collaborative experiences ( NBPTS ).

Credibility and respect in marketing education can only be developed through the application and maintenance of high standards-for marketing teachers, their courses, programs, and students. Education is a process that is constantly evolving. Thus, it must be continually examined for potential improvements. The NBPTS provides marketing teachers with propositions that can help guide them through the educational growth and change needed for this new century.


The study described in this article obtained and examined perceptions of students enrolled in marketing education courses. Examining marketing students' perceptions about their marketing courses and exploring these perceptions using the five propositions set forth by the NBPTS can prove instrumental in helping marketing educators and career-technical administrators with teaching, program, and curricular reform.

The primary purpose of this research was to investigate student perceptions about the marketing education courses in which they were enrolled. Selected variables were examined to determine possible influences on student perceptions. The specific objectives of this study were to (a) describe characteristics of students enrolled in secondary marketing education courses, (b) describe students' perceptions toward marketing courses, (c) identify underlying dimensions that comprise secondary marketing students' perceptions, and (d) examine the influence of select variables (e. g., gender, grade level, career objective, post graduation plans, and reasons for enrolling) on students' perceptions about marketing courses.



The target population for this study included all secondary students enrolled in marketing education courses taught in eight intentionally-selected high school programs located in a southeastern state in the United States. A purposeful sampling of intact classes was used in order to minimize disruption of students and ensure that a variety of marketing education programs was represented in the sample. The final research sample consisted of 406 students enrolled in Marketing Education courses. Of the 406 surveys distributed, 354 returns generated a response rate of 87%. All returned surveys were deemed usable and included in the analysis. The research sample included 160 (45.2%) male participants and 194 (54.8%) female participants. It represented 251 (70.9%) Caucasians, 79 (22.3%) African-Americans, 8 (2.3%) Asians, 7 (2.0%) Hispanics, and 1 (.3%) Native American. Eight (2.3%) students identified their ethnic origin as other. Survey participants consisted of 265 (74.9%) 12th-grade students, 71 (20.1%) 11th-grade students, 14 (4.0%) 10th-grade students, and 4 (1.1%) 9th-grade students. Table 1 summarizes this information as well as other demographic and work-related data from section 1 of the survey.


The student perceptions instrument used in this study was originally developed by Ruff (1993) and revised by Womble, et al (1995) and Jones et al. (1997) to assess the perceptions of students enrolled in vocational courses. The instrument refinement process consisted of a continual review of the extant literature and suggested revisions provided from vocational students who responded to statements that might be misinterpreted or unanswered. Content validity was established through a review process using a panel of five vocational educators (Long, Convey, & Chwalek, 1985). Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficients of.84 ( Womble et al. ) and.80 ( Jones et al. ) were computed for the Likert-type scale used in the instrument.

The first part of the survey helped to develop a profile of student respondents and requested demographic, employment, and career plans information (see Table 1 ). The second part of the survey consisted of 20 statements requiring forced responses on a Likert-type scale: 4 = strongly agree, 3 = agree, 2 = disagree, and 1 = strongly disagree (see Table 2 ). The second part of the instrument provided most of the data for this study.


A list of all secondary Marketing Education programs in the state was obtained from the state's department of education. Four strategic regions in the state were identified and two Marketing Education programs from each of the regions were selected for a total of eight participating programs. Marketing teachers distributed the surveys to their classes and asked for students' voluntary participation in the study. Teachers instructed students to complete only one survey even if they were enrolled in more than one Marketing Education course, to provide complete and honest responses, to take their time when responding, and to use as much time as needed. Students placed completed surveys into an envelope which they sealed thereby maintaining their anonymity and relieving their fears regarding teachers' knowledge of responses.

Data were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics. Latent dimensions underlying the 20 statements that measured student perceptions were identified using factor analysis. The scree plot (see figure 1 ) and the number of Eigen values greater than one were used to determine the number of factors underlying item responses. The factor structure was required to approximate simple structure; items were required to load at least.30 on one factor, while demonstrating low loadings on any additional factors. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was employed to determine if significant differences existed between or among select demographic and background variables on identified dimensions of student perceptions. A.05 level of significance was established for all analytic procedures. SPSS was utilized in the calculation of all statistical analyses.


The sample consisted of students enrolled in eight selected Marketing Education programs in a single southeastern state. Therefore, caution should be applied when generalizing results of this study to larger populations. Report of results includes characteristics of marketing students, student perceptions of marketing education courses, factors identified in student perceptions, and influence and comparison of select variables.


Study results include characteristics of marketing education students. Information related to students' enrollment, employment, and educational and career characteristics were evaluated. Major student characteristics are discussed in the following paragraphs and further detailed in Table 1 .


The second objective and primary purpose of this study was to describe perceptions of students toward the marketing education course in which they were enrolled. The sample was comprised of secondary students enrolled in similar programs-all marketing education courses-but in different regional locations throughout the state. The mean scores and standard deviations associated with the 20 statements from this section of the survey are compiled in Table 2 .


The third research objective of this study was to identify underlying dimensions that comprise secondary students' perceptions about marketing courses. A pre-existing data structure was not assumed. Exploratory principle axes factor analysis with varimax rotation was used to identify latent factors underlying students' perceptions about their marketing education courses.


The final research objective of this study was to examine the influence of select variables (e.g., gender, grade level, career objective, post-graduation plans, and reasons for enrolling) on students' perceptions about marketing courses. Items loading on the three factors identified through the results of the factor analysis were summed to form three composite variables: (a) Personal Relevance, (b) Educational Value, and (c) Life Skills (see Table 3 ). These composite variables were used as dependent variables in ANOVAs that examined the influences and compared differences of select variables. A complete report of ANOVA results is presented in Table 4 . Table 5 includes the means for variables where significance was found.


The perceptions of students toward the marketing courses in which they were enrolled are examined in this exploratory study. According to findings of this study, students' perceptions can be summarized by three factors: (a) Personal Relevance , (b) Educational Value , and (c) Life Skills . The personal value of the marketing courses and information and assignments provided in courses to students are compiled in factor 1. Factor 2 includes items measuring the extent to which the marketing courses provided educational gain. Statements included in factor 3 were specific life skills needed by all persons. Results suggested that students' perceptions of marketing courses differed depending on their grade level, grades usually earned, hours worked per week, career information source, and reason for enrolling in course.

Perceptions of the value of other vocational courses were similarly summarized in previous research conducted by Ruff (1993) , Womble, et al. (1995) , and Jones, et al. (1997) . However, one difference did surface in this study; three factors rather than two emerged from the factor analysis structure. The newly identified factor was factor 3, Life Skills .

There are three reasons why a third factor may have surfaced in this analysis and not in the other studies conducted by Ruff (1993) , Womble et al. (1995) , and Jones et al. (1997) . First, this study included a larger percentage of employed students than did the other research studies. Second, students in this study tended to work more hours per week than did the students in the previous studies. And, third, more students in this study than in the other three studies reported being actively involved in a cooperative on-the-job training experience.

Marketing education was originally established as a cooperative educational program designed to provide on-the-job experiences for its students and until the Vocational Education Act of 1963 was federally mandated as a cooperative program ( Marketing Strategy Committee, 1987 ). Since that time, marketing education has been expanded to include a variety of delivery systems consisting of cooperative and non-cooperative programs. These fundamental philosophies associated with marketing education still impact the curriculum and may be responsible for the findings identified in the previous paragraph as well as contribute to the development of the third factor, Life Skills .

In the first factor, Personal Relevance , the recoded statement (item 15), My teacher has sufficient knowledge of this course to teach it , received the highest mean score (M = 3.38), indicating that students had positive perceptions about the knowledge levels displayed by their teachers and their abilities to effectively teach the topics associated with marketing. In this same factor, the positive mean scores for the recoded statements (item 12 and 11, respectively), I am glad I enrolled in this course (M=3.34) and This course was not a waste of time for me (M = 3.25), suggests that students are glad to be involved in the marketing courses and that their experiences in these courses have been worthwhile. While it is difficult to draw a direct connection to the standards set forth by the NBPTS, these findings do suggest marketing teachers' commitment to their students, their students' learning, and their teaching-characteristics clearly identified in the first two NBPTS standards ( Teachers are committed to students and their learning and Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students ). It appears, at least from these findings, that marketing teachers teaching the courses examined in this study exhibit commitment to their students and their teaching.

The lowest mean score in factor one, while still on the positive end of the Likert-type scale, was generated for statement five (M = 2.87): The information presented in this course is not out of touch with the " real world." The second and last propositions identified by the NBPTS speak about the development of real world skills and use of community resources. Marketing teachers must stay in tune with the happenings in the real-world and should be masters at selecting and infusing real world resources from their communities into their daily teaching. This study may indicate that the marketing teachers teaching these courses may need to concentrate on bringing in additional resources from the "real-world" to energize their teaching. Marketing teachers should reach out to their communities in search of learning resources and growth opportunities. They should embrace the overall impact their communities have on their marketing students and programs.

In the second factor, Educational Value , statement 1 ( This course prepares me for employment ) received the highest mean score (M=3.12), indicating students felt positive about the employment preparation provided through their marketing course. Students' abilities to apply what they have learned in their classrooms to the real world are apparent in the second proposition listed by the NBPTS. It is encouraging that these marketing students were able to connect learning in marketing courses to employment.

The lowest mean in factor 2 was for item number 16: The projects and assignments required in this course are challenging for me (M=2.45). While this statement may not be easily linked to a specific NBPTS proposition, it is an underlying component in all five. Teachers guided by the standards set forth by the NBPTS are eager to provide students with academic challenges that prepare them for real-world opportunities following high school. Students who are not challenged by educational experiences may become bored and inactive in the classroom environment. Marketing teachers should strive to become proactive educators, ready to modify their teaching for the improvement of their students' learning ( Bettenhausen, 1998 ). Marketing teachers who seek to meet the standards proposed by the NBPTS will attempt to make their courses challenging and will encourage advanced learning from all their students.

All of the statements in factor 3, Life Skills , had a mean score of 2.90 or higher, indicating that students believed they developed skills needed by employees in the workforce. Again, all five propositions posed by the NBPTS can be applied to those general skills being taught and s u rfacing in the third factor. According to the NBPTS (1997) , vocational educators are essential in preparing students to embrace a variety of general life skills that can be easily applied across a range of careers and in a variety of industries.

Grade level was found to be a significant variable in all three factors. It is not surprising that 11th graders held more positive views of Personal Relevance , Educational Value , and Life Skills than 10th or 9th graders. Eleventh graders tend to be in their first or second year of the marketing program and much of what they are learning is new and fresh. Many of these students have recently started working and seriously thinking about their futures. Therefore, it is probably easy for them to apply information provided in marketing courses. It may, however, seem surprising that 11th graders were also more positive than their 12th grade counterparts. However, by the 12th grade many students in marketing education programs are in their third year. By this time, it may be that much being taught in marketing courses seems repetitive and students' abilities to apply value from these courses become clouded by previous learning experiences. Referring back to the propositions identified by the NBPTS, marketing teachers must be committed to their students' learning and they must be responsible for managing and monitoring that learning. It is necessary that marketing teachers enrich their advanced students' learning with a variety of strategies and challenging opportunities that increase their abilities to link the classroom with their future career and educational aspirations. The NBPTS (1997) calls for vocational teachers to develop educational activities that lead to mastery of student knowledge.

Students' grades usually earned in school were found to be significant in factor 1 and factor 2. It is not surprising that average and above average students, those making As, Bs, or Cs, had significantly higher means than those making Ds. Students making mostly Ds are likely to be disinterested in school regardless of the course and may be unable to distinguish its personal relevance or educational value. However, the NBPTS states that vocational teachers should be dedicated to successfully educating all students regardless of their abilities. Marketing teachers need to assess the needs of students in their programs making mostly Ds and attempt to develop instructional activities that will spark their interest and ignite their learning processes. Hopefully, educational growth in marketing classrooms for these students will create a synergistic effect in their other school subjects and in their career hopes for the future.

The number of hours students spent working per week revealed a significant finding in factor 1, Personal Relevance of marketing courses. The more hours that students reported working, the less personal relevance they reported in the course. This finding may seem startling to marketing educators. It may seem that increased working hours would lead to expanded opportunities for students to apply concepts learned in the course and thereby increasing personal relevance. However, it appears from this study that course relevancy begins to lessen after 10 hours of work.

School administrators have long debated the effectiveness of on-the-job training experiences. They frequently are concerned that time spent working decreased students' time studying ( Swope & Wrisley, 1995 ). It may be that students who spend so many hours on-the-job do not see much relevance from their marketing courses because much of what is learned in their classrooms has already been learned in the working environment. It may be that students who work long hours are tired when attending school and are unable to gain or recognize the marketing courses' personal relevance. Consequently, this finding suggests a need to closely monitor the learning that takes place on-the-job as well as the number of hours their students spend at worksites. Such a need is supported by Swope and Wrisley who suggests that administrators will likely continue attempts to decrease students' working hours and the position held by NBPTS (1997) that marketing teachers become responsible for managing and monitoring their students' learning.

Another interpretation of the significant finding related to the number of hours worked may be linked to the amount of work-based experience students gain by working increased hours. Students may discover that classroom content is out-of-touch with practice in business, causing their marketing course to become impractical or irrelevant and making the relevancy of the marketing course decrease. According to the NBPTS (1997) , vocational teachers must possess a powerful understanding of the subject(s) they teach. Therefore, marketing teachers have a responsibility to their profession and their students to remain highly knowledgeable about marketing skills, content, trends, and developments.

Another area from the study that may impact the number of hours worked by students is students identified job source . A large percentage of students indicated that they obtained their job through family and friend connections (54%) or other unidentified sources (35.7%). Marketing teachers ranked much lower as a source for that cooperative experience (8.4%). For cooperative experiences to be valuable, marketing teachers need to be actively involved in the selection and evaluation of appropriate community resources and cooperative placements ( NBPTS, 1997 ).

The variable, students' career information source, was found to be significant on all three factors. Students who relied most heavily on books and their marketing teachers for career information were able to gain Personal Relevance and Educational Value from their marketing course. These students also recognized the Life Skills being taught. It may seem surprising that students would rely on their friends and families when obtaining a current job but on their marketing teacher when obtaining career information. However, it may be that students do not see their current job as a potential career and obtain that job based on what happens to be available. However, when thinking about lifelong career options their marketing education teacher becomes more valuable, relevant, and knowledgeable. While this finding is positive, it highlights the need for marketing teachers' involvement in job selections, evaluations, and monitoring.

The last variable found significant in factor 1 and 2 was reason for enrolling in the marketing course. Students' interest in marketing increased the Personal Relevance and Educational Value of the course. The NBPTS (1997) urges vocational teachers to advance the knowledge of vocational subject matter through a variety of strategies: creation of engaging learning activities, guiding of students through advanced topics, and use of diversified materials and resources. Marketing teachers need to learn and apply methods for engaging the minds of their students while manifesting a consistent desire for information about marketing occupations and careers. Marketing education classrooms should be filled with excitement and intrigue.


This study represents one exploratory approach to attempt to clarify the function and value of marketing education courses offered at the high school level using the responses of students enrolled in a marketing course. The five propositions established by the NBPTS have been used as a philosophical framework on which to connect these findings. Findings from this study provide a better understanding of the characteristics of students enrolled in marketing education courses and their perceptions about their experiences in these courses. A majority of study findings were positive. However, marketing education's ability to remain viable in this new millennium will be dependent upon marketing educators' abilities to stay in tune with their students' perceptions as well their abilities to deliver quality courses and programs.


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