EADS, GERALD MILTON, II; PHD

                         KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY, 1984

                         EDUCATION, ADMINISTRATION (0514)

                         Diffusion Theory postulates Complexity, Trialability, Relative Advantage, Observability, and Compatiblity
                         as the five characteristics of an innovation most important in explaining how rapidly it is adopted. Ten
                         paragraphs were developed presenting various aspects of Community Education either favorably or
                         unfavorably according to each of the five attributes. Thirty-two sets of five paragraphs, representing all
                         possible combinations of the more or less favorable portrayals of the attributes, were presented as
                         cohesive descriptions of the target concept. Each subject read one of these descriptions, then rated
                         Community Education using a twenty-item semantic differential. University students in teacher training,
                         teachers, and school administrators served as subjects. Analysis of covariance was performed on the
                         data from each group using prior attitude toward Community Education as a covariate. Higher ratings
                         were obtained from students and administrators who read descriptions containing the favorable
                         Compatibility paragraph. No significant results were found in the teacher sample. The four-factor
                         interaction of Complexity, Trialability, Relative Advantage and Compatibility was significant in the
                         administrator sample. An interaction of the first three attributes was significant only when Compatibility
                         was presented unfavorably. Analysis of that interaction revealed that all possible two-factor interactions
                         were significant when any third attribute was presented unfavorably and when either Compatibility or
                         Complexity, as a fourth factor, was also presented unfavorably. Each attribute in the four-factor
                         interaction produced higher ratings when presented favorably and combined with the unfavorable
                         representations of the remaining three attributes. Complexity, Trialability and Relative Advantage were
                         significant in the opposite direction when any one of the remaining attributes was presented favorably.
                         The four-factor interaction in the administrator sample was interpreted as an artifact of the experimental
                         presentation of Compatibility as it affected the relative perception of the other characteristics. The
                         interaction results were suggested to have little practical applicability. The attribute of Compatibility was
                         portrayed such that Commmunity Education programs would either support, in the favorable condition,
                         or threaten the retention of authority by school administrators. It was suggested that proposing the
                         sharing of power with the public as a necessary condition in implementing Community Education may
                         hinder adoption of the innovation in the schools.


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