Creat ive Educati on
2014. Vo l.5, No.2, 97-103
Published Online February 2014 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.or g/10.4236/ce.2014. 52016
Does the Behavioral Science Curriculum in a Private College
Fit the Needs of the Job Market?
1School of Behavior al Sciences, The College of M anagem ent Academic
Studies Division (COMAS), Rishon Lezion, Israel
Email: pas t er @colman.ac. i l
Received October 5th, 2013; revised November 5th, 2013; accepted November 12th, 2013
Copyrigh t © 20 14 Rach el Pa ster nak . This is an open access artic le dist ributed und er th e Creative C ommons At-
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The perc ep t ion of k nowled ge a s cons u mer go ods a p p ear ed wi t h the de velop ment of pr i vate educ a t ion a nd
reflects a marketing or consumer needs approach. The consumer-needs approach sees advantages in
adapting higher education to the needs of the consumer. This article examines whether the behavioral
science curriculum (scope, and content) in the private college is based on the approach of knowledge as
consumer goods. In addition, what is the level of satisfaction expressed by the alumni of the course, i.e.
those wh o co mpleted t he cur ric ulum? The stud y used a multi -method a ppr oach, c ombini ng textual analy-
sis of archived documents and an online questionnaire survey of 250 alumni. The results: the scope and
content s of the cur riculum were onl y par tially aff ected by this approach. Nonet heles s, the gra duates wer e
very satisf ied with t he curricul um’s contribution to their personal and professional skills and occupations.
Key words: Evaluation; Satisfac tion; Curriculum; Knowledge as Consumer Goods; Private Col lege;
Beha vioral Sc iences
For many years, the only way to obtain a higher education in
Israel was to attend one of a handful of public universities;
these institutions of higher learning had developed good reputa-
tions and were internationally recognized. Degree-granting
colleges associated with these universities only began to de-
velop in Israel in the 1980s. These colleges expand ed and mul-
tiplied in the 1990s in a manner similar to the corresponding
phenomenon in Portugal, where more than one-third of the
higher educational institutions were private (Levy, 2010), and
Thailand, in which the private institutions constituted twenty
percent (Praphamontripong, 2010). The rapid expansion of
private higher education and the development of private de-
gree-granting colleges have formed a dominant theme in the
study of private higher education, in Israel and abroad. Howev-
er, while private colleges have continued to develop in Israel,
the last five years (2005-2010) have seen a decline of private
higher education in other places around the world, leading to
research efforts to identify the dynamics and causes of the de-
cline. The literat ure cit es two b road categor ies of cau ses for t he
decline: social factors (such as demographic shifts), or political
policy (Levy, 2010; Slantcheva-Drust, 2010; Uribe, 2010).
Although the quality of higher education curricula in Israel is
reviewed and approved by the Council for Higher Education
(CHE) to ensure that the proposed curriculum fulfills the aca-
demic and professional needs of the discipline, doubts about
quality persist. The possibility exists that curricula in private
colleges, built on the perception of knowledge as consumer
goods, can become popular and appealing to its consumers—
students but lack robust academic and ideological foundations.
Considerations of the “the need of the client” can create curri-
cula that meet the students’ desires, but do not have the appro-
priate professional underpinnings.
The aim of this article is to evaluate the curriculum of a be-
havioral science bachelor’s degree program at the largest pri-
vate college in Israel, and examine whether the curricula is
affected b y the co llege’s view of kno wledge as goods. We will
ask if the cu rricula’s stated goals, structure, scope and contents
assign cen ter place to knowledge, or wheth er they assign great-
er importance to providing the professional qualifications that
are needed by the consumer student.
Evaluating the Curriculum
Durin g the last three decad es, special atten tion has been paid
to planning and preparing curricula at every level of teaching.
The introduction of new teaching systems led to the need to
create new curricula that are appropriate for recent develop-
ments. National and private centers were established in many
countries to plan curricula. With the creation of these new cur-
ricula came the need to integrate evaluation into the develop-
ment process. A critical review of the professional literature
that add resses the evaluation of curricula indicates a number of
characteri st i cs :
The first stage of curriculum evaluation models appeared in
the literature that was published during the 1970s and 1980s. A
wide array of models was presented leading to confusion and
OPEN ACCE SS 97
differences of opinion regarding the best model. These evalua-
tion models included, for example, “Reactive Evaluation”
(Lewy, 1973), “Ontological Evaluation” (Peper, 1973), and a
plethora of other models, such as those proposed by Eisner
(1979), Ariav (1986) and others. It is interesting to note that
agreement exists amon gst curr iculu m evaluato rs con cerning th e
lack of standardized evaluation models and regarding the legi-
timacy of utilizing eclectic models (Nevo, 1995). Some models
evaluate resu lts while oth ers assess cost-benefit or input-output
(Peres & Pasternak, 1993). However, almost no evaluation
studies have been conducted that examine the relationship be-
tween the curriculum and its stated goals and objectives.
The second stage is the most recent wave of evaluation stu-
dies, which also exhibit a wide range of approaches regarding
evaluation; these approaches have almost nothing in common.
An in-depth examination indicates that the majority of evalua-
tion studies focuses on the results of the curriculum and its
effectiveness. Examples abound: An evaluation was conducted
on a curriculum for treating the elderly, which examined the
curriculum's effectiveness and its results (Speziale, Black,
Coatsworth-Puspoky, Ross, & O’Regan, 2009). Another study
examined the impact of a national mathematics curriculum on
the way teachers functioned (Haser & Star, 2009). The ramifi-
cations and results of an innovation, like learning outside of the
school, are the focus of a recent evaluation (Nundy, Dillon, &
Dowd, 2009). Similarly, an evaluation was conducted on the
outcome of a school curriculum in China (Xu, 2009). The ef-
fectiveness and outcomes of a mathematics curriculum were
evaluated (Graves et al., 2009).
The third stage is based on the perception of knowledge as
consumer goods and evaluate the curricula by asking if it fits
the needs of the job market.
The following three studies are examples of thi s approach:
1) In China, a Business Management curriculum was eva-
luated by means of a survey conducted among businesses. The
study findings indicate that the curriculum attempted to adapt
the study material to the needs of the job market (Meleki,
2) At a technological college, attempts were made to incor-
porate the professional demands in the field based on the opi-
nions of professionals and alumni who are employed in tech-
nology. The evaluation was conducted in order to examine the
effectiven ess and ou tcome of thi s approach (Tubai shat, Lanrari ,
& Al-Rawi, 2009).
3) In C hina, an evaluation was made of a curricul um that was
created on the basis of the professional requirements of em-
ployers (Velde, 2009).
This study adopts the third stage of evaluation and examine
the curricula by its linkage to professional needs. We will do it
in two ways, first examining the scope and the contents of the
curricula and second exploring the satisfaction of the consum-
ers-the graduates from the curricul a.
The Perception of Knowledge
as Consumer Goods
The perception of knowledge as consumer goods appeared
with the development of private education and reflects a mar-
keting or consumer needs approach. This approach dictates a
unique mode of behavior with respect to the importation
(transmission) of knowledge, beginning with its marketing and
concluding with the determination of its curriculum. The type
of knowledge, its substance and method of transmission are
influenced by, and adjusted to, the consumer’s needs. This ap-
proach i s revolutionary when compared to the clas sical concep t
of higher education, which framed knowledge as an absolute
entity and offered it to the consumer public without any refer-
ence to consumer needs or satisfaction. In contrast, the know-
ledge as a consumer good approach gives rise to a different
conceptualization of the educational process (Pasternak, 2004;
The consumer-needs approach sees advantages in adapting
higher education to the needs of the consumer. These adapta-
tions are generally carried out in private educational institutions,
and are esp ecially import ant in the techno logical sphere (Over-
ton, Volkman, Silver-Pacuilla, & Gray, 2008; Tubaishat, La-
nrari, & Al-Rawi, 2009) or in business administration (Dubas,
Ghani, Davis, & Strong, 1998; Dailey et al., 2006). This ap-
proach is also trickling down to the public universities, some of
which try to pinpoint the needs of the student-consumer. A
study carried out in the United States examined the needs of
students from seven countries, and found similarities between
their expectations and needs (Shah & Laino, 2006). Adherents
of the approach claim that it is appropriate for all forms of
study and can improve academic systems and processes (Bar-
rows & Murray, 1997). Even the Soviet educational system has
started to adopt this approach in the last fifteen years (Grud-
zins kii, 2005).
However, researchers find fault with adapting higher educa-
tion to the needs of the consumer and claim that the knowledge-
as-consumer-goods approach mightassign lesser importance to
theoretical knowledge per se, and instead base its academic
curricula on the professional demands of employers and em-
phasize professional and personal skills instead (Velde, 2009;
Tubaishat, Lansari, & Al-Rawi, 2009; Meleki, 2009). These
adaptations to the needs of the market place can impinge on
other professional requirements, such as the need of profes-
sionals to acquire broad knowledge bases in their fields
(Heckman & Montera, 2001). Due to the fact that the needs of
employer-consumers in the profession can affect the expecta-
tions of the students-consumers, this can impact the creat ion of
the curricula. A curriculum based mainly on the needs of the
consumer-employer is perhaps appropriate for professions such
as the exact sciences, technology or business administration.
However, it may be less suitable for the social and behavioral
sciences b ecause th e wide sco pe of basi c theo retical kn owledge
needed for these professions, is not always compatible with the
needs of the consumer-employer. Even more problematic is th at
the sphere of knowledge in these domains is so broad with
many interdisciplinary aspects, that there is no consensus re-
garding knowledge-acquisition needs. Thus, this article ex-
amines wheth er th e beh avior al science cu rri culu m in the privat e
college is based on the approach of knowledge as consumer
The literat ure above l eads us to the central hypothesis of this
study: that the consumer-goods approach will affect the beha-
vioral sci ence curr icula an d will also b e expressed by gradu ates
regarding the contribution of the changed curricula to their
professional qualifications. The practical implications of this
1) Acquisition of professional qualifications will assume a
relatively greater percentage than theoretical knowledge. As a
result , all th e segment s of th e cur ricu lu m, the s cop e and cont ent,
will emphasize the acquisition of professional qualifications.
2) The curriculum will be evaluated according to its contri-
OPEN ACCE SS
bution to the acquisition of professional qualifications. Gra-
duates of the behavioral sciences will express satisfaction re-
garding the contribution of the curriculum to their professional
In or der to an swer these qu estions w e anal yze the ob jectives,
structure, scope and content of the curriculum and examine the
relative ratio of theoretical knowledge to professional qualifica-
tions in t he coursewo rk.
1) Theoretical knowledge is defined as the sphere of know-
ledge intended to enrich the student’s theoretical basis in the
domains of sociology, psychology, anthropology and philoso-
phy—the basic subjects in the behavioral sciences. Theoretical
knowledge includes subjects involving theories, theoretical-
research information, social policy and statistical information.
2) Professional qualification is defined as the sphere of
knowledge aimed at professional training and inculcating skills
that will contribute to the professional occupation. All of the
courses in this sphere appear under the rubric of “professional
cluster ” and are structurally distinct in the cu rriculum.
3) Scope—the number of credits (or credit points) that stu-
dents are required to take during their studies. This will be cal-
culated out of the actual curriculum offered to the students.
4) Content—the content of the courses will be analyzed ac-
cording to the syllabus for each course.
6) The curriculum encompasses numbers 3, and 5 as listed
above: the number of credits (scope), and the syllabi of the
courses ( content).
7) Satisfaction—will be measured by a questionnaire that
asks graduates for their level of satisfaction regarding the con-
tribution of the curriculum to their professional qualifications
Mater ia ls
The study used a multi-method approach, combining textual
analysis of documents with an online questionnaire survey of
A textual analysis was performed on the contents listed in the
documents. Other documents were official, public texts detail-
ing the curriculum for students. We used also syllabuses (or
syllabi) that describe the topics of the courses in detail in order
to distinguish between courses focusing on theoretical know-
ledge and those focusing on professional qualifications. We are
aware about the limitation of using syllabuses since class
teaching is not necess ar ily the same as the syllabu s es.
The survey presents data from a questionnaire distributed to
the col lege’s alumni in which they express their opinion on the
connection between the curriculum and their professional skills.
The questionnaire posed the following questions: Did the cur-
riculum help them both personally and professionally? Regard-
ing th eir p rofessio nal experi ence, which courses contributed the
most and which courses would they suggest adding or streng-
thening? This information gives us perspective in evaluation of
The survey was conducted among alumni of the School of
Behavioral Sciences (SBS) who graduated within the last 10
Two hundred and fifty graduates who received their degrees
from the college in 1997-2007 answered an internet question-
naire (out of 900 graduates registered on the alumni forum)
according to the following distribution: 13.11% male, 86.89%
female; a ge gro u p: 26 - 30—60.66%; 31 - 35—30.33%; 36 - 40
—7.38%; and 41+—1.64%. Marital status: 43.03% single,
56.97 % married . Fi fty percent conti nued th eir stud ies, general ly
for a master's degree, and 91% were employed 2 - 9 years in a
wide variety of fields and positions in the domain of behavioral
sciences: Organization consulting—5.33%; management—
traini ng, coordinato rs, executive, office, secretarial, d epartment
manager 56.95%; miscellaneous (with people)—20.50%; edu-
cation—6.56%; m a rk e ti ng and banking—9.02%; ther a py 1. 64% .
Data was collected over the course of a year (2010), by the
researcher and paid assistants. During the last yearsthere were
changes of courses but they were not examined in this study. In
order to provide in-depth evaluation, we conducted a survey
among all Behavioral Science alumni who graduated within the
last 10 years. We asked the gradu ates for their feedbac k on the
curriculum. Did the courses benefit them both personally and
professionally? Which courses contributed the most to their
professional experience and which courses would they suggest
adding or strengthening? This information gives us another
perspective in evaluating the effect of the knowledge-as-con-
sumer-goods outlook, on the curriculum.
The questionnaire that was filled out by the graduates was
not intended originally for this research study, but was given to
them by the Beh avioral S ciences Scho ol for feedback r egarding
adapting the curriculum to professional qualifications. The very
fact that such a questionnaire was disseminated, testifies to the
great importance given by the school to tailoring the curriculum
to the needs of the student-consumer. Two hundred and fifty
graduates filled out the graduates’ survey, out of approximately
900 graduates that are registered on the alumni forum.
Hypothesis 1: Acquisition of professional qualifications will
assume a relatively greater percentage than theoretical know-
ledge. As a r esult, all th e segments of the curriculum, the scope
and content, will emphasize the acquisition of professional
The scope of study ranges from 114 to 128 credits. The
course distribution (based on an average of 122 credits) is as
follows: Introductory courses: 10 credits or 8.5%; Required
courses: 60 credits or 49%; Electives: 10 credits or 8.5%; Pro-
fessional Clusters: 30 credits or 24%; Seminars: 6 credits or
5.5%; Experiential Learning Program (not mandatory): 6 cre-
dits or 5.5%.
Analysis of the scope: The inclusion of “Professional Clus-
ters” clearly testifies to the influence of the knowledge-as-
consumer-goods approach, because the curriculum could have
included only subjects directly connected to the behavioral
sciences as the universities do. (Only one Israeli university offers
behavioral sciences, and it does not offer any form of profes-
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sional cluster courses.)
The inclusion of the professional cluster clearly results from
the desire to adapt the curriculum to the needs of the student-
client. Nevertheless, an analysis of the distribution of all the
courses yields a different pict ure entirely.
The course distribution between courses imparting theoreti-
cal knowledge and those that impart professional qualifications
in the scope (122 credits) is as follows:
1. Theoretical Kn owled ge: In trod ucto ry cour ses: all the cred its,
8.5 percent; Required courses: 75 percent of 60 credits is 45
credits , or 37 percen t; Electives: al l the credi ts, 8.5 percen t;
Professional cluster: 21 percent of 30 credits is 6 credits or
5.5 percent ; Semin ars: al l th e cred it s, 5.5 percen t: E xper ien-
tial learning: 5.5 percent. Total: 70%.
2. Professional Qualifications: Required credits: 25 percent of
60 credits are 15 credits or 12 percent; Professional cluster:
79 percent of 30-to-24 cred it s are app roximatel y 20 p ercent .
Total: 30% (approximately).
These results show that despite the addition of a professional
cluster, the large majority of the coursework (70%!) is devoted
to theoretical knowledge while only 30% is devoted to profes-
In order to determine the proportion of the subject matter that
is dedicated to applied professional qualifications, a content
analysis was performed on 106 syllabuses which describe the
course content in depth.
Introductory courses: 5 courses (10 credits) are taken in the
first year only, in both semesters. They include the theoretical
basis of the behavioral sciences; the basics of humanistic and
social thinking. All 5 courses focus on theoretical knowledge.
Required: 18 courses (60 credits): These include basic
courses in psychology, sociology, philosophy and anthropology
that are taken over a three-year period. These courses provide
students with single-discipline and interdisciplinary knowledge,
both empirical and theoretical, and constitute an academic
foundation for the elective courses and seminars. In the first
year, the required courses include several single-discipline and
interdisciplinary subjects such as the biological elements of
human behavior, learning, development and socialization. Dur-
ing the second year the required courses teach the psychologi-
cal and social elements in the formulation of social policy.
Durin g the third year the courses deal with I sraeli society, ps y-
chopathology and deviance in Israeli societ y. The following
requi red courses teach research skill s and are offered in the first
and second years: Research Methods, Statistics, Computer
Usage and Library Instruction, Tests and Measurement.
Out of the 18 courses offered above, 14 focus on theoretical
knowledge (7—disciplinary knowledge and 7—interdiscipli-
nary knowledge; 4 courses offer professional skills.
Electives: 24 courses: (10 credits): The interdisciplinary na-
ture of the program is reflected in the elective courses and the
variety of subjects connected with the social sciences and hu-
manities. Twenty-four elective courses are offered which deal
with psychological, sociological, anthropological, philosophical
and educational aspects, such as Love; Dealing with Domestic
Problems and Crises; Ethics and the Good Life; Journey to
Urbanization: Bachelorhood, Marriage and Everything in Be-
tween; Backpacking as a Maturation Process; Religion, Psy-
chology and Existentialism; State, Communications and De-
mocracy in the Arab World; Literature, Deviance and Writing;
and Madness and Normalcy in the New Age.
Some of the elective courses are taught simultaneously by
two different lecturers who specialize in different disciplines.
The two lecturers conduct a dialogue in the classroom and lec-
ture in turn. An examination of the content of the elective
courses shows a similar scope of sociological and psychological
content and a minimum of philosophical and anthropological
conten t. The elective cou rses are offered to third-year students,
though second-year students are permitted to register on the
basis of availability. All 24 courses emphasize theoretical
knowledge (2—disciplinary and 22—interdisciplinary know-
Seminars: 1 5 cours es (6 credit s): Fourteen to 15 seminars are
offered that deal with a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary
subjects. For example: Sex, Gender, Love: a Contemporary
View of Soap Operas; Education, Society and Ideology; Sensa-
tion Seeking and Risk Taking on the Roads; Humor is No Joke;
and Sound s and Silence. All st udents are requir ed to att end one
seminar. All 15 seminars focus on theoretical disciplinary
Professional Cluster section: The students select one profes-
sional cluster out of the following three options:
Management, Organizational Behavior, and Human Re-
sources Cluster. The program includes 26 - 30 credits of re-
quir ed courses and 4 credit s of elective co urses , for a to tal of 30
- 34 credits.
Communications Cluster: The program includes required-
courses, elective courses and workshops, for a total of 28 - 30
Cri minology and Law Enforcement: The program includes
required courses, elective courses and a seminar, for a total of
Out of the 38 courses offered in the professional cluster,
about 8 focus on theoretical knowledge.
The Experiential Learni ng Prog ram (6 courses) is open to
select Behavioral Sciences students who are interested in com-
bining their theoretical studies in the department with practical
volunteer field work. The program gives added value to the
students, above and beyond their theoretical studies in the de-
partment. An integral part of the program is the development of
personal and professional skills which are required in today’s
world in order to integrate successfully into graduate studies
and achieve a professional career, and also to enrich the stu-
dents ’ personal and social lives.
Analysis of the content: How is the content distributed be-
tween theoretical knowledge and applied professional training?
a) Theoretical knowledge: There is a wide spectrum of sin-
gle-discipline and interdisciplinary theoretical knowledge-based
courses: 5 introductory courses, 14 required courses, 24 elec-
tives, 15 seminars and 8 from the professional cluster. Total: 66
courses or 66 percent of the structure.
b) Professional Qualifications: 4 required (professional skills)
and 30 (from professional cluster). Total: 34 courses or 34 per-
cent of the total.
Regarding “imparting of values” that appears in the Goals
Statement: None of the course syllabuses (in the structure)
makes mention of instilling values. Only the Experiential
Learning Program emphasizes volunteerism as a value and the
program is not even compulsory for all students.
The knowledge-as-consumer-goods approach, were only par-
tially reflect ed i n t he Scop e, and Con ten t sectio ns : Scope—only
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30% of the credits are dedicated to professional qualifications
(and 70% of theoretical knowledge); and Content—only 34%
of the courses are dedicated to professional qualifications (and
66% of theoretical knowledge).
The analysis of the courses provides interesting findings.
Although theoretical knowledge constitutes 70% of the credits
(scope) and 66% of the courses. Professional knowledge and
professional skills account only 25% of the scope and 34% of
the course content.
This information indicates that while the private college
adopts an approach that reflects the perception of knowledge as
consumer goods this is not reflected in the actual courses and
required credits with their traditional emphasis on theoretical
knowledge. Perhaps, then, the proclaimed goals of the college
reflect a desire to attract students by promising skills that will
enable them to succeed in the professional marketplace, even
though the curriculum does not carry through on these goals.
Summary: We analyzed the curriculum’s scope, and content
to determine whether they correspond to the stated goals. We
discovered that there is only a partial correspondence and that
to a large extent, the overall viewpoint of knowledge as con-
sumer goods is not reflected in the college curriculum. Thus we
deduce that Hypothesis 1 was only partially supported.
Hypothesis 2 was that the program graduates would express
great satisfaction with the curriculum regarding its contribution
to their professional skills and occupations.
Satisfaction with the Curriculum
We tried to examine the extent to which the goals and objec-
tives were achieved among those graduates who are already
working, and to evaluate the contribution of their studies to
their respective professions. We asked: Which courses contri-
buted to your professional skills? All the courses that were
noted ( there was no restriction on the number of courses)—521
(were divided into two categories. First category: micro courses
that focus on the individual in groups and organizations; and
second category: macro courses that focus on society as a
whole. The following courses were also included: professional
clusters, professional skills and the Experiential Learning Pro-
The results, as shown in Table 1 , indicate that the manage-
ment courses contribute the most to professional skills, about
38%. It should be noted that most of the students in the Beha-
vioral S cien ces Scho ol ch oose t he manage ment clu ster, and that
fewer students choose the other clusters. Second place, about
31%, was assigned by the graduates to courses focusing on the
The second category classified the courses according to the
Goal model: theoretical knowledge, which includes both sin-
gle-discipline and interdisciplinary knowledge, cluster and
professional skills. Here, too, the cluster courses contributed
more to professional skills, about 51% (as shown in Table 2).
Although this figure is reasonable, theoretical knowledge
courses (single-discipline and interdisciplinary courses) contri-
buted about 42%, which is also high. Evidently, the graduates
attributed their professional skills to the combination of pro-
fessional qualification courses and theoretical knowledge
We also asked whether their studies had contributed to the
graduat es’ social and personal skills. Here we received 323
courses compared to 521 courses that contributed to profess-
Cours es that have contributed to professional skills.
Category Frequency Relative Frequency
Individual 161 30.90
Gro up s a n d Organizations 6 1.15
Society 53 10.17
Experiential Learning 12 2.30
Communications 18 3.45
Criminology 18 3.45
Manage ment 196 37.62
Learning Skills 32 6.14
Did Not Contribute/Not Relevant 25 4.80%
Total 521 100.00%
Courses that have c ontributed to professi onal skills.
Course Frequency Relative Frequency in Percent
Clusters 100 50.76
Learning/Professional Skills 14 7.11
Interdisciplinary Knowledge 21 10.66
Total 197 100.00
sional skills. Out of these, the courses that focus on the indi-
vidual are the greatest contributors to social and personal skills,
about 47%, followed by courses that focus on organizations and
society, about 19% (as shown in Table 3). The Experiential
learning Program, even though it entails a limited number of
course hours and is optional for the students, accumulated a
fairly high rating for contribution to social and personal skills,
Another question examined the contribution of the curricu-
lum to general knowledge and to analytical ability and evalua-
tion skills. The results indicate that the curriculum contributed
greatly to the graduates’ theoretical knowledge. Of the respon-
dents, 76% reported a great or a very great contribution to
knowledge and 57% reported a great or a very great contribu-
tion to analytical ability. A majority of 59% reported that the
curriculum’s courses contributed greatly to their abilities to
express themselves orally and in writing. A similar number,
60%, reported the curriculum’s great contribution to interper-
sonal relations—personal skills. Overall, 70% of the graduates
expressed high or very high levels of satisfaction with the
Thus the results of the survey lead to a very interesting con-
clusion, in which the graduates expressed a high level of satis-
faction with the curriculum and its goals (even though the cur-
riculum places less emphasis on professional qualifications than
does the Goal Statement). Apparently, the graduates related to
the curriculum as a whole and expressed satisfaction with the
OPEN ACCESS 101
Cou r ses that contributed to social/personal skills.
Category Frequency Relative Frequency
Individual 152 47.06
Groups and organizations 11 3.4 1
Society 50 15.48
Experiential learning 45 13.93
Communications 12 3.72
Criminology 4 1.24
Manage ment 34 10.53
Learning skills 2 0.62
Did not contribute/not relevant 13 4.02
coursework devoted to knowledge as well as the courses that
contribute to developing their professional skills. A closer,
more precise examination, however, shows that a preference
exists for those disciplines that contribute to professional and
The professional clusters contribute to professional qualifica-
tions while the single-discipline theoretical knowledge courses
reinforce those skills and contribute significantly to social and
personal skills. The Experiential Learning Program brings to-
gether all these contributions to the professional and personal
These findings support Hypothesis 2: that graduates will
evaluate the success or failu re of the curricul um accordin g t o its
contribution to their acquisition of professional qualifications
and skil ls. The explan ation lies at th e very essence of th e beha-
vioral sciences: that theoretical knowledge in this interdiscipli-
nary field contributes indirectly to professions involving con-
tact with human beings. Professional qualifications contribute
directly to these professions, but knowledge in all its varied
facets (theoretical and applied), raises the professional level of
those who work with people.
The expansion of higher education in industrial nations and
its greater accessibility to the layperson raises the question: Is
higher education directed toward the needs of the student-con-
sumer, and are curricula constructed according to the profes-
sional demands of the employment market? Higher education
that attempts to fulfill the needs of the student-consumer,
evolves from the perception of knowledge as consumer goods.
This situation is what differentiates the private college from
the university; the latter places a greater emphasis on theoreti-
cal knowledge while the private college tries to fulfill the stu-
dents’ desires and offer them the applied knowledge they will
need for their careers. This study evaluates the curriculum that
leads to a B.A. degree in behavioral science at a large, estab-
lished and prestigious private college in Israel.
The college’s behavioral science curriculum is extremely
popular; 280 - 3 00 student s register for it each year, while on ly
about one-third that number register for the analogous program
in an Israeli univer sity every year.
Does the curricula reflect the perception of knowledge as
consumer goods? In other words, is the centrality of acquiring
theoretical knowledge relinquished in favor of acquiring pro-
fession al and perso nal skills? Do thes e goals reflect ideology or
a professional perception?
The findings which are based on content analysis of docu-
ments and a survey of 250 graduates regarding the curriculum,
show interesting results.
An analysis of the scope and the contents of the curriculum
(that is, the contents of the actual cour ses) indicat e that they are
not affected by the perception of knowledge as goods. Thus, 62%
of the scope and contents are devoted to theoretical knowledge,
38% to skills, and nothing to values—in stark contradistinction
to the Goals St atement.
This finding is very interesting and perhaps explains what
happens when private colleges adopt the knowledge-as-con -
sumer-goods approach as part of their marketing strategy
(Heckman & Montera, 2001) and attempt to direct their State-
ment to the needs of the consumer (Dailey et al., 2006; Overton
et al., 2008). The stated goals and d eclarations maybe constitute
a type of “packaging” for the product, the bachelor’s degree in
behavioral science. Those who are interested in this degree,
check the “packaging” to help them choose the college that suits
their pu rposes. These pot ential stud ents are not r eally interest ed
in the acquisition of theoretical knowledge; instead, they want
to acquire the training and professional skills that will enable
them to integrate into the workforce. Thus, applicants are often
encou raged to choo se a private coll ege because it offers Profes-
sional Cluster courses, but they do not necessarily examine the
curriculum to see what proportion the skill-based courses con-
stitute (Fuqia n, 2006).
Thus, the study’s findings regarding the influence of the
knowledge-as-consumer-goods approach on the scope, and
content of the curriculum, pointed to a possible inconsistency.
Despite the emphasis placed on applied information and pro-
fessional qualifications in the Goals Statement, theoretical
knowledge still received the lion’s share of coursework in con-
trast to professional qualifications. How do we explain this
In contrast to technological professions (such as engineering,
business administration, etc.) whose study-programs train stu-
dents for the relevant professional occupations, the behavioral
sciences ar e a ver y broad, inter discipl inary field compri sed of a
variety of theoretical and applied subjects with no one well-
defined professional occupation. Therefore, it is questionable
whether a behavioral science curriculum would, indeed, be
affected by the knowledge-as-consumer-goods approach. But
our research supported our hypothesis that the knowledge-as-
consumer-goods approach does affect the behavioral science
curriculum, mainly in the following three aspects:
First of all, the Behavioral Sciences Department offers pro-
fession al cluster electi ves, i n additio n to the general b ehavioral
science classes. This structure gives professional guidance and
orientation to the students, and does not exist in traditional
university studies. These clusters are in addition to the “trad i-
tional” theoretical studies typical of behavioral science depart-
ments. The School also offers an Experiential Learning Pro-
gram, offering students hands-on volunteer work (though it is
not mandatory). Thus, the clusters (and Experiential Program
when applicable) are very important in preparing the students
for future careers and giving them the professional qualifica-
tions they need, despite the fact that these courses comprise
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only a small proportion of the overall curriculum.
Second, the Behavioral Sciences School takes an active role
in obtaining feedback from its graduates about their level of
satisfaction with the curriculum, regarding the curriculum’s
contribution to their professional qualifications and occupations.
The results of the questionnaire show that the graduates were
highly satisfied with the curriculum according to this measure.
It is important to address the issue of theoretical knowledge
within the sphere of the behavioral sciences field. The beha-
vioral sci ences are interdisci plinary and includ e the do mains o f
sociology, psychology, anthropology and philosophy. It aims to
enrich knowledge about the human being and about human
interaction with society. Thus, theoretical knowledge is, in
effect, professional training for this field. Even those subjects
that focus on theoretical knowledge, help prepare the students
for their future careers in professions of the cluster groups:
management, criminology and communication. Thus, even so-
called t heo reti cal su bjects ar e no less i mpor tan t in p rep aring th e
student for a career in any field that involves human interaction.
Private colleges realize this fact and thus continue to provide
the requisite theoretical knowledge basis, while they simulta-
neously adopt the knowledge-as-consumer-goods approach in
their Goals Statement to attract students and make their pro-
grams as attractive as possible. But although it is true that pri-
vate colleges want to attract l arge numbers o f student s, they are
also careful about creating and maintaining good reputations
over the years; they know that successful graduates are their
best advertisements. So when they create their curricula, they
are careful to include the traditional academic subjects and
theoretical knowledge-based courses, as the universities do.
Then, they may add professional clusters and the like (for pro-
fessions such as Organizational Behavior and Human-Re-
sources Management, Criminology, and Communications). In
short, though colleges tend to emphasize the knowledge-as-
consumer-goods approach in their Goal Statements offered to
appli cant s, th ey are often ab le to accompl ish the dual ob jectives
of providing both theoretical and applied knowledge-based
courses, for the best of both worlds.
Thus we deduce that the behavioral science curriculum is
partially affected by the knowledge-as-consumer-goods ap-
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