Risk-taking propensity of faculty, administrators, and academic department heads at a large, urban, multi-campus community college

Lois Hanson Bolton, Florida International University


This research was undertaken to explore dimensions of the risk construct, identify factors related to risk-taking in education, and study risk propensity among employees at a community college. Risk-taking propensity (RTP) was measured by the 12-item BCDQ, which consisted of personal and professional risk-related situations balanced for the money, reputation, and satisfaction dimensions of the risk construct. Scoring ranged from 1.00 (most cautious) to 6.00 (most risky). Surveys including the BCDQ and seven demographic questions relating to age, gender, professional status, length of service, academic discipline, highest degree, and campus location were sent to faculty, administrators, and academic department heads. A total of 325 surveys were returned, resulting in a 66.7% response rate. Subjects were relatively homogeneous for age, length of service, and highest degree. Subjects were also homogeneous for risk-taking propensity: no substantive differences in RTP scores were noted within and among demographic groups, with the possible exception of academic discipline. The mean RTP score for all subjects was 3.77, for faculty was 3.76, for administrators was 3.83, and for department heads was 3.64. The relationship between propensity to take personal risks and propensity to take professional risks was tested by computing Pearson r correlation coefficients. The relationships for the total sample, faculty, and administrator groups were statistically significant, but of limited practical significance. Subjects were placed into risk categories by dividing the response scale into thirds. A 3 x 3 factorial ANOVA revealed no interaction effects between professional status and risk category with regard to RTP score. A discriminant analysis showed that a seven-factor model was not effective in predicting risk category. The homogeneity of the study sample and the effect of a risk-encouraging environment were discussed in the context of the community college. Since very little data on risk-taking in education is available, risk propensity data from this study could serve as a basis for comparison to future research. Results could be used by institutions to plan professional development activities, designed to increase risk-taking and encourage active acceptance of change.

Subject Area

Community colleges|School administration|Higher education|Occupational psychology

Recommended Citation

Bolton, Lois Hanson, "Risk-taking propensity of faculty, administrators, and academic department heads at a large, urban, multi-campus community college" (1997). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9813419.