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 March 2007 • NIRSA news and information
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How do directors and students view internships differently?

Preview a new study coming in the April 2007 issue of the Recreational Sports Journal 
Rrecreational Sports Journal

An increase in research on the director position is emerging in the recreational sports field. In recent issues of the Recreational Sports Journal, for example, Styles and Mulrooney (2005) considered recreational sports directors and risk management, while Schneider et al. (2006) looked at the types of things directors sought in new hires. Milton (2002) studied the behavior and attitude of the effective recreational sports director.

Another important and well-conceived study of the recreational sports director position will appear in the April 2007 Recreational Sports Journal. This investigation, conducted by Dr. Craig Ross of Indiana University and Dr. Brent Beggs of Illinois State University, looks at the differences in perception on certain aspects of recreational sports management internships between recreational sports directors and senior level students in a study titled “Campus Recreational Sports Internships: A Comparison of Student and Employer Perspectives.”

It is easy to imagine that differences in perspectives would exist between directors and senior level undergraduate students in regard to internships. The study explored differences in four categories:

  1. role of the internship experience
  2. role of the internship agency
  3. intern abilities
  4. factors in selecting an internship

The authors modified Knemeyer and Murphy’s (2002) instrument and developed 48 items across the four categories to test for differences in perceptions between directors and students. Reliability of the modified instrument was found to be 0.91 using Cronbach’s Alpha. The researchers reported a 27% rate of response among the directors, while students were selected based on several factors, the most important of which was that they identified themselves as majoring in recreational sports management. On these criteria, 58 students participated in the study.

The statistical analysis employed to test for differences in perception was multiple t-test comparison. The alpha level was set at .05, but due to the use of multiple comparisons, a Bonferroni correction was employed, causing the alpha level to be reduced to .001.

The investigation found that in the category “Role of the Internship Experience,” directors and students differed on whether interns should aid their employing agencies in selecting employees, whether internships should provide seasonal employees for the agency, whether internships should be paid, and whether internships should count toward grade-point average.

In the category “Role of the Internship Agency,” students and directors differed on the issue of whether the agency should provide the intern with full-time employment at the conclusion of the internship. Students were more likely to indicate that the agency should provide an intern with full-time employment.

In the category “Intern Abilities,” significant differences were found between students and directors in their responses to the programming skills and the supervising skills of interns. Directors indicated that interns were not as strong in their supervisory and programming skills as the students said they were.

Finally, in the category “Selecting an Internship,” directors and student differed significantly in their responses to two of the five items. First, directors and students differed significantly in their response to whether a student should select an agency that was likely to offer the student full-time employment at the conclusion of the internship. Students were more likely to respond that an agency should be selected on that basis. Second, students were also more likely than directors to respond that an internship should be selected based on benefits such as housing and remuneration.

Overall, students and directors were in agreement with most of the items on the survey instrument. In fact, there were significant differences found in nine of the 48 items. Still, the study identified some discrepancies between the perceptions of students and directors regarding recreational sports internships. As stated in the article, “In order to achieve a quality internship experience… it is important for both parties to have comparable goals and expectations for the internship…. Having a better understanding of these expectations and responsibilities… serves as an excellent way to ensure both are met by the completion of the internship.”

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