Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educ Foundations & Leadership

Program/Concentration

Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh

Committee Member

Dennis Gregory

Abstract

The President’s Commission on Higher Education (1947) firmly established civic engagement as a principle function of higher education. The report emphasized college-level learning as a democratic function by producing informed, active citizens essential to the future of American democracy. Chickering (2008) argued the United States faced a critical lack of engaged citizenship and in A Crucible Moment (2012), this concern was declared an outright emergency. In recent years many colleges and universities have re-embraced civic engagement as an important component of general education. Although the establishment of community colleges was a direct result of the Truman Commission’s report, the literature concerning civic engagement in general education at community colleges is limited. As community college leaders develop strategies for implementing civic learning in general education, understanding faculty and administrators’ perceptions of civic engagement in general education is imperative.

This preliminary and exploratory study examined community college faculty and administrators’ perceptions of civic engagement in general education. A multi-methods research design was utilized to combine both quantitative and qualitative methods to more comprehensively explore the educational phenomenon under study. For the quantitative inquiry, a non-experimental survey was employed to describe current trends in community college faculty and administrators’ perceptions of and attitudes toward civic engagement in general education. A total of 274 respondents completed the survey. The distribution included 88 part-time faculty, 128 full-time faculty, and 58 administrators. For the qualitative inquiry, the phenomenological research tradition was utilized to explore participants’ lived experiences with civic engagement and civic learning in general education. A total of 30 interviews were conducted. The sample included 15 faculty participants and 15 administrators from a diverse set of disciplines and administrative positions. Survey respondents and interview participants belonged to a single statewide community college system recently adopting civic engagement as a core competency in general education.

Survey results and interview findings indicated faculty and administrators perceived civic engagement to be an important component of general education. Particularly, interview participants suggested community colleges have the responsibility to produce informed, active citizens prepared to effectively engage in a democratic society. Additionally, based on the results of a series of one-way ANOVA statistical tests conducted from the survey data, there were no statistically differences between part-time faculty, full-time faculty, and administrators in their perceptions of and attitudes toward civic engagement in general education. Major implications in the current study suggest community college leaders should focus on prioritization and intentionality, student accessibility, leadership, community outreach, and professional development when strategizing for civic engagement in general education.

DOI

10.25777/h40q-ym58

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