|Abstract or Summary
- Today's community colleges are challenged to respond to rapidly
changing internal and external environments. Their responses must promote highly
responsive and relevant programs and services, while keeping intact the strengths
of community colleges--access, student success, and a focus on teaching and
learning. Further, these responses must occur in the context of rising costs,
decreasing revenues, and increased accountability. Accrediting agencies are
requiring colleges to more effectively respond to change by implementing
improved planning processes. The research literature on higher education planning
suggests faculty are a key constituency to engage in planning efforts. However,
little is written about actual faculty experiences in planning.
This qualitative study was conducted to provide increased understanding of
how faculty at a large, suburban California community college experienced
developing discipline specific educational master plans (EMPs) in Spring 2001.
Using interactive qualitative analysis methodology, a seven-member faculty focus
group first identified the affinities (or themes) of their planning experience. These
affinities were used to develop interview questions for another 14 faculty members.
The 21 faculty participants were from a total of nine different instructional areas,
and had been identified as lead EMP contacts for their disciplines. Following its
collection, the data was analyzed to generate grounded theory about the faculty
The "Faculty EMP Experience Systems Theory" revealed the primary
driver of the faculty experience was their belief eligibility for future resources for
their disciplines was tied directly to their EMPs. This was followed by secondary
drivers of their past experiences with planning at the college, and the resources they
were given, or accessed, to complete their plans. Together, these three drivers
directly influenced how the planning work was done. The secondary outcomes of
the faculty experience developing EMPs included interpersonal effects of engaging
in the EMP process, and unanswered questions about what the administration
would actually do with their EMP work. Finally, the primary outcomes of the
faculty experience were their evaluation of the EMP processes and products
(plans), and the frustrations, if any, they experienced. This new theory suggests
implications for practice and further research.