Reflections on change : a community-college faculty perspective Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/sx61dq71s

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  • This phenomenological research study focused on educational change as perceived by 16 Liberal Arts faculty members at a Pacific Northwest community college. Research data were collected through in-depth dialogic interviews and a follow-up dialogue session with six participants. The principal guiding research questions comprised the following: 1) What is the context of the community college? The institution is facing severe budgetary restrictions, widening diversity of students, the implementation of new technologies and distance learning, changing faculty and administrator roles, competition from the private sector, and the redefining of the community college role. 2) What is the background of the faculty participants? In the past, faculty have experienced a collegial culture and a shared sense of purpose, which no longer seems to exist. Their values are deeply connected to the social responsibilities of education and student needs, which they feel is at odds with the trend toward commodification of education. 3) What are faculty's perceptions of change and its effects? Change is constant; and instructors adapt incrementally. Mandated changes are seen to have fuzzy meanings and hidden agendas, which sometimes go against the core values of higher education. 4) What do faculty want? Faculty want to wrestle with the issues and solutions for dealing with change collaboratively, and they need the time and space to do so. They also want administrators to hear their voice, and to include faculty priorities in educational decision-making. Faculty participants had clear ideas on ways that would make the implementation of change more successful and meaningful in their lives and in the future of their community college: 1) Make change for a worthy or merited purpose. 2) Listen to what faculty have to say. 3) Allow faculty to wrestle with the challenges. 4) Provide faculty with support and recognition. 5) Keep student needs as a central priority. 6) Maintain the human values and social purpose of education. Most important, faculty feel that the human element cannot be discounted or forgotten in the rush to transform higher education, for faculty are the ones charged with the implementation of most change initiatives and they must deal with the consequences.
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