Thursday, March 12, 2015

Developmental Stages of Community Colleges and Their Employees That Emerge as a Result of Offering an Applied Baccalaureate Degree

Suzanne I. Ames, School of Educational Leadership for Change

Complex, changing demands of the workforce are placing pressure on higher education to respond to the needs of local communities more than ever before (Boggs, 2012; Carnevale, Smith, & Strohl, 2010; Floyd & Walker, 2005; McKinney & Morris, 2010; Ruud, Bragg, & Townsend, 2010; Walker, 2005). Coming out of a recession, many state and national leaders are looking to community colleges to help stabilize the economy. Across the country, community colleges are starting applied baccalaureate degrees (BAS) as a way to provide workers with greater skills and knowledge.

BAS degrees combine associate-level job preparation training with advanced thinking and technical skills. Research shows support for these degrees from employers and graduates (Grothe, 2009; Manias, 2007; Shah, 2010). Skeptics question whether community colleges are moving away from their mission of open access and the caliber of the degrees (Cook, 2000; Manzo, 2001; Pederson, 2001).

This dissertation focuses on the first four colleges piloting applied baccalaureate degrees in Washington state. Transcendental phenomenology (Husserl, 1927; Moustakas, 1994) is used to determine the ways a BAS changed employees and colleges. Developmental models are presented in this dissertation to demonstrate changes experienced by employees and colleges. As employees grow and change by experiencing and living through a new phenomenon, they change as humans. As a result, they change the organizations within which they work. This dissertation provides three developmental models: (a) creation of a BAS, (b) stakeholder development, and (c) changes in colleges as a result of employees’ work.

The program development model describes the process of creating a BAS, from determining a need in the community to assuring that a sound financial model supports the degree. Stakeholder developmental models are created for presidents, faculty, student services staff, library directors, and administrative services staff. Common experiences across stakeholder groups include a recommitment to the community college mission and increased pride in their work and their college. Developmental stages of colleges include higher caliber students and a greater level of respect by the community. Together, these developmental stages inform colleges and policymakers contemplating whether to create a BAS, and provide a guide for the effects on internal and external communities.

Key words: community college, applied baccalaureate degree, higher education