The engagement culture at many community colleges is viewed as limited because of the existence of barriers that are less common at four-year institutions. Such barriers include: commuting to and from campus, obligations to family, and work outside of school. Much of the literature on student engagement blames community college students for low levels of engagement, but what is commonly overlooked in these arguments are students’ own definitions, beliefs, and applications of engagement. It is imperative to consider community college students’ narratives in student engagement research in order to create and facilitate equitable engagement opportunities, reflect on current institutional practices, and explore better ways to serve students with diverse engagement experiences. This study used grounded theory as a framework to examine the lived experiences of 11 community college students from an urban community college in the Midwest. Participants were asked to discuss their understandings and applications of engagement in interviews. Implications for practice and research, as well as an informal theory of community college engagement will be explored.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. June 2017. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Karen Miksch. 1 computer file (PDF): vi, 66 pages.
Engagement Means...: Community College Students' Understandings and Applications of Engagement.
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