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ERIC Number: ED524188
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 280
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1243-5244-2
ISSN: N/A
Teaching for Civic Capacity and Engagement: How Faculty Members Align Teaching and Purpose
Domagal-Goldman, Jennifer M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
Although higher education institutions in the United States have long claimed to teach for civic purposes, only recently have explicit goals related to the development of civic capacity and engagement been included in college and university curricula. The purpose of the study was to advance theoretical and practical understanding of the role of faculty participation in a campus-based professional development group on course planning and teaching for civic purposes. Two research questions guided the study: (1) How, if at all, does faculty participation in Although higher education institutions in the United States have long claimed to teach for civic purposes, only recently have explicit goals related to the development of civic capacity and engagement been included in college and university curricula. The purpose of the study was to advance theoretical and practical understanding of the role of faculty participation in a campus-based professional development group on course planning and teaching for civic purposes. Two research questions guided the study: (1) How, if at all, does faculty participation in the Public Scholarship Associates (PSA) group, a multidisciplinary, civic-engagement-oriented group of faculty, influence faculty members' learning about teaching and/or their teaching practice? (2) How, if at all, do faculty members at a research university align their undergraduate teaching practices with their implicit and/or explicit ideas about civic engagement as an educational purpose? Relying on qualitative research methodologies, the study explored whether and how participation in this voluntary group influenced faculty members' commitment to civic education as an educational purpose and their abilities to develop course plans congruent with their espoused civic purposes. Faculty members affiliated with the PSA group were invited to participate in the study. A purposeful sampling process sought to include faculty members from different disciplines and academic ranks. Fourteen faculty members representing 16 disciplines agreed to a series of three semi-structured interviews designed to explore personal, professional, and contextual influences on their course decisions regarding teaching for civic capacity and engagement. The empirical literature on course planning in higher education guided the study. The Contextual Filters Model of Faculty Course Planning (Stark, Lowther, Bentley, Ryan, Martens, Wren, & Shaw, 1990) provided a conceptual framework for the study, and a sociocultural perspective on learning shaped data collection and analysis (Greeno, 1997; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wertsch, del Rio, & Alvarez, 1995). Analysis occurred iteratively throughout and following the data collection period, and involved a combination of both inductive and deductive coding. Findings from the study yielded propositions for theory development to be tested through further research, and implications for faculty development and reward practices and policies. Analysis of the interview data indicates that the PSA group influenced participants' learning about civic education as well as their teaching for civic and community engagement. The extent of faculty members' participation in the PSA group appeared to strongly influence understanding of civic educational purposes and practices. The ways in which participants self-identified--for example, as activists or change agents--also appeared to influence their teaching for civic capacity and engagement both directly and indirectly. Nonetheless, personal experiences and professional backgrounds often served as the motivation or catalyst for their efforts to teach for civic capacity and engagement. These findings are consistent with the premises of a sociocultural perspective on learning. Participants in this study actively sought to align their course planning and teaching with the civic-educational purposes to which they ascribed, and did so while navigating a variety of contextual enablers and constraints. As might be expected in a research university the influence of the faculty reward systems, particularly the emphasis on research in promotion and tenure, appeared to be a strong influence on faculty decision making. The institutional context influenced PSA newcomers in particular, as they made decisions about how much time and energy to focus on their teaching for civic engagement. Overall, the premises of the contextual filters model were supported by the findings. Individual faculty described how their prior experiences and personal beliefs interacted with their beliefs about education to influence their decisions about how and what to teach. Beliefs about the place of civic education and public scholarship in participants' also influenced course planning--although in different ways depending on how participants assessed support for civic engagement in their academic field. Those who did not view their fields of study as supporting this engagement were, accordingly, more cautious about their involvement. The local (institutional) context also strongly influenced the decisions participants made about their courses, in keeping with the premises of the model. The research setting and the focus on civic engagement as a learning outcome for students, however, revealed influences that were not particularly strong in the studies from which the contextual filters model was derived: institutional mission, reward structures, and the influence of local community characteristics and needs. In addition, the study suggested that there is more interaction among the content and context influences than specified in the original model. I conclude this dissertation by offering for a series of propositions for theory development and recommendations for future research based on the findings of this study. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States