The community college faculty experience at a comprehensive early college high school : a qualitative study
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As advocates of the open door policy, community colleges participate in innovative partnerships that strive to increase access to college and opportunity. Since 2002, community colleges have collaborated with public schools to establish the Early College High School (ECHS) partnership. Through this unique partnership, community colleges have expanded access to – and improved the educational outcomes of – underserved student populations by enabling them to take college courses while still in high school. Primary literature on the Early College High School Initiative has examined the program’s organizational design; performance; students; and high school faculty experiences. Yet, since research on Early College High School is still in the nascent stage, little is known about the impact of specific model designs and the community college faculty members who teach therein. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of community college faculty who taught at an urban, comprehensive ECHS. The researcher conducted this qualitative research through the utilization of phenomenology and Weick’s Sensemaking conceptual framework. The data collected for this study revealed five emergent themes related to the community college faculty experience: Faculty Backgrounds, Programming, Place, Instruction, and Relationships. The findings from this study acknowledged that: community college faculty members’ personal and professional backgrounds influenced their preparation for teaching at the comprehensive ECHS; the comprehensive ECHS programming design influenced how faculty members made sense of their experiences; the place, and instructional space, at the comprehensive ECHS influenced faculty members’ instructional experiences; faculty members’ ECHS instructional experiences influenced their overall instructional methods; and faculty members’ relationships with students, college personnel, and ECHS personnel were vital to their instructional experiences. This study advanced the knowledge, theory, and practice of community college faculty members’ experiences at the urban, comprehensive ECHS. The researcher developed recommendations for community colleges, P-12 partners, and policymakers invested in the ECHS program and the comprehensive ECHS model.