Increasing a community college governing board's engagement In accountability for student success : what are the principal influences?
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Understanding the factors that influence a community college governing board to increase its engagement in accountability for student success was the purpose of this grounded theory case study. A further aim was to develop a model that described how these factors interact. A highly engaged community college governing board, as defined by a focus, perspective, infrastructure, and behavior that identified student success as a priority, was selected and studied to learn what were the principle influences on their engagement in student success. Eight factors were identified initially that influenced the governing board’s interest in student success: Board Characteristics, Changing External Context, Achieving the Dream, Board Roles and Responsibilities, Board Culture, College Role and Purpose, Changing Internal Context, and Student Success. Another factor, Administrative Leadership, also influenced the governing board’s engagement and was added to the final model. Two models emerged from the data: a six factor model that describes how a board becomes engaged in student success and a model incorporating all eight influences that describes governing with a student success agenda already in place. Key findings included the importance of an external emphasis on improving student outcomes at the state and national level; the need for board education on their fiduciary responsibility for ensuring academic quality; and the value of an outside change agent. In this case study, Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count, served as the catalyst for change in the governing board’s engagement in student success. The Achieving the Dream Board of Trustees Institute, which educated board members about their roles and responsibilities related to student success, shifted board members’ perspectives and understanding and began the board’s interest in governing with student success as a priority.