Summary: Our goal in developing this new ASHE Reader was to provide a contextualized picture of community colleges, having their own history, their own place within the contemporary higher education system, and their own future trajectory. Our selections of readings do not place community colleges on a pedestal, nor do they attempt to condemn. They offer a rich array of perspectives, theoretical frameworks and research-based evidence drawn from quantitative and qualitative inves ...show moretigations to give readers a fuller understanding of these distinctive and increasingly pivotal institutions of higher education.
This Reader is different from any other ASHE Reader because it focuses on a specific institutional type--the community college. One of the reasons this book is so necessary is because other readers that focus on higher education generally include few selections on community colleges, despite their enormous contribution to the higher education enterprise in the U.S. and their growing importance internationally. In fact, these institutions are barely visible in the core higher education journals (Townsend, Bragg, & Kinnick, 2002; Townsend, Donaldson, & Wilson, 2005). Thus, this Reader on community colleges is an important means to convey information about this institution to higher
education scholars as well as practitioners.
The literature acknowledges the continuing evolution that has characterized the community college from its beginning. Far more than 13 years ago when the last ASHE Reader on the community college was compiled, the current literature continues historical, conceptual, and empirical work that enriches and deepens knowledge of these two-year institutions. Less afraid to question or critique than in earlier days, this literature offers greater depth and meaningful insights pertaining to organizational goals and structures, philosophical stances and viewpoints, curricular missions, and the characteristics and perspectives of faculty and students who are or should be engaged.
To best illustrate community colleges' present form and emphasize their currency, this book draws upon a few classic scholarly pieces but concentrates mostly on cutting-edge empirical research and valuable thought pieces. Our intent is to remind readers of what community colleges used to be and to give them a deeper and richer understanding of what the community college is becoming in the 21st century. Except for a couple of exceptional classic pieces, all selections in this Reader were published no earlier than 1995, and, in fact, well over half of the writings were published since 2000. A variety of research approaches as well as a diversity of voices and perspectives was chosen purposefully, ranging from structural functionalists to critical theorists. Though impossible to include all of the literature relevant to portraying the community college as it is now and how it may be in the future, the selections contained herein represent a sampling of some of the most valued knowledge and perspectives on the community college written to date.
This book is designed for two major audiences: (1) faculty and graduate students in courses that focus on the community college, and (2) individual scholars and practitioners who are interested in an overview of the community college. Master's and doctoral programs for general higher education administrators, community college faculty and administrators, and student affairs administrators can use the Reader to supplement various higher education courses. If used in a course that focuses specifically on the community college, it can be used in conjunction with the standard textbook for an introductory course on the community college such as Cohen and Brawer's (2003) The American Community College. Other texts that are likely companion texts are W. Norton Grubb's (1999), Honored but Invisible, and Barbara Townsend and Susan Twombly's (2001), Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context. Because we anticipate these texts to be used by faculty offering graduateinstruction on the community college, we chose not to include chapters from these volumes.Instead, we urge graduate faculty to use these texts because of their high compatibility with this book.
For the second group of individual scholars and practitioners, scholars new to the study of community colleges can learn about major issues dominating the study of community colleges and the diverse perspectives from which the institutions are viewed. Practitioners such as members of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), and community college faculty and administrators can use the book to become acquainted with current research on the institutions in which they work. They can benefit from reading and understanding the wide range of perspectives associated with community colleges, from highly critical to neutral to complimentary. They can understand and appreciate more fully that not all research finds fault with the community college nor is the research consistently laudatory. ...show less