This qualitative research study explored eleven community college educational leaders' perceptions about the essence of lifelong learning as it pertained to their personal experiences and as it related to their administrative practices in community college settings in southern California. Few scholarly studies have examined the meaning educational practitioners ascribe to the concept of lifelong learning within diverse community college settings offering credit and noncredit programs. Data was collected primarily through a series of participant interviews using Seidman's interview protocol. Data was analyzed using hermeneutic phenomenology, which involved the researcher in repeated cycles of meaning construction. Six phenomenological themes emerged: (a) participants responded to changes in their lives, whether internal or external, by pursuing learning opportunities as a way of coping with change; (b) participants developed a positive orientation to lifelong learning which they initiated, developed, or sustained through meaningful interpersonal relationships; (c) participants associated learning with empowerment which compelled them to pursue educational opportunities repeatedly; (d) participants' framed lifelong learning as a purposeful journey focused on self understanding and self-fulfillment; (e) participants recognized the transformative power of lifelong learning and advocated for the integration of a lifelong learning approaches within community college cultures; and (f) participants pointed to organizational obstacles that need to be addressed so that lifelong learning approaches could prevail in their community colleges. The study also identified a divergence of views between community college leaders and legislative policies. Educational leaders framed student success as a developmental process while state policies measured student success by a narrow set of criteria identifying students as either transfer, degree, or certificate students. Educational leaders expressed genuine concern that lifelong learning may become a footnote in community college missions in California community colleges because the state legislature does not understand the challenges associated with noncredit offerings and because concerns about noncredit programs have been deliberately omitted from higher education policy discussions.
|School:||California State University, Fullerton|
|Department:||Educational Leadership - Community College Leadership|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 73/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, Adult education, Higher education|
|Keywords:||California, Community college, Leadership perception, Lifelong learning, Organizational culture, Phenomenology|
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