Shaping Fuzzy Goals through Teacher-Student Interaction: A Detailed Look at Communication between Community College Faculty and Transfer Students
AuthorLeonard, Diana Kay
Keywordscommunity college faculty
community college transfer students
social and academic integration
Committee ChairDeil-Amen, Regina
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractSHAPING FUZZY GOALS THROUGH TEACHER-STUDENT INTERACTION: A DETAILED LOOK AT THE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE FACULTY AND TRANSFER STUDENTS by Diana K. Leonard Faculty-student interactions have been largely neglected in the research regarding community colleges and community college transfer students. Yet faculty serve as points of institutional contact, and might also serve a central role in student experiences and decision-making. The purpose of this study was to increase our understanding of the dynamics and interactions that impact student experiences and decisions regarding transfer at the community college and to understand how those interactions contributed to goal formation. Symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969) provided a framework to guide the mixed-methods approach, which was primarily qualitative, utilizing online surveys and personal interviews to investigate students' interpretations of the student-teacher interactions. Quantitative data analysis measured teacher influence. 429 students who successfully transferred to a Research I university in the southwest, from in-state community colleges completed the survey. Ten students from this pool, subsequently interviewed, reflected various levels of uncertainty in their goals to transfer. These uncertain goals were termed "fuzzy" goals.In addition to symbolic interactionism as a framework, Stanton-Salazar's (1997) concept of institutional agents, supported with Bourdieu's (1977) cultural and social capital and Tinto's (1975) theory of social and academic integration were used to guide this study. Findings illustrated that students did utilize their teachers as institutional agents, who provided them with cultural knowledge and facilitated their understanding of procedures and processes through active as well as passive teacher-agency. Five themes emerged in students' interpretation of the student-teacher interactions: support, motivation, guidance, inspiration, and modeling. All had varying effects on students' uncertainty and contributed to shaping their fuzzy goals and to their social and academic integration into academe.This study can inform our understanding of the well-known gap in BA attainment between students who begin at a community college intending to transfer and students who begin at a four-year institution. Further, this study can inform strategic planning geared toward supporting teachers more fully in their role as institutional agents conveying social and cultural capital to students to increase their leverage for success once they transfer to the university.
Degree ProgramHigher Education