Framing Students: A Study of Institutional Agents at For-Profit and Community Colleges
AuthorCampbell, Courtney Ann
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, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation explores the daily lives of student services personnel at for-profit and community colleges by inquiring into how they frame the students they work with and whose interests they articulate themselves as serving. Student services personnel are tasked with serving students but must do so within the context and structure in which they work. This research determines whether there are differences between for-profit and community colleges in how student services personnel frame students and whose interests they see themselves serving. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 38 student services personnel at 2 for-profit colleges and 2 community colleges. Drawing on Stanton-Salazar’s (2011) definition of institutional agent and Lipsky’s (2010) work on street-level bureaucrats, this research extends the term institutional agent by expanding the definition to include five agent typologies: student agent, corporate agent, employer agent, disciplinary agent, and positional agent. This dissertation concludes that there are differences in the frequency with which agent typologies in each college sector occur and that the structure of a college and a student services personnel’s role within the college have meaning for how personnel frame students and whose interests they articulate serving. In addition, student services personnel act as policy-makers in their interactions with students by determining which students are deserving of their time and effort. At community college one might expect bureaucratic hurdles and time constraints to interfere with how institutional agents serve students, but I also find that institutional agents frame students in a way that allows them to determine when to help students navigate policy “gray area” and when to abide by policy guidelines. Despite the negative attention for problematic practices at for-profit colleges, one might expect the structure of for-profit colleges to closely align with an institutional agent’s position in serving students. I find that institutional agents at for-profit colleges often do work with the structure of their college to serve students, but also often shift responsibility for students not succeeding to variables outside of the institution’s control.
Degree ProgramGraduate College