Course Title: The Role and Function of the American Community College in Higher Education

        Instructor Professor Berta Vigil Laden
       Institution Vanderbilt University
Office Number 615.322.8000
E-mail address

Course Introduction and Objectives

Using a seminar format, EDLS 3840 focuses on the two-year college, known as the comprehensive public community college, in the United States. Other types of two-year institutions, such as private junior colleges and special focus colleges, such as single sex, religious, tribal, Black, and Hispanic serving, are included. The purpose of the course is to develop knowledge and understanding of the nature, philosophy, and historical evolution of the American community college and its role and function in higher education.. The course provides a perspective on the educational, economic, political, and social forces that have influenced the development of this unique and particularly American postsecondary institution and those that continue to shape its future. Attention also focuses on the organizational patterns, curricular programs, student and community services, and current issues and trends that are part of the community college.

Specific objectives in this course include:

1. Develop an understanding of the community college, its mission(s), programs, organization, clienteles, and its role in American higher education.

2. Identify the historical, educational, social events and forces which influence the development and expansion of the community college.

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the community collegeŐs organizational patterns, financial structures, and governance at the state and local levels.

4. Become familiar with the varied curricular programs and services provided by the community college.

5. Develop an awareness of the nature, special needs, and interest of the community college student and the various clienteles of this educational organization.

6. Explore the educational preparation and continuing education of community college faculty and administrative leaders.

7. Gain awareness of the linkages and barriers that affect student movement through the postsecondary educational system and its place within the K-graduate school pipeline.

8. Become familiar with and analyze the current trends and issues affecting the community college as well as consider emerging and future trends and issues.

Required Readings

Cohen, Arthur M. & Brawer, Florence B. (1996). The American Community College (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publisher.

Palmer, James C. & Katsinas, Stephen G. (1996). Graduate and Continuing Education for Community College Leaders: What It Means Today. New Directions in Community Colleges. 95 (Fall). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Ratcliff, James L. (Ed.) (1994) Community Colleges. ASHE Reader Series. (3rd ed.) Lexington: Ginn Press.

Rhoads, Robert A. & Valadez, James R. (1996). Democracy, Multiculturalism, and the Community College. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.

Townsend, Barbara K. (Ed.) (1995). Gender and Power in the Community College. New Directions in Community Colleges. 89 (Spring). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Method of Instruction and Course Expectations

The course employs a variety of instructional approaches, including guest speakers and visits to several community colleges. A successful experience also relies on studentsŐ attendance, preparation, full participation, and active discussion at each session. Course requirements include written and oral assignments involving group and individual work and in-class presentations. Student evaluation is based on appropriate graduate-level analysis.

1. Class Participation. Active involvement in the class is expected in a manner that demonstrates thoughtful reflection and understanding of the subject matter as well as respect for the opinions and perspectives of peers. The course will only be as worthwhile as we are all willing to make it as active participants in facilitating the teaching and learning of each member of the group. Seminar format is used in course to faciliate greater participation and collaborative teaching and learning.

2. Readings. Completion of all assigned readings prior to coming to class is expected. There will be some additional readings to be distributed during the semester which are not listed in the syllabus.

3. Reading Critiques and Presentations. A selection from the assigned readings is to be made at the beginning of the course. Each student is responsible for leading the maximum one hour discussion on a selection at the appropriate time as indicated in the syllabus. A brief (10-15 minute) oral presentation is to be made to the class on the reading selection which succinctly summarizes, the reading, but with an emphasis on a critique, including the relevant literature, theoretical premise, application to practice, and problem(s), issue(s) or dilemma, is to be stressed. Appropriate analytic questions, issues, and/or exercise are to be posed for group discussion which the presenter will facilitate (not to exceed 45 minutes). Additional readings and/or handouts which add to the discussion may be included. All students are expected to read the pertinent selection as well. The oral presentation is to enhance class discussion based on the theoretical and applied perspectives of the presenter.

4. Assignments. In keeping with the expectation of a graduate level course, papers should demonstrate your critical analytic skills and be based on the research literature, your own perspectives and recommendations with implications for research, policy and practice. The following guidelines may be of additional assistance in preparing your papers.

Writing Guidelines

a. Organization, coherence, clarity, and skill in writing in Standard English are expected. Adequacy of detail and supporting data are vital. It is your responsibility to proofread your papers for proper grammar, spelling, and typographical errors.

b. Papers are to be typed, double spaced, and pages numbers (not including cover page). Please use APA style for citations and bibliography.

c. Use appropriate headings and subheadings to help clarify the presentation and organization of your paper and to guide the reader.

d. Appropriate charts, models, graphs, and so forth may be used in the text and appendices may be included if relevant.

e. In keeping with the University Honor Code, all work must be your own, with appropriate credit given to authors whose material you use (including all quotations, words, sentences or ideas that you cite or rephrase per APA style).

Seminar Assignments for Fall 1997

1. Book Review I. Select a book on a topic about the community college of your choice. Some questions to consider in writing the review are: What is the authorŐs purpose for writing the book? Who is the intended audience? What is the book about and why did the author choose the topic? What perspective(s) from research, policy, and/or practice does the author use? What does the author recommend and how feasible are the recommendations? On what theoretical and/or practical premises do you agree/or disagree with the author and why? What were your expectations? What did you learn? Who should read it and why? (limit 5-7 pages).

2. Interview. Visit a community college (it may be one of the ones we visit as a class or a different one) and interview an administrator, faculty member, or professional staff member to learn their perspective about their work, their view(s) of the community college as an educational institution, and how they perceive their role in it. Briefly describe the college and any pertinent facts related to the personŐs role. Use the research literature, any pertinent literature from the college, class discussions, and guest lectures in framing your case and the analysis that follows. (limit 10 pages). (See book list for suggestions.)

3. Book Review II. Read Rhoads and ValadezŐs book, Democracy, Multiculturalism, and the Community College. Review the book in-depth. Draw from the literature, discussions, guest speakers, visits to community colleges, other higher education literature, and your own theoretical and applied perspectives. The review should not be simply a retelling of what the book is about (that part should be kept brief), but also include a thorough critical analysis of how Rhoads and Valadez do and do not enhance your understanding of, and contribute to the knowledge of community colleges and the field of higher education with this recent work. Among the questions to consider: How does this book expand your understanding of community colleges? What do you agree or disagree with and why? What is missing? What needs further explanation? Do you agree/disagree with authorsŐ theoretical and applied premises and why?. What have you learned? Who is this book relevant to and why? Who should read it and why? (limit 10 pages).

4. Mini Case Study. Visit a community college (it may be one of the ones we visit as a class, the one you based your first assignment on or a different one) in order to learn about one particular aspect of the institution, e.g., use of part-time faculty, developmental studies program, off-campus sites, special programs for target populations, vocational studies, technology and distance learning, or specific offices such as development, institutional research, and the like. You may wish to focus on a distinctive institution, such as a single sex, religious, tribal, historically Black, or Hispanic college. State the objective of your case study and develop and analyze your case based on the research literature and what you have learned during the course. You will need to interview college personnel, do some observation(s), and gather pertinent college materials. Attach relevant materials, including your interview protocol, and references to the paper. (limit 15 pages).


The final grade for the course will be based on a combination of the following:

1.  Class participation		 10 points		98 = A+

2.  Oral Presentation		 10 points		95 = A

3.  Assignment 1		 20 points		92 = A-

4.  Assignment 2		 20 points		88 = B+

5.  Assignment 3		 20 points 		85 = B

6.  Assignment 4		 20 points 		82 = B-

			Total	100 points		78 = C+

Schedule of Class Topics & Readings

Subject to Modification; Other Readings; Guest Speakers

 1.  Sept. 2  -  Introduction and Overview

	             Images of the Community Colleges

	             Historical Background & Development of Community Colleges

 2.  Sept. 9  -  Historical Background & Development of Community Colleges (Continued)

	             Organization, Governance & Finance	 

	             Cohen & Brawer - Preface; Ch. 1 (xviic-37), Ch. 4 (101-135)

	             Ratcliff - Intro. & Note to Reader, Philosophy & Purpose (1-88)

 3.  Sept. 16 -  Organization, Governance & Finance (Continued)

	             Cohen & Brawer - Ch. 5 (137-159)

	             Ratcliff - Organization, Administration (91-108) Finance (109-138)

 4.  Sept. 23 -  Leadership:  Administrators & Faculty

	             Cohen & Brawer - Ch. 3 (73-100)

	             Ratcliff - Professional Staff (357-385)

	             Townsend - Ch. 4 (39-46), Ch. 7, 8 (67-88)

 5.  Sept. 30 -  Visit to Local Community College		

 6.  Oct. 7   -  Students & Student Services						Assignment 1 due.

	             Cohen & Brawer - Ch. 2 (39-72); Ch. 7 (191-211)

	             Ratcliff - Students (259-329)

	             Townsend - Ch. 2, 3 (15-37); Ch. 5 (47-55

 7.  Oct. 14  -  Curriculum & Programs

	             Cohen & Brawer - Ch. 6 (161-190)

	             Ratcliff - Curriculum (141-164)

 8.  Oct. 21  -  General & Transfer Education

	             Cohen & Brawer - Ch. 11, 12 (307-366)

	             Ratcliff -  Programs (165-216)

 9.  Oct. 28  -  Vocational/Career & Development Education				Assignment 2 due.

	             Cohen & Brawer - Ch. 8, 9 (213-274)

	             Ratcliff  - Remediation & Economic Realities (217-258)

10.  Nov. 4   -  ASHE Annual Meeting 


11.  Nov. 11  -  Visit to Local Community College

12.  Nov. 18  -  Community Service							Assignment 3 due.

				 International Education

	             Scholarship  & Research

	             Cohen & Brawer - Ch. 10 (275-306); Ch. 13 (367-388)

	             Palmer & Katsinas - (5-99)

	             Ratcliff - Scholarship  & Research (387-410); (489-503)

	             Rhoads & Valadez - Discussion (based on papers)

13.  Nov. 25  -  Thanksgiving Break

14.  Dec. 2   -  Social Issues & Trends   

		 	Future of Community Colleges

	 	 	Cohen & Brawer - Ch. 14, 15  (389-448)

			Ratcliff  -  Social Role  (459-488)

15.  Dec. 9   -  Social Issues & Trends							Assignment 4 due.

	             Future of Community Colleges (Continued)




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