Date of Award

2011

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)

Department

Individually Designed

Advisor

Suzanne Estler

Second Committee Member

Constance M. Perry

Third Committee Member

Elizabeth Allan

Abstract

Community colleges are facing many large-scale problems, such as increased accountability, in a time of shrinking budgets and students who are often unprepared for college level work. The implications of these problems to institutions that are striving to maintain access to higher education for vulnerable populations are grave. These problems, and others, require creative solutions that involve numerous individuals and groups across the institution. The purpose of this retrospective case study was to learn how faculty and administrators experienced collaboration in the context of a community college. The study was carried out at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) in South Portland, Maine by studying a two-year long attempt at collaboration between faculty and administrators. Data were collected through a combination of interviews with six participants, followed by a focus group of five of these participants, document collection, and participant observation. Through an iterative process (Miles & Huberman, 1994), data were subjected to open coding and then focused coding with codes drawn from the literature using the program HyperResearch. Analysis was undertaken utilizing matrices and concept maps to uncover patterns and significant instances. Collaboration and its relationship to cooperation played an important role in the study. Clearly defining collaboration and cooperation lead to identification of two distinct groups within the participants. The implications for future practice in this study were found in three specific areas: (1) collaborative capacity in a community college setting; (2) topics appropriate for collaborative methods; and (3) viewing collaboration as a dance between collaborators and cooperators. To build collaborative capacity requires a foundation of trust that is, in part, built and maintained through successive collaborative endeavors. Every attempt at collaboration is an opportunity to build trust and create connections between groups and individuals that can be used to aid future collaborations. The topic of the attempted collaboration should be one that promotes interaction among participants -- preferably a topic with which many in the community are already concerned. Envisioning intra-organizational collaboration as a dance between collaborators and cooperators helps to make the needs of both groups explicit.

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