Factors Predicting Community College Faculty Satisfaction With Instructional Autonomy
By Kim, Dongbin Twombly, Susan; Wolf-Wendel, Lisa
In light of growing speculation that the autonomy of community college faculty members is eroding, this study draws on the 2004 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty to explore the institutional and personal variables that predict faculty satisfaction with authority to make decisions about content and methods in instructional activities. Results for full-time and part-time faculty members at community colleges are compared, as are the perceptions of community college faculty members with the perceptions of faculty members at 4-year institutions. Keywords: faculty autonomy; part-time faculty; satisfaction; community colleges; college faculty; professional autonomy
The autonomy of community college faculty members has long been a matter of discussion, especially in relation to their professional status. Burton Clark (1987) portrayed community college faculty members as having little autonomy over their work. Others (e.g., Cohen & Brawer, 2003; Grubb & Associates, 1999) have agreed that community college faculty members have little control over whom they teach and over the selection of courses they teach. In addition, community colleges have been portrayed as bureaucratic organizations in which administrators play a dominant role in decision making. Indeed, Birnbaum (1987) used a community college to illustrate the bureaucratic model of organizations. Community college faculties tend to be unionized, and faculty unions also create rules and policies that can deprive faculty autonomy over their work. It is not surprising to note that, then, most studies conclude that faculty members at community colleges play a minimal role in institutional decision making (Miller, 2003; Pope & Miller, 2000; Thaxter & Graham, 1999).
On the other hand, faculty autonomy may not be as problematic as some believe. Institutional structures exist that may provide a counterweight to forces that erode autonomy. Unionization (where applicable) can provide a form of participative governance for faculty members (Levin, Kater, & Wagoner, 2006; Rhoades, 1998). Furthermore, since the 1970s, academic senates or other participative forms of governance have become prevalent in community colleges (Miller, 2003; Pope & Miller, 2000). Last, those who have written about the professional status of the community college faculty agree that full-time faculty members have had considerable control over curriculum and over what they teach in their courses and how (e.g., Cohen & Brawer, 1987; Garrison, 1967; Spear, Seymour, & McGrath, 1992).
Levin et al. (2006) suggested a new threat to faculty autonomy. Their thesis is that community college faculty members are increasingly managed professionals who work in colleges that are increasingly driven by a global economic emphasis on efficiency and flexibility. The result is a mission that is slowly changing from emphasizing open access to emphasizing a stronger focus on income generation. This emphasis results in what the authors call the new managerialism, which focuses on management, planning, centralized decision making, and so on. New managerialism has apparently not had uniform effects on the faculty. On the one hand, faculty members have less control over their work; when they are asked to participate in governance, they are being asked to further “the interests of management in increasing uie productivity of the institution’s workforce” (Levin et al., p. 47). On me other hand, Rhoades (1998) was somewhat more positive, finding mat in comparison to unionized faculty members in 4-year colleges or universities, community college faculty members actually have more autonomy in some aspects of their work, such as external employment and intellectual property, than faculty members at 4-year colleges and universities. In general, though, me new managerialism is believed to be decreasing faculty autonomy at community colleges. Levin et al. interviewed only a handful of faculty members to support their case. Moreover, the effect of me new economy on faculty work in otiier institutional sectors goes unexamined in meir analysis.
In me current study we used a national data set-the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, 2004 (NSOPF: 2004)-to explore full- time and part-time community college faculty members’ satisfaction with their own autonomy. Specifically, we examined personal and institutional factors that predict faculty satisfaction with autonomy at community colleges. For comparison purposes only, we also examined faculty satisfaction wim autonomy at 4-year institutions.
The NSOPF: 2004 data set, which was compiled by me National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), does not permit us to measure the degree of actual autonomy held by faculty members. We were forced to get at me issue of autonomy by examining satisfaction with autonomy. Thus, this article examines faculty satisfaction with autonomy rather than how much autonomy faculty members actually have. Furthermore, NSOPF: 2004 measured satisfaction with autonomy only in the realm of instruction; it did not examine other aspects of faculty work such as the ability to select one’s students or have a say in institutional decisions. This is a major change from the 1999 National Survey of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF: 99), which included additional items on faculty perceptions of their autonomy. This limitation of NSOPF: 2004 and its impact on the current study are discussed in more detail later in this article.
Prior research suggests that community college faculty members are generally satisfied with their jobs. Drawing on the Carnegie Foundation’s National Survey of Faculty, Huber (1998) reported that 80% of community college faculty members were satisfied with their job situation as a whole. However, 66% were satisfied with their department, and only 38% were satisfied with their institutions. Huber did not specifically examine satisfaction with autonomy. Using data from the 1993 National Survey of Postsecondary Faculty, Antony and Valadez (2002) and Valadez and Antony (2001) found some significant differences between 4-year college faculty members and 2- year college faculty members in terms of their satisfaction with autonomy (the 4-year college faculty members were slightly more satisfied) and their satisfaction with students (the 4-year college faculty members were much more satisfied). Outcault (2002), using yet another data set, found that full-time community college faculty members were generally more satisfied than part-time faculty members; that community college faculty members who did not hold a doctorate were slightly more satisfied then those who did (although the difference was not statistically significant); and that liberal arts faculty members were slightly, but not significantly, less satisfied than nonliberal arts faculty members. Most studies of satisfaction use a global measure of satisfaction, and few have examined satisfaction with autonomy. The current study expands our understanding of these issues by focusing on satisfaction with autonomy, specifically satisfaction with instructional autonomy.
Our research questions include the following:
Research Question 1: What are the factors that influence satisfaction with instructional autonomy for faculty in community colleges?
Research Question 2: Are there any similarities and differences by employment status (part-time vs. full-time faculty members)?
Research Question 3: Are there similarities and differences in satisfaction with instructional autonomy by institutional type (2- year and 4-year)?
Given the scarcity of research on part-time faculty members in community colleges (Townsend & Twombly, 2007), and recognizing that nearly two tiiirds of die instructional faculty members in community colleges are employed on a part-time basis (Conley & Leslie, 2002), we were particularly interested in examining the similarities and differences between full-time and part-time faculty members in terms of the factors mat are related to faculty satisfaction with autonomy. Furthermore, although we believe that studies of community college faculty members can and should stand on dieir own without comparison to 4-year college and university faculty members, a comparison with faculty members at 4-year institutions was, in the case of the current study, warranted. A potential danger of not having such a comparison is that we would be left with the rather negative view of community college faculty members as having little say over matters that affect their work lives and little control over their work; however, we would have no indication of how they differ from their 4-year college counterparts.
The current study is important for several reasons. In the fall of 2002, public community colleges enrolled approximately 49% of all students in public higher education, and approximately one third of all students of color (“The 2005-2006 Almanac,” 2005). The faculty members who teach there also make up a substantial portion of the total number of all postsecondary faculty members. In 2005, public 2- year colleges employed 354,300 full- and part-time faculty members (Keller, as cited in Townsend & Twombly, 2007, p. 1). It is important that we study the faculty members who teach tfiere. Autonomy is an important characteristic of me academic profession; however, a sense of autonomy is also important for those who are professionals (Rifkin, 1998). That is, professionals must feel a sense of autonomy (among other professional attitudes) (Rifkin, 1998). Levin et al. (2006) suggested that the new economy is further restricting what autonomy community college faculty members have. The current study will provide evidence of the extent to which they perceive such restrictions, at least in the realm of instruction. The findings provide some basis for intervening in ways that promote the factors that enhance instructional autonomy and eliminate or correct the factors that do not. In addition, the comparison with perceptions of faculty members at other institutional types allows us to examine the extent to which community college faculty members are different or similar.
The current study utilized data from the NSOPF: 2004, which were collected by me NCES. The data represent a national sample of faculty members at 2-year and 4-year institutions. The NSOPF: 2004 study had two components: a faculty survey and an institutional survey. Data from the faculty survey offer information on faculty backgrounds, teaching assignments, research activities, salaries and benefits, attitudes toward selected aspects of faculty work, and faculty plans to leave academe or retire. Data from the institutional survey provide information on the characteristics of the institutions at which the faculty respondents work, including faculty composition (e.g., the percentage of faculty members who are employed on a part-time basis), student composition (e.g., die percentage of students who are minority group members), faculty- tostudent ratio, and institutional policies on faculty recruitment, retention, and tenure (Zhou & Volkwein, 2004). Because faculty satisfaction with autonomy should be viewed as a function of individual faculty characteristics and a function of the characteristics of the institutions at which faculty members work, the current study used variables from both data sets.
Many of the large national data sets collected by NCES, including the NSOPF: 2004 data set used in the current study, are derived from complex surveys that use intricate sampling techniques, such as stratification and oversampling of certain populations (Thomas & Heck, 2001; Wine, Heuer, Wheeless, Francis, & Dudley, 2002). One artifact of a complex survey design results from oversamphng, because each case in me sample is selected with a different probability and represents a different number of cases in the population (Kim, 2007). Oversampling requires the use of appropriate sampling weights to produce unbiased estimates (Lehtonen & Pahkinen, 1995). Although most nationally representative data sets from NCES provide sampling weights, the use of weights with common statistical packages, such as SPSS or SAS, often generates inflated statistical power (Thomas & Heck, 2001). Thus, it is necessary to use relative weights to accurately generate estimates of statistical significance. A second artifact results from the multistage cluster sampling technique. Estimates of variances and standard errors from highly stratified data are generally biased because the estimates are based on random sampling assumptions (Muthen & Satorra, 1995). To deal with the effects of stratification, Thomas and Heck (2001) recommended the use of a designbased (i.e., design effects) approach. Therefore, the current study used relative weights that were adjusted from raw weights (by dividing the raw faculty weight by its mean in the sample) and that were then multiplied by the average design effect of NSOPF: 2004 (Heuer et al., 2006). The equation employed was as follows:
deffwt^sub 1^ = (1/deff)*rewt^sub 1^
where deff= “design effect,” rewt^sub 1^= w^sub 1^/W, and w^sub 1^ = raw weight.
The total sample from community colleges was thus reduced to 4,664 faculty members whose principal activity is teaching. Of tiiese faculty members, 1,597 (34.2%) were full-time and 3,067 (66.1%) were part-time.
In the current study, the faculty members’ satisfaction with their instructional autonomy-the dependent variable-was measured as satisfaction with authority to make decisions about content and methods in instructional activities, ranging from 1 (very dissatisfied) to 4 (very satisfied). Individual faculty variables included gender, race, employment status, hours per week spent on administrative committees, hours per week spent on general student advising, and the number of office hours per week. In addition, we included the number of years faculty members had held their current jobs, whether they belonged to a faculty union, and whether faculty members held a doctoral degree. Because faculty satisfaction with autonomy is also influenced by other satisfaction factors and by other attitude factors (Bellott & Tutor, 1990; Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959), we also included faculty satisfaction and perception variables. Faculty satisfaction variables include satisfaction with salary, satisfaction with fringe benefits, and satisfaction with the teaching support provided by the institution. Attitude variables include faculty opinions about the extent to which teaching is rewarded by the institution and the extent to which part-time faculty members, female faculty members, and minority-group faculty members are treated fairly.
Institutional variables included size (as measured by the number of full-time-equivalent [FTE] undergraduate students), the ratio of FTE faculty to FTE enrollment, and the relative size of minority enrollment as measured by the percentage of students at the institution who are Asian, the percentage who are Black, and the percentage who are Hispanic.
To answer the first research question, we conducted ordinary least squares regression analysis for the total group of community college faculty members in our sample. To examine the similarities and differences in the factors influencing faculty satisfaction with autonomy by employment status (as indicated in the second research question), we also conducted separate sets of ordinary least squares regression analyses for full-time and part-time faculty members. Regression analyses were also conducted with data from faculty members at 4-year institutions. Additional descriptive analyses, including t tests, were conducted to explore the relationship between the predictors and the dependent variable. The mathematical equation for the linear regression is as follows:
Y-predicted = b^sub 0^ + b^sub 1-4^ (individual background characteristics)
+ b^sub 5-8^ (employment related variables)
+ b^sub 9-14^ (work-related variables)
+ b^sub 15-21^ (faculty satisfaction and opinion variables)
+ b^sub 22-26^ (institutional variables)
The appendix lists the variables and indicates how they were coded.
The distribution of faculty satisfaction with instructional autonomy by employment status is presented in Figure 1. More than 95% of the faculty members were satisfied or very satisfied with their instructional autonomy, and the distributions of faculty satisfaction were almost identical for full-time and part-time faculty members.
Going one step further, the mean comparisons of faculty satisfaction across institutional sectors present interesting differences between faculty members at 2-year versus 4-year institutions; faculty members at community colleges were significantly less satisfied with their instructional autonomy than were their counterparts at 4-year institutions (Table 1). However, Table 1 presents an interesting twist between faculty satisfaction with autonomy on the one hand and satisfaction with the job overall on the other. Although community college faculty members were less satisfied than 4-year college faculty members with their instructional autonomy, they were more satisfied with their jobs overall than the faculty members at 4-year institutions.
Factors That Influence the Satisfaction of Community College Faculty Members With Instructional Autonomy
From the descriptive analysis presented in Figure 1, we found that there appeared to be no significant difference in faculty satisfaction with instructional autonomy by employment status. However, to verify if the nonsignificant difference in faculty satisfaction with instructional autonomy by employment status remains true when all other things are constant, ordinary least squares regression analysis was conducted for the faculty in community colleges. As me data in Table 2 indicate, even when all other tilings are equal, part-time faculty members in community colleges were as satisfied as their full-time counterparts. However, it is worth noting that faculty members who belonged to unions were significantly less likely to be satisfied with their autonomy than their counterparts who were not union members. Note that only the faculty satisfaction and attitude (opinion) variables, not the variables related to faculty behavior, were significant predictors of faculty satisfaction with autonomy. Of the institutional predictors, institutional size had a significant negative effect on faculty satisfaction with autonomy. Gender and race failed to have unique statistical relationships with faculty satisfaction with autonomy.
Faculty members who were more satisfied with their salary, fringe benefits, and teaching support were more satisfied with their instructional autonomy. In particular, satisfaction with teaching support was the strongest predictor of instructional autonomy among the satisfaction indicators. In addition, the more the faculty members believed that teaching was rewarded at their institutions, the more likely the faculty members were to be satisfied with their instructional autonomy. Faculty opinions as to whether the institution treated female and minority-group faculty members fairly were also significant predictors of faculty satisfaction with autonomy. Faculty Satisfaction With Instructional Autonomy by Employment Status
Among full-time and part-time faculty members, satisfaction and opinion variables had significant and consistent positive relationships with faculty perceptions of their instructional autonomy (Table 3). Specifically, the more satisfied the faculty members were with their institutions’ teaching support, the more likely they were to be satisfied with their autonomy. Given that the dependent variable, faculty instructional autonomy, was specifically targeted on the areas of teaching content and methods, it is not surprising to see the strong positive relationship between faculty satisfaction with teaching support and faculty satisfaction with their autonomy as instructors. The same logic should be applied to the positive relationship between faculty satisfaction with autonomy and faculty opinions about the extent to which teaching is rewarded: if faculty members believed that teaching was rewarded at their institutions, they were more likely to be satisfied with their autonomy.
Faculty satisfaction with benefits and faculty opinions about the extent to which female faculty members are treated fairly by their institutions emerged as significant predictors of faculty satisfaction with instructional autonomy regardless of their employment status. It is particularly interesting that faculty satisfaction with salaries, however, was not a significant predictor of satisfaction with instructional autonomy for full-time faculty members, though it was a significant predictor of satisfaction for part-time faculty members.
Although we found numerous variables that are related to satisfaction with instructional autonomy for full-time and part- time faculty members, union membership status was a significant predictor of satisfaction with instructional autonomy for full-time faculty members only. Full-time faculty members who belonged to unions were less likely to be satisfied with their autonomy than were full-time faculty members who did not belong to unions.
In light of the fact that faculty satisfaction and opinion variables were consistently significant predictors of faculty satisfaction with their instructional autonomy, and given the fact that faculty union status was a significant predictor of satisfaction with instructional autonomy for fulltime faculty members, Table 4 compares union and nonunion full-time faculty members in terms of their mean responses to these satisfaction and opinion variables. It is worth noting that although faculty members with union membership were less satisfied with their instructional autonomy than faculty members who were not union members, the difference was not statistically significant at the .05 significance level. By contrast, union membership status was significantly related to faculty satisfaction with salaries and benefits and to faculty opinions concerning the degree to which part-time faculty members are treated fairly by their institutions. Although nonunion members were more likely than union members to agree that part-time faculty members are treated fairly, faculty members who belonged to unions were more satisfied than nonunion members with salary or fringe benefits. In fact, except for faculty satisfaction with salary and benefits, nonunion members showed consistently higher levels of satisfaction and agreement for all variables. In summary, union membership status differentiates faculty responses in terms of employment benefits versus teaching emphasis: full-time faculty members with union memberships were more satisfied with their salaries and fringe benefits, and nonunion members were more satisfied with their institutions’ teaching support and rewards. Given that predictors related to teaching had a strong impact on faculty satisfaction with instructional autonomy (as can be seen in Tables 2 and 3), it makes sense that union members were less likely to be satisfied with their instructional autonomy than nonunion members.
In addition, hours spent per week on administrative committee work was a positive, significant predictor of satisfaction with instructional autonomy for part-time faculty members only. As the data in Table 3 reveal, if part-time faculty members spent 3 or more hr per week on administrative committee work (including curriculum, personnel, governance, and other committees at the department, division, institution, and system levels), they were more satisfied with autonomy than those who did not participate as extensively in administrative committee work. Because the majority of part-time faculty members (85.9%) did not spend time on administrative committee work, and because only 3.8% (55 faculty members in the data set) actually reported working 3 hr per week or more on administrative committee work (Table 5), it is important to determine if the faculty members who spent more than 3 hr per week on administrative committee work are a unique population in comparison to those who spent fewer than 2 hours per week on such tasks. For various employment-related measures (whether the parttime job is the primary job, whether the part-time faculty member would prefer to have a full-time position, and whether the faculty members belong to a union), no significant differences were found in terms of the number of hours spent per week on administrative committee work.
In short, from the two separate analyses for full-time versus part-time faculty members at community colleges, the current study found more similarities than differences in the factors influencing faculty satisfaction with instructional autonomy. In particular, faculty’s satisfaction with their institutions’ teaching support and faculty opinions concerning the way their institutions treated female faculty members were significant, positive predictors of faculty satisfaction with autonomy. This held for full- and part- time faculty members.
Similarities and Differences Across Institutional Sectors
As a next step, the current study examined if there were similarities and differences across institutional sectors, comparing the responses of faculty members at 2-year colleges; 4-year, nondoctoral institutions; and 4-year, doctoral institutions (Table 6). Faculty satisfaction with fringe benefits, faculty satisfaction with teaching support, and faculty perceptions of the extent to which teaching is rewarded by their institutions were significant, positive predictors of faculty satisfaction with instructional autonomy across all institutional sectors. Race (Hispanics and Asians as compared to Whites) and the number of years faculty members had held their current positions were unique predictors of satisfaction with autonomy only in the case of faculty members at the 4-year institutions. For example, Hispanic and Asian faculty members at these institutions (doctoral and nondoctoral) were significantly less satisfied than their White counterparts. And the longer the faculty members at 4-year colleges had stayed at their institutions, the more likely they were to indicate satisfaction with their instructional autonomy. Part-time faculty members at 4- year, nondoctoral institutions were significantly less satisfied with their instructional autonomy than were their full-time counterparts. The composition of the student body, specifically the percentage of students who are Black, was also a correlate of faculty satisfaction with instructional autonomy at 4-year, nondoctoral institutions: at these institutions, the higher the percentage of total enrollment accounted for by Black, nonHispanic students, the less likely faculty members were to indicate satisfaction with their instructional autonomy.
In sum, what are the factors that influence satisfaction with instructional autonomy, and do they differ for part-time and full- time community college faculty members? Do they differ for community college and 4-year college (nondoctoral and doctoral) faculty members? The short answer to these questions is that most faculty members in the current study were satisfied with their instructional autonomy regardless of employment status or place of employment (although part-time faculty members at 4-year, nondoctoral institutions may be an exception). We do note that 4-year college faculty members in nondoctoral and doctoral institutions were more satisfied than their community college counterparts with instructional autonomy, whereas 2-year college faculty members were more satisfied than their 4-year college counterparts with their overall jobs. This is something that community colleges might consider if they are expanding to offer baccalaureate degrees.
It is not surprising that community college faculty members were satisfied with their jobs in general and with their instructional autonomy in particular. The variable used in NSOPF: 2004 to measure satisfaction with autonomy focuses specifically on the aspect of faculty work that is protected by academic freedom: classroom content and methods. We can also look to reference group theory (Merton & Rossi, 1968) to seek an explanation for why faculty members appear to be satisfied with their jobs and their autonomy. Basically, reference group theory suggests that individuals assess aspects of their work, such as autonomy, by comparing their situations to those of individuals who work in other settings. We do not know what the salient reference groups are for community college faculty members; however, business and industry on the one hand and public school teaching on the other are surely two. Contrasting their own situations with work in these other settings, community college faculty members may see their jobs as having a high degree of autonomy. Ward, Wolf-Wendel, and Twombly (2007) found support for tins theory in their analysis of why women with children find the community college to be such an attractive place for balancing work and family obligations. The degree of satisfaction with instructional autonomy and the factors that influence this satisfaction at community colleges were more similar than distinct between those who work on a full-time basis and those who work on a part-time basis. More specifically, few behavioral variables (e.g., how one spends his or her time) or institutional variables were predictors of satisfaction with instructional autonomy. In addition, none of the demographic variables emerged as significant predictors. The predominant predictors were other satisfaction measures (such as satisfaction with the extent to which the institution rewards teaching). This is explained by the fact that faculty members, full- and part-time, actually do control what happens in the classroom. That is, the one measure of satisfaction with autonomy in the NSOPF: 2004 study reflects autonomy over classroom activities.
Among full-time community college faculty members, belonging to a union was a negative predictor of satisfaction with instructional autonomy. This suggests an interesting role for unions in creating or maintaining autonomy. Comparing satisfaction with instructional autonomy between faculty members at 2-year colleges and 4-year institutions, we found that similar satisfaction variables predicted instructional autonomy for both groups. However, for 4-year college faculty members, background variables also emerged as significant predictors. For example, among 4-year college faculty members in nondoctoral and in doctoral institutions, being Asian or Hispanic was a negative predictor of satisfaction with instructional autonomy. From the current study, however, it is not clear why ethnicity becomes an important predictor of faculty satisfaction with instructional autonomy, especially for 4-year institutions only.
In the current study, we used NSOPF: 04 data, which provide the most recent national data on college and university faculty members. If Levin et al. (2006) are correct about new managerialism as a guiding force in faculty work, we would expect to see lower levels of faculty satisfaction with autonomy in the 2004 version of NSOPF than we would in data collected in earlier NSOPF studies. However, on examination of the actual items asked in NSOPF: 04, and on reviewing the literature, which included studies using data from previous versions of NSOPF (e.g., Rosser & Townsend, 2006), we discovered that autonomy or satisfaction with autonomy in NSOPF: 04 is measured by only a single item rather man by several items. The data set allowed us to measure satisfaction with autonomy in the classroom; however, it did not allow us to examine any other aspect of autonomy. Specifically, NSOPF: 04 defined autonomy as authority to make decisions about content and methods in instructional activities. NSOPF: 99, on the other hand, had three measures of faculty autonomy: satisfaction with autonomy to determine course content, authority to choose which classes one teaches, and satisfaction with authority to make other job-related decisions. Thus the earlier NSOPF survey provided a more robust measure of satisfaction with autonomy, especially if respondents interpreted the last measure as one of decision making regarding other aspects of their work basined instruction.
Another problem caused by the change in NSOPF measures from 1999 to 2004 is the limited variance in measures of faculty satisfaction with autonomy. When one measures only one facet of autonomy, and when that facet is the one that is most protected by academic freedom, what we find is that most everyone is highly satisfied and that there is little or no variance in the measure for either 2- year- or 4-year-college faculty members. The erosion of autonomy presumably occurs in other aspects of faculty work, such as the nature of faculty positions, the determination of which students are admitted to classes, and the role faculty members play in institutional decision making-the areas that are most vulnerable to the new managerialism described by Levin et al. (2006).
In an era in which faculty autonomy appears to be eroding, the main vehicle for studying faculty autonomy-the NSOPF-seems to be shifting, and in some ways the shift confirms the thesis advanced by Levin et al. (2006). that is, faculty autonomy is increasingly restricted to classroom activities. The developers of NSOPF may have had very good technical reasons for reducing the measures of satisfaction with autonomy; however, the effect is that we can no longer assess how changes in faculty life affect autonomy over aspects of faculty work considered essential to the academic profession. To study faculty autonomy, researchers will be forced to use qualitative research methods or analyze other national surveys that are more difficult to access. The current study, therefore, leaves us with significant questions about how autonomy will be studied in the future and the extent to which autonomy is being reduced to autonomy over one very specific, albeit essential, faculty role. That said, the data seem to suggest that the issue of community college faculty members’ autonomy is a complex one that cannot and should not be reduced to simplistic answers. Good teaching-and learning-at the college level involve at least some measure of creativity and professorial autonomy over the conditions of faculty work. Therefore, it is essential that community colleges, policy makers, and researchers be careful students and guardians of autonomy for those who teach in community colleges.
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University of Kansas, Lawrence
Dongbin Kim is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Susan Twombly is the chairperson of and a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Lisa Wolf-Wendel is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Copyright North Carolina State University, Department of Adult and Community College Education Jan 2008
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