Education Essays - College Undergraduates Job

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College Undergraduates Job

Introduction

Background Information

The community college system has become one of the primary settings of postsecondary education in this country (American Association of Community Colleges, 2007). Today, community colleges enroll more than eleven million students, almost 50% of all undergraduates in the United States (American Association of Community Colleges, 2007). Research into what contributes to or predicts faculty job satisfaction at the community college level is important for several reasons.

Bright (2002) suggests that few educators would deny that community college teaching is one of the most difficult jobs in higher education. Boyer (1990) acknowledged that community college teaching is discouraging and frustrating to many faculty members because they often must teach academically under-prepared students in inadequate facilities, and with limited resources. According to Keim (1989), the community college faculty is perceived to be at the bottom of the higher education hierarchy in terms of workload, image, self-esteem and salary, by other college and university professors.

Job satisfaction is a term that is difficult to describe as a single construct, and the definition of job satisfaction varies between studies (Morice & Murray, 2003; Protheroe, Lewis & Paik, 2002; and Singer, 1995). In public education, Bogler (2001) noted that job satisfaction is important in terms of teacher retention, but is also related to teacher empowerment, school culture, quality work environment, and student achievement.

Greater job satisfaction is also a critical factor to consider in terms of recruitment of new teachers into the profession (Bogler, 2001). It is not surprising that researchers suggest schools must give more attention to increasing teacher job satisfaction to recruit and retain quality personnel (Bogler, 2001).

As the importance of retaining quality teachers steadily continues to increase, numerous studies have determined factors contributing to teacher satisfaction or dissatisfaction (Colgan, 2004; Houchins, Shippen & Cattret, 2004; Kleinhenz & Ingvarson, 2000; and Reyes & Hoyle, 1992).

In higher education, a number of researchers have discussed the importance of continuous research on job satisfaction among community college faculty (Bright, 2002; Green, 2000; McBride, Munday, & Tunnell, 1992; Milosheff, 1990; Hutton & Jobe, 1985; and Benoit & Smith 1980). One of the reasons suggested for the continuous study of community college faculty, is the value of data received from such studies in developing and improving community college faculty and their practices (Truell, Price, & Joyner, 1998).

The center of teaching and reaming of any community college is the faculty (Hammrick, 2003). The job of the faculty members is clearly that of a teacher (Hammrick, 2003). Few, if any, community colleges require research or publication (Hammrick, 2003). Other research studies on faculty job satisfaction in the community college have helped administrators identify areas for professional development, as well as the indicators for effective administrator leadership (Benoit & Smith, 1980 and Hutton & Jobe, 1985).

The need to study job satisfaction among community college faculty is magnified when one considers that one-in-five of all higher education faculty members carry out his or her teaching responsibilities as a full-time member of the community college professorate in the public sector (National Center for Education Statistics, 1999). The role of faculty is a pivotal facet of this study and higher education in general.

The central functions of higher education are reflected in the roles and responsibilities of faculty (Hamrick, 2003). Hamrick (2003) suggests that the roles of research, teaching, and service correspond to these functions and faculties are expected to fulfill these roles. In 1915 the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) was established by a group of professors from Johns Hopkins University to assist university professors in ways corresponding to those in which the American Medical Association serves doctors and the American Bar Association serves lawyers.

Concerned about the faculty role in institutional decision-making and academic freedom, the AAUP addressed many professional concerns (Hutcheson, 2003). The AAUP published a document called the “Declaration of Principles” which defined the functions of higher education as: (a) promoting the inquiry and advancing the sum of human knowledge; (b) providing general instructions to students; and (c) developing experts for various branches of public service (Hutcheson, 2003).

The roles of research, teaching, and service correspond to these functions and it is the responsibility of faculty to fulfill these roles as they perform their duties in the interest of fulfilling the academic mission of their respective institutions (Hamrick, 2003). Each role serves as a vehicle through which faculty members create and dispense knowledge to peers, students, and external addresses with the emphasis on roles varying between institutions (Hamrick, 2003).

Faculty members impart knowledge to students, as well as, assist them in the processes of learning and applying knowledge making the primary educational mission of higher education reflected in the teaching role (Hamrick, 2003). Because faculty members serve as the expert in their content area, faculty are expected to stay abreast of knowledge developing in their field, thus presenting conflict and tension between the roles of research (generating new knowledge in the field) and teaching (disseminating the new knowledge generated to students) (Hamrick, 2003).

The teaching role takes precedence over research and service roles at liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and community colleges causing most faculty to spend their time teaching (Hutcheson, 2003). Community colleges are facing new challenges in the 21st century because of budgetary constraints, looming retirements in the faculty and leadership ranks, demands for new curricula and delivery modalities, and a student population that is becoming increasingly diverse and complex (American Association of Community Colleges, 2007). These developments mean that two-year institutions, especially faculty, must become more efficient and effective in providing educational programs and services to their communities (Hutcheson, 2003).

Currently, more is known about the students than about the status of faculty in American colleges and universities (Cunningham, 2004). Also, it has been projected that whereas student enrollment in higher education will increase in the coming decades, there will be a decline in the availability of faculty, especially those from minority groups (Cunningham, 2004).

The combination of the limited knowledge about faculty in higher education and the projected shortage in their future availability calls for more studies of faculty in American colleges and universities (Cunningham, 2004). The results of this study will add to the limited knowledge about job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty in relationship to nature of work, the teacher role, which is the primary role and function of community college faculty.

Statement of the Problem

The problem explored in this study was the job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty in relationship to nature of work. There is a lack of research that evaluates job satisfaction regarding community college faculties’ role as teachers in regards to their instructional practice. It is likely that faculty role perceptions affect their teaching styles, and consequently, effectiveness of teaching (Toman, 1995).

Very little quantitative or qualitative research has been done to investigate community college faculty (Thomas & Asunka, 1995). Thus, it will be helpful to understand how community college faculty view their respective roles and responsibilities in order to meet their own needs and the needs of the college and its students (Toman, 1995). The significance of the issue of role perceptions relates to how they influence faculty performance in their duties as teachers (Thomas & Asunka, 1995).

If professional roles are socially constructed, then the institution, students, colleagues and discipline should have a transactional influence on the role of community college faculty (Thomas & Asunka, 1995). This study contributes insight into the role perceptions, expectations, conflicts, and satisfactions within higher education, specifically, community college teaching.

It is important to consider the views of faculty regarding their satisfaction with their roles. Satisfied faculties provide a source of strength and identity to the college atmosphere (Abraham, 1994). Abraham (1994) discovered that instructors with high and medium levels of job satisfaction were more effective than those with low job satisfaction. Job satisfaction was independent of length of service and related solely to an individual’s attitude toward his or her job (Abraham, 1994).

Additionally, satisfied faculty perceived their roles as more instrumental in help students expand their educational goals (Abraham, 1994). Knowledge such as this supports the improvement of college climates by increasing our understanding of racial, cultural, and ideological diversity, and helping colleges and universities become more representative of and responsive to those that they currently serve and will increasingly serve in the coming century (Miller, 1995).

Purpose of Study

The purpose of the study was to explore job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty in relationship to nature of work from a national perspective by using secondary data collected through The National Center of Education Statistics. There is a lack of research that evaluates job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty regarding their role as teacher. The researcher postulates that this perception has the potential to affect faculty job satisfaction, as well as their propensity to remain on or depart from the job.

Role perceptions are specific behaviors expected in a teaching position in an institution of higher education as understood by the faculty member (Blatner, 1991). Community colleges can be distinguished from four-year colleges in many ways and the roles of the faculty in these colleges differ as well (Blatner, 1991). As community college faculty members impact ever increasing numbers of students, it is helpful to examine the role of faculty, as teachers, at these institutions to better understand their role perceptions, expectations, conflicts, and satisfactions.

Theoretical Framework

For this study, a theoretical framework was utilized. Cognitive role theory has been utilized to establish the theoretical foundation of this study.

The role of an instructor at a community college is largely determined by the values that are shared by the professional community (DeVries, 1975). Therefore, role theory (from social psychology) is an appropriate framework for describing this phenomenon and serves as the theoretical foundation of this study (Sarbin & Allen, 1969). Characteristic behavior patterns or roles are the key to role theory (Biddle, 1979).

The theory explains roles by presuming that individuals occupy one or more positions in a particular social system and are aware of the norms and expectations of others regarding appropriate behavior in each position (Biddle, 1979). The individual also has personal ideas of what behavior is appropriate for each position and an individualistic coping style to deal with and discrepancies between self and the position, based on the feedback received from others (Biddle, 1979).

In other words, individuals behave in ways that are different and predictable depending on their respective social identities within the context. In essence, the central view of role theory is that individuals play many parts in their lives whose basic scripts are provided by others, yet whose enactment is their own (Biddle, 1979).

Role theory also presumes that expectations are the major contributor to roles, that these expectations are learned through experience, and that individuals are aware of the expectations that they hold (Biddle, 1979). This means that role theory presumes a thoughtful, socially aware human actor (Biddle, 1979).

The bulk of empirical role research and the most appropriate theoretical framework for this study is cognitive role theory, which is derived from cognitive social psychology. Research in the cognitive role theory area began with Moreno’s (1934) examination of role playing, when the person attempts to imitate the roles of others.

Moreno’s research generated several other studies by psychologist (Janis & Mann, 1977; McNamara & Blumer, 1982) and produced significant application and research in the area of cognitive role theory and gender differences (Blau & Goodman, 1991).

Moreno’s (1934) perspective is primarily concerned with the ways in which socially prescribed roles influence the behavior of individuals. Attention is focused on such issues as: the processes by which individuals are socialized into role behavior; the stresses placed on the individual by the necessity to perform multiple roles; the impact on the individual of the sanctions imposed for violation for norms; the ways in which the interaction between persons is structured by their role expectations of one another and themselves in their complementary positions; and the ways in which an individual’s sense of self is influenced by the various positions she occupies and the effectiveness with which she plays her roles (Moeno,1934).

Description of Independent and Dependant Variables

The independent variables are sociodemographic characteristics and nature of employment characteristics of community college instructional faculty. Sociodemographic characteristics include: (a) age, (b) gender, and (c) race/ethnicity. Nature of employment characteristics include: (a) rank, (b) employment status, and (c) tenure status The dependent variable of this study is job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty.

The dependent variable includes eight components of job satisfaction regarding teaching duties and professional characteristics. These eight components are: (a) authority to make decisions regarding content and methods in instructional activities; (b) institutional support for implementing technology-based instructional activities; (c) quality of equipment and facilities available for classroom use; (d) institutional support for teaching improvement (i.e., including grants, release time, and professional development funds); (f) workload; (g) salary; (h) benefits available; and (i) overall job satisfaction (See Figure 1).

Job Satisfaction

  • Authority to make decisions regarding instruction
  • Support for technology-based instructional activities
  • Quality of equipment/facilities for classroom use
  • Support for teaching improvement
  • Workload
  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Overall job satisfaction
  • Sociodemographic Characteristics
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Nature of Employment
  • Rank
  • Employment Status
  • Tenure Status

Figure 1.

Conceptual display of the Relationship Between Sociodemographic and Nature of Employment Characteristics and the Components of Job Satisfaction of Community College Instructional Faculty,

Research Questions

This study was guided by the following research questions.

Research Question 1:What are the sociodemographic characteristics and nature of employment of community college instructional faculty?

Research Question 2:What are the nature of employment characteristics of community college instructional faculty?

Research Question 3: What is the level of job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty?

Research Question 4:Is there a statistically significance difference in the level job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty based upon selected sociodemographic factors?

Research Question 5:Is there a statistically significant difference in the level of job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty based upon nature of employment?

Hypotheses

Based on the statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, the conceptual framework, and the research questions, the following hypotheses were developed to examine job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty and their role as teachers.

H01:There is no statistical difference in job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty based upon gender and rank.

Ha1:There is a statistical difference in job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty based upon gender and rank.

H02:There is no statistical difference in job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty based upon gender and employment status.

Ha2:There is a statistical difference in job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty based upon gender and employment status.

H03:There is no statistical difference in job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty based upon gender and tenure status.

Ha3:There is a statistical difference in job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty based upon gender and tenure status.

Limitations and Delimitations

The limitation to this study was it’s confinement with only community college instructional faculty. The researcher looked at job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty as it related to their role as teachers. A second limitation was the use of secondary data collected by The National Center of Education Statistics.

By using an existing data set, the researcher did not have access to the raw data collected, only the variables reported by The National Center of Education Statistics. The researcher could only utilize on sociodemographic characteristic (gender) for the inferential statistic of multiple linear regression.

A delimitation of this study was that the results could only be generalized to community college instructional faculty. Results of this study could not be generalized for instructional faculty at private two-year or public four-year institutions.

Significance of the Study

Study on this subject and especially in this area is still very rare. Bright (2002) however, has thrown interesting light on aspects of job satisfaction of community college faculty. Job retention relates both to the individual’s immediate professional satisfaction and future employment plans (Bright, 2002). While a number of factors may affect job satisfaction and retention, community college decision makers may need to scan the institution’s organizational culture to examine polices and practices that contribute to job retention and satisfaction (Bright, 2002).

It is already well known that community college faculty play an important role in educating millions of students (American Association of Community Colleges, 2007). Currently few studies focus on the nature of work done by community college faculty and their satisfaction on the job (Green, 2000). The purpose of this study was to delineate the factors that influence community college instructional faculty satisfaction of their work.

Definition of Terms

Researchers frequently use similar terms that may have slightly different meanings. To avoid this confusion, the following terms are used throughout this study and are defined for the reader in the context of this research.

Archival Research - A non-experimental research strategy in which the researcher uses existing records as a data source (Bordens & Abbott, 2005).

Causal-Comparative Research - A non-experimental strategy that tries to show cause and effect relationships among two or more variables. This type of research attempts to attribute a change in the effect variable(s) when the cause variable(s) cannot be manipulated (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2003).

Community Colleges- Two-year institutions of higher education that are classified by Carnegie 2000 (National Center of Education Statistics, 2008).

Demographics - Common characteristics used for population segmentation. Typical demographic data points include age, gender, postal code, and income. Data related to population size, components of change, and characteristics (i.e., age, education, etc.)(Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2003).

Job Satisfaction- refers to an individual’s personal affective evaluations of their work environment; the result of an individual’s work expectations being fulfilled by the environment; a pleasant affective state; and their personal appraisal of the extent to which expectations about employment are being fulfilled by the work environment (Lofquist & Dawis, 1991).

National Study of Postsecondary Faculty NSOPF:04 Faculty Instrument - For the purpose of this study, the following three sections of this instrument were used and are described below (National Center of Education Statistics, 2008).

Job Satisfaction - refers to the following eight components: (a) authority to make decisions regarding content and methods in instructional activities; (b) institutional support for implementing technology-based instructional activities; (c) quality of equipment and facilities available for classroom use; (d) institutional support for teaching improvement (i.e., including grants, release time, and professional development funds); (f) workload; (g) salary; (h) benefits available; and (i) overall job satisfaction (National Center of Education Statistics, 2008).

Nature of Employment - refers to the following components: (a) instructional duties, (b) instructional duties related to credited courses/activities, (c) faculty status, (d) confirm study ineligibility, (e) principal activity, (f) employed full or part time at the institution, (g) part-time employment is primary employment, (h) part-time but preferred full-time position, (i) year began current job, (j) rank, (k) rank, year attained professor or associate professor, (l) tenure status, (m) tenure, year attained at any postsecondary institution, (n) union status, (o) union status, reason not a member, (p) principal field of teaching-verbatim, and (q) principal field of teaching-autocode (National Center of Education Statistics, 2008).

Sociodemographic Characteristics - refers to the following components: (a) age, year of birth, (b) gender, (c) race/ethnicity, (d) disability, (e) marital status, (f) dependent children, (g) born in the United States, and (h) citizenship status (National Center of Education Statistics, 2008).

Quantitative Research - describes phenomena in numbers and measures (Wiersma, 2000).

Role Conflict- the amount of disagreement (incongruence) between the contractual role obligations of an individual and his/her own expectations of the position (Blatner, 1991).

Role Perceptions- specific behaviors expected in a teaching position in an institution of higher education as understood by the faculty member (Blatner, 1991).

Summary

This chapter provided background information on the topic of job satisfaction and the theoretical framework for this study that examined job satisfaction of community college instructional faculty and their role as teachers. The next chapter will provide a review of the literature on the current research regarding job satisfaction and role theory.

Chapter three discuses the methodology used to implement this study. Chapter four presents the research findings and results of the study. Lastly, the recommendations for further research and implications for practice are discussed in chapter five.

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