Champion of two worlds : a phenomenological investigation of North Carolina early college liaisons' leadership experiences

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael Matthew Dempsey (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Mary Herzog

Abstract: American high school reform has gone through many configurations during the past three decades. Dual enrollment, in which high school students access college courses for credit that can be applied toward high school and college transcripts simultaneously, is one of the more prevalent types of high school reform (Community College Research Center [CCRC], 2012). During the 2010-2011 academic year, there were slightly more than 2 million dual-credit enrollments in the United States, an astounding 67% increase nationwide in such enrollments since 2002-2003 (CCRC; Collins, 2012; Thomas, Marken, Gray, Lewis, & Ralph, 2013). One form of dual enrollment is early college, a secondary institution, typically located on a college campus, which allows dual-enrolled students the opportunity to earn a college degree while still in high school. In North Carolina, early colleges are initially funded by grants that are awarded by a private-public partnership called the North Carolina New Schools Project (NCNSP) (NCNSP, 2004a). Part of the grant funding pays for the salary of an early college liaison, a community college employee who, among other things, (a) assists in the development of programs of study; (b) coordinates high school and college schedules and calendars; (c) aids in the registration of students; and (d) develops college policies and procedures related to high school students (NCNSP, 2004b). Despite a significant amount of empirical research focused on the early college model, there is a paucity – indeed, a seeming nonexistence – of literature related to the early college liaison. This qualitative phenomenological study filled a gap in the early college and educational partnership literatures by investigating the leadership experiences of early college liaisons – “boundary-spanners” who are tasked with navigating the differing cultures and curricula of K-12 and community college systems. Fourteen early college liaisons provided written reflections and documents for this study, and engaged in recorded interviews that focused on the leadership skills, social traits, and relationships that are required for maintaining student advocacy in a political educational environment. Data showed that early college liaisons (a) form professional relationships and communicate extensively with a wide variety of stakeholders; (b) collaborate closely with faculty and executive leadership on both “sides” of the partnership; (c) engage in diplomacy in a highly political environment; (d) possess knowledge of K-12 and community college cultures and academic requirements; and (e) advocate for students in times of conflict. Because dual enrollment has grown at such a rapid rate in the past decade (CCRC; Collins; Thomas et al.), and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities has recommended an increase in the amount of personnel who can bridge K-12 and higher education (Eddy, 2010), it is imperative that future research be conducted that examines the professional relationships, leadership skills, and social traits that this study unearthed, to explore how they can be applied to forthcoming educational partnerships. Such partnerships are bound to increase as state funding declines and institutions of learning create new avenues for maintaining effectiveness while decreasing financial burdens (Azinger, 2000; Eddy). Such research would lend itself to the dearth of experiential studies focusing on how educational partnerships are planned, initiated, and developed (Miller & Hafner, 2008).

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
community college, concurrent enrollment, dual enrollment, early college, educational partnerships
College-school cooperation -- North Carolina -- Employees -- Attitudes -- Case studies
College-school cooperation -- North Carolina -- Employees -- Psychological aspects -- Case studies
Dual enrollment -- North Carolina

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