Date of Conferral

1-1-2008

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Terry O'Banion

Abstract

Research on the Learning College indicates that everyone in the college must support learning. There have not been previous studies that centered on whether or not support staff, a major constituency group in community colleges, participates in supporting learning. This adapted phenomenological study examined staff in a Learning College to determine their understanding and application of the Learning College concept. Three research questions addressed how these employees understand the concept, perceive their roles, and apply Learning College principles. The study was conducted in a theoretical framework combining Learning College, change, and organizational culture theories. Data were collected from a purposive sample of full time employees classified by the human resources department as support staff using pre-screening questionnaires and in-depth interviews that were then coded and analyzed using a typological methodology. Themes identified emphasized learning, the availability of lifelong learning, and the importance of every employee. Support staff actions reflected some principles of Learning College theory, and though respondents understood their role in student success, they did not see this role as supporting learning. The study showed that staff do not fully understand the Learning College concept and believe that staff development would be useful in helping them support learning. With professional development, staff may gain greater understanding about supporting learning. The findings have the potential for impacting social change by: (a) helping support staff feel more valued, and, therefore, likely to perform more effectively; and (b) increasing staff understanding of student learning may give greater meaning to their work. Recommendations encourage college leaders to tap into the support staff as a resource.