A collective case study analysis of the decision-making processes utilized by community college practitioners and workforce advisory committee members to make informed decisions

Date

2015-12

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to explore the perceptions of and experiences with the decision-making processes utilized by community college practitioners and workforce advisory committee members to make informed decisions for workforce education programs. Of specific foci were the decision-making processes and the strategies used to enhance collaboration between both stakeholders, and those that are perceived to be best practices utilized in the decision-making process. The findings of this study will advance higher education practice by providing empirical evidence of the processes and strategies used by community college practitioners and advisory committee members that are perceived to be effective in making informed decisions about workforce education programs. This qualitative study, conducted through the lens of naturalistic inquiry, utilized a collective case study design that was used to address the four research questions. The settings for this study were two West Texas public community colleges located in the South Plains region of Texas. Participants in this study were four purposefully selected community college practitioners and four members of workforce education program advisory committees at the study institutions. Data collection for this study was conducted through semi-structured interviews, field notes, and institutional documents. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Data analysis was conducted through the constant-comparative method to identify themes using axial coding. Once coding was completed, field notes of institutional documents were used to triangulate the emerging themes and support the findings. In addition, trustworthiness of the study was ensured by measures to address dependability, credibility, confirmability, and transferability.

The results of the study illustrate that community college workforce education programs make decisions through their advisory committees. Research question one sought to understand what the participants perceived to be effective practices and strategies in the decision-making process related to workforce programs. The themes that emerged included voice of business and industry, equal representation and balance, and decision-making process. Research question two addressed perceptions of challenges to working collaboratively. The themes that emerged were a lack of knowledge regarding educational system, hiring employees and completers, and workforce respect and trust. The third research question explored the perceptions of the participants of the decision-making process of business and industry and how it affects the decisions made for workforce education programs. The themes that emerged were internships create critical thinkers, sets direction of programs, and support of the college. The final research question sought to understand the participants perceptions about collaborative decision-making. The themes that emerged were wide range of active community members, networking opportunities, and honesty and transparency. The results of this study led to several implications for higher education practice. The first is that community colleges are reliant on their workforce advisory committees to provide monetary funding, equipment, and personal support. The second implication is that the failure of effective decision-making processes will affect the success of workforce education programs. The third implication is that the effect of strong, involved leadership of the department chair working collaboratively with the advisory committee leader has an effect on the outcomes of the workforce education program. The final implication is that working collaboratively to make informed decisions for community college workforce education programs is a challenge. The recommendations for higher education practice based on the findings of this study are that community colleges should strive to work collaboratively with business and industry through their workforce advisory committees to help seek additional funding for their workforce programs. The second recommendation is that the decision-making processes utilized by community colleges must be collaborative and are dependent on the workforce advisory committee. The third recommendation is that community colleges must allow the workforce department chairs the freedom to seek out alliances with business and industry, with the full support of the college. The final recommendation is that community colleges and business and industry need to work collaboratively to make informed decisions about workforce education programs. The findings of this study lead to future research suggestions. The first is a qualitative study that explores how the decisions made by advisory committees relative to workforce education programs affect the completion rates of workforce education students. Another study of interest how useful an advisory committee consortium would be to the workforce education programs of community colleges. A qualitative study could be conducted to explore having students as members of workforce advisory committees. A final study suggested is to replicate this current study throughout the state of Texas as well as other states to explore the decision-making processes of workforce advise committees in order to order to obtain results that may be generalizable to a wider context.

Description

Keywords

Advisory committees, Workforce education, Workforce education programs, Knowledge and skills needed in the workforce, Prepare students to enter the workforce

Citation