A Phenomenological Exploration Of The Lived Experiences Of Community College Student Conduct Administrators
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentCommunity College Leadership Program
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SubjectsCommunity College Education
Higher Education Administration
The purpose of this qualitative study was to cultivate a better understanding of the experience of disciplining students from the perspective of community college student conduct administrators. While much is known about the ethical, legal, developmental, and educational importance of student conduct administration, less is known about what combination of factors answers the question "What does it mean to discipline students in community colleges?" Research suggests that the exact nature of student discipline, experiences of disciplining students, and disciplinary approaches and practices used by community college student conduct administrators are vague and relatively unknown. As such, the primary goal of this study was to cultivate a better understanding of their work as disciplinarians, and how their experiences relate to their practice, approaches, and perspectives of disciplining students. Elements of reflective practice (Dewey, 1933; Schön, 1984) and adult learning theory (Merriam, 2001; Zepke & Leach, 2002) present in the practice of student conduct administration (Fischer & Maatman, 2008) form the conceptual framework for this study. To help explore the essence of disciplining students, in-depth phenomenological interviews were conducted with nine community college student conduct administrators in one Mid-Atlantic state, all of whom have formal responsibility for (a) meeting with students alleged to have violated the student code of conduct, (b) adjudicating alleged violations of the student code of conduct, and (c) assigning disciplinary sanctions. Participants were asked to reflect on and assign meaning to their disciplinary experiences. An interpretive, hermeneutic approach (Moustakas, 1994) was used to analyze and understand the research data, which resulted in five themes: (a) a learning experience, (b) academically driven, (c) challenges and supports, (d) Jack of all trades, and (e) shrouded in mystery. The findings also reveal "just care," which integrates the perspectives of an ethic of care (Gilligan, 1982) and an ethic of justice (Piaget, 1932; Kohlberg, 1958) as a metaphor to describe the essence of the lived experiences of community college student conduct administrators.