In Search Of Civility: A Community College Perspective
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DepartmentCommunity College Leadership Program
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Community Colleges are searching for ways to address civility on college campuses. In this qualitative case study, the problem of examining and clarifying civility at one Midwestern multi campus community college district was addressed. The conceptual framework and research design used for the study consisted of views on civility from theorists Oakeshott (1975) and Shils (1997) combined with Forni's (2002) best practices of civility and the American Association for Community Colleges' (2005) Code of Ethics. One central research question guided the study: How do internal stakeholders at McGregor Community College explain the factors that encourage civility or hinder civility on their campus? A comparative analysis of the ideas of the theorists on civility and Forni and the AACC Code of Ethics revealed the guiding concepts of the study including communication, respect, integrity, and inclusiveness. Fourteen internal stakeholders, students, faculty, administrators and trustees were interviewed; they represented four campuses at a multi campus community college district. Coding generated themes on civility perceptions and behaviors. Categories of actions that support civility and actions that hinder civility were formed. Findings suggested a solid connection between communication and civility. Respect, also a major factor, was considered a personal responsibility. Surprisingly, participants' views mirrored those of Oakeshott and Shils regarding civility as a virtue; they also mirrored Foucault who regarded civility as a form of oppresion and conformity. Interestingly, classroom incivility was not suggested as a major factor in creating a civil environment. The study as a whole provided a contemporary snapshot view of civility as it is understood and played out on one multi campus community college district.