Unfamiliar territory: a case study of college professors teaching on high school campuses
Cade, Barbara Levene
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The increase of enrollment in dual credit courses in high schools is staggering and traditional methods of delivering dual credit stop short of meeting the demand. In one newer model, college professors teach dual credit courses on high school campuses. However, little is known about how the uniqueness of the high school setting informs the professor’s experience and professional practice. Using organizational theory and symbolic interactionism, through this qualitative case study, the researcher explored the experiences of college professors teaching in this model, using thematic analysis of interviews, classroom observations, and a focus group. Findings suggest that the high school setting informs the experiences of the professor in four ways: (a) professors may occupy a distinctive niche that is not necessarily connected to the socio-cultural structures found within the high school; (b) context, which includes the cultural, organizational, and environmental aspects of the college and high school campus, emerged as a driving factor in the experiences of professors; (c) the act of teaching on a high school campus elicits specific feelings and actions and may present communication problems that require adjustment and redefinition; and (d) formal and informal communication between the high school and college entities is important to foster both vitality and structure in a partnership. Implications for practitioners, researchers and policy makers are provided. There is a need for administrators to understand individual and interpersonal constructs that may be dependent of environmental conditions when offering innovative ways to deliver dual credit. Recommendations for future research include: 1) an opportunity to explore other districts attempting to implement innovative dual credit models, 2) the extension of the dual credit committee formed by the college, and 3) the exploration of the student perspective when taking dual credit courses in high school taught by college professors.