Structure in Community College Career-Technical Programs: A Qualitative Analysis
Using data obtained from interviews and program websites at Washington community and technical colleges, the authors of this study examine the structure of community college career-technical programs in allied health, business and marketing, computer and information studies, and mechanics and repair. A framework for structure with four dimensions—program alignment, program prescription, information quality, and active program advising and support—is used to evaluate the practices of relatively high- and low-performing colleges within each field of study. The authors reviewed the websites of all programs at high- and low-performing colleges in each of these fields of study and conducted case studies on individual programs from these fields, interviewing faculty, administrators, and counselors to learn more about the dimensions of structure in the programs. The allied health, computer and information science, and mechanics and repair programs were all found to be highly structured; the business and marketing programs were found to have a moderate level of structure. Overall, given that all of the programs were at least moderately structured, there was limited evidence of a connection between program structure and program performance.
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