Music curriculum priorities of California community colleges: stakeholders and practice
Abel, Sean Joseph
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The purpose of this study was to investigate how curriculum is prioritized in music programs at California community colleges, and to determine how stakeholders influence curricular managers in that prioritization. Data for this study were obtained from case studies of three California community colleges, comprised of interviews of a full slate of curricular managers (i.e., one music faculty member, the dean who supervises music, and academic vice presidents), college catalogs, current and past class schedules, and other documents such as concert programs and advertisements, and advertisements for special community programs at each of three community college sites. The interview protocol was developed from a theoretical framework based on Baily and Morest’s (2004) community college multiple mission theory and Mitchell, Agle, and Wood’s (1997) theory of stakeholder salience. This framework guided the analysis of how curricular mangers perceived stakeholders in their academic programs and their prioritization of mission activities. Data collected from interviews were corroborated by archival records in publicly available documents, website materials at each institution, and through college personnel. All data were analyzed through what Yin (2009) characterized as “explanation building” (p. 141) for each site. “Cross-case synthesis” (p. 156) allowed aggregation of the three case colleges: Mountain View College, Bay View College, and Valley View College. Participants ranked the importance of music program activities and selected those stakeholders they determined to be powerful, legitimate, and urgent according to the descriptions set forth in Mitchell, Agle, and Wood’s (1997) typology. The findings of this study revealed that there are four definitive stakeholders of the community college music curriculum: transfer institutions; government bodies such as the state legislature, state chancellor’s office, and local boards of trustees; K-12 institutions; and community members. Although the educational needs of community college students are central to the work of faculty members, deans, and academic vice presidents, they do not meet the definition of stakeholders as described by Mitchell, Agle, and Wood (1997). Each of the four definitive stakeholders was perceived, in the aggregate, to exhibit some degree of power, legitimacy, and urgency over the curriculum. These results suggest that curricular managers should identify salient curricular stakeholders, and determine how courses, degrees, and certificates should be modified or developed based on that determination as well as what other activities might be incorporated into the program.
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