International Education at American Community Colleges

By Chen, Danxia | Community College Enterprise, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

International Education at American Community Colleges


Chen, Danxia, Community College Enterprise


Higher education has an incalculable impact on society and the development of its citizens. In today's globalizing world, the responsibility of community colleges for producing high quality graduates with global competence cannot be ignored. The study reported here researches international education and provides insights of importance to community college educators, It involves a quantitative and qualitative assessment of topics of international education using doctoral dissertation research on American community colleges. Completed dissertations about international education in community colleges from the year 2002 to 2007 were reviewed. Suggestions for improving research and practice are included, emphasizing the need to increase the study of international education in community college.

Introduction

As the nations of the world become more closely knit, mutual understanding and cooperation among them becomes increasingly important. People cannot afford the bane of xenophobia and other manifestations of international ignorance. Higher education shoulders the challenging responsibility of producing high quality students with international mindsets. According to Allan E. Goodman (Nov. 14, 2005), president of the Institute of International Education, "Many U.S. campuses are recognizing that increasing global competence among the next generation is a national priority and an academic responsibility." International education is thus becoming one of the core educational missions in many American colleges and universities.

According to Open Doors (2006), a special report about community colleges, 83,160 international students were enrolled into community colleges in the academic year 2005-2006; 4,823 students from American community colleges went abroad to study during the academic year 2004-2005.

Considering the increasing number of international students studying in the US and American students studying abroad, it is critical to assess and evaluate international education at community colleges. The present study involves a qualitative assessment of international education in community colleges from the digital doctoral dissertation database, 2002 to 2007. Analyzing the doctoral dissertations provides a means to assess international education and hopefully shed light on the future of international education at community colleges.

Research Method

At first, the author made a series of queries of international education in a digital dissertation database. Then a detailed examination of titles and abstracts was conducted. Once a final list of dissertations relevant to international education was compiled, a detailed contextual examination of the dissertations followed. The detailed content analysis identified issues specifically addressing international education. The method of content analysis enables researchers to include a large amount of textual information and systematically identify its properties by detecting the more important structures of its communication content. Holsti (1969) broadly defined about content analysis as "any technique for making inferences by objectively and systematically identifying specified characteristics of messages" (p. 14). By using content analysis, specific characteristics of international education were identified in dissertation research.

Thirdly, after a thorough reading of the related dissertations on international education, themes were identified inductively, especially those focusing on international education and special issues of international education. After exploring patterns, coding the frequency of emerging themes and concepts, counting the frequency of research methods, authors and relevant issues of the guiding research questions, using descriptive quantitative analysis and qualitative content analysis, and going through comparative analysis procedures, findings were summarized and reported as followed.

Research findings

Research question I: What proportion of dissertations completed in the United States from 2002-2007 focused on international education at community colleges? …

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