Community colleges -- Curricula -- Florida, Education, Higher -- Curricula -- Florida, General education -- Florida, Grounded theory -- Florida


The attempts to reform general education programs in higher education have been applied and studied throughout the history of higher education in the United States, but with even greater frequency and urgency over the past fifty years. Countless studies show the high percentage of institutions participating in these efforts and further studies lament the state of general education both as a reason to initiate reforms and as a result of the reforms. This effort is difficult enough for universities, but is further complicated when the curriculum for general education is part of a community college degree program. A grounded theory study was conducted to identify the underlying understanding of general education at one community college as well as the process for implementing and reforming the curriculum, especially the general education curriculum. Members of the curriculum committee as well as other administrators and faculty at the college who have a voice in the curriculum were interviewed and their responses were coded following classic grounded theory methodology. The resulting theory showed a divergence of understanding of general education when speaking about it abstractly and when speaking about the process to change the college’s existing general education program. The abstract understanding of general education is very consistent with the stated purposes of general education and the educational goals of the college. The practical understanding, however, indicates that the work of curriculum reform is compliance with guidelines from legislation and accreditation requirements. Thus, any efforts to establish a model of general education that would be more consistent with the understood purpose of general education that would require modifying the existing structure would meet great iv resistance because of the perceived need to comply with the existing model. Further studies concerning the same issue at other community colleges within the state, as well as the understanding of general education within the university system would contribute to a better understanding of the role of general education at the college and throughout the state system of higher education. The use of grounded theory as a methodology to achieve this reform provides a way to engage everyone involved more openly and to permit the efforts to be far more intentional.


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Graduation Date





Sivo, Stephen


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education








Release Date

December 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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