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The process of general education reform from a faculty perspective at a research-extensive university: A grounded theory approach

Frauke Hachtmann, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to develop a theory for institutional change that explains the process and implementation of “Achievement-Centered Education” (ACE) from the faculty perspective. ACE is a new general education program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a public, doctoral/research-extensive institution. A constant comparative method was used to study the process of change retrospectively after a new, outcomes-based program was developed and implemented. Twenty-nine faculty from eight undergraduate colleges participated in this study through in-depth interviews. This study resulted in a theory of the process and implementation of general education reform at a public, doctoral/research-extensive university from the faculty perspective. The theory is presented in narrative form as well as in a visual model. The model visualizes the emerging theory and theoretical propositions, and explains how different causal, intervening, and contextual conditions interact with and affect the phenomenon of general education reform at a public, doctoral/research-extensive university. The model portrays change as cyclical in nature with a limited life cycle. Internal and external pressures, such as assessment mandates and accreditation requirements, motivated faculty and administrators to consider changing the previous general education program. The phenomenon consisted of the call for change that came from the administration, appointing a committee, developing the program, adopting the program, and populating the program. Intervening conditions, such as institutional culture, campus politics, and a challenging economic climate, as well as contextual conditions, including faculty buy-in, leadership, and an aggressive timeline, provided specific conditions in which the new program was developed, adopted, and implemented. The level of faculty involvement combined with the power of key individuals were important strategies in the process to generate ideas, negotiate solutions, and implement a new general education program. The process also included several consequences, such as the new program’s impact on the quality of education, the extent to which it is accountable/assessable, sustainable, and marketable. Eventually, the consequences will become causal conditions that will again start the cycle of reform.^

Subject Area

Education, Leadership|Education, Administration|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Hachtmann, Frauke, "The process of general education reform from a faculty perspective at a research-extensive university: A grounded theory approach" (2010). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3398308.