Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



Hachtmann, F. (2012). The Process of General Education Reform from a Faculty Perspective: A Grounded Theory Approach, Journal of General Education, 61(1), 16-38.


Copyright © 2012 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.


The purpose of this study was to develop a theory that explains the process and implementation of an outcomes-based general education program at a public, doctoral/research-extensive institution from the perspective of twenty-nine faculty. The theory that emerged from this qualitative study 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 itself consisted of five distinct phases. Intervening and contextual conditions provided specific circumstances 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.