Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Susan P. Maude



The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand rural community college faculty members' experiences with work engagement. As community college enrollments grow, it becomes increasingly important to have faculty who are engaged in their work. Recent research suggests engaged students require engaged faculty (Kezar, 2011). One of the most significant factors in student learning and graduation are the interactions and relationships students develop with faculty members (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, & Whitt, 2010). This study addressed how rural community college faculty members perceive, experience, and sustain work engagement, as well as why work engagement is important in rural community college faculty.

Two rural community colleges, one small and one mid-sized, were investigated. While these colleges differed in size, they shared similar characteristics in course offerings, programs, and extracurricular activities. Data collection consisted of one-on-one interviews of both full-time faculty members and faculty administrators; in addition, documents and websites were reviewed. There were a total of eight participants between the two colleges, six of which were faculty members. The faculty members were involved in a series of three interviews. Upon analysis, four shared themes emerged from the data. The themes included a) understanding the multidimensional role of rural community college faculty, b) recognizing work engagement is student-centered and rooted in passion for the field and for the community college system which matches the faculty members' personal values, c) fulfilling requests for constructive feedback from students and administrators and offering opportunities for professional development, and d) identifying the importance of work engagement as a shared experience that enhances the faculty members' and students' experiences. The findings indicate the need to promote professional development and opportunities to network amongst the faculty within the institution and with colleagues in the same disciplines at other colleges. In addition, the research suggests there is a cost to work engagement (or lack of engagement) that both faculty and administrators need to recognize.


Copyright Owner

Jennifer Kate Burrell



File Format


File Size

210 pages