Disciplinary culture at work: faculty core belief systems and teaching practices with adult undergraduate students in age-mixed university classrooms
Krause, Steven J.
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This dissertation is the first to conduct research in the area of how disciplinary culture influences teaching in age-mixed classrooms in which large numbers of adult (age 25 and older) undergraduate students are also enrolled. Research in this area is particularly significant since adult enrollment in higher education has grown by 34 percent in the last 15 years This study draws on organizational culture theory as its theoretical framework for defining disciplinary culture in which teaching strategies are defined as visible manifestations of faculty's shared values, beliefs, assumptions, and expectations (Core Belief Systems). Two academic disciplines(education and business) at a four-year baccalaureate university located in the southwest United States served as the context of this study Faculty within each discipline were studied to document their shared Core Belief Systems (CBS) regarding adult student characteristics as well as corresponding teaching strategies and guiding principles. Core Belief Systems held by faculty regarding adult student characteristics were documented as well as faculty's corresponding teaching strategies in age-mixed classes. A set of guiding principles were also uncovered that faculty claim ought to direct the kinds of teaching strategies to be used in age-mixed classrooms. This comparative case study was grounded in naturalistic inquiry principles and methods. The following qualitative data collection methods were employed: document collection, a five-item open-ended questionnaire, follow-up interviews, and observation of teaching. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method A distinctive set of CBSs and guiding principles held by faculty were uncovered that define and shape their teaching strategies in age-mixed classrooms. The findings have practical significance showing that (a) CBSs influence teaching strategies within a discipline, and (b) two different disciplines need not be essentially disparate in CBSs and teaching strategies. The results of this dissertation also have theoretical significance. They augment our current understanding of disciplinary culture and indicate that definite relationships exist between Core Belief Systems, guiding principles, and teaching strategies. Additionally, this study provided insights into adult learning theory, thereby creating a broader base from which to further develop disciplinary culture theory as well as adult learning theory.