A case study of the perceptions of faculty, administrators, and staff regarding the development of a "culture of evidence" at two Texas community colleges
In order to meet the educational and economic demands of the United States in the future, institutions of higher education must increase the number of students who persist to the completion of a certificate or degree program, especially low-income students and students of color (Carnivale and Desrochers, 2004). To increase the persistence and completion rates of these students at community colleges, national initiatives, such as the Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count initiative, have emphasized the importance of creating institutional environments in which planning and improvement efforts are data-driven (Achieving the Dream, 2005). This study explored the perceptions of faculty members, administrators, and staff directly involved in establishing this data-driven environment, also known as a “culture of evidence,” and the extent to which those perceptions had disseminated through the larger college community. Through the use of a case study and focus groups using Interactive Qualitative Analysis (IQA) methods, the development of a “culture of evidence” at two Texas community colleges was examined as perceived by college constituents involved in its creation and by a group of college constituents indirectly influenced by their efforts. The emerging themes are discussed in their relation to promoting and maintaining a data- driven culture in the future.