Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Macmillan

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan Edmunds

Abstract

With the advent of the post-industrial 21st century knowledge-based economy and the demands of global competitiveness, Canada's community colleges are extending their historical mandates (of career-related education and regional economic development) by incorporating research into their traditional programs. However, the recent dramatic growth of research cultures at colleges is occurring in an unsystematic and uncoordinated manner. The purpose of this thesis is to address this issue by proposing a comprehensive, integrated conceptual framework that provides clarity, focus, and direction for building this research culture. A conceptual analysis of research models in higher education is conducted, leading to a working model that is used to analyze the implications of building a research culture at Canadian colleges. The six attributes of the working model (purpose, forms, governance, personnel, funding, outputs) are revised accordingly, and a conceptual model is proposed that reflects and accommodates the unique circumstances in which research is evolving at Canadian colleges.

In this proposed Conceptual Framework for Research at Canadian Colleges, the primary research purpose is to enhance and extend the core college mission by enriching the student experience and the quality of college graduates, keeping faculty current and engaged, and contributing to the social and economic well being of the communities that colleges serve. Research forms such as applied research and the scholarship of teaching and learning embody new opportunities that resonate with core missions. Research governance is manifest at colleges in the establishment and implementation of policies and procedures related to ethics, integrity, academic freedom, and conflict of interest, but requires further consideration of faculty participation and intellectual property rights. With respect to research personnel, the lack of faculty release time presents the single greatest barrier to building a sustainable research culture. While colleges are at a severe disadvantage in accessing traditional sources of research funding, Québec's model of College Centres for Technology Transfer provides a robust example of cooperative arrangements involving a spectrum of funding sources. As for research outputs, colleges are currently developing metrics and models appropriate to their purposes. Consequently, this proposed framework provides a conceptual map to chart more clearly the evolution of research cultures at Canadian colleges.

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