Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

Major Professor

Gary J. Skolits, Jennifer Richards

Committee Members

J. Patrick Biddix, Ralph Brockett


Despite the long history of Community Colleges (CCs) in the United States, the needs of faculty and students in these institutions remain underexplored and underrepresented in literature. Our society’s increasing need for a data science literate STEM-ready workforce particularly in the areas of biological and health sciences increases the urgency to understand and support students and faculty in CCs. This study includes a needs assessment of math and quantitative skills in CC biology education. An exploratory, sequential, mixed methods design, infusing an interview phase and inventory survey phase frames this needs assessment. Phase one of the research includes interviews with 20 CC biology educators recruited from national conferences. Findings from phase one of the research formed the basis for the design of an inventory survey of math/quantitative skills in CC biology courses. An expert panel supported the revisions of the inventory survey through a modified Delphi Method. Phase two of the research includes nearly 300 inventory survey responses from CC biology faculty in 45 states. Integrated findings from both phases of the research inform the needs assessment and recommendations. Results of the needs assessment support findings that CC biology faculty are challenged by the diversity of student needs including weak math/quantitative skills. Increasing curricular and certification requirements combined with little institutional support compound these challenges. High rates of adjunct faculty are being offered low salaries, few benefits, and unsupported time for curriculum development and student mentoring. Findings also demonstrate the need for professional development for all faculty regardless of their full time or adjunct status. Recommendations for professional development aimed at infusing active learning, collaborative practices, and interdisciplinary curriculum design conclude the study.

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