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Title:How generalists function as a community of practice in a community college one-stop student service center
Author(s):Warmann, Cheryl Sue
Director of Research:Bragg, Debra
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bragg, Debra
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cain, Timothy; Pak, Yoon; Rooney, Gail
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):community college
community of practice
college knowledge
higher education
one-stop service center
student services
Abstract:Conley (2008) suggests that, in order for students to matriculate and function as successful learners, they need to develop college knowledge, referring to understanding college admission, financial aid, college culture, and the college system. One approach that community colleges are implementing to support their students through the transition into their institution is the one-stop student services center (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 2007; King & Fox, 2007; Wells, 2009). One-stop student services centers staffed a single front desk by student service personnel who act as generalists. These professionals help students gain a richer and deeper understanding of what they need to know and do to be successful (Beede, 1999; Day & Pitts, 2002; Javaheripour, 2009; Shugart & Romano, 2008; Walters, 2003). However little is known about how these student affairs professionals develop shared knowledge necessary to support the development of students' college knowledge. This study uses the concept of a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998; Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002) to examine how community college generalists engage in social learning to promote college knowledge that helps community college students succeed. To obtain a deep and nuanced understanding, a qualitative case study was conducted at Midwest Community College. Data was collected through interviews with generalists and supervisors, observation of the generalists, and analysis of the one-stop student services written and electronic documents. Findings that emerged from this study demonstrate that generalists are experts in enrollment processes that support admission, financial aid, registration, and payment processes. They use their breadth of knowledge to support prospective students whereas their depth of knowledge supports students who encounter enrollment challenges. The generalists are also highly attuned to students' emotions as they use their emotional intelligence to offer guidance and validate students' efforts. Shared knowledge of enrollment processes is built through attendance at weekly cross-training programs and the generalists' daily interactions with other student service colleagues. In their practices with students, generalists seek to build students' self-sufficiency with enrollment processes by using a simplified process, providing precise and comprehensive information, offering encouragement, and assisting with internet applications. A narrow segment of college knowledge related to technology, financial literacy, and time management emerged as the topics generalists frequently help students build.
Issue Date:2015-04-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Cheryl Warmann
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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