Because they care : rural community college instructors' beliefs and practices
Community college instructors are influential in the lives of rural students, and they have key insights on the education of those students. Studies are needed to identify ways to support these rural students, who represent an important source of political and socioeconomic diversity for their communities and when transferring to universities. This multiple manuscript dissertation examines the instructional and assessment beliefs and practices of three experienced rural community college instructors. Using multiple case study methods and grounded in the curriculum development model, I found that the rural instructors tended to use more student-centered instructional methods. They considered students’ future careers, acted as an explainer and promoted group work. The instructors held various beliefs about the focus and adaptability of assessment which manifested in their use of reflection to inform future assessments and instruction. The results of this empirical research informed the derivation of four CARE principles to help instructors support rural students in post-secondary biology classrooms. This dissertation concludes that instructors and researchers need to reconsider the common characterization of rural students as deficient and instead capitalize on their strengths.