Needs analysis and the role of education in rural communities

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2014-01-01
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Tyson, Miriam
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Larry H. Ebbers
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Abstract

Utilizing an interpretive theoretical perspective, this qualitative case study applied the Community Capitals Theoretical Framework as a method to analyze the community. The research questions guiding the first phase of the study asked what are the: (a) strengths of the community, (b) needs of the community, and (c) concerns of the community? The research question for the second phase of the research: What are the functions of education in the community's development?

For the first phase of the study, data were collected through observations of community meetings, residents' focus groups, and city staff interviews. A selection of community residents offered their perspectives of the community's strengths, concerns, and values. The greatest strength of the findings indicated that residents valued education. To determine the impact of the school district's education on community development, additional data were collected in the second phase through semi-formal interviews with the school district's administrators who shared their perspectives about the educational services that are offered. Data collection further includes a review of school board meeting notes, and state and federal reports. The findings indicated that the educational system significantly impacted the community's development. As the largest employer in the area, the school district was an integral part of the community, and a substantial number of employees lived in the community. The school district facilities served as gathering places for community activities. Through collaboration, the school district entered into a regional school partnership that could significantly impact the social and economic environments in this rural community.

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Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2014