Educating the Masses: A multisite case study of academic services and policies in community colleges in India
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The concept of Community Colleges (CCs) in India is adopted from America, but the model is tailored according to the country’s socio-economic needs. The purpose of this multisite case study was to understand the students’ experiences of academic services and policies at CCs in India and how these experiences impacted them. I also attempted to comprehend the faculty members’ perceptions of how the academic services and policies affected the students’ experiences. Four CCs were selected from diverse geographical locations in India: Pondicherry, Chennai, Pune, and Gujarat. In all, 30 participants were interviewed. Of those, 19 were students and 11 were faculty and administrative members. The data sources for the study consisted of a demographic questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, memos, descriptive field notes, and artifacts. The study provided rich data about the services, policies, procedures, curriculum, faculty, and campus climate at these CCs and students’ perceptions of how well these institutions addressed students’ concerns. A cross-analysis of the four field sites using open coding and themes from Tinto’s attrition model (1993) was conducted. Findings from the interviews and researcher’s field notes showed that most of the students had positive experiences, which were leading them towards completion of the program. Themes included preliminary analysis, loving and caring environment, moral-based curriculum, approach and personality of the faculty members, innovative methodologies (hands-on experience), and services and policies like financial subsidy, grace period, mandatory life skills and spoken English, three-month internships, assured jobs, and extracurricular activities, which aid in retention and strong integration in college. The findings also demonstrated that the college invests extensively in building the social, aspirational, linguistic, and spiritual capital for the students.