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Faculty funds of knowledge : sources of knowledge for teaching in community college faculty


This study takes a socio-cultural theoretical approach to better understanding the career pathways to full-time teaching at the community college. Building on Shulman's (1987) conceptual model of teacher knowledge, this case study explores the formal and practical life experiences that have contributed to the faculty funds of knowledge that have shaped the teaching practice of Arts and Humanities, Behavioral Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics faculty at a single community college. A survey of 60 academic, full-time faculty and interviews with a subset of 15 of these faculty formed the basis for the data collected. The faculty interviewed reflected a range of disciplinary expertise, teaching experience and ethnicity. The study reveals that there was not one common pathway to becoming a community college professor. Moreover, the pathways differed along social and developmental dimensions; they were characterized by both private and career transitions that occurred throughout the faculty's lifetimes. Although formal experiences contributed to faculty knowledge for teaching, less formal, more pragmatic experiences had a greater influence on practice. The experiential knowledge that faculty accumulated over time influenced their general pedagogical skills and understanding of the context of the community college and the characteristics of its diverse student population. Life experience was also shown to contribute to the pedagogical content knowledge of faculty and their ability to make course content accessible and relevant to their students. Also discussed are the implications for further research, policy, and practice involving the role of life experience in the development of the knowledge for teaching in community college faculty

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