Skip to main content

Labor-Market Linkages Among Two-Year College Faculty and Their Impact on Student Perceptions, Efforts, and College Persistence (WP-05-03)

James E. Rosenbaum and Ann E. Person

While social scientists have long emphasized the mutual influences of schools and society, the mechanisms underlying these relationships have largely remained a mystery. Moreover, some research has found that two key parties in this relationship, teachers and employers, are largely suspicious of each other and may be reluctant to leave their respective domains to interact with the other. This paper seeks to examine an important class of exceptions: two-year college faculty who go beyond formal job duties to interact with employers in order to facilitate students’ labor market transitions. Using data from a sample of 41 faculty members at 14 public and proprietary two-year colleges, we examine which instructors develop linkages with employers; what actions they take; why they take these actions; in what institutional contexts they do so; and what factors encourage or discourage their actions. Then, using a survey of nearly 4,400 students at 14 two-year colleges, we examine students’ perceptions of teacher and college contacts, and whether these perceptions influence students’ effort at school and their consideration of dropping out of college. Combining qualitative and quantitative analyses, this study suggests that colleges may help students not only by instructional activities, but also by fostering labor market contacts.

James E. Rosenbaum, Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, Sociology; Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Ann E. Person, Graduate Student, Human Development and Social Policy; Graduate Research Assistant, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Download PDF