Higher education and its value : American student perspectives
This study initially explores the value of higher education from a historical perspective, and goes on to discover what value is given to higher education by students pursuing it today. The research approach is inductive, based on principles originally determined by Glaser and Strauss (1967) in the generation of 'grounded theory'. Techniques employed include theoretical sampling and comparative analysis. The university students selected for interview were freshman and sophomore (first and second-year undergraduates in four-year bachelor's programs) native-born American students attending an American university. Fifty students between the ages of 18 and 20, half male and half female, were selected. An interview schedule with 30 questions was used as a guide during the interviews. The interviews were largely informal and non-directive. Initial analysis of interview transcripts revealed broad student perceptions on higher education and its value. Prioritization of emerging data was determined in relation to the study's purposes as well as frequent recurrence to the point of saturation. With continued analysis, six themes emerged as most pertinent to the research while congruently being the most saturated themes within the data. Still later, the themes were synthesized and connections among them developed. A central theme to which all others are connected is the core theme: the 'Superior Societal Being'. The five major connecting themes are the branch themes: 'Real World'; 'The College Experience'; 'Influence and Expectations of Others'; 'The Game'; and 'Money versus Education'. In addition, particular nuances relating to each of the six themes developed. Three of the themes are later examined as featured highlights.