Date of Award

8-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor

Havice, Pamela A

Committee Member

Keels Williams , Frankie

Committee Member

Flowers , Lamont

Committee Member

Igo , Brent

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore how students experience political bias in the college classroom and the extent to which this bias is perceived by students in one midsized, public, land-grant university in the Southeastern United States. The current study addressed the issue of politically biased college professors in U.S. college classrooms, a matter that has gained attention in academia and the general public in recent years. A review of literature explored both partisan research and the limited available peer-reviewed research addressing political bias in the classroom. The research model, the sequential, exploratory mixed methods model, was described followed by the results of the study. Three qualitative themes common to subjects' experiences with political bias in the classroom were identified through interview data: limited classroom scope, a feeling of powerlessness and a need to conform. Survey data supported the existence of these themes, as they were all found to be positive indicators of self-reported experiences with political bias in the classroom. Survey data also illustrated political conservatism as a positive indicator for the experience of political bias in the classroom. Gender and ethnicity were found to have mixed results and will require further research. The academic classification freshman was found to be a negative indicator of experience with political bias in the classroom, but no other academic classification was found to have a relationship to the experience. The role of academic classification also requires further research. This study also found that political bias is not as pervasive at the study institution as the findings of many non-peer reviewed and partisan research studies would suggest. Also, while conservative students report higher levels of political bias, political bias is not experienced only by conservative students.

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