Operationalizing “Internationalization” in the Community College Sector: Textual Analysis of Institutional Internationalization Plans

Lisa M Unangst, Nicole I Barone
Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education  •  Volume 4  •  2019  •  pp. 177-196

This paper evaluates three community college internationalization plans using quantitative textual analysis to explore the different foci of institutions across three U.S. states.

One of the purposes of community college internationalization is to equip future generations with the skills and dispositions necessary to be successful in an increasingly globalized workforce. The extent to which international efforts have become institutionalized on a given campus may be assessed through the analysis of internationalization plans.

We use the textual analysis tool Voyant, which has rarely been employed in educational research, being more frequently applied in the humanities and under the broad heading of “digital scholarship”.

Extant literature examining internationalization plans focuses on the four-year sector, but studies centered on the two-year sector are scarce. This study addresses that gap and seeks to answer the research questions: How do community colleges operationalize internationalization in their strategic plans? What terms and/or concepts are used to indicate international efforts?

Key findings of this study include an emphasis on optimization of existing resources (human, cultural, community, and financial); the need for a typology of open access institution internationalization plans; and the fragmentation of international efforts at the community college level.

It is clear that internationalization at community colleges may take shape based on optimization of resources, which begs the question, how can education sector actors best support open access institutions in developing plans tailored to the local context and resources at hand?

We recommend additional use of quantitative textual analysis to parse internationalization plans, and imagine that both a larger sample size and cross-national sample might yield interesting results. How do these institutional groupings operationalize internationalization in the corpus of their plans?

internationalization, community college, quantitative textual analysis, digital scholarship, international students
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