Anti-intellectualism and student perceptions of higher education / by Jarrett Daughtry Moore.
American discourse is increasingly anti-intellectual and public discourse has colonized educational institutions from P-12 through higher education. Through a poststructural theoretical framework and using multiple methods, this qualitative study investigated the extent to which public discourse on higher education impacts the decision making of secondary students regarding college matriculation plans. This study utilized critical discourse analysis (CDA), student interviews, and standards analysis to examine anti-intellectualism in American educational institutions. The text corpus was developed through ProQuest Newspapers and Lexis Nexis search engines and was comprised of American newspaper articles and government documents from June 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. This text corpus was analyzed through a three-step process adapted from Jäger and Maier (2016). Gifted students from a Middle Georgia high school were interviewed and the interview transcripts were coded, analyzed, and compared to the CDA results. The Georgia Standards of Excellence for US History were analyzed to determine whether state standards are conducive to creating an educational environment devoted to the development of the intellect. The data analysis found the discourse on higher education in America to be framed almost exclusively in economic terms. The three main themes from the CDA were economics, higher education policy, and P-12 college preparation. The interview data confirmed that this discourse had infiltrated the thinking of gifted secondary students as their visions of higher education were almost exclusively framed through career and job training opportunities. The standards analysis showed that the state of Georgia provides few opportunities to develop the intellect through its course content. Future studies should track the changes in discourse through the Trump administration, new media sources, and the influence of private interests in higher education.
Moore, Jarrett Daughtry