Using Q Methodology to Explore Views of a Selected Competency Framework for Community Engagement Professionals

Melissa Lynn Lyon, Fayetteville State University


The purpose of this research study was to explore self-identified community engagement professionals’ subjective views of a subset of competency statements as defined in the selected framework in relation to the requirements of their position at their higher education institutions within the United States. The current status of the field of community engagement trends towards the recognition as an emerging profession. This trend suggests the need for additional research focused on community engagement professionals' perspectives of the frameworks put forth on the path towards professionalization. The use of Q methodology in this research study provided a scientific method to study subjectivity. The Q sample was a representative subset of 42 statements selected using stratified sampling techniques from the bounded concourse of the community engagement professionals’ competency framework, as described by McReynolds and Shields (2015). The research instrument included three stages. Stage one was a demographic survey focused on their position, institution, and open-ended questions. Stage two was a Q sort based on the Q sorting condition of instruction: “In my position as a community engagement professional, it is important that I.*’ Finally, stage three was an opportunity to provide qualitative reflection comments about the statements ranked the highest and lowest in the Q sort. The data analysis included a form of factor analysis that offers an opportunity for self-grouping of the Q sorts into factors. Interpretation of the factors used both quantitative and qualitative data analysis techniques to provide a holistic approach focused on pattern recognition and generalizations of divergent viewpoints. Using principal component factor analysis and varimax rotation, 21 of the 24 Q sorts significantly loaded onto four factors: Factor 1, Strategic Balance of Community & Institution; Factor 2, Ingrained Community Engagement; Factor 3, Hopeful but Hesitant; and Factor 4, Institutional Leadership. The research suggests that a single competency framework may not fit all community engagement professionals. The institutional characteristics and requirements of the position may also influence the competencies needed. In addition to recommendations for future research, the researcher also recommends the exploration of possibilities for the use of Q methodology into the scholarship related to community engagement.

Subject Area

Higher education|Higher Education Administration

Recommended Citation

Lyon, Melissa Lynn, "Using Q Methodology to Explore Views of a Selected Competency Framework for Community Engagement Professionals" (2020). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI28943429.