Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Leaf Yi Zhang


Despite the expansive literature on higher education performance-based funding (PBF) policies, there is an oversaturation of quantitative studies focused on measuring metric performance at the statewide level. These studies have largely found that PBF fails to meet its goal of improving graduation rates and has unintended consequences for historically underserved student populations (e.g., Black, Latinx/a/o, low-income) and under-resourced institutions (e.g., community colleges, minority-serving institutions). Further, the limited qualitative studies have revealed widespread positive attitudes and institutional changes at the campus level in the early stages of policy implementation. However, the literature fails to critically examine campus-based attitudes and experiences over the longterm, particularly at institutions most likely to be impacted by neoliberal policies like PBF. Therefore, there is a need for an in-depth understanding and critical analysis of how administrators make sense of PBF over time at institutions most likely to experience policy-related impacts. Based on interviews and artifact analysis conducted with eight administrators at two Hispanic-serving community colleges (HSCCs) in North Texas, this study focused on understanding how community college administrators make sense of PBF after being with their institution for at least three years. By framing this study with critical sensemaking and policy implementation theories, I present a critical analysis that explains how an individual’s role, institutional context, and state environment shaped the administrators’ quality, frequency, and access to sensemaking opportunities related to PBF. My first finding, Individual Role: Who Has a Seat at the Table?, examined how an individual’s place in the organizational hierarchy influenced their awareness of and access to PBF-related sensemaking. My second finding, Institutional Context: Hispanic-Serving Across the Rural and Urban Divide, demonstrated that while participants from both institutions often failed to address Latinx/a/o student needs, their institution’s unique geography and demographics determined if they had access to policymakers and resources to not only assist with understanding PBF, but to influence its future design in Texas. Finally, in State Environment: A Climate of Control, participants contended with a complex and competitive regulatory environment and grappled with policies that embedded neoliberal values. These findings suggest the need for equity-minded reforms to policy design for policymakers, policy implementation for higher education leaders, and further study using critical frameworks and methods.


Policy implementation, Performance-based funding


Education | Educational Leadership


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington