Joanna WhiteFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Mark Lamport


First Year Experience, Retention, Persistence, First Generation, Low Income, Students of Color


Education | Higher Education


The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to understand the experiences of underrepresented student populations (first generation students, students receiving federal financial aid and students of color) enrolled in First Year Experience (FYE) courses who then persisted to the following semester and remained enrolled at the college. The study examined students at a large, urban community college in central Connecticut and included 8 students as participants. The theories that guided this study were Astin’s Theory of Involvement (Astin, 1999) and Tinto’s Theory of Departure (Tinto, 1993). The central question for this study was: how do students describe their experiences in a First Year Experience course? A purposeful sampling of 8 students was used for the study. Data was collected by interviews, a focus group, and a questionnaire. Data analysis procedures were conducted based on Moustakas’ (1994) modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method. The results of this study confirmed the Theory of Involvement (Astin, 1999) as well as the Theory of Departure (Tinto, 1993. The participants in this study perceived that they had a very positive experience while taking FYE coursework and that the coursework helped them in regards to persistence and retention at the college. The content and experiences in the coursework helped form meaningful connections to resources and programs, which kept them engaged and enrolled at the college. These connections helped students overcome obstacles and barriers to their success as students.