School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Kenneth Tierce


Dual-enrollment, First-generation, Appalachian


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this holistic single-case study was to describe the dual enrollment experiences of first-generation Appalachian college students in Southwest Virginia. The theory guiding this study was Tinto’s theory of college student retention as it related to first-generation Appalachian college students who have taken dual enrollment courses. To further understand the challenges faced by these students the following research question was posed: What are student, teacher, and administrator descriptions of the challenges faced by first-generation college students taking dual enrollment courses in Southwest Virginia? Subquestions served to investigate the role of dual enrollment courses on the college involvement, college retention, and degree completion of first-generation Appalachian college students. The participants for this study included 11 individuals who were first-generation Appalachian college students who graduated from high school and were enrolled in dual enrollment courses in high school; dual enrollment instructors; school guidance counselors or principals; and dual enrollment program administrators. Data were collected via individual interviews, online focus group interviews, and reflective journals. Data were analyzed by transcribing interviews, identifying and grouping themes, and constructing a narrative that can provide information on the experiences of first-generation college students taking dual enrollment courses in the Appalachian region. Findings indicated parents may not have had the knowledge to support their children who were taking dual enrollment courses academically; however, they were able to significantly support them emotionally and financially throughout the process. This study also found dual enrollment courses are a generally positive experience for first-generation students in the Appalachian region and the support of their parents played a key role in this positive experience.