School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Barry Dotson


assimilation, interaction, motivation, persistence, perseverance, transition


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the perseverance experiences of first-generation students at one community college in the Southern United States. Tinto’s internationalist theory served as the theoretical framework for the study, which sought to answer the central research question: How do first-generation students at community college in the Southern United States describe their perseverance experience from their first to second year of college? There were four sub-questions included in the study: (1) How do college students describe the events that led them to persevere from their first to their second year of college? (2) How do college students describe the preparatory instances from high school that were most beneficial to their second year of college? (3) How do students who completed their first year of college describe the most impactful experience on their success and perseverance? (4) How do college students describe the instances which had an adverse effect on their perseverance experiences? Purposeful opportunity sampling was employed to obtain a sample population of 12 first-generation community college students who had shared experiences relative to the phenomenon of persistence. Data to examine the phenomenon in-depth were obtained using interviews focus groups, as well as a reflective writing assignment which revealed 10 themes that included: (a) motivation, (b) peer support, (c) institutional support and interventions, (d) class and academic experience, (e) special skills learned, (f) engagement, (g) learning opportunities, (h) interpersonal experiences, (i) academic challenges, and (j) COVID-19. The study findings, limitations, and recommendations for further study were provided.