School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Floralba Arbelo Marrero


Noncredit, Single-parent, Community College, Dropout, Persistence, Integration


Higher Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the experiences that promoted completion among single-parent students who completed a noncredit program at a community college in East Texas named Pine Tree College (PTC). The theory guiding this study was Tinto’s (1975) theory of student departure as it explains experiences that lead a student to dropout of higher education and not persist to completion. The student departure theory (Tinto, 1975) provided the theoretical framework for the study to answer the central research question and sub-questions: (a) What are the experiences that support noncredit program completion among single-parents in the community college context? (b) What are the successes described by single-parents who completed noncredit programs at a community college? (c) What are the barriers overcome by single-parent students who completed a noncredit program at a community college? Participants who successfully completed a noncredit program within the last three years at PTC were selected using purposeful sampling and snowball sampling. Data was collected through individual interviews, a projective technique, and an artifact analysis and was analyzed using Moustakas’ (1994) transcendental phenomenological approach. Data collection results revealed common experiences among single-parents who completed courses in a noncredit program at a community college. The themes that emerged were instructor support, financial support, cohort model, intrinsic motivation, and support from others. Empirical, practical, and theoretical implications of the data analysis and recommendations for future research are discussed.