School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Floralba Arbelo Marrero


English-language Learner, Transfer-level English, Attribution, Persistence


Education | English Language and Literature


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to discover what English language learners attribute their successful completion of transfer-level English at a California community college. Attribution is generally defined as the internal and external factors that English language learners identify as aiding in their successful completion of transfer-level English. The theory guiding this study was Tinto’s theory of student integration and persistence, or theory of persistence, as it identifies student characteristics and support systems that theoretically lead to student persistence. It also incorporated elements of Weiner’s attribution theory, as past experiences play a significant role in motivation, persistence, and success. Fourteen participants who all took ESL courses at the same community college in California and subsequently passed a transfer-level English course contributed to this study. Data was collected using a questionnaire, focus groups, face-to-face interviews, and document sharing, as they are essential parts of most qualitative studies. The data was analyzed using a framework analysis. After reading the transcripts of each interview and focus group line by line to create hierarchical frames to organize codes and establish relationships among codes, several themes evolved that included the significance of peer relations, institutional support systems (specifically the institution’s Writing Center), and self-confidence in personal abilities.