School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Rebecca Lunde


Academic Tenacity, Advanced Placement, College Readiness, Educational Inequality, Transition Theory




The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand college undergraduate perceptions about preparedness to meet the demands and expectations of college-level coursework based on their experiences with the AP program in high school. Previous quantitative research regarding the AP program has shown students who participated in AP courses in high school do have an edge in college admissions. However, through this study the researcher sought to qualitatively understand the level of confidence and preparedness that former AP students feel when encountering college-level coursework during their undergraduate college experience, using Schlossberg’s transition theory for theoretical guidance. This phenomenological qualitative study interviewed 13 college undergraduates who attended one of three private high schools in southwest Florida and successfully completed a minimum of two AP courses in high school. This study’s data collection included individual interviews, focus group interviews, and a narrative reflection to investigate the following central research question: What are the perceptions of college undergraduates who have participated in their high school’s AP program regarding their preparedness to meet the demands and expectations of college-level coursework? Memoing, coding, and phenomenological reduction were used for data analysis to develop rich descriptions of participants’ experiences with the AP programs in their respective high schools. From these descriptions, three key themes emerged: the participants’ motivation for taking AP courses was varied and impacted by personal benefits, participants see a need for more autonomy being granted in the high school setting, and participants have strong opinions about the specific needs of a successful AP program.

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