School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Jerry Woodbridge


Academic challenges, African American male graduates, grit theory of learning, transcendental phenomenology


Education | Educational Leadership


The purpose of this qualitative transcendental phenomenological study was to explore how African American male graduates experience and understand academic goal commitment and grit regarding college education in a small Southeastern regional North Carolina district. Duckworth’s grit theory was the framework used to explore the learning problems students encounter based on the premise that everyone can use the constructs of passion, perseverance, sustained interest, and sustained effort toward achieving long-term goals. Data from 10 African American male graduates came from a questionnaire; one-on-one, open-ended interviews; and focus groups. The approach used for data analysis was reactive awareness toward bringing a range of meanings to life’s experiences or phenomena. Epoché, or bracketing, was used to block biases toward the essence of the graduates’ experiences with the phenomenon. Three Themes emerged from the data that include the belief Education Is Key, First-Generation College Graduates and Academic Support, all constructs of which the graduates within SERDC utilized toward their passion to persevere and achieve academic goal commitment and college success.