School of Education
Doctor of Philosophy
higher education, transfer students, faith-based, religiously affiliated, holistic participation, involvement
Davis, Amanda Nicole, "Understanding the Lived Experiences of Undergraduate Transfer Students at Faith-Based and Religiously Affiliated Institutions: A Transcendental Phenomenological Study" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4930.
The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of undergraduate transfer students at faith-based and religiously affiliated institutions in the United States. Thus, in order to explore this phenomenon, the central research question directing the present study was: What are the lived experiences of undergraduate transfer students at faith-based and religiously affiliated institutions in the United States? The two theories guiding this study were Astin’s theory of involvement and Tinto’s theory of engagement, as they explain the relationship between institutional fit, involvement, and feelings of belonging. This study employed a transcendental phenomenological design and included 10 participants. Data was collected through semi-structured, individual interviews, journal prompts, and a focus group. Each form of data was transcribed, coded, and themed. Three methods of data collection were utilized to triangulate the data and provide the necessary rigor in the research process. Seven themes emerged: (a) a time of spiritual exploration, (b) birds of a feather vs. opposites attract, (c) initial uncertainty, (d) a period of personal growth, (e) community is key, (f) academics, and (g) perceptions of campus culture. In addition to the seven themes, two outlier findings were also present: (a) needing special accommodations and (b) distance learning. The findings of this study reflected the importance of holistic participation as well as the need for transfer-centric orientation activities and administrative supports. The implications of this study are far-reaching, as the findings suggest that transferring to a faith-based or religiously affiliated institution may serve to lessen the negative effects of transfer shock, while providing a smoother transition between sending and receiving institution, with virtually no stigmatization present.