Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Elizabeth Bruch


This study examined a problem at a large community college in the Midwest United States, where African American students experienced poor developmental education outcomes and low degree completion. Those outcomes had negative effects on the institution and the surrounding community. This qualitative case study was framed in Astin's theory of involvement, which attributes students' behaviors, whether productive or unproductive, to their levels of motivation. Purposeful sampling was used to select 20 African American students who successfully completed the developmental education sequence. The participants were interviewed to determine how psychosocial factors impacted their decisions to persist through their courses. The data from the interviews were organized using coding software and then analyzed using a manual coding process. The data revealed that students' attitudes were the most influential in explaining their persistence. Having a positive, no-quit attitude was deeply salient among participants, and it helped them persist, despite obstacles and setbacks. Faculty influence was another factor that was deeply salient in the data, as most participants attributed their persistence to having positive relationships with faculty. In an effort to leverage this powerful dynamic to benefit more students, it was determined that a faculty training program would be the most effective way to address the problem at the case study site. The faculty training program is the culminating project for this study and is intended to equip faculty with strategies to promote more positive attitudes in students. This study and the resulting project may create positive social change by increasing degree attainment for underprepared African American students.

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