Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




mary anne ramirez


From 2012 to 2015, students' academic performance at a community college in North Carolina fell below North Carolina Community College System baseline benchmarks despite the institution's adoption of several student success initiatives. Building from the established correlation between student academic achievement and academic engagement and the importance of noncognitive competencies in moderating student academic engagement, this qualitative case study investigated the academic experiences of 7 students who were members of the Paying It Forward mentoring program to determine the types of support and resources that students needed to develop and hone intrinsic motivation, sense of belonging, and self-efficacy-the noncognitivenoncognitive competencies proven to most directly moderate academic engagement. The guiding frameworks included a student-engagement framework developed by the Chicago Consortium on School Research, the learner-centered curriculum framework, and the generalized internal/external model. The research questions focused on specific factors that facilitated students' development of intrinsic motivation, sense of belonging, and academic confidence. The findings identified relationships between student academic performance and academic engagement as moderated by these noncognitivenoncognitive competencies and supported previous research concerning the invaluable role of faculty in developing students' sense of belonging. A resulting professional development project may enable faculty to systematically bolster students' academic engagement and performance by directly supporting mastery of these noncognitivenoncognitive competencies. This project may contribute to social change through increased graduation and transfer rates, which would create opportunities for enhanced social capital.