A culture of persistence: untold stories of degree attainment from GED earners in the community college

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Eleanor Nicholl Willard (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Leila Villaverde

Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation was to better understand under what conditions degree attainment takes place for GED recipients enrolled in the community college, and to research this question from the perspectives of the participants. To achieve this goal, I interviewed 13 participants who met the criteria to participate in this study, which was to have earned a GED or other alternative high school credential and to have graduated with an associate degree. Another objective of this study was to develop a grounded theory to explain how the participants were able to persist in attaining a postsecondary degree. A theoretical model was developed that is grounded in the participants’ experiences and depicts a culture of persistence as the central phenomenon. The four main categories or causal conditions found in the data were (a) interacting in the classroom, (b) participating in a multiplicity of support, (c) learning in a connected environment, and (d) experiencing freedom. Persistence is a process, and, as such, needs to be considered in its interconnectedness. These findings highlight the complex and interwoven ways in which the experiences in the classroom shape persistence. The participants felt the type of environment described by a culture of persistence aided them in completing their programs. The intent of this study is to provide community college educators and administrators with a lens that is contradictory to the dominant narratives and assumptions concerning GED earners. Findings from this study have practical implications for those who wish to foster the success of GED earners enrolled in the community college system. I suggest a number of imperatives for both administrators and educators that are based on the theoretical model.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Associate degree, Community college, GED, Grounded theory, Persistence, Theoretical model
Community college graduates
Associate degree education
Academic achievement
GED tests

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