Date of Award

Spring 2-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Lynda Leavitt

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephen White

Third Advisor

Dr. Shane Williamson


The community college mission has always centered on providing higher education opportunities for all people (American Association of Community Colleges [AACC], 2015a; Bailey, Jaggars, & Jenkins, 2015; Dassance, 2011; Dotzler, 2003; Greenburg, 2008; Schuh, Jones, Harper, & Associates, 2011). However, many students who enrolled at the community college level were not college ready and often required developmental coursework to help bridge the knowledge gap prior to taking college level courses. Unfortunately, those students were unlikely to obtain higher education credentials (Bailey et al., 2015; Carnegie Foundation, 2014). On the other hand, the researcher observed a relatively small number of students who began their community college education at the developmental level, successfully completed the developmental course sequence, completed college level courses, and graduated with a degree while maintaining a high GPA. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences of those students, identified as Emerging Scholars, at a large Midwestern community college. Through interviews the researcher analyzed the perceptions of Emerging Scholars, specifically, factors perceived as beneficial to success and factors perceived as barriers to success while the student completed a minimum of two required developmental courses, completed a minimum of 24 credit hours of college level coursework, and maintained a 3.5 or higher GPA (on a 4.0 scale). As expected, the researcher found the concept of success to be complex and multifaceted. However, two key factors emerged as contributing to success: the establishment of a personal goal and positive faculty-student interactions; participants iii mentioned both as being a contributor to success. There were six additional factors identified as valuable to success: academic support services offered by the college, specific classes, support from others, motivation to persist, having an internal drive to be successful, and having the necessary skills to be successful. The only barrier to success identified was termed “uncontrollable events” in the lives of study participants. The data analysis from this study could assist community college leaders as they search for ways to increase the success of students who begin their college at the developmental level and could shed light on the type of support to be offered to students who may be struggling and potentially helpful to all students.


Copyright 2016